In that sense, it can often be a euphemism. Distinction from "lady friend"[ edit ] A similar, but not equivalent, concept is the more ambiguous "lady friend" — a companion of the female gender who is possibly less than a girlfriend but potentially more than a friend. Starting around the time of the Civil War , courtship became a private matter for couples. Other news articles in the Times had generally referred to her as Wolfowitz's "companion". The word "mistress" was originally used as a neutral counterpart for the words "mister" or "master".
Prior to that, courtship was a matter of family and community interest. The term "girlfriend" is also used in LGBT communities and can refer to people of any sex or sexuality. In this sense of its usage, "girlfriend" is used in terms of very close friends and has no sexual connotations, unless it is in the case of lesbian , bisexual , pansexual , transgender women. That is to say, the relationship is not necessarily platonic, nor is it necessarily an exclusive, serious, committed, or long-term relationship. It is essentially equivalent to the term "sweetheart", which has also been used as a term of endearment. In that sense, it can often be a euphemism. The term can also sometimes be employed when someone simply does not know the exact status of a woman that a man has been associating with. However, the edition of the New York Times Manual of Style states that the view on the term "girlfriend" as being informal is now relegated to the realm of traditionalism, and that it has become accepted to use "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" to describe people of all ages with consideration given to the preferences of the people involved. For instance, tabloid headlines often note that a celebrity has been seen with a new "lady friend". Widening acceptance for describing people of all ages[ edit ] As of , The New York Times style guide discouraged the use of the term "girlfriend" for an adult romantic partner, stating, "Companion is a suitable term for an unmarried partner of the same or the opposite sex. Other news articles in the Times had generally referred to her as Wolfowitz's "companion". Distinction from "lady friend"[ edit ] A similar, but not equivalent, concept is the more ambiguous "lady friend" — a companion of the female gender who is possibly less than a girlfriend but potentially more than a friend. How the term is used will ultimately be determined by personal preference. With differing expectations of sexual mores , the term "dating" can imply romantic activity whereas simply using "friend" would likely avoid implying such intimacy. Partners in committed relationships are also sometimes described as a " significant other " or simply "partner", especially if the individuals are cohabiting. The term avoids the overt sexual implications that come with referring to a woman as someone's "mistress" or "lover". Starting around the time of the Civil War , courtship became a private matter for couples. Scope[ edit ] A man with his girlfriend at Alexanderplatz in March It notes that the lack of proper terms often leads to awkward situations, such as someone becoming upset over not being introduced in social situations to avoid the question. For example, when the term "girlfriend" is used by a female about another female in a non- sexual , non- romantic context, the two-word form "girl friend" is sometimes used to avoid confusion with the sexual or romantic meaning; however, this is not a rule. The word "mistress" was originally used as a neutral counterpart for the words "mister" or "master".
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