Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sweetman n.

1. (US black, also sweetie-man) a male lover.

[US]N.Y. Sun. News 3 Nov. in AS VI:2 159: sweet man is a lover.
[US]C.L. Edholm ‘Gorilla Girl’ in Gun Molls Oct. [Internet] Evidently your sweet man has not been spending much on you.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 62: Is my honey-baby sore at her rough sweetie-man?
[UK]W. Attaway Let Me Breathe Thunder (1940) 225: I was the best sweetman this side of the Rockies in my day.
[US]Hughes & Bontemps Book of Negro Folklore 337: A woman down in Georgia / Got her two sweet-men confused. / One knocked on the front do’, / One knocked on the back.
[US]B. Hecht Sensualists (1961) 84: She’d been out with her sweetie-man.
[US]C. Cooper Jr ‘Yet Princes Follow’ in Black! (1996) 262: Twenty-five bucks! Is that all? Your sweet-man’ll blow that in ten minutes with one of his women!

2. (UK/US Und.) a pimp.

[US]C. McKay Home to Harlem 40: ‘If you’ll be mah man always, you won’t have to work,’ she said. ‘Me? [...] I’ve never been a sweetman yet. Never lived off no womens and never will.’.
[US]N. Van Patten ‘Vocab. of the Amer. Negro’ in AS VII:1 31: sweetman. M. n. Pimp.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Murtagh & Harris Cast the First Stone 19: They happen to be connected with the same pimp, sweet man to them.
[US]T. Berger Reinhart in Love (1963) 122: Sweet man, mah feet hurt god-awful.
[US]J. Maryland ‘Shoe-shine on 63rd’ in Kochman Rappin’ and Stylin’ Out 211: That’s some real cruel shit, suggesting a sweet man [pimp] be iced.
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 203: Sweetman Man living on the earnings of one prostitute. A prostitute’s regular ‘man’.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

3. (W.I.) a (married) woman’s lover, to whom she gives money and presents.

[US]C. McKay Home to Harlem 82: To be the adored of a Negro lady of means, or of a pseudo grass-widow whose husband worked on the railroad, or of a hard-working laundress or cook. It was much more respectable and enviable to be sweet—to belong to the exotic aristocracy of sweetmen.
[WI]O. Senior ‘Ballad’ Summer Lightning 130: Jiveman was a real sweetman because he didnt work and all the time he down Mass Curly shop playing domino and dancing and giving jive talk. [...] This Jiveman live with Miss Rilla for about two year and Miss Rilla is the one who have to sell coffee and chocolate to make money to buy things for them.