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A boylover is an adult individual who is physically and emotionally attracted to boys. The term is semantically equivalent to the noun "pederast", which itself originates from the combination of the Greek words pais ("boy") and erastēs ("lover"; cf. eros). In ancient Greek homoerotic poetry, the noun paiderastēs and the verb paiderastein were respectively replaced by paidophilēs and paidophilein (synonyms from which the modern term "pedophilia" is derived), in order to fit the elegiac metre favored for the genre.[1]

Definitions of the word "boylover" were extensively debated on BoyChat in 1997 with much disagreement, until the poster known as Alexis proposed one that met with almost universal approval in the community. He defined a boylover as "a person who when he or she falls in love, tends to fall in love with a boy".

Characteristics of boylovers

Boylovers come from all walks of life, from all peoples throughout the world. The attraction that defines boylovers is composed of many qualities, the most controversial of them being the sexual element. For well-adjusted boylovers (those who don't consider their attraction as morally "wrong" in itself), these feelings can be a healthy and constructive part of their being. Many boylovers express a desire to teach, to care for, to protect, to guide, to nourish, and/or to interact with boys.

A boylover's attraction to boys is not always exclusive. A boylover may also be attracted to girls (see girllover and childlover), women, and/or men. Boylovers can be attracted to boys of any age, although most boylovers have a particular affection for boys within a certain age range. At the two extremes of the spectrum of age preferences are boylovers who are primarily attracted to infants or very young children (ages from 3 to 6), and those mainly interested in boys who have reached gonadarche and already exhibit secondary sexual characteristics (such as bodily hair growth).

Currently, the BoyLove community tends to label BoyLovers as either "little boy lovers" or "teen boy lovers", although there is a section of BoyLovers who are attracted to peripubescent boys, that is, to boys over approximately age 7, but younger than around age 13, who have already entered adrenarche but not yet begun gonadarche. These BoyLovers would not be correctly classified as pedophiles, as pedophilia is the attraction to prepubescent young people. A large number of BoyLovers are attracted to boys who have already lost their "milk teeth" (and, therefore, are no longer infants or "children"). Such boys have begun adrenarche, which marks the hormonal changes within the boy which precede gonadarche. Gonadarche marks the externally visible physical changes which are normally believed to be the start of puberty.

These terms more properly describe the qualities the boylover enjoys most and the age ranges he prefers; though most boylovers have an age of attraction falling somewhere between the lower bound of "little boy lover" and the upper bound of "teen boy lover". The term "boylover", however, is all-encompassing.

Boylover culture

Most self-identified boylovers in the online boylove community value the ideals associated with boylove. Because being a boylover is only a small part of the personality of an individual, boylovers run the same range of personalities as heterosexual or homosexual persons. Therefore, boylovers are normal people with no particular or peculiar claim to being upright or moral. The only universally accepted code of ethics among boylovers is to never hurt a boy (a consequence of the so-called "golden rule)". However, there is neither agreement on what is harmful or not harmful, nor on what constitutes acceptable risk.

The most dividing issue among boylovers is the issue of sex. Some consider that sex is not inherently harmful, while some think that sex is not an acceptable activity. Most of those who argue against sex say that society's stigma against homosexuality makes boys ill-prepared to handle the possible emotional and societal consequences of a sexual relationship, and therefore that the risk of harm is too great. Others who argue against sex say that the simple reality of the law and its consequences renders more abstract analysis moot. For example, a sexual relationship between a man and a boy would cause the boy to lose his adult friend if the relationship is discovered. Even if the sex itself was inherently harmless, the loss of a beloved friend or father figure, public exposure of a socially inappropriate relationship, and resulting legal action, could be very traumatic for the boy.

Boylovers in history

History records evidence of boylovers as far back as ancient Greece. Across time and religions, boylovers have shaped history and left an indelible imprint in the minds of humanity. Socrates, Hippocrates, Leonardo da Vinci, and famous poets such as those mentioned in the 1001 Arabian Nights are all examples of famous boylovers (see Category:Boylovers for more). From the Stone Age to the Space Age, boylovers have existed alongside people of other sexual attractions.

In modern times, boylovers are often reviled in the media and other popular thought. Much myth and prejudice surround boylovers in most modern Western cultures. This often but not always leads to initial feelings of depression, isolation, futility, and self-hatred. The discovery of other boylovers or the boylove community helps to reinforce the idea of responsible behavior and focus on the positive aspects of being a boylover.

Alternative terminology

The exact definition--both denotatively and connotatively--of the word "boylover" has been a topic of intense debate almost since the word itself came into common usage. Being as the word originally rose to popularity as a reaction against an increasing misusage and bastardization of the word "pedophile," the entire history of the word has been accompanied by many discussions, debates and often downright arguments about various shades of meaning attributed to this word and its many proposed replacements.

This ongoing debate has spawned many neologisms and new expressions as various individuals attempt to come to terms with their own status as a boylover and find a label with which they feel comfortable. In many cases, these labels are classificatory, which is to say, they are not intended to change the connotation but merely further divide the supergroup of boylovers into identifiable subcategories (the terms little boy lover and teen boy lover are examples of this type of sublabeling).

In other cases, the new labels are connotative, that is to say, attempts to achieve entirely new connotations under the belief that the boylove movement as a whole is better served by utilizing a term over which they themselves control the connotations and not their opponents. Critics of this tendency point out that any new expression which begins to gain popularity will simply be coopted yet again by the mass media and popular consciousness, resulting in a never-ending search for yet more new terms, and that boylovers are best served by stubbornly insisting on their definitions for the terms already in use.

Examples of some terms which qualify as this type of connotative relabeling are:

  • pedosexual - An attempt to standardize boylove as a sexual preference or orientation, coined by analogy with the terms heterosexual and homosexual. Critics of this term note that neologisms tend to alienate readers and listeners, and the obvious resonance with the term "pedophile" does not succeed in redefining the connotation.
  • minor attracted person (abbreviated MAP) - An expression designed to sanitize the concept into the realm of psychological and clinical writings. Critics note that the obvious euphimism may serve to draw more, not less, attention to the negative connotations we seek to avoid, and often imitate sheep while saying it. Teen boy lovers can often not be accurately described a minor attracted person because of the variations in age of consent laws throughout the world where teenagers would not be considered as minors. .
  • responsible boylove - Developed through the consensus of the participants of the now defunct web-board SafeHaven. Critics of this term see it as an implication that boylove itself is somehow inherently irresponsible and must be thusly distinguished.
  • puerosexual - A recoinage of "pedophile" using the Latinate root for "boy." Critics note that this term suffers from many of the same problems as "pedosexual" in addition to being more obscure.


Since the term "boylover" is most commonly used as a term for a sexual preference analogous to "gay" or "homosexual," it is most properly used as a common noun and therefore not capitalized in English. Some writers will capitalize it, and others will even write it in mixed case ("BoyLover"), but these alternative capitalizations are in the nature of artistic license. Other languages seem to follow local standards for common, compound nouns as well.

Terms for boylover in other languages

  • German: Boylover, Knabenliebhaber, Jungenliebhaber


  1. K. J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality; Harvard University Press, 1989; p. 50.

Notable boylovers

See also

External links