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Afternoon Quickie: “She Introduces Me as Her ‘Friend,’ Not Fiancé”

My fiancée will not introduce me to her friends and co-workers as her fiancé – she introduces me as “her friend.” I tried to explain to her that it’s not an insecurity issue for me, but I like that “fiancé” lets folks know where we are in our relationship. She has been divorced twice, and I am a widower who was married for 34 years and lost my wife to cancer. With my fiancée’s previous marriage, she claims she would introduce him as “Steve” and not her husband, Steve.

I have always introduced her as my fiancée and am proud of her. Am I wrong with my concerns with the way she introduces me? — Her Fiancé, Not Friend

No, you’re not wrong; it’s weird. It would be one thing if she simply introduced you by your name, as she did with Steve, her ex, but to qualify your relationship to her by calling you her “friend” when you are actually her fiancé is suspect. I’m curious: Does she refuse to wear an engagement ring, too? You’ve explained why you’d like her to address you as her fiancé, so now you need to ask her why she prefers not to.

If your relationship is otherwise strong, I would simply tell her you wish to be introduced as her fiancé or simply by your name alone with no qualifier (people will figure out pretty quickly what your relationship is). But if this is a sign of cracks in the relationship, I’d definitely hit the pause button and re-evaluate your engagement. After all, there’s a reason she has two divorces under her belt, and it’s possible that part of the problem in past relationships was a fear or dislike of commitment or giving up any of her independence (which would explain the hesitation to call someone her husband or fiancé anyway). If you don’t know why her previous two marriages failed, this would be an ideal time to find out.

At any rate, you two definitely need to communicate a bit more before you head down the aisle.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

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{ 20 comments… add one }

  • avatar XanderT May 1, 2014, 3:25 pm

    LW – You are “in a relationship” or you are getting married? Do you have a date set for your wedding? If you are not getting married you are not her fiance’.

  • avatar lets_be_honest May 1, 2014, 3:32 pm

    She could be old school or something and maybe she’s embarrassed because its her 3rd marriage?

    Confession: I tell some people Peter is my friend. Well, just my grandparents. I don’t know why.

    • avatar Ella_ May 1, 2014, 4:35 pm

      The first time I went to stay with my boyfriend’s parents, his mom introduced me to someone as his “friend,” it was kind of weird.

  • avatar Penguingina May 1, 2014, 3:33 pm

    I would even think it odd to introduce a boyfriend or girlfriend as simply “my friend.” She must be either afraid of judgment for being engaged again, or for being engaged to YOU. Is she affectionate towards you in front of others? Full on PDA is simply uncomfortable for some, but things like holding hands, standing close, etc.? Does she do little things like that? If not, I wonder if she takes your relationship, let alone engagement as seriously as you do.

  • katie katie May 1, 2014, 3:37 pm

    if this is just a pattern for her -she says she introduced her last husband by his name, nothing else- then i dont think its that weird. i actually hate that stuff too, kind of, and i just introduce jake by his name. so i think this might be one of those times that just because you think something is a big deal (“I like that “fiancé” lets folks know where we are in our relationship”), doesnt mean that everyone has to feel the same way about it. i could personally care less if people know that i am in a relationship, period, not to mention what “stage” were at or whatever. what does that change, you know?

  • call-me-hobo call-me-hobo May 1, 2014, 3:46 pm

    How long have you two been engaged, and do you have an actual date set? How long has it been since her last divorce? Just some info that would help explain exactly how odd her behavior may or may not be. Besides that, listen to Wendy and let your fiancé know how you feel!

  • mylaray mylaray May 1, 2014, 3:52 pm

    I wonder what she would say if directly asked if you’re her boyfriend/partner/fiancé/husband. While I do think it’s weird she introduces you as her friend, I can see her having reasons to do so.

  • avatar applescruffs May 1, 2014, 3:55 pm

    Nothing wrong with not wanting an engagement ring! Although I do think her use of “friend” is a little weird.

  • avatar No Pants May 1, 2014, 3:55 pm

    What is the reason she gives you for not using “fiancé”? I will admit that I never used fiancé all that much; it just sounded weird to me. I don’t really know why. I usually just introduced He Pants as He Pants and if people noticed my engagement ring, I would confirm that, yep, we were engaged.

    • avatar Banana May 1, 2014, 3:59 pm

      Spotted a typo; I think you mean you introduced him as “MY Pants.” So everyone knows.

      • avatar No Pants May 1, 2014, 4:09 pm

        Hahahaha I wish I could like this a million times.

  • GatorGirl GatorGirl May 1, 2014, 4:18 pm

    I used to work with an older woman (probably 50 or so) who would introduce her serious boyfriend as her “friend”. I think some of it was at her age she felt silly using bf to describe a serious adult relationship. So, LW, maybe your fiancé is just more comfortable with friend rather than fiancé? Maybe it makes her feel silly, like she is too old? IDK, just guesses here.
    .
    Some times GGuy just introduces me as GG. But then again he just forgets to introduce me sometimes so. LW, why don’t you introduce your self? “Hi I’m Bob, Sally’s fiancé!”

    • avatar MsMisery May 2, 2014, 1:08 pm

      This reminds me of a Sex and the City episode where Carrie was talking about how she feels weird calling Mr. Big (I think it was Big) “boyfriend.” It was the most mature relationship she’d had, so he was more than a friend, but they were too old for boyfriend. And “manfriend” sounded even weirder. So maybe the LW’s fiancé just doesn’t like the sound of anything.

  • Miel Miel May 1, 2014, 5:12 pm

    I think the most important factor while introducing someone is definitely the body language, in combination with the words used. I know people who will introduce their partner as their “friend” but their body language really show how they are comfortable and confident next to that “friend” and it makes their relationship sound really stable and serious (like if the relationship was so strong you didn’t need to name it). The body language is very different when “friend” is used as an awkward word to hide the real nature of the relationship. Same when someone introduces just using first names. I’m pretty sure my boyfriend only introduces me by my first name but again, I’m 100% sure everyone understands our relationship just by the way we stand around each other and interact with each other. Sometimes, stating your relationship with someone, while having the wrong body language, sounds like your trying to convince yourself by saying it out loud (like if someone wanted to save their marriage from divorce just by saying out loud “my WIFE” every time there was an occasion).

  • fast eddie fast eddie May 1, 2014, 8:33 pm

    This letter seems to have been written by an post adolescent instead of a guy in his late 50s. Good grief, isn’t a finance a friend? If not then why are you engaged? CLOSE friends already know and casual ones don’t need to know. Casual observers that take notice of your attention to each other can draw their own conclusions. IF anyone gives a rat’s patoot may ask giving you the chance to brag and bore.

    • fast eddie fast eddie May 1, 2014, 8:39 pm

      I get it that your proud and happy with your status, but give us a break, there are over 5 billion other people on the planet of which at least a few hundred thousand that effect the world more then you and your beloved.

      PS: Congratulations!

  • Lyra Lyra May 1, 2014, 9:08 pm

    Confession: I was slightly tipsy when I introduced Navy Guy to one of my close friends who came to my birthday party. I introduced him as “Navy Guy, my boyfraaaaaaaand!” I think Navy Guy was ready to kill me after that hah. Every once in a while, especially when I’m slightly intoxicated I start calling him “boyfraaaaand”. Poor guy.

  • avatar Wendy (not Wendy) May 2, 2014, 12:39 am

    I’m unenthusiastic about the word “fiance/e”, which sounds kind of Cinderella-y to me, cute when young people use it, precious when older people do. I mean, I think people should use whatever words they want, but that’s why I probably wouldn’t choose it myself.

    I prefer “friend” to boyfriend/girlfriend now that I’m an adult, and I know lots of others who feel the same way… and while just the first name seems best (“Grandma, I want you to meet Steve,”) I think the other person might be confused and think they’re supposed to know something about Steve. “My friend Steve” covers it. Everyone knows what that means. Well, in your case they probably don’t realize that you’re necessarily a serious couple, but does that really matter?

    I’m divorced myself. There’s a stigma that I’m sure is at least twice as much when you’re twice-divorced, probably more. Your fiancee probably doesn’t want people talking behind her back about whether THIS time will stick, etc etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if she wants to present it as a done deal, or anyway, wait until the wedding is imminent.

    Now, it’s also altogether possible that she doesn’t really want to/intend to marry you, or there’s other issues going on, and hopefully you guys can figure this out without any trauma. But honestly, I can see myself being the exact same way.

    • avatar AmyP May 2, 2014, 8:11 pm

      “Fiance” is only precious when you say it “fiansaaaaaay.”

      You can also say “betrothed” or “intended,” but that probably is precious.

  • avatar TheGirlinME May 2, 2014, 8:43 pm

    I think Wendy is right. That is all

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