Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Don’t Know What to Call My Boyfriend”

I started dating an older man a few months ago – I’m 30, he’s 45. We’ve both been divorced, and between that and our age difference, neither of us is sure how to refer to the other during introductions. We’re known as friends already to some, so establishing our new status is preferable to simply saying, “This is [name]” as a default option. He’s someone I respect as well as care for, and “boyfriend” seems disrespectful somehow to his age and experience in life. “Significant other” seems unwieldy, and abbreviating to SO might require explanation. We’d laugh ourselves silly if we tried to use cutesy terms like “my honey” or similar. I can’t introduce someone to my parents as my lover. Any suggestions? — Somewhat Nameless

I guess I don’t understand what’s wrong with introducing your boyfriend by his first name or as “my boyfriend.” People who don’t know your status will quickly assume or figure it out by the way you interact and engage with each other. And people like your family or close friends will already know you’re a couple (and if they don’t, I’m sure they’ll also quickly figure it out). And, really, most people wouldn’t think it strange if you referred to him as your boyfriend. That’s what he is, isn’t it? And it’s not like the term expires or becomes inappropriate at a certain age. If you simply can’t bring yourself to say “boyfriend,” try “gentleman friend.” It’s just offbeat enough to sound endearing, as long as you say it with confidence.

Really, though, you should call your significant other — your boyfriend, your companion, your gentleman friend, your lover, your partner, your boo, your honeydew, your sweetcheeks-mccoy — any damn thing you want. It’s your relationship. You know how you feel about him and what he means to you and what his role is in your life. If it’s important to you that others know what that role is, then decide what term encompasses it best and use that term, regardless of how you think it sounds to others. Seriously, don’t over-think this. Go with whatever feels comfortable to you and trust that if you respect and love each other, then that’s probably going to come through to people regardless of how you refer to each other. And if it doesn’t? Who cares! Outside perception won’t ever change a relationship unless you let it.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

158 comments… add one
  • avatar

    oldie April 20, 2012, 9:07 am

    Introduce him to your parents as your boyfriend. They’ll understand what you mean. I don’t see a problem in generally introducing him as your boyfriend. It is not disrespectful to refer to a 45-year old that way and vastly preferable to calling him a ‘gentleman friend’ which makes him sound 80. If you want to introduce him to your friends as your lover, that also is fine.

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  • avatar

    cporoski April 20, 2012, 9:09 am

    LW- I see your problem. You guys are at a wierd age. I know when retired people date, it is usually companion. I think it is also wierd because you are both divorced so going back to bf is a little odd. I would simply state the name with no explination then later say, “we’ve been together for x amount of months/years if there are more questions. I wouldn’t worry too much about it and just realize that you are the only ones that feel uncomfortable. Everyone else is fine with Boyfriend.

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    • rubyroo

      Ruby April 20, 2012, 5:46 pm

      Am I the only one a bit annoyed at this comment by referring to this couple as being at a ‘weird’ age? What’s does that mean? Why is being in your 30’s or 40’s and dating “weird”?
      It’s Normal! Lots of people in this age group or older date and have relationships, but are not married yet, or are divorced. It’s not weird…it’s Life!

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      • theattack

        theattack April 20, 2012, 6:23 pm

        I assumed she meant a weird age for dealing with this very specific issue of relationship labels.

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  • avatar

    artsygirl April 20, 2012, 9:16 am

    When I was in grad school I had a peer refer to his SO as a partner. I was amazed because I had only really heard that term used in reference to homosexual relationships – which his was not. The more time I spent with my classmates (most who were in their 30s), the more I heard the term used for monogamous relationships. I think it conveys a strong level of commitment and is nicely gender neutral so both of you can use the term. Also, it nicely non-specific so it covers a lot of stages of the relationship. My adviser used the term and she had been married to her partner for 20 years.

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    • avatar

      Nadine April 20, 2012, 9:17 am

      snap!

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    • caitie_didnt

      caitie_didnt April 20, 2012, 10:00 am

      Yes, I have a friend (he’s 26, she’s around the same age) who has been dating his significant other for years now. He always refers to her as his partner. At first I thought it was pretentious and kind of odd, especially since we were all still in undergrad. But the more I think about it now, the more I like it. They are planning to stay together indefinitely but are in no rush to get married, so partner conveys a deeper level of commitment than boyfriend/girlfriend would, and is also non-heteronormative. Especially in this day and age, some people have no interest in ever getting married (or in the case of same-sex couples, aren’t able to get married) and I think the term partner is especially useful in that context.

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      • avatar

        Sara April 20, 2012, 4:24 pm

        To me, “partner” has the connotation of a more committed relationship than “boyfriend/girlfriend.” I was much more comfortable calling my now-husband my “boyfriend” rather than “partner” in the beginning because we weren’t *that* close yet. As our relationship progressed, he seemed more like a “partner” than a “boyfriend.” It doesn’t look like “partner” has this connotation for other readers, though.

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      • avatar

        Lindsay April 20, 2012, 8:18 pm

        Same. I understand why older couples who are committed but not married (for whatever reason) call themselves “partners.” But I find it odd when people in less-committed relationships do that. I take it more as a sign of commitment, not as a sign of being gay or not. I guess it’s just that I don’t find “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” disrespectful, really to anyone. But to each their own. It’s really all about what you find comfortable for yourself.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow April 20, 2012, 10:36 am

      Yep. I would go with partner.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow April 20, 2012, 10:57 am

        ORRRRR introduce him as your “boo” and see if you can get a chuckle.

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      • avatar

        SweetPea April 20, 2012, 1:25 pm

        That’s my favorite response. Calling someone “my boo” is supposed to make people chuckle, takes some pressure off the situation and then people can assume whatever the heck they want.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl April 20, 2012, 11:01 am

      My fiance is in grad school and a lot of his friends use “partner”. Honestly I find it very pretentious and “holier than thou”.

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      • avatar

        camille905 April 20, 2012, 11:04 am

        Why? If you don’t plan on getting married (or can’t) but are deeply committed to that person, why is referring them as partner pretentious? It sounds like maybe you have issues with it that it so concerns you.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 20, 2012, 11:10 am

        What issue would I have?

        I’m for equal marraige rights if that’s where you are going with this. I was deeply commited to my fiance very early on in our relationship (as was he). I still called him by BF because thats what he was. If I had been dating a woman I would have called her my GF.

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      • avatar

        Milla April 21, 2012, 4:32 pm

        Girlfriend, to me, reflects that it’s a younger relationship, or a bit transitory. I prefer partner because we’ve been together for over six years at this point, and if we could be married, we would be.

        I also really like it when heterosexual couples refer to each other as partners, rather than using gendered terms. It seems a little more respectful to me.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 21, 2012, 5:51 pm

        But why couldn’t a female call her female “partner” her girlfriend? Or a guy call another guy his boyfriend? I don’t think it’s disrespectful to use gendered terms.

        I do understand your point about not being able to marry and using the term partner…but I would assume that means there has been an adult conversation and an extra level of commitment similar to an engagement or marriage. Hopefully soon you’ll just be able to say wife- that is if you want to use gendered terms…

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      • avatar

        rachel April 20, 2012, 11:38 am

        I recently found out that in Australia, everyone (even those who are married) uses “partner”.

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      • avatar

        GTR April 22, 2012, 11:39 pm

        As an Australian I can attest to this. It’s not EVERYONE, but it is common.

        I think it’s because “This is my husband” is thought to sound a little fusty and old-fashioned, whereas “This is my partner” sounds modern and groovy. Giving the impression of being together but unmarried still carries a hint of salaciousness.

        I think some lower-caste, and mostly female, Australians have also subconsciously absorbed an idea that to be married is to somehow be judgemental about those who are not married… as if getting married is saying that you think you’re better than them. Getting a man to commit to you for life is to put on airs.

        As for the LW, I say just refer to him as your “friend”. People will work it out – a single woman doesn’t turn up to a function with a single man unless they’re either dating or pre-pubescent.

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      • avatar

        artsygirl April 20, 2012, 11:58 am

        Why does it bother you? I don’t think people are using it to be pretentious – rather they are conveying that they are in a serious committed relationship which could be everything from dating, engaged, married, or ‘domestic partnership’. I think it is completely appropriate especially if the two individuals are older and don’t want the juvenile sounding ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’. Personally I find terms like ergo more pretentious.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 20, 2012, 12:12 pm

        Perhaps it is the situations I’ve been in when the term was used.

        For example a Phd program meet-and-greet where my (then) BF introduced me to another student as his GF and that guy goes “oh, well this is my PARTNER Jane”. All drawn out and emphasising “partner”. Like he was cooler for using that word and that their relationship was more “valid” than ours. We had been dating just under 4 years at that point…so no their relationship wasn’t “better” than ours. Plus- the two times that really pissed me off- the one couple was married, and the other got engaged like 2 months later…

        So yes, I may have a personal “issue” with the term due to snobby people in my fiance’s Phd program…but I also think there is a wide variety of terms that can be used to express committment that are easier to swallow. But this is all my opinion and the LW needs to decide what is best for her and her man friend.

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  • avatar

    Nadine April 20, 2012, 9:16 am

    Would you feel comfortable with partner? It seems a bit more mature to me, so my SO and I use it when we need to sound grown up (bank, officials, lease agency, bosses etc) but not in everyday usage (because we are only 24, and it makes me giggly). No one in my family gets married but they are all in long term relationships so we all use partner.

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    • avatar

      Ktfran April 20, 2012, 10:13 am

      Nadine –

      I’m so interested to know why your family doesn’t marry and chooses to have long-term relationships instead. I don’t come across it on a regular basis, but I think it’s kind of great.

      I’ve been saying since I was a teenager that I could easily see myself doing a “Kurt Russel/Goldie Hawn” thing. But it’s not the norm and I’m curious to hear others reasoning.

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      • avatar

        Nadine April 20, 2012, 10:51 am

        I dont really know. To be honest, I intend to get married, but I havent really thought of why yet. I just want to marry my partner. He wasn’t that keen at first, but he will do it for me, which is good.
        Its a generational thing, for sure. My parents and aunts and uncles are all married, but they freely admit that they did it to keep their Catholic parents happy when they started wanting kids. Since my generation were all raised non-religiously, I guess it seems regressive? Or unnecessary? Now my cousins are having kids etc, no one in my family has even asked. They say they get some shit from partners families, but since common-law partnerships are recognized in NZ, they really dont see the point.
        In my private opinion, my family are all very shy about feelings, and to me a wedding seems like a big feelings party (maybe this is why I want one?).

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  • FireStar

    FireStar April 20, 2012, 9:17 am

    What about your guy-friend or your guy? But truly – does it really matter? People will figure out the deal between the two of you.

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  • avatar

    Tax Geek April 20, 2012, 9:17 am

    I’m 47 and going through a divorce. Not seeing anyone now either. If I was going out with a woman 15 years younger than me she could call me anything she liked. I don’t see the big deal here.

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    • avatar

      AndreaMarie April 20, 2012, 11:35 am

      Haha I was kind of thinking the same thing. Like the guy is dating a woman 15 years younger, any guy I could imagine in this situation would be happy and proud for her to introduce him as her boyfriend…or whatever.

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  • avatar

    Christy April 20, 2012, 9:22 am

    But NOTHING is as fun as that moment of realization when your friends realize that you and your SO are in fact a couple. If you get to be there in person for it, it’s even better. It’s happened a couple of times to me and my gf, mostly at parties, and the reaction is so so priceless. It’s like we should have hired a prop plane to fly over the metro area to advertise that we’re dating.

    I’m a huge fan of “lady friend” and “gentleman caller.”

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    • Budj

      Budj April 20, 2012, 9:33 am

      dammmmmit you beat me to it. I didn’t bother reading the comments before posting.

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    • MandaNoA

      Mandanoa April 21, 2012, 2:05 am

      I tend to date around a lot and I love referring to the men I date as my gentlemen callers. I don’t tend to call someone my boyfriend until we’ve been together for a few months (mostly because unless it has been otherwise stated I assume we are not monogamous) so until that point they are my gentlemen caller. I think it expresses who they are without making it sound too serious. Plus it makes people (and me laugh).

      I don’t think my explanation will endear the LW to the term though…

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  • Leroy

    Leroy April 20, 2012, 9:27 am

    Inamorato is a good masculine term, but it’s not common and you’d probably come off as a bit pretentious.

    I think that you’re stuck w/ boyfriend. If you two are serious, then partner, but I’m guessing that you’re not there yet.

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  • Budj

    Budj April 20, 2012, 9:31 am

    “Hey Margaery, this is my gentleman caller, Mr. Belvadeir.”

    While I don’t see an issue with boy friend either….you could go with gentleman caller, but only if you let him call you his special lady friend.

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    • avatar

      Pamplemousse Rose April 20, 2012, 9:39 am

      and therein lies the problem with gentleman caller… no one wants to be a special lady friend.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 20, 2012, 10:18 am

        I do! (not really, I want to be “my single friend who is just here for drinks and totally not hooking up with anybody because she’s still got a lot of Dr. Who to watch”). But if I was in a relationship I’d like to be a “special lady friend”. You can throw in a cute “kidding but not really” smile in there somewhere, and it sounds great.

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      • avatar

        MsBorgia April 20, 2012, 11:25 am

        I like how you think. Btw, Dr Who + drinking wine from a jar = best night ever.

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      • avatar

        rachel April 20, 2012, 11:43 am

        agreed.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 20, 2012, 12:21 pm

        I’ll have to try that then =)

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      • Amybelle

        Amybelle April 20, 2012, 1:38 pm

        I like my wine in a coffee mug but other than that me too 🙂

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  • avatar

    niki April 20, 2012, 9:31 am

    I can understand the LW’s dilemma. Ever since the birth of our child, calling my SO “boyfriend” seems wrong. We’re both professionials in our 30’s, so boyfriend seems juvenile. But, it’s technically accurate, so most of the time that’s how I refer to him. In a professional setting I use “partner” or “significant other.”

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    • rainbow

      rainbow April 20, 2012, 10:05 am

      It’s funny, I was just thinking about this yesterday even though I’m not in a relationship at the moment. I think boyfriend is very juvenile (even though it doesn’t even include the word “boy” in Spanish), I don’t like using it. Just like niki, in a professional setting I use” partner”, then if we’re not too serious yet I use “date”, and when I was living with my SO I jokingly introduced him as my concubine when appropriate. In between date and concubine and if we were standing close together I would most of the time just say “this is Name” while I squeezed his hand briefly (or even a couple of fingers) or rested my hand on his arm for a second. I don’t know if it makes sense with the body language in your country, but here it was pretty natural and everyone understood what I meant.

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      • avatar

        Ktfran April 20, 2012, 10:35 am

        LOVE this response!

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny April 20, 2012, 10:36 am

        I like the body language one best – it neatly skirts the issue but is nice and clear.

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      • avatar

        Samantha April 20, 2012, 12:25 pm

        I like the body language thing a lot.
        I’m the youngest person in my office, and I don’t like using boyfriend when introducing my sig. o. at work functions because it makes me feel young – like I’m blowing my cover or something. And partner feels very formal – I like it, theoretically, but it sounds very utilitarian. Thanks for an awesome solution!

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  • avatar

    a_different_Wendy April 20, 2012, 9:34 am

    How about ‘beau’?

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    • avatar

      cporoski April 20, 2012, 9:42 am

      Love this! best answer

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  • avatar

    Pamplemousse Rose April 20, 2012, 9:38 am

    I can absolutely relate. Once you get into your 30s “boyfriend” sounds rather juvenile. I ran through the gamut of alternatives with my morning-coffee-posse (one suggestion was “future fiance” lol). A lot of options like gentleman friend can be awkward to try and use. When you’ve only been dating a few months there is a level of commitment implied with partner that isn’t quite there yet (I didn’t start using that until we were co-habitating). So I call him my fella.

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    • avatar

      Nadine April 20, 2012, 9:39 am

      he he I like fella.

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      • avatar

        Pamplemousse Rose April 20, 2012, 9:43 am

        Feel free to use. Maybe it can get some street cred.

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    • Moneypenny

      Moneypenny April 20, 2012, 12:49 pm

      Ooh, I like “fella!”
      It’s much better than, say, “stud muffin.” Unless that’s your thing, I don’t know.

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  • avatar

    AndreaMarie April 20, 2012, 9:44 am

    I have a coworker who is 59, she talks about her “boyfriend”. Like..”my boyfriend is a huge yankees fan”. I never found it awkward like…well he’s not a boy he’s 60.

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  • avatar

    savannah April 20, 2012, 9:44 am

    My parents have been married for 30 years and routinely use ‘my boyfriend’ and ‘my bride’ to introduce each other. Age ain’t nothing but a number.

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    • caitie_didnt

      caitie_didnt April 20, 2012, 10:01 am

      That’s super cute.

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    • avatar

      AndreaMarie April 20, 2012, 11:38 am

      My uncle always refers to my aunt as “my bride”.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 11:42 am

        That’s really sweet.

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  • Budj

    Budj April 20, 2012, 9:55 am

    “I don’t want to call you “boyfriend” because you’re too freaking old” hahaha…

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  • avatar

    Mainer April 20, 2012, 9:56 am

    “Sue, John. I’d like you to meet my romantic love interest, Phillip.”
    “Romantic love interest?”
    “Yeah, I don’t like the term boyfriend. Too juvenile. We’re classy and mature. He’s my love interest. We make love, gently and tenderly. Sometimes frequently”
    “We get it.”

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 10:04 am

      Tenderly. ha!

      this was very funny.

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  • avatar

    bethany April 20, 2012, 10:00 am

    My vote is for boyrfiend or partner. And really you only need to “announce” it once- after that, just call him Bob, or whatever his name is.

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  • Amybelle

    Amybelle April 20, 2012, 10:01 am

    How about the ’70’s term “my old man”? I kid, I kid…..I do understand this as I’m 41 and just feel dumb calling someone my boyfriend. I vote for introducing him by name and letting people figure it out.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl April 20, 2012, 10:57 am

      I call my fiance my “Old Man” all the time! We love it! (we’re in our late 20’s btw)

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      • avatar

        camille905 April 20, 2012, 11:07 am

        Sometimes I refer to my fiance as “my Mr.” or “the Mr.”

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 20, 2012, 4:37 pm

        Totally random but I just clicked on your name which took me to your blog…and I happen to be listening to “Summer Girls” at the moment.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 10:04 am

    Oh, what about ‘my better half’?
    Just another one to throw out there.

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    • avatar

      Christy April 20, 2012, 11:03 am

      Ooh I like that one!!

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  • avatar

    amy April 20, 2012, 10:17 am

    …. this is a problem? Oh haaaaaaaay, this is Mark! Just use your names.

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    • avatar

      amy April 20, 2012, 10:19 am

      You’re thirty and he’s in his 40’s. Aren’t we over the, do I call you my “boyfriend” stage yet?

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 10:20 am

      Oh amy, you’re just so helpful.

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      • avatar

        amy April 20, 2012, 10:29 am

        I’m just saying that this seems really like a non issue. Over thinking and making a mountain out of a mole hill

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 11:38 am

        She was just looking for some other ideas. Its not like she wrote ‘omg, I’m having the biggest relationship issue everrrrr.’ I just read it as though one of my friends posed the question to me, curious what everyone else out there calls their SO.

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    • avatar

      rachel April 20, 2012, 11:47 am

      “just use your names” doesn’t work when you’re talking about your boyfriend to someone else. What if I am talking to my future boss about how my boyfriend is looking for jobs near me? I can’t just use his name then, and using “boyfriend” makes it like a less serious relationship than it is. It’s a legitimate question.

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      • avatar

        rachel April 20, 2012, 11:57 am

        oops..”makes it seem like”

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      • Brad

        Brad April 20, 2012, 12:57 pm

        “and using “boyfriend” makes it like a less serious relationship than it is. It’s a legitimate question.” I disagree. To some perhaps but not to all. The whole point of being in a relationship for the vast majority of people is to determine compatability for marriage so all it says is that the couple is not at the point of committing to marriage, yet. The only time I think a relationship isn’t serious when I hear the title bf/gf is when those involved are teenagers. The english language doesn’t really have any widely used alternatives for indicating a serious pre-engagement relationship.

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      • avatar

        rachel April 20, 2012, 2:03 pm

        I see your point, and I don’t mean to say that I think that someone my age who has a boyfriend is not serious about them. The thing is, my boyfriend and I aren’t planning on getting married, but we are committed to staying with each other for the long term. For that reason, “boyfriend” doesn’t seem to cut it for me, in my relationship at this point in my life.

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny April 20, 2012, 2:37 pm

        I agree – people use boyfriend to mean a man they’re dating, regardless of whether they’re exclusive or not, cohabitating or not, if they’re serious or not, or if they have been together for two weeks or two years. And it’s lame – it sounds frivolous at best and infantile at worst. There should be a word for someone in a serious, committed relationship. The closest we’ve got is “partner” but I hear partner and I think LLPs, you know? Or cowboys. I move to bring back paramour.

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  • avatar

    EricaSwagger April 20, 2012, 9:24 am

    After a certain age, saying “boyfriend” sounds really lame. Not to mention, once people around you start getting married and engaged, the term “boyfriend” stops meaning so much. The older you get, the more childish it sounds to refer to your SO as a “boy,” and people feel like they don’t have to take the relationship seriously until they hear “fiance” or “husband”. It’s annoying, for sure.

    But there’s no alternative. Anything besides “boyfriend” sounds really cheesy, or as you mentioned, is kind of inappropriate. On the plus side, if you do refer to him as your boyfriend, everyone will know what you mean.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 10:02 am

      I know its dumb and a ‘who cares’ kinda thing, but I agree with you on all points. I feel a little silly calling my SO my boyfriend. We’re adults, I have a kid, just seems silly bc I don’t think it defines what we are when it also defines 2 teenagers who’ve been together a month. Oh well though.

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      • avatar

        Something More April 20, 2012, 10:22 am

        Same here. I’ve been dating my SO for almost 3 years. We’re both in our 30s; I hate using “boyfriend.”

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      • avatar

        AndreaMarie April 20, 2012, 11:37 am

        Good point about time. If you are dating someone for a serious length of time, like 3 years+ the names of boyfriend/girlfriend don’t properly represent the more serious, established relationship you have.

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      • avatar

        rachel April 20, 2012, 11:42 am

        Yeah, I have the same problem. My boyfriend and I have been together almost 3 years. And in a professional setting especially, I just feel silly referring to him as my boyfriend.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 20, 2012, 11:47 am

        I felt the same way…we’ve been together 4+ years and I’m introduced as your GF to your professors from your Phd program? Sometimeswe would use “significant other” instead.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 3:21 pm

        You know, its funny because I said the same thing as you, but as I’m reading everyone else’s comments saying what we’re saying, I’m thinking to myself that if *he* wanted you to be more than a girlfriend, you’d be engaged. (unless you are opposed to marriage of course) So while we don’t like the term girlfriend, we are putting ourselves in that juvenile place of not-that-serious-or-they’d-be-married.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 20, 2012, 4:34 pm

        Yeah, I know what you mean. We had a million discussions about it over the years. We were long distance for a while which is a factor into why we were “just dating” for so long even though it was so much more than that.

        Funny thing is we are engaged now…and it does feel different. I never thought it would- and it so is. We both can’t put what is different into words…but there is something.

        Also all of these school collegues of his that are married suddenly want to be our friends and do couple-y things…it’s like we joined some special club or something. Weird.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 4:41 pm

        That is weird. I wonder if I’ll feel differently when I take the leap. More connected, or confirmed maybe.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson April 20, 2012, 4:47 pm

        I didn’t feel differently at all. Which people thought was weird. But then again I never called him my fiancé bc I think that word is stupid. You’re either married or you’re not.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 4:53 pm

        I plan to exclusively use that word, but drawn out and over accented. Fee An sayyyy
        That’s a Seinfeld episode, right?

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson April 20, 2012, 5:07 pm

        Believe it or not George isn’t at home – where could I be?

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl April 20, 2012, 5:06 pm

        I keep forgetting to use fiance and just call him my boyfriend all the time. 4+ years is a hard habit to break! But I think it’s a dumb word too. Maybe I’ll start using “betrothed” haha

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson April 20, 2012, 5:08 pm

        Haha betrothed is awesome.

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      • FireStar

        FireStar April 20, 2012, 6:27 pm

        Same thing happened to me when I got married – I was so confused – if I didn’t like you when I was single why would I like you now? And why is everything ‘couples’ – are the single people going to try and steal your spouse if we invite them? (Sadly a single girlfriend of mine was actually told that was the reason why she wasn’t invited to a BBQ)

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      • avatar

        Anna April 20, 2012, 3:12 pm

        I completely agree. I’ve felt that way for about the last 4 years at least. I make every meal for you, we share a home and consider everything “ours” and we’ve spent nearly a decade in a committed relationship…but yet I still just have a “boyfriend.” A boyfriend (to me) is someone you’ve been dating for a short time or at a young age, like in high school. That’s why I insisted that the relationship either progress or end. Yes, he’s right that marriage is basically a piece of paper but it is not a meaningless piece of paper. It means a lot to me. The title of “wife” is a promotion I waited entirely too long for, and it’s all I wanted. Maybe it’s petty, but I don’t want to be someone’s “girlfriend” when I’m in my 40’s and up.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 3:21 pm

        wait, did you reconcile?

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      • avatar

        Anna April 20, 2012, 3:54 pm

        No. We’re still cohabiting and getting along well until he actually moves the first weekend in May. We’ve also agreed that we’re not considering ourselves single until we’re actually apart, because that’s just too awkward. Things are definitely not the same, but I’ve made it my goal that his last memories of living with me have to be positive because I am not the bad guy in this relationship; I am the woman who gave EVERYTHING. As soon as he (inevitably) starts fighting with his mom and remembering all the reasons he moved in with me in the first place, this crappy little apartment with me is going to look like heaven.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson April 20, 2012, 4:09 pm

        Wait you’re not considering yourselves single? Anna I know you can’t see it now but this situation is seriously jacked up.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 4:56 pm

        Oh Anna, I fear this will not end well for you come May. I don’t think that it would make you the bad guy to actually be broken up after he did break up with you. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of under the guise of wanting to look like the good guy. Best wishes.

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      • Lyra

        L April 20, 2012, 6:55 pm

        Anna, I see where you’re coming from but sweetie, you’re just going to cause yourself more pain. You owe it to yourself to start the healing process after your breakup. You owe nothing to him. NOTHING. Seriously. He broke your heart. I know you’re trying to do this gracefully, but you need to start thinking about what’s right for Anna. Ripping the band aid off sloooowly is NOT going to ease your pain.

        Say someone writes in to Wendy and says: “My boyfriend of 9 years broke up with me two weeks ago. It was an incredibly tough break up for me, but I want to be the better person so he’s still living with me until he moves out of state with his parents. (Did I mention he’s 29 years old??) Plus we decided that we’re not *officially* going to call ourselves single until he actually moves.” How would you respond to that?

        I know this is an incredibly tough time for you. Remember we’re all on your side. 🙂

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    • avatar

      MsBorgia April 20, 2012, 11:23 am

      My boyfriend and I are only in our 20s, but we’ve been together for 3 years so “boyfriend” feels… trivializing, I guess. Sometimes I refer to him as my “gentleman caller” 😀

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  • avatar

    andrea April 20, 2012, 9:32 am

    My boyfriend is 5 years older than me and it felt weird calling him a boy since he’s in his 30’s, so I call him my manfriend. People laughed at first, but now they love it. People ask how my “manfriend” is doing and refer to him by my preferred term all the time. Go with what makes you happy and is preferred by him!

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    Iwannatalktosampson April 20, 2012, 10:40 am

    I call my husband my boyfriend sometimes if it makes you feel any better. I think it sounds sexier. Like maybe we just got done boning. Maybe not. But you’ll never know because he’s just my hott, studly boyfriend. Or sometimes I call him my bug-a-boo. Because that was a great song. It doesn’t really apply to us, but I like it all the same. Sometimes it’s my little bundle of love. Or sometimes it’s that little shit I hang out with.

    But if I was you – I would go with gentleman friend – because that sounds very sexy. He’s hott in that distinguished kind of way.

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    • rainbow

      rainbow April 20, 2012, 11:10 am

      “But if I was you – I would go with gentleman friend – because that sounds very sexy. He’s hott in that distinguished kind of way.”

      +1

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    • Brad

      Brad April 20, 2012, 12:46 pm

      Sorry but I don’t really care for that one. Too wordy sounding to me. To each their own though.

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    • MandaNoA

      Mandanoa April 21, 2012, 2:19 am

      I like gentleman friend. But I think you have to wink after you say it. Like “This is my gentlemen friend Steve.” ::wink:: That way they get the sexyness of it all. =)

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl April 20, 2012, 11:04 am

    I would use “significant other” if I was in your shoes. As I said above- I find “partner” pretentious. You could also just introduce them by name and use your body language to show you are a unit. If someone asks you can then explain “yes we are dating”.

    My now-finace and I had this same issue for a year or so. We’re only in our late 20’s but had been dating for years and were clearly going to get married. He just went with “girl friend”…it sucks but thats what I was.

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    • Brad

      Brad April 20, 2012, 1:14 pm

      Too many syllables imho. I don’t think the title needs anymore than 2, which is probably one of the reasons why boyfriend is most used.

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  • avatar

    Bossy Italian Wife April 20, 2012, 11:15 am

    OMG get over yourself! You’ve been dating this guy all of a few months… I didn’t know age and the title of “boyfriend” have anything to do with one another. Sheesh. My mother is well over 50 at this point and calls her 65 year old man “boyfriend” to those she meets.

    Unless you’re living with this guy, engaged to him, been together for years, he’s you BOYFRIEND.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 11:44 am

      Well, technically it very much has to do with age since the term “boy” is in it, implying that you are young.
      But again, super helpful to tell LW to get over herself simply because she was curious what other people might call their Adult SOs.

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      • Brad

        Brad April 20, 2012, 1:12 pm

        I disagree. I don’t think age has anything to do with it. Here’s the definition from webster’s dictionary.

        boy·friend noun \ˈbȯi-ˌfrend\
        Definition of BOYFRIEND
        1: a male friend
        2: a frequent or regular male companion in a romantic or sexual relationship

        the boy part of the word isn’t conveying age implications, only gender.

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    • caitie_didnt

      caitie_didnt April 20, 2012, 11:48 am

      Honestly, attitudes like this kind of piss me off. People all make different choices- some couples may choose not to marry for a variety of reasons. In many states, same-sex couples CAN’T get married. Why are these relationships any less real than marriages? Why can they not have a term that conveys the commitment that they have to each other? The “it’s not real unless you’re married” is biased against same-sex couples and regressive.

      That being said, I do agree with you that if they’ve only been together for a few months, the LW is probably over thinking this.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 11:51 am

        Agreed, on both points. Since everyone’s throwing out the holier-than-thou phrase today, I will too. That;s exactly how you sound when you write comments like that-holier than thou. Maybe you should Get over Yourself.

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      • caitie_didnt

        caitie_didnt April 20, 2012, 12:16 pm

        Hey, I have a really awesome and totally easy to follow idea- if you don’t have a good response to an LW’s question, maybe refrain from bashing them in the comments just because you can? Shocking and totally novel, I know.

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray April 20, 2012, 11:24 am

    How about, “I’d like you to meet my current boyfriend, Larry.” (Or whatever.) That could be funny like the man who refers to his wife as his “first wife.” Though, those men are usually kind of goof nuts. But I’d take that any day over “the wife.” Please god when you get married don’t call him your hubby. Sorry, any chance I get to poo poo “hubby,” I take it. “The hubby” actually causes me to gag when I hear it. Now, let’s get back to that forum ——->

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    • avatar

      bethany April 20, 2012, 11:47 am

      I hate the term hubby, and I hate “the hubs”, too!

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      • Lili

        Lili April 20, 2012, 12:35 pm

        And hubster makes my skin crawl.

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    • iwannatalktosampson

      iwannatalktosampson April 20, 2012, 11:51 am

      I HATE the hubby. I knew we were friends for a reason!

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow April 20, 2012, 11:57 am

      Agreed. “Hubby” is awful.

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    • Moneypenny

      Moneypenny April 20, 2012, 12:52 pm

      Ohh, I hate the hubby. It makes me think, chubby hubby, which makes me think of the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. My sister calls her husband hubby and I’m really not a fan.

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      • avatar

        BettyBoop April 20, 2012, 5:59 pm

        But Chubby Hubby ice cream is AWESOME!

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    • avatar

      Samantha April 20, 2012, 12:28 pm

      It’s so gross. When someone uses hubby, I instantly get an image of whatever man is being talked about as Jabba the Hut. I don’t know why, but still… ew…

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    • MandaNoA

      Mandanoa April 21, 2012, 2:24 am

      Oh man I hate “hubby”! It makes me gag when my friends use it. I was fb friends with a girl that would hang out with her brother and husband together a lot and she would always make status updates that said “Chillin with Hubs and Bubs!’ I unfriended her.

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  • JK

    JK April 20, 2012, 11:26 am

    When I was dating my husband I didn+ t like any of the terms, either. So I went with “my guy” if I was talking about him without him being present.
    And once I moved in with him I went with “co-sinner”, like I think I´ve said on here before.

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    • rainbow

      rainbow April 20, 2012, 11:29 am

      “Co-sinner” is amazing. How do you translate “my guy”?

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      • JK

        JK April 20, 2012, 11:31 am

        Usually just “mi chico”, since I was reasonably young at the time. “MI tipo” o “mi hombre” sounds weird!

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 20, 2012, 11:46 am

        I like “mi chico”. I used it sometimes too. It *is* a problem, though, if he’s not a “chico”.

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray April 20, 2012, 11:30 am

      I want a boyfriend so bad so I can introduce him in all seriousness as “my lover,” to make people uncomfortable. I’ll say the word slowly too, “my luh-ver.” I mean, there are other reasons it would be nice to have a boyfriend but that is one.

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      • JK

        JK April 20, 2012, 11:32 am

        My lover would be amazing! I wouldn´t be able to pull it off though.

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      • JK

        JK April 20, 2012, 11:33 am

        Haha, I meant saying “my lover” would be amazing. I could get in trouble if my husband read that, otherwise. 🙂

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      • avatar

        Ktfran April 20, 2012, 11:37 am

        Thank you for making me chuckle!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 20, 2012, 11:47 am

        Remember the SNL skit?

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 20, 2012, 11:49 am

        You could say “my luh-ver. Grrrrr!” too. I bet that would make them extra uncomfortable. Or even “my luh-ver” then lick the back of your hand and run it over the opposite-side ear like a kitty, and then the “Grrrrr!”

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 20, 2012, 1:00 pm

        Or you know what’s even better? Saying “and this is the dude” and then turning to him and saying “duuuuuuude!” while you do the spirit fingers thing.

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      • Budj

        Budj April 20, 2012, 1:47 pm

        slowly with a stutter on the “l”…then lick your lips afterward and hold eye contact a little too long for the person’s comfort level.

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  • avatar

    Trixy Minx April 20, 2012, 11:33 am

    Tell everyone he’s your booty call.

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    • rainbow

      rainbow April 20, 2012, 11:58 am

      Screw everything I said. I like this one better.

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  • avatar

    Natasia Rose April 20, 2012, 12:00 pm

    I like the term “man-friend” instead of boyfriend. Of you can totally 50 Shades of Grey it out and call him your “Dom.” That would be so awesome.

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  • Brad

    Brad April 20, 2012, 1:07 pm

    LW, I personally feel that you’re worrying over nothing. Unless he’s specifically said something to you about it, I REALLY doubt he finds the term boyfriend disrespectful. The definition of the word boyfriend does not specify any age information in it. Don’t focus on the first 3 letters of the word independently of the rest of the word. Here’s the definition from definition.com, notice how it mentions nothing about age.

    boyfriend [boi-friend]. noun.
    1. a frequent or favorite male companion; beau.
    2. a male friend.
    3. a male lover.

    So unless he has a problem with it I think you’re fine just using the term. The English language simply doesn’t have any other words to convey a serious pre-engagement relationship that are commonly used and widely accepted. Anything else like “manfriend, gentleman friend, partner, companion, etc.” just sounds too forced to me. Now if you’re REALLY dead set on using something else then I think Lover is the next best thing. It’s the only thing that really flows off the tongue like boyfriend does without sounding unnatural.

    Just my 2 cents.

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    • dabbler

      dabbler April 20, 2012, 1:47 pm

      Haha, “lover” kinda skeeves me out in a public setting. In my mind, it translates to hey [aquaintence I don’t really know that well], this is the person I have sex with. It’s too intimate to me, and I would be embarassed to be introduced that way.
      Which I suppose perfectly illustrates the point anyway, that it’s all about what you’re comfortable with.

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      • avatar

        Francine April 20, 2012, 2:42 pm

        I agree. I work with a woman who calls everyone lover. I know for a fact that she’s not having sex with all of us so I’m not sure what thst’s all about.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl April 20, 2012, 3:05 pm

      Awesomely written Brad.

      And I agree…she is making a big deal over nothing…they’ve only been dating a few months.

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    • MandaNoA

      Mandanoa April 21, 2012, 2:32 am

      I personally think lover is the worst option. 1) There is no way I’m introducing someone to my grandma as my lover and 2) not all boyfriends and girlfriends have sex (which lover heavily implies). I have a friend who waited till marriage for sex. They were never engaged (they eloped) but had been in a long term serious relationship before they got married. She used the term boyfriend but he used the term partner. It was just a preference thing. Lover would have implied a lot of things about them that were untrue.
      Plus if someone tells me that someone is their lover it makes me picture them having creepy candle lit sex on satin sheets and I don’t need to picture anyone doing that.

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      • Brad

        Brad April 21, 2012, 11:05 am

        Introducing someone to your grandpa as lover is a golden opportunity of amusing facial expressions. It should practically be required. 🙂

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      • MandaNoA

        Mandanoa April 21, 2012, 11:10 pm

        My grandpa is 92 and is in amazing health given his age but I’m pretty sure that would give him a heart attack. He’s the one family member who always thinks I’m right, so I need to keep him around at least a little longer.

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  • avatar

    Francine April 20, 2012, 2:37 pm

    I think “boyfriend” works perfectly. I do understand that he’s a man, not a boy but it’s commonly known to be used to refer to the person you’re dating. At worst someone might find it childish but disrespectful? I doubt anyone will think you’re calling him an adolescent unless he’s acting like one when you say it.

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  • avatar

    KW April 20, 2012, 2:48 pm

    I have a friend in her 40’s in a long-term cohabitating relationship who uses the term “spousal equivalent.”

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  • Budj

    Budj April 20, 2012, 4:39 pm

    After reading this thread….it is impossible to call someone something that some other person will not interpret differently than how you mean. Meaning we all put a different connotation to “partner, lover, special lady friend, boyfriend, main squeeze, old lady, etc”

    I would just stick with the most common phrase that is most widely accepted and also describes your current situation to avoid any confusion OR decide you don’t give a frig what other people think and just decide something on your own and be prepared to have many potentially awkward discussions trying to explain it.

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  • rubyroo

    Ruby April 20, 2012, 5:51 pm

    I don’t think anyone is too old to be called “Boyfriend” or “Girlfriend”. That’s what you ARE if you’re dating. Most people understand that.

    I’m in my late 30’s and in a relationship with a man who’s also in his late 30’s, and he’s divorced. He refers to me as his Girlfriend. I refer to him as my Boyfriend because that’s what he is! If we get engaged, I’ll refer to him as my ‘Fiance’ and if we get married, I’ll call him my “Husband”.

    I think the LW should just refer to her boyfriend as whatever label feels the most right to her.
    If she thinks of him as her Boyfriend, then who cares what others think about that or how old he is! That’s what he is to her! If she thinks of him as her ‘Companion” then call him that…etc…

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  • avatar

    A April 20, 2012, 5:53 pm

    Over here in the UK we call them ‘our other halfs’. Or is it halve? Either way that or partner works. As does boyfriend!

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  • dabbler

    dabbler April 20, 2012, 8:36 pm

    Meh. Words are inert anyway. They’re fabricated representations of concepts we have no other way to communicate. Which is why I have a high respect for writers, who can convey these concepts in a way that says what you truly mean.
    So in that vein, I can understand why she isn’t satisfied with “boyfriend,” although I personally have no problem with it…

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    • dabbler

      dabbler April 20, 2012, 8:39 pm

      Ew, I feel like I just slipped into art-school critique mode for a second there…
      *i* however, am not so good with these word-things…

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  • AKchic_

    AKchic_ April 20, 2012, 10:39 pm

    I’ve used the following (but not limited to):

    My SO
    My not-so-one-night-stand
    My Partner-In-Crime
    The guy I picked up for the night
    My expensive escort
    My cheap escort
    The one who makes me look respectable
    My hot little number for the evening

    When introducing ourselves to new people, I have said: “I’m Chaos, this is Panic.” I’ve also introduced us as Fric and Frak.

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  • MandaNoA

    Mandanoa April 21, 2012, 2:36 am

    Possible options:

    Man friend
    Gentleman Caller
    That Guy I Was Telling You About
    My Dude
    Partner In Crime
    The Guy I’m Boning
    “This is (insert name here), we’re dating on the regular”
    The Old Ball and Chain
    “I have no idea who this is but he followed me here. Can you please call the cops for me?”

    Use as many or as few of these as you see fit. =)

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    • Brad

      Brad April 21, 2012, 6:14 pm

      You forgot “Oh this is ___, he’s my bitch”

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      • MandaNoA

        Mandanoa April 21, 2012, 11:11 pm

        Oh I use that one all the time. And then I slap him on the ass and wink at everyone.

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      • Brad

        Brad April 21, 2012, 11:59 pm

        very nice.

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  • MELH

    MELH April 21, 2012, 4:24 pm

    My former boss, who is in his 60s, has been with a woman for years, but they don’t plan on marrying. I once heard him refer to her as “the love of my life, *name*” I thought that was a good way to convey its a very serious relationship.

    LW, I know ours probably not at this point yet, but it could be useful in the future.

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  • avatar

    LW April 22, 2012, 9:38 am

    Hi all, I’m the LW. First off, thanks for all the suggestions. I particularly liked using body language (“This is ___,” while touching his arm) and “man-friend.” I think we’d get a kick out of “gentleman caller” and “special lady friend” in a mocking ourselves way. “The one who makes me look respectable” and “I have no idea who this is but he followed me here” are great ideas also. 🙂

    I probably did overthink this. We’re confused newbies all over again, post-divorce, and kept looking at each other with puzzled expressions whenever terminology came up. The gf/bf connotation just flat out didn’t feel right to either of us, even though they’re technically accurate terms. It didn’t hit me until reading Wendy’s response that we’re clearly not quite acclimated to our change in status yet ourselves.

    This is a well-established relationship that extends years beyond our “official” dating timeframe. We’re taking it slow because we don’t want to screw it up, but we’ve been talking about the future a lot. As time goes on – provided we *don’t* screw it up! – my guess is that I’ll switch to “better half,” or “This is my [his name].” And if we do screw it up…well, then I have options for the future also.

    To all those who were helpful, including the awesome Wendy herself, again, my thanks! The DW community came up with lots of great options!

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  • avatar

    laxhaxtax April 24, 2012, 8:33 am

    Just introduce each other as “my friend, John or Mary”. If the other person asks a question about the relationship such as “are you two serious?” just say we “we sure hope so”. I had a friend tell me that the best way to get thru uncomfortable conversations is to give as little info upfront as possible. Less embarassment that way.

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  • avatar

    the1little1one April 26, 2012, 5:47 pm

    might already have been said — admittedly, i didn’t read all the comments — but if you don’t love “boo,” i’d try “my guy” or “my fella” — different, but the same. 🙂

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    • avatar

      the1little1one April 26, 2012, 5:48 pm

      “my main squeeze” works too!

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