Relationship Semantics

I have no idea how to introduce Jason. We have been living together for two years and made a  the decision to move out of the country together. We have a joint checking account and pool both of our incomes to create a very small pile of Canadian-cash to pay the bills. It seems inappropriate to refer to him as my “boyfriend” since this is the same word I used to describe Lance in seventh grade – a boy I held hands with at the cafeteria table once and who was too shy to kiss me (much to my disappointment).

Every time I say the word I think of the Sex and the City movie when Carrie and Mr. Big are apartment shopping before they decide to get married:

Carrie Bradshaw: He’s my boyfriend.
Mr. Big: Aren’t I a little old to be introduced as your boyfriend?
Carrie Bradshaw: Point taken. From now on you’ll be my man-friend.
Mr. Big: That sounds like a dog.
Carrie Bradshaw: Well if the shoe fits.

In a relationship that is more than holding hands, but not walking down the isle, what should partners be called? I find myself feeling silly using “boyfriend” and sometimes wish there were another word to describe the bond that we have. Being the teacher/English-geek that I am, I looked up the Etymology of the word:

boyfriend (n.) Look up boyfriend at“woman’s paramour,” 1909, from boy + friend (n.).

steady (n.) Look up steady at“one’s boyfriend or girlfriend,” 1897 from steady (adj.); to go steady is 1905 in teenager slang.

paramour (n.) Look up paramour at Dictionary.comc.1300, noun use of adverbial phrase par amour (c.1300) “passionately, with strong love or desire,” from Anglo-French and O.Fr. par amour, from accusative of amor “love,” fromamare “to love” (see Amy). Originally a term for Christ (by women) or the Virgin Mary (by men), it came to mean “darling, sweetheart” (mid-14c.) and “mistress, concubine, clandestine lover” (late 14c.).

I do not feel like our relationship fits under the juvenile  “boyfriend” and “paramour” seems a little too risque and exciting for us since we spend most weekends in our sweatpants cleaning the house and watching movies.

We did created a different word for “love” one silly evening (most of our evenings are silly), when I was asking (probably more like begging) Jason to get me a bowl of ice cream after I had found a comfy spot on the couch. Somehow our “love” became our “larf” and is often referred to as such, for example:

Me: Honey, I love you.

Jason: Do you love me or do you larf me?

Me: No, I larf you.

Granted, this is just a dorky thing that we do at home (which would probably gather strange looks and gagging sounds from passersby  if we did this in public – but every couple has their dorky little things…), but I feel like our made up word means something more to us. There should be a socially acceptable word for couples in the same boat we are in (I know many). Any suggestions for what partners in an adult relationship should call themselves if they are unmarried but are each others “in case of emergency” contacts?


7 thoughts on “Relationship Semantics

  1. The Siren's Tale

    I couldn’t agree more with the immaturity associated with “boyfriend”. I’ve been with my guy for almost three years and we moved in together after a month. The only reason we aren’t engaged is because rings cost so much it takes a long time to save, especially when you pool income. We are inseparable, yet he gets coined in the same terms as a-holes from the past. I usually refer to him as “my guy” or “my love”. Still doesn’t cut it though!

    1. mindymw Post author

      Thank you for the comment. We moved in together right away too. There needs to be an intermediary word – glad that I am not the only one in this boat.


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