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 firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Twitter.