Friday, August 21, 2009

Relationship terminology

When I moved to Colorado from Oklahoma City, I stayed with my Godmother. She is delightful, quirky, and I love her immensly. She was (and still is) dating a guy who is ALSO delightfully quirky and warmhearted. I could gush about the love that I feel for these two people, but just know that they are fantastic.

ANYway, I once said to her something about this guy being her boyfriend. And she said something like, "Oh, honey. When you're my age, they're not called boyfriends."

So my question is, at what age do you stop calling someone you're dating exclusively a boyfriend? At what age do you start to just call him "my friend" with a wink and a nudge?

And really, at what point in the relationship do you start describing someone as a "boyfriend?" Because really, unless you're in a poodle skirt and are wearing his high school ring, does anyone ever really ASK to be your boyfriend anymore? Instead, isn't it usually a slow slide into familiarity where eventually you're just doing stuff with them each weekend and then it's just assumed that they're your boyfriend/significant other? And is that sad - that the slow slide into familiarity breeds this term that neither one of you are sure you even WANT? When does the conscious decision making happen?

And since we're talking about it, I always felt like the term "significant other" was reserved for those that were living with each other. Because of that, I don't think I have ever called a boyfriend a significant other. "Partner" is usually reserved for those that are GLB, for those in dance classes, or those that are owners of a company - am I right?

Chime in please - even lurkers! Because I simply can't figure out the terminology. Clearly, I need you.


P.S. I feel that it's only fair to disclose that I am in a something with someone right now. Believe it or not, this post was not driven by my desire to figure out my own relationship terminology. I'm happy to call him "the guy I'm dating" for now. Sometimes, I even call him by his name. :)

9 comments:

JayneSees said...

I think when you have a toothbrush at his place and vice-versa, you've crossed into BF/GF territory--I don't have a problem with the term "boyfriend," no matter what the age, but I do (or did, before I got married)wish there was a more mature term, but let's face it, "Manfriend" just sounds awkward, and "Manpanion" sounds like something you'd find in an Adult Entertainment shop...

I'll stop now, before I make things worse. Haha

Ps. I agree on the "partner" terminology. It's always been a GLBT thing to me.

Lyn said...

Yeah, I am 40 now and when I was dating in my 30's, I really didn't want to call anyone a boyfriend. It made me sound like a goofy teenager IMO. I am a mother of five, for heavens sakes. I can't have a boyfriend!!

So yeah, when I am dating again I will go with the "guy I'm dating" and that's what he'll be until/if we get engaged. But if I don't ever want to remarry, and end up living together, what is THAT called? My shackup buddy? Significant other sounds... weird to me. Huh. I am no help!

Ginger said...

I call Rich my partner. I like to keep 'em guessing. Actually, it's because I hate the connotations that come with the word "husband," or even worse, "wife."

I don't think I ever called Rich my boyfriend which is weird. I called other people I dated "boyfriend" but Rich, obviously, was different. I remember having trouble calling him
fiance. Not because I wasn't smitten.. maybe because he was more that that. I don't know. I'm crazy, though.

Ginger said...

I call Rich my partner. I like to keep 'em guessing. Actually, it's because I hate the connotations that come with the word "husband," or even worse, "wife."

I don't think I ever called Rich my boyfriend which is weird. I called other people I dated "boyfriend" but Rich, obviously, was different. I remember having trouble calling him
fiance. Not because I wasn't smitten.. maybe because he was more that that. I don't know. I'm crazy, though.

Deirdre said...

Before we were married, my husband called me his sweetheart. We met when I was 45, so well past the teen years! I always liked that description. A younger friend (30) uses the same term to describe her young man. They don't live together but are serious.

Slackey said...

I'm 23 and still relishing in the term "boyfriend"... especially since I didn't date much as a teenager, lol. I also use the term "guy I'm dating".

Good luck figuring out your terms, but don't get too caught up in them! :)

Kris said...

....how about, 'the guy I am having sex with'? Or, 'the guy whose junk I put in my mouth'---that may be too crass. 'The guy who licks my????', EAR, nasty girl!

happyfunpants said...

Okay, for clarification sake, I KNOW that I don't have a boyfriend. We're not having sex. We've never spent the night at each other's places. We're just dating. Most of the time it's fun. When it stops being fun most of the time, we won't be dating any longer. I'm a-okay with that too.

Kris said...

FINE...'the guy I spend my free time with'.