Author Topic: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?  (Read 2939 times)

G-String

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Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« on: February 06, 2024, 08:33:06 AM »
For those who are not married, I am curious what you call your significant other and why?  Do you refer to them as "boyfriend/girlfriend" or "partner"?  Why did you settle on the terminology you use?  Were there any disagreements between the two of you on what to call each other?  And if you don't mind me asking, what is your age (or age range)?   

aloevera1

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2024, 08:42:39 AM »
Partner.

Our relationship is waaaaaay past the bf/gf stage. We did not really have any disagreements on it. I personally don't care that much about the terminology. Prior to meeting my current partner, I actually did not use this word at all. However, it made sense given how serious relationship was (I knew this pretty early on).

I think most of the tension regarding "what to call someone in the relationship with me" comes from lack of underlying clarity "who is this person to me???". So people (don't know if that's you specifically) get hung up on the terminology while in fact they should ask the question of "What is your role in my life?" or "Does my expectation of your role in my life meet the reality and your expectation of your role in my life?". A lot of times it is a very difficult question to ask as it may lead to realizing your answers don't actually align. This in turn can lead to more tensions and/or break up. So people avoid it and instead focus on the names and visual relationship progress (we went on a first vacation, they met my parents, etc.)

Relationship clarity is a wonderful thing. Labels matter a lot less.

My 2 cents.

G-String

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2024, 08:46:22 AM »
Partner.

Our relationship is waaaaaay past the bf/gf stage. We did not really have any disagreements on it. I personally don't care that much about the terminology. Prior to meeting my current partner, I actually did not use this word at all. However, it made sense given how serious relationship was (I knew this pretty early on).

I think most of the tension regarding "what to call someone in the relationship with me" comes from lack of underlying clarity "who is this person to me???". So people (don't know if that's you specifically) get hung up on the terminology while in fact they should ask the question of "What is your role in my life?" or "Does my expectation of your role in my life meet the reality and your expectation of your role in my life?". A lot of times it is a very difficult question to ask as it may lead to realizing your answers don't actually align. This in turn can lead to more tensions and/or break up. So people avoid it and instead focus on the names and visual relationship progress (we went on a first vacation, they met my parents, etc.)

Relationship clarity is a wonderful thing. Labels matter a lot less.

My 2 cents.
I agree I am not much into labels either, but at times it is a necessary evil.  For example, when you are introducing your partner/GF/BF to friends or family, or when you are talking about them to work colleagues. 

NotJen

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2024, 08:47:46 AM »
Boyfriend/girlfriend.  I've used this since my divorce, through my 30s and mid-40s so far.  Terms used mutually with no discussion.  (There was a discussion both times about being exclusive, but not about what terms we call each other.)

I would have no problem with the person I was dating using whatever term they like for me (as long as it was not mean-spirited/derogatory).

I personally would not call someone a partner unless we had been dating a long time and living together (and even then, possibly not).  If my last BF had insisted I call him my partner, I would have broken up with him (because I knew I didn't want to commit to him long term, and would feel insincere using the word partner because he didn't feel like one).

NotJen

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2024, 08:50:41 AM »
I agree I am not much into labels either, but at times it is a necessary evil.  For example, when you are introducing your partner/GF/BF to friends or family, or when you are talking about them to work colleagues.

"I'm dating Bob", then refer to them as Bob.  No label needed?

G-String

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2024, 08:53:27 AM »
I agree I am not much into labels either, but at times it is a necessary evil.  For example, when you are introducing your partner/GF/BF to friends or family, or when you are talking about them to work colleagues.

"I'm dating Bob", then refer to them as Bob.  No label needed?

Or what is you are beyond  the "dating" stages and are in a relationship?  At that stage, your example does not work. 

How do you tell your work colleagues that you are doing something with your partner/GF/BF on the weekend?  I guess you could say, "I'm going to a movie with Bob, who I am in a relationship with".  But that sounds very awkward. 

 

NotJen

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2024, 09:01:55 AM »
I agree I am not much into labels either, but at times it is a necessary evil.  For example, when you are introducing your partner/GF/BF to friends or family, or when you are talking about them to work colleagues.

"I'm dating Bob", then refer to them as Bob.  No label needed?

Or what is you are beyond  the "dating" stages and are in a relationship?  At that stage, your example does not work. 

"I'm in a relationship with Bob."

I use the term dating even when I'm in a relationship, though.  Shrug.

Quote
How do you tell your work colleagues that you are doing something with your partner/GF/BF on the weekend?  I guess you could say, "I'm going to a movie with Bob, who I am in a relationship with".  But that sounds very awkward.

Well, back in the day, I said "Hey guys, guess what, I'm dating Bob!".  Now, I just say "Bob and I are going to see a movie this weekend."  No one needs to be reminded we're in a relationship.

Maybe there is a new coworker.  They say, "Who TF is Bob?", I say "The guy I'm dating".  Or "We're in a relationship".  But more likely, I'd have chatted with the new coworker previously.  They would have asked "Are you married?"  I would have replied, "No, but Bob and I have been together for 7 years!".

So, while I do use the terms GF/BF, in practice, I very rarely actually say it.

FLBiker

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2024, 09:11:42 AM »
One thing I've noticed in moving from the US to Canada is that folks here in Canada often use partner even in married situations.  I habitually say wife, but I like the generic partner better as I'm generally supportive of gender-free language.

Raenia

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2024, 09:17:32 AM »
I'm married now, but before we got married, terminology was situational. Introducing him to my friends/family? Boyfriend. He needs to call off work to take me to urgent care? Partner. I think we mostly switched to "partner" after moving in together, but used it before that in certain situations where we needed people to take us more seriously (like the before-mentioned urgent care debacle).

In all cases, it was less about how we felt about our own relationship, and more about how we wanted the people we were interacting with to perceive us.

aloevera1

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2024, 09:20:45 AM »
Partner.

Our relationship is waaaaaay past the bf/gf stage. We did not really have any disagreements on it. I personally don't care that much about the terminology. Prior to meeting my current partner, I actually did not use this word at all. However, it made sense given how serious relationship was (I knew this pretty early on).

I think most of the tension regarding "what to call someone in the relationship with me" comes from lack of underlying clarity "who is this person to me???". So people (don't know if that's you specifically) get hung up on the terminology while in fact they should ask the question of "What is your role in my life?" or "Does my expectation of your role in my life meet the reality and your expectation of your role in my life?". A lot of times it is a very difficult question to ask as it may lead to realizing your answers don't actually align. This in turn can lead to more tensions and/or break up. So people avoid it and instead focus on the names and visual relationship progress (we went on a first vacation, they met my parents, etc.)

Relationship clarity is a wonderful thing. Labels matter a lot less.

My 2 cents.
I agree I am not much into labels either, but at times it is a necessary evil.  For example, when you are introducing your partner/GF/BF to friends or family, or when you are talking about them to work colleagues.

I just use their name. I don't have to point out my relationship status to every single person in the world. So either they know who John is to me or they don't. If the conversation goes like this:

- whatcha doing on the weekend?
- going to the movies with John
- who is John?

^ this does not bother me. Then I would offer some information about our relationship, e.g. how long we've been together.

if they ask me "how involved are you with john?" or "how serious your relationship with john is?" I would start thinking they have some personal interest there :D 

G-String

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2024, 09:22:43 AM »
Partner.

Our relationship is waaaaaay past the bf/gf stage. We did not really have any disagreements on it. I personally don't care that much about the terminology. Prior to meeting my current partner, I actually did not use this word at all. However, it made sense given how serious relationship was (I knew this pretty early on).

I think most of the tension regarding "what to call someone in the relationship with me" comes from lack of underlying clarity "who is this person to me???". So people (don't know if that's you specifically) get hung up on the terminology while in fact they should ask the question of "What is your role in my life?" or "Does my expectation of your role in my life meet the reality and your expectation of your role in my life?". A lot of times it is a very difficult question to ask as it may lead to realizing your answers don't actually align. This in turn can lead to more tensions and/or break up. So people avoid it and instead focus on the names and visual relationship progress (we went on a first vacation, they met my parents, etc.)

Relationship clarity is a wonderful thing. Labels matter a lot less.

My 2 cents.
I agree I am not much into labels either, but at times it is a necessary evil.  For example, when you are introducing your partner/GF/BF to friends or family, or when you are talking about them to work colleagues.

I just use their name. I don't have to point out my relationship status to every single person in the world. So either they know who John is to me or they don't. If the conversation goes like this:

- whatcha doing on the weekend?
- going to the movies with John
- who is John?

^ this does not bother me. Then I would offer some information about our relationship, e.g. how long we've been together.

if they ask me "how involved are you with john?" or "how serious your relationship with john is?" I would start thinking they have some personal interest there :D
So when they ask who John is, what do you say? 

aloevera1

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2024, 09:25:41 AM »
Partner.

Our relationship is waaaaaay past the bf/gf stage. We did not really have any disagreements on it. I personally don't care that much about the terminology. Prior to meeting my current partner, I actually did not use this word at all. However, it made sense given how serious relationship was (I knew this pretty early on).

I think most of the tension regarding "what to call someone in the relationship with me" comes from lack of underlying clarity "who is this person to me???". So people (don't know if that's you specifically) get hung up on the terminology while in fact they should ask the question of "What is your role in my life?" or "Does my expectation of your role in my life meet the reality and your expectation of your role in my life?". A lot of times it is a very difficult question to ask as it may lead to realizing your answers don't actually align. This in turn can lead to more tensions and/or break up. So people avoid it and instead focus on the names and visual relationship progress (we went on a first vacation, they met my parents, etc.)

Relationship clarity is a wonderful thing. Labels matter a lot less.

My 2 cents.
I agree I am not much into labels either, but at times it is a necessary evil.  For example, when you are introducing your partner/GF/BF to friends or family, or when you are talking about them to work colleagues.

I just use their name. I don't have to point out my relationship status to every single person in the world. So either they know who John is to me or they don't. If the conversation goes like this:

- whatcha doing on the weekend?
- going to the movies with John
- who is John?

^ this does not bother me. Then I would offer some information about our relationship, e.g. how long we've been together.

if they ask me "how involved are you with john?" or "how serious your relationship with john is?" I would start thinking they have some personal interest there :D
So when they ask who John is, what do you say?

He is my partner, we've been together for N years.

lucenzo11

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2024, 09:26:28 AM »
I'm married now, but prior to being married, I referred to my wife as my girlfriend and then fiancée once engaged. The labels didn't really matter to us, it was more about just communicating it in a way that others understand our relationship, or more so didn't misinterpret our relationship. If we didn't get married, but stayed together, then I'd likely switch to using partner since partner implies more of a permanent or committed relationship while girlfriend/boyfriend could be interpreted as being more casual.

cannotWAIT

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2024, 09:33:39 AM »
I call him my partner or my friend, depending on the situation, and he calls me his girlfriend. We're in a long-term relationship but don't live together and don't intend to, so it's already a little unconventional and I guess the terminology follows suit. I would feel ridiculous calling him my boyfriend because he's quite a bit older.  I don't think the difference in nomenclature signifies a difference in how we view the relationship though.

I kind of hate the the term partner and only use it to avoid ambiguity when the context demands it. Otherwise I would be happy to go through life calling him my friend, partly because I'm so private and partly because I like what it addresses about our relationship. This is how I refer to him with my coworkers. I'm a very private person by nature and went through a high-profile divorce in our small town. As a result I feel even more private about my relationship status.

I always felt the terms "husband" and "wife" were so heavy and loaded with expectations and negative associations (and good ones, too, that my husband wasn't living up to). I love the lightness of "friend." It can be anything you want it to be and it's nobody's business what kind of friend it is. I also rather like being called a girlfriend. I couldn't care less if people assume it's casual. Maybe I even prefer it.

Interesting. Thanks for the prompt to think about this!

G-String

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2024, 09:40:42 AM »
I call him my partner or my friend, depending on the situation, and he calls me his girlfriend. We're in a long-term relationship but don't live together and don't intend to, so it's already a little unconventional and I guess the terminology follows suit. I would feel ridiculous calling him my boyfriend because he's quite a bit older.  I don't think the difference in nomenclature signifies a difference in how we view the relationship though.

I kind of hate the the term partner and only use it to avoid ambiguity when the context demands it. Otherwise I would be happy to go through life calling him my friend, partly because I'm so private and partly because I like what it addresses about our relationship. This is how I refer to him with my coworkers. I'm a very private person by nature and went through a high-profile divorce in our small town. As a result I feel even more private about my relationship status.

I always felt the terms "husband" and "wife" were so heavy and loaded with expectations and negative associations (and good ones, too, that my husband wasn't living up to). I love the lightness of "friend." It can be anything you want it to be and it's nobody's business what kind of friend it is. I also rather like being called a girlfriend. I couldn't care less if people assume it's casual. Maybe I even prefer it.

Interesting. Thanks for the prompt to think about this!
If my girlfriend called me her "friend" I would be extremely offended. Friend implies platonic relationship, where partner or BF/GF implies a more romantic relationship.  One implies you are single and the other implies you are taken.  BIG difference. 

NotJen

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2024, 10:00:39 AM »
I call him my partner or my friend, depending on the situation, and he calls me his girlfriend. We're in a long-term relationship but don't live together and don't intend to, so it's already a little unconventional and I guess the terminology follows suit. I would feel ridiculous calling him my boyfriend because he's quite a bit older.  I don't think the difference in nomenclature signifies a difference in how we view the relationship though.

I kind of hate the the term partner and only use it to avoid ambiguity when the context demands it. Otherwise I would be happy to go through life calling him my friend, partly because I'm so private and partly because I like what it addresses about our relationship. This is how I refer to him with my coworkers. I'm a very private person by nature and went through a high-profile divorce in our small town. As a result I feel even more private about my relationship status.

I always felt the terms "husband" and "wife" were so heavy and loaded with expectations and negative associations (and good ones, too, that my husband wasn't living up to). I love the lightness of "friend." It can be anything you want it to be and it's nobody's business what kind of friend it is. I also rather like being called a girlfriend. I couldn't care less if people assume it's casual. Maybe I even prefer it.

Interesting. Thanks for the prompt to think about this!

I like it.

It's the actions that matter, not the labels.  And no one is entitled to knowledge about your relationships.

cannotWAIT

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2024, 11:36:20 AM »

If my girlfriend called me her "friend" I would be extremely offended. Friend implies platonic relationship, where partner or BF/GF implies a more romantic relationship.  One implies you are single and the other implies you are taken.  BIG difference.

This only matters if you're worried about your girlfriend's motives. We've known, worked with, and lived near each other for 25 years, through our long marriages and divorces. We've been friends way longer than we've been partners. Context matters. Also, as I said, my privacy is very important to me. My partner is not only not insulted, but is often more protective of my privacy than I am, just because he knows it's important to me.

spartana

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2024, 11:56:31 AM »
I don't really label my relationship or call him anything except his name. However here I'll use BF or SO for brevity and clarity.  We're both older (although he's quite a bit younger then me), divorced, in a long term monogamous relationship with no plans to marry, and we basicly live together but have separate homes andbseperate finances.

When I was married ex-DH and I usually used the term spouse rather than husband or wife. I also didn't change my last name so that helped with any confusion " Hi  I'm Bob Jones and this is my spouse Spartana Smith".  I don't like using BF, SO, or partner IRL so saying his name, and maybe adding that we're in a relationship, is the norm. "Bob, the guy I'm in a relationship with, and I went camping last week".
« Last Edit: February 06, 2024, 12:05:16 PM by spartana »

cannotWAIT

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2024, 12:05:28 PM »
I remember when Jackie Kennedy Onassis died, hearing Maurice Tempelsman referred to as her "companion" and I thought that was perfect. Partner has always sounded stupid to me and in my head I hear a cowboy saying "pardsy" lol. Companion sounds a lot more dignified. Unfortunately I think people would find it confusing.

tygertygertyger

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2024, 01:23:31 PM »
He was my boyfriend for the first several years we were together. Maybe a couple years after we started living together, I switched to "partner". To me, it implies a more serious relationship than boyfriend/girlfriend, which seems more casual.

I asked him what he calls me, and he said partner, but I've never heard him say it. (We socialize almost exclusively with people who know us, so there's not a lot of opportunity...)

I don't think I call him anything but his name around our families though, who secretly wish we'd just get married. But at work and out with friends, I use partner. No one thinks it's weird.

We've been together for a LONG time now, and we bought a house together. He's on my health insurance as a "domestic partner". I don't think anyone is confused by us or terminology.

Catbert

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2024, 01:54:59 PM »
I've been married too long for my opinion to matter.  My nextdoor neighbors used different terms.  He (40s) refers to her as his partner.  She (30s) calls him her fiance.   I don't know if it's just a different preferred term or if they have different views of the future. Or maybe she thought I (70s) would be scandalized by people living together without marriage on the horizon. 🙄

tygertygertyger

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2024, 02:00:21 PM »
I've been married too long for my opinion to matter.  My nextdoor neighbors used different terms.  He (40s) refers to her as his partner.  She (30s) calls him her fiance.   I don't know if it's just a different preferred term or if they have different views of the future. Or maybe she thought I (70s) would be scandalized by people living together without marriage on the horizon. 🙄

Ha! Everyone in our neighborhood refers to my fella as my husband. I do not correct them, because I too think they would be scandalized! (I did tell one person (70s) who told me she had lived with her PARTNER for 30 years until he got dementia... so it's totally possible my assumption would be wrong.)

Tass

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2024, 02:24:13 PM »
We dated for almost 12 years before getting married last year at 29/30. We started out as boyfriend/girlfriend at 18 and gradually started using "partner" in our 20s. By the time we got engaged, we primarily used "partner," but BF/GF was also acceptable. We never really used fiance(e), but we were only engaged for about 6 months. Now we mostly use husband/wife, but "partner" is also still an acceptable word used very affectionately.

My mom told me that to her generation (late 50s), "partner" implied a same-sex relationship. It doesn't have that connotation to me, but even in that context, I love normalizing it. Nobody should have to out themselves with language if they don't want to.

To me, boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife is a relationship label with some social expectations, but "partner" is about the way we interact and view our life together. We were partners well before we got the government in on it by getting married.

Samuel

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2024, 02:27:38 PM »
I prefer boy toy/special lady friend...


I'm in my mid 40's and I'm still perfectly fine with using boyfriend/girlfriend. Partner has never felt more committed or serious to me but I see how others could see a useful distinction there. The ambiguity of it (business partner? songwriting partner? romantic partner?) also makes it feel like an inferior term.

And maybe it's my particular age, the area I grew up in, or the people I was around but to me partner still carries just the slightest connection with same sex relationships, as that was the only way I recall it being used back when I learned about the various permutations of adult relationships. I don't recall hetero couples using it until later on, although I'm sure some did.

spartana

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2024, 02:41:48 PM »
I prefer boy toy/special lady friend...

I call younger (BF? SO? Partner? Dude Im shacking up with?) my boy toy. The smart ass calls me his cougar sugar mama ;-)

I also dislike partner for most of the reasons you listed and don't like to 've called partner myself. But it's better than cougar sugar mama cradle robbing special lady friend I guess ;-). I wonder how poly people deal with these kinds of labels?

deborah

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2024, 02:57:33 PM »
We met fifty years ago. He’s my partner.

Kris

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2024, 03:31:25 PM »
We dated for almost 12 years before getting married last year at 29/30. We started out as boyfriend/girlfriend at 18 and gradually started using "partner" in our 20s. By the time we got engaged, we primarily used "partner," but BF/GF was also acceptable. We never really used fiance(e), but we were only engaged for about 6 months. Now we mostly use husband/wife, but "partner" is also still an acceptable word used very affectionately.

My mom told me that to her generation (late 50s), "partner" implied a same-sex relationship. It doesn't have that connotation to me, but even in that context, I love normalizing it. Nobody should have to out themselves with language if they don't want to.

To me, boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife is a relationship label with some social expectations, but "partner" is about the way we interact and view our life together. We were partners well before we got the government in on it by getting married.

I am late 50s, and I started using partner to normalize it even though I wasn’t gay. Now I am married (and gay marriage is legal) so I use husband.

People choose what makes sense to them.

Tass

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2024, 03:40:43 PM »
The ambiguity of it (business partner? songwriting partner? romantic partner?) also makes it feel like an inferior term.

I have used the term "life partner," which I feel is accurate, but in most contexts it just feels melodramatic. Lol

In my (highly educated, fairly liberal, millennial) circles, "partner" is widely understood and commonly used.

BussoV6

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #28 on: February 07, 2024, 03:57:37 AM »
My partner refers to me as "her current partner". We have been together for decades. :-)

sonofsven

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #29 on: February 07, 2024, 04:39:38 AM »
I'm in a LTR (13 years this Valentine's Day 💘) and we don't live together. We use partner/boyfriend/girlfriend interchangeably, depending on the context and flow of the conversation and who we're talking to.
Most importantly, we're on the same page. Neither are really interested in getting married, but if it was really important to the other we would do so and be fine with it.
My mom and I recently had this discussion; she was struggling to describe our relationship to her friends I think, and had the same comment about partner meaning gay and/or a business relationship. I also had a long term business partner who I would often describe as my work partner.
So mom was trying to come up with another descriptive for me and GF:
 Lover? Um, no mom. Mistress? Jesus no, mom! Just say girlfriend! But that doesn't sound permanent! Ok, use partner. But that sounds like you're gay! Ok, use girlfriend.
lol

Metalcat

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #30 on: February 07, 2024, 04:52:59 AM »
I used to care what my spouse called me back when we were dating the first time around because we had trust issues, respect issues, communication issues, and weren't aligned in terms of what we meant to each other and what our future was.

So it felt very important to me what we called each other and there were a lot of hurt feelings and conflict about the subject.

Fast forward a few decades, many years apart, many years back together, enormous trust, respect, and alignment, and I couldn't care less what he calls me.

We look young, we don't have kids, I'm in grad school, we don't wear rings, and we live in a highrise filled with seniors and students who are renting, so no one assumes that we're married or that we own a place together, or any other indicator of our level of commitment.

In fact, people don't always assume that we're even a couple. They'll look at me and say "I was talking to your...boyfriend??...yesterday" because we could just be roommates for all people know.

We truly don't care what we are called or what people think or know about our relationship. Besides, if you spend any time around us, our level of commitment and mutual love and respect is incredibly self-evident. Because of that, a lot of people tell us we should get married, which is funny since we've been married for almost a decade.

Long story short, don't worry about what you call each other, worry about what you mean to each other.

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #31 on: February 07, 2024, 08:02:03 AM »
Maybe this is strange, but I'm an older millennial and I definitely still have the snap reaction that someone is gay when they say "Partner". In the immortal words of Seinfeld though, "Not that there's anything wrong with that".  Seriously, no issue with people being gay. 

However, when using it in a hetero context, it feels like its a way for liberal people to show the person they're talking to that they're liberal.  I've got no issue with people being liberal, but I've found that only liberal people use the term "partner" for their hetero significant other and I think that a lot of liberal people are aware, or at least subconsciously aware of that fact.  This could be a factor of living where I do though--there is a lot of very liberal people that are frequently in contact with very conservative people in Western NC, and a lot of people feel the need to make sure that the people they're talking to share their viewpoints.  Conservative people do it in other ways as well, and I think its an interesting dynamic. 

But anyways, to answer the question, I called my wife my girlfriend for all of the 6 years we were together before we got engaged.

Tass

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #32 on: February 07, 2024, 08:29:30 AM »
However, when using it in a hetero context, it feels like its a way for liberal people to show the person they're talking to that they're liberal.  I've got no issue with people being liberal, but I've found that only liberal people use the term "partner" for their hetero significant other and I think that a lot of liberal people are aware, or at least subconsciously aware of that fact.  This could be a factor of living where I do though--there is a lot of very liberal people that are frequently in contact with very conservative people in Western NC, and a lot of people feel the need to make sure that the people they're talking to share their viewpoints.  Conservative people do it in other ways as well, and I think its an interesting dynamic. 

Interesting observation. DH and I became really serious and moved in together while I was in a PhD program in coastal California, which is to say that I was surrounded by extremely liberal people. Although that matches your "only liberals use this term," I don't think it had the same "telegraphing" purpose that you describe here, because everybody just assumed everyone else was on the same page politically.

Also notable, in that environment, I had people assume I (woman) was dating a man more than once when I said "partner" and had given no other gender markers. I don't think anyone ever assumed I was dating a woman. (Extra interesting because I have been assumed to be a lesbian based on other factors before, so it's not just that I look incredibly straight.) Or maybe it's just that people who recognize you might be referring to a same-sex partner also recognize that you have chosen not to state their gender so they tend to be polite about not assuming anything.

For me/us--and again, we dated for 11 years before becoming engaged--it was more about claiming a word that felt serious despite not being mappable onto a "path to marriage." You can't date for 11 years, through your 20s, without hearing a lot of friendly harassment about when you're getting married, so it was in a bit of rebellion to that. And now that we are married I have a lot of fondness for the word and don't plan to give it up entirely.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2024, 08:35:33 AM by Tass »

Turtle

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #33 on: February 07, 2024, 09:26:45 AM »
I'm in a LTR (13 years this Valentine's Day 💘) and we don't live together. We use partner/boyfriend/girlfriend interchangeably, depending on the context and flow of the conversation and who we're talking to.
Most importantly, we're on the same page. Neither are really interested in getting married, but if it was really important to the other we would do so and be fine with it.
My mom and I recently had this discussion; she was struggling to describe our relationship to her friends I think, and had the same comment about partner meaning gay and/or a business relationship. I also had a long term business partner who I would often describe as my work partner.
So mom was trying to come up with another descriptive for me and GF:
 Lover? Um, no mom. Mistress? Jesus no, mom! Just say girlfriend! But that doesn't sound permanent! Ok, use partner. But that sounds like you're gay! Ok, use girlfriend.
lol

Your description of your conversation with your mom literally did make me LOL, and make me miss my mom.   

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #34 on: February 07, 2024, 09:43:39 AM »
Maybe this is strange, but I'm an older millennial and I definitely still have the snap reaction that someone is gay when they say "Partner". In the immortal words of Seinfeld though, "Not that there's anything wrong with that".  Seriously, no issue with people being gay. 

However, when using it in a hetero context, it feels like its a way for liberal people to show the person they're talking to that they're liberal.  I've got no issue with people being liberal, but I've found that only liberal people use the term "partner" for their hetero significant other and I think that a lot of liberal people are aware, or at least subconsciously aware of that fact.  This could be a factor of living where I do though--there is a lot of very liberal people that are frequently in contact with very conservative people in Western NC, and a lot of people feel the need to make sure that the people they're talking to share their viewpoints.  Conservative people do it in other ways as well, and I think its an interesting dynamic. 

But anyways, to answer the question, I called my wife my girlfriend for all of the 6 years we were together before we got engaged.

That’s interesting because my default is to see it the other way, that more conservative people avoid partner to not seem liberal or queer. Partner feels natural to me while boyfriend/girlfriend definitely seems out-of-date. If we weren’t serious, I’d say a “man/woman I’m dating“ instead of partner.

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #35 on: February 07, 2024, 10:05:47 AM »
Her mom would tell us to grow up.  We act like we are dating.  We still act like that and have a grand time.  We get wonderful looks from strangers and new acquaintances.  We hold hands and kiss.

She is my girlfriend.  Has been for 34 years.  33 years married because of insurance.  3 kids together.  She means a lot to me.

When we dated, she explained that people fall in and out of love all the time.  She is divorced and had a lot of expectations, trust issues and what not.  However, you never hear about people getting smart.  Therefore, we are stupid for each other.

She is my girlfriend and I am stupid for her.  Unless we are in a hospital and then the legal words like "spouse" become important.  Trust me on this one.  I was asked to leave because of legal reasons.  No humor there. 

K_in_the_kitchen

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #36 on: February 07, 2024, 12:30:40 PM »
The young adults in my life have accustomed me to partner being used for committed non-married relationships (or when I don’t know marital status), regardless of gender or sexual orientation.  Because of my age, it took getting used to because of previous associations with work — for me, it sounds business like and not particularly affectionate.  However, I was already squeamish about boyfriend and girlfriend, as I believe language matters and unless the person being dated is a minor, they are not a boy or a girl.  This goes in both directions for me, as I don’t refer to teenage girls as young women — I think it’s imperative to refer to them as girls and not confuse them with adults.

When the person being referred to is not thought of as a partner, the young people typically use the phrase, “person they are seeing/dating”.

My husband was my boyfriend, back when he was a minor and not a man.  That was long ago enough that he was my boyfriend at 18 and 19 as well.  Then he was my fiancé, and now he is my husband.  I could use partner, because we certainly are life partners, but the connotation behind that where I live is that the couple isn’t married.  But were we young adults now, committed but not married, I would use partner.  If we were not committed, I would refer to him as the person I’m dating. 

sonofsven

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #37 on: February 07, 2024, 01:20:57 PM »
I'm in a LTR (13 years this Valentine's Day 💘) and we don't live together. We use partner/boyfriend/girlfriend interchangeably, depending on the context and flow of the conversation and who we're talking to.
Most importantly, we're on the same page. Neither are really interested in getting married, but if it was really important to the other we would do so and be fine with it.
My mom and I recently had this discussion; she was struggling to describe our relationship to her friends I think, and had the same comment about partner meaning gay and/or a business relationship. I also had a long term business partner who I would often describe as my work partner.
So mom was trying to come up with another descriptive for me and GF:
 Lover? Um, no mom. Mistress? Jesus no, mom! Just say girlfriend! But that doesn't sound permanent! Ok, use partner. But that sounds like you're gay! Ok, use girlfriend.
lol

Your description of your conversation with your mom literally did make me LOL, and make me miss my mom.
I suggested *mistress* and that made her laugh. Sorry about your mom, I really enjoy my relationship with mine but I know that day is coming.

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #38 on: February 07, 2024, 01:30:02 PM »
I ran into this language issue when introducing my brother's 'person.'  She's 62, so girlfriend seemed insulting?, childish?, something.  Partner seemed too heavy. She suggested 'lady friend' in a creepy, hilarious voice. I appreciated her helping me out.  But I also decided I wasn't putting myself in that position again! Ha! I have no idea what they call each other.

Tass

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #39 on: February 07, 2024, 01:36:14 PM »
My "We say 'partner' even though we're straight" conversation with my mom came after she introduced DH as my "[awkward pause] significant other?"

That term probably works fine if you say it more confidently.

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #40 on: February 07, 2024, 01:52:23 PM »
I think the English language could sorely use an improvement in this area.

I have been with my "person" for nearly 8 years and lived with him for 4. I prefer to say that he is my partner because saying, "boyfriend" doesn't seem to reflect the seriousness of our relationship. However, my partner and I recently met someone who was confused by our use of this term  because he thought the term implied same sex relationship. We had to explain it to him.

I noticed that after this happened, my partner started referring to me as his girlfriend again, which I believe is his attempt to avoid the confusion. I'm still referring to him as my partner. I think we should just go ahead and get married so we can stop worrying about what terms to use, haha.

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #41 on: February 07, 2024, 07:39:02 PM »
I think the English language could sorely use an improvement in this area.

I have been with my "person" for nearly 8 years and lived with him for 4. I prefer to say that he is my partner because saying, "boyfriend" doesn't seem to reflect the seriousness of our relationship. However, my partner and I recently met someone who was confused by our use of this term  because he thought the term implied same sex relationship. We had to explain it to him.

I noticed that after this happened, my partner started referring to me as his girlfriend again, which I believe is his attempt to avoid the confusion. I'm still referring to him as my partner. I think we should just go ahead and get married so we can stop worrying about what terms to use, haha.

Lol - yeah for a long time when anyone said “partner” I usually assumed they were in a same sex relationship and didn’t want to disclose it. I feel that 10-20 years ago, this was much more the case than today.

I refer to my spouse as my wife. To me, partner doesn’t imply a romantic relationship. Not that anything is anyone’s business, but the terms husband and wife have been around for millenniums. I have a hard time not using a proper definition that outlines the type of relationship I am in. While she’s also my girl-friend, wife or spouse is the more proper definition. I would call her my partner if we roped cattle or participated on a team together, and never had sex.

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #42 on: February 07, 2024, 09:27:05 PM »
^^ yeah my sister is my doubles volleyball partner - as other random people have - and that's where my mind goes first when I hear partner. I guess people could say romantic partner or life partner but it all sounds weird to me. I just use his name (this is Bob) and if interested in our relationship they can ask. Most people can tell if your part of a romantic couple or not pretty quick.

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #43 on: February 08, 2024, 08:16:51 AM »
I tended to use partner a lot before we got married because we do have a good partnership and boyfriend /girlfriend feels so casual. I know the gay implications but I think it also normalizes it for gay couples so it's easier to be discreet when everyone can use the term.

Now that we are married we use husband/wife and sometimes it feels a little weird saying it cause it feels so grown-up? Even though we are in our thirties and have a kid and have been together almost 9 years.

Nutty

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #44 on: February 08, 2024, 09:11:22 AM »
Think about it from the other direction.  Yes, I've done this to an acquaintance/coworker that was prying too hard.  I introduced Crazy Lady as the person I was sleeping with.  The reaction was priceless.  Crazy Lady has a wicked sense of humor and went with it too.

After recovering from the shock, the unwanted probing continued, "how long have you been seeing each other?" was the delicate way of asking.  I think our response was 20 years at that time, and added "but it probably won't last."  Followed by a smile and a kiss.  When someone crosses societal decorum, the smart ass factor has a way of pushing back.

At some point, unwanted questions are met with unexpected replies.  The discussion of partner is interesting.  Can they also be just a friend?  The implication of something more or less can be left hanging either way.  The wording is left to you.  What are you comfortable with?

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #45 on: February 08, 2024, 09:39:45 AM »
Think about it from the other direction.  Yes, I've done this to an acquaintance/coworker that was prying too hard.  I introduced Crazy Lady as the person I was sleeping with.  The reaction was priceless.  Crazy Lady has a wicked sense of humor and went with it too.

After recovering from the shock, the unwanted probing continued, "how long have you been seeing each other?" was the delicate way of asking.  I think our response was 20 years at that time, and added "but it probably won't last."  Followed by a smile and a kiss.  When someone crosses societal decorum, the smart ass factor has a way of pushing back.

At some point, unwanted questions are met with unexpected replies.  The discussion of partner is interesting.  Can they also be just a friend?  The implication of something more or less can be left hanging either way.  The wording is left to you.  What are you comfortable with?

Lol, DH not-infrequently refers to me as "the chick I'm fucking." The reactions are priceless.

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #46 on: February 08, 2024, 10:26:42 AM »
Think about it from the other direction.  Yes, I've done this to an acquaintance/coworker that was prying too hard.  I introduced Crazy Lady as the person I was sleeping with.  The reaction was priceless.  Crazy Lady has a wicked sense of humor and went with it too.

After recovering from the shock, the unwanted probing continued, "how long have you been seeing each other?" was the delicate way of asking.  I think our response was 20 years at that time, and added "but it probably won't last."  Followed by a smile and a kiss.  When someone crosses societal decorum, the smart ass factor has a way of pushing back.

At some point, unwanted questions are met with unexpected replies.  The discussion of partner is interesting.  Can they also be just a friend?  The implication of something more or less can be left hanging either way.  The wording is left to you.  What are you comfortable with?

Lol, DH not-infrequently refers to me as "the chick I'm fucking." The reactions are priceless.

When I'm feeling snarky I have referred to DW as "my first wife", which is technically correct.

sonofsven

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #47 on: February 08, 2024, 10:29:53 AM »
Think about it from the other direction.  Yes, I've done this to an acquaintance/coworker that was prying too hard.  I introduced Crazy Lady as the person I was sleeping with.  The reaction was priceless.  Crazy Lady has a wicked sense of humor and went with it too.

After recovering from the shock, the unwanted probing continued, "how long have you been seeing each other?" was the delicate way of asking.  I think our response was 20 years at that time, and added "but it probably won't last."  Followed by a smile and a kiss.  When someone crosses societal decorum, the smart ass factor has a way of pushing back.

At some point, unwanted questions are met with unexpected replies.  The discussion of partner is interesting.  Can they also be just a friend?  The implication of something more or less can be left hanging either way.  The wording is left to you.  What are you comfortable with?

Lol, DH not-infrequently refers to me as "the chick I'm fucking." The reactions are priceless.

Next time counter with "Was. Was fucking. As in, used to fuck before today."

Metalcat

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #48 on: February 08, 2024, 11:02:02 AM »
Think about it from the other direction.  Yes, I've done this to an acquaintance/coworker that was prying too hard.  I introduced Crazy Lady as the person I was sleeping with.  The reaction was priceless.  Crazy Lady has a wicked sense of humor and went with it too.

After recovering from the shock, the unwanted probing continued, "how long have you been seeing each other?" was the delicate way of asking.  I think our response was 20 years at that time, and added "but it probably won't last."  Followed by a smile and a kiss.  When someone crosses societal decorum, the smart ass factor has a way of pushing back.

At some point, unwanted questions are met with unexpected replies.  The discussion of partner is interesting.  Can they also be just a friend?  The implication of something more or less can be left hanging either way.  The wording is left to you.  What are you comfortable with?

Lol, DH not-infrequently refers to me as "the chick I'm fucking." The reactions are priceless.

Next time counter with "Was. Was fucking. As in, used to fuck before today."

You seem to assume that I'm offended by the fact that he says that, if I was, he would never say it.

I refer to him as "my creepy roommate who keeps walking around with his dick out."

Nutty

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Re: Boyfriend/girlfriend or Partner?
« Reply #49 on: February 08, 2024, 12:55:16 PM »
While waitressing, Crazy Lady was introduced by a regular customer to the people he was entertaining as his "future ex-wife."

She corrected him, "Maybe your future widow."  The whole table erupted in laughter.  She earned her tips.

This was before we started harassing each other. 

I like the creepy roommate comment.  I'll steal that one.