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Partner? Boyfriend? Mate?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  June 15, 2009 09:57 AM

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Many of you have asked me about happy letters. As in, where are they?

Frankly, I rarely receive happy letters because blissfully happy people don’t often write to advice columnists.

But recently, I got one. So here you go.

Q: After bitter divorces on both sides, my honey and I have finally found each other. We are happy as clams, sex is fabulous, love spending time with each other, friends, family - pretty much everything you would want in a relationship. Oh and by the way - we are over 40. Which leads to the big question -- what exactly are we? It sounds extremely childish to say 'he's my boyfriend', too clinical (and to be blunt, gay) to say I'm his “partner,” we're not living together (yet) but even then - roommate? We are committed to each other for as long as we both shall live - but don't want the paperwork of marriage. What do we call ourselves????

-- happy but curious, Stoughton/MA

A: HBC, good question.

You’re right -- “partner” is often used to describe gay relationships. “Roommate” is weird. “Boyfriend” does sound childish.

You could go Beastie Boys/”Juno”: “He’s the cheese and I’m the macaroni.”
You could go gross: “He’s my lover.”
You could go Mary Wells: “He’s my guy.”
You could go Bobby Brown: “He’s my tender roni.”

I know it sounds childish to say boyfriend, but it sort of works. He’s not a boy. He’s not your friend. But that word has come to mean: “He’s the man I make out with and I’m pretty psyched about it, so keep your hands off.” And that’s pretty much what you want to say.

My advice is: Use it. Own it. In some ways, it’s pretty cool to be an over-forty-something with an awesome boyfriend, right?

Readers? Other terms? Thoughts? Suggestions? Share here, please. And read about another woman's struggle to find the right term for her "someone."

-- Meredith

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151 comments so far...
  1. I couldn't have said it better myself.

    Posted by korriv June 15, 09 10:14 AM
  1. Good for you! I am glad you are happy :)

    Call him your boyfriend. Or your man friend.

    Posted by Tricia June 15, 09 10:22 AM
  1. Rico has only a few words for you:

    Rico thinks simply he is your better half or boyfriend would be perfectly fine. Anything more just seems like it would be trying too hard. Rico is happy that you have found someone special to spend the remainder of your life with. It is a wonderful feeling and Rico hopes you remain happy and enjoy your lives together.

    Rico is still bothered by last weeks letter and waiting to see what the original poster has to say. Rico is curious what ended up happening and where she is going from here. Other readers curious?

    Love always,

    Rico

    Get some natural vitamin D...go outside and enjoy.

    Posted by Rico June 15, 09 10:24 AM
  1. Yeah, you could definitely just use boyfriend and own it. If you're not shy about it, people will think it's fine. Other alternatives I like are "my sweetie" "my sweetheart" and "my fella." They're a bit old fashioned so have some charm.

    RE: partner -- although I think it's historically been used to describe gay relationships, I know many people who use partner to describe the person they live but are not married to, whether gay or straight. I think it's safe to lighten up on that term as being "too gay."

    Posted by suz June 15, 09 10:25 AM
  1. "my beau"
    "my better half"
    "the wind beneath my wings"

    Posted by trueluv4eva June 15, 09 10:32 AM
  1. Manfriend

    Posted by doubtful June 15, 09 10:33 AM
  1. Well, considering another option is "old man," I'd stick with boyfriend.

    Posted by Anonymous June 15, 09 10:34 AM
  1. Because you are both “Happy as Clams” with a fabulous sex life, it’s important to note the reproductive tendencies of mollusks: Mollusks reproduce in a variety of ways. Many two-shelled mollusks reproduce sexually by external fertilization. They release enormous numbers of eggs and sperm into the open water (money shot). The eggs are fertilized in the water and then develop into free-swimming larvae. Some mollusks are hermaphrodites, having both male and female reproductive organs (Don’t Ask, Don’t Shell). Individuals of these species usually fertilize eggs from another individual (Big Chill). Anyhow, I refer to my gal as “my rock and my redeemer”, while she has a boatload of disquieting references depending on my mood. Have fun renting the cow.

    Posted by valentino June 15, 09 10:35 AM
  1. This is the most boring love letter yet. What is there to even talk or argue about? Please pick a new letter for today and post it asap.

    Posted by BoredStiff June 15, 09 10:38 AM
  1. There are any number of labels which you could apply, if you really feel the need to do so. Significant Other is a popular choice for most relationships over the 20-something age range. You could use the term "beau" or "amor" should you wish to engender a touch of class. Personally my favorite descriptor when introducing the special woman in my life is to smile and tell the person I'm speaking to that, "this is the person who makes me happier then I have felt."

    Posted by TC June 15, 09 10:39 AM
  1. friend with benefits

    Posted by CoCo June 15, 09 10:40 AM
  1. Are we too far gone for gentleman caller?

    Posted by sean June 15, 09 10:41 AM
  1. sex without pay - morally , physically , emotionally not cheating - group dating

    Posted by bosfiddle June 15, 09 10:44 AM
  1. How about "He's my personal massager replacement"? Or "He's my Eco-Awareness project, beacuse I use less batteries"? Or "He's my carpal tunnel syndrome preventative"? I could go on-and-on, but I think you get the point...

    Posted by DudeGuyKidDudeGuy666 June 15, 09 10:47 AM
  1. why use a label at all? couldn't you simply refer to him by name? And if anyone asks who "he" is, you can then revert to "we're a couple" or the dreaded "boyfriend"

    Posted by invertigo June 15, 09 10:48 AM
  1. A few other suggestions:
    1. Companion. Although this may sound kind of elderly. I think it's sweet.
    2. Significant Other. Let others decide what that might mean.
    3. Friend. He may be more than that, but usually people pick up on the connotation.

    My friend from New Zealand tells me that everyone there refers to their boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other as their "partner" regardless of gay, straight, etc. What is wrong with our culture that we have to be so P.C. about everything, anyway?

    Posted by effy June 15, 09 10:50 AM
  1. I'm well over 40 and have heard others in my age group use "girlfriend/botfriend" all the time. Nothing wrong with it, no matter how old you are.

    Posted by Truman June 15, 09 10:51 AM
  1. What about companion? Might be too close to partner...but doesn't always have the same connotations.

    Posted by BstnGrl June 15, 09 10:55 AM
  1. He's your "gentleman caller" and you are his "lady friend". Sounds cheesy at first, but say it a few times, with the right not-so-serious inflection, and you'll find it'll work.

    Posted by Anonymous June 15, 09 10:57 AM
  1. The other reason not to print happy letters is: they're boring.

    And, honestly, isn't part of the fun of reading this blog to make oneself feel better about one's own dismal love life?

    If this is her biggest problem .....

    Posted by Still Looking June 15, 09 10:59 AM
  1. wow - where are all the legions of naysayers and miscontruers? Happy doesn't provoke much chatter! How about mate?

    wayhappy2ndtimetoo

    Posted by Faith Lyons June 15, 09 11:01 AM
  1. you could just say he's your better half

    Posted by dt June 15, 09 11:01 AM
  1. How does HE refer to YOU?

    Posted by Manfriend June 15, 09 11:02 AM
  1. How about he's my Grilled Cheese

    Posted by immature June 15, 09 11:02 AM
  1. First of all congratulations. It is nice to read a happy letter! Regarding your question, how about just introducing him by his name without a label? Let your relationship speak for itself.

    Posted by Alvin June 15, 09 11:04 AM
  1. Don't we all wish we had your problem! My partner and I have gotten married and I often use the word 'spouse'. I realize that getting married is not for everyone. I also agree that the piece of paper is not important, but as you grow older you begin to think of your own mortality, and excluding a will, this offers legal protection come the day when something happens to either one of you. I am 53 y/o and stuff in life just happens, often without warning.

    So congrats!!! ...and no rush, but tie the knot or see a lawyer at some point.

    Posted by JohnB June 15, 09 11:07 AM
  1. I like "partner" myself. I often use it to describe my husband (we're straight). I feel like using "partner" is a way to say "we're not so different from all you other couples out there, married or not, straight or gay." Partner also implies an egalitarian relationship, and "husband' has connotations of "the man who owns me" which I hate. Just my two cents...

    Posted by Carriefran June 15, 09 11:07 AM
  1. House Boy?

    Posted by Bustoff June 15, 09 11:09 AM
  1. Hey, finally a letter with a problem I can relate to! I'm in exactly the same place. "Friend" just doesn't get to the depth & sounds way too casual. "Girlfriend" sounds so immature... and when it's used, it's often with one of my kids being a little derisive! But right now it's the best I've got.

    Posted by SamePlaceButGladToBeThere June 15, 09 11:10 AM
  1. I'm not sure, but if I'm sure about one thing is that Rico will post an obnoxiously self-centered post attempting to co-opt this column as his own. Go ahead, Rico and nauseate us all with your obnoxious drivel.

    Posted by joesixpack June 15, 09 11:11 AM
  1. Seriously, who suggested printing "happy" letters? Give us drama or give us death.

    Posted by Chris June 15, 09 11:12 AM
  1. "we don't want the paperwork of marriage".

    Marriage is more than paperwork. I'm a traditionalist so I won't go into it......but what about tax breaks?

    Posted by swfoutsida June 15, 09 11:16 AM
  1. korriv #1-
    That's the point. Even if you couldn't say it better yourself, it's important to try and BS your way through something smarmy. We'll appreciate the creative effort and stab at imagination..

    Posted by val June 15, 09 11:20 AM
  1. He's my significant other.

    In New Zealand, they all refer to each other as "partner," regardless of sexual orientation, marriage, etc. Spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. - everyone is referred to as partner when in a committed relationship. I thought it was kind of cool and because it was universally used, clearly understood.

    Posted by booklover June 15, 09 11:20 AM
  1. What's the problem with Boyfriend/Girlfriend? Sounds fine to me no matter what your age is.

    Posted by sean June 15, 09 11:29 AM
  1. Tell people he's your pool boy.

    Posted by doubtful June 15, 09 11:30 AM
  1. I have friend who introduces his non-married significant other as "life partner" - that might work for you.

    I personally like "other half".

    Posted by Red-Mama June 15, 09 11:30 AM
  1. I'd say he's your "Boo".

    Posted by DI$CO June 15, 09 11:30 AM
  1. I would go with boyfriend, heck my IL's that have been married for 35 years still will occasionally refer to the other as their boyfriend/girlfriend which is cute. Just because you are older doesn't mean that you can have some fun.

    Posted by Shouldbeworking June 15, 09 11:31 AM
  1. Your "Main Squeeze"!!

    Posted by techdood June 15, 09 11:33 AM
  1. how about "your man"? - said with a smile, it can go far!

    And loving this - finally a letter that doesn't stress me out! Ignore the haters...many of us need and enjoy a happy letter once in a while.

    Posted by emmj June 15, 09 11:36 AM
  1. I had friends who referred to themselves as "heterosexual life partners" (they were married--just didn't like husband and wife). it was a bit tongue in cheek but that was their style. just find something that suits you both and go for it!

    Posted by jdog June 15, 09 11:36 AM
  1. How about "I am his grilled Cheese Sandwich"?

    Posted by S June 15, 09 11:39 AM
  1. Not really that thrilled with a letter and response published that say the use of the term "partner" is gay. Considering that calling things "gay" is generally pretty offensive; is it that hard to say, "I'm not comfortable using the term 'partner' because in today's culture, 'partner' implies a same-sex relationship?" Apparently, it is.

    I know a lot of hetero couples who have been using the term partner when referring to the person they're in committed relationship with. I do know that the term can imply a same-sex relationship; after my first flute lesson with my teacher, when she had mentioned traveling with her partner during the summer, my dad told my mom when we got home, "Her teacher's a lesbian." It turns out, she's not; she was referring to a male partner.

    I think that if you're uncomfortable using the term boyfriend, which has been used more frequently among people in your age range and situation than you might realize, partner isn't a weird or "gay" choice. In fact, by using "partner" to describe an opposite-sex SO, you'd be helping to decrease the association of "partner" with same-sex partnerships.

    Posted by sabend June 15, 09 11:39 AM
  1. to quote one of my favorite episodes of the tv show friends - "he's your lobster"!

    Posted by erica June 15, 09 11:44 AM
  1. Yawn....

    You started your letter: "After bitter divorces on both sides, my honey and I have finally found each other. " Sounds to me like you already have a name (my honey).
    If you don't like that, then just introduce him as your "friend".

    My advice:

    1. Thank your lucky stars if this is a "big question" in your life.
    2. Stop worrying about what people think or labels.

    p.s. this letter is 'B' to the 'O' to the 'RING'.....

    - Hoss

    Posted by Hoss June 15, 09 11:44 AM
  1. I'm in the same boat, in a post-50 year old, heterosexual relationship. I live in a town with a high gay population so when I refer to my sweetie as my "partner" it is assumed that he is a she and that we are gay. I finally settled on "sweetheart". He calls me his girlfriend. Bring on more happy letters! Valentino, you rock!

    Posted by J Bar June 15, 09 11:45 AM
  1. Rico-
    The BF is returning today because he didn't want to deal with bridge traffic. I'm sure he's arranged for his LW girlfriend to meet his TX paramour. I must know if she axed him before he axed her. Her response will require a whole day of posting.


    Posted by val June 15, 09 11:48 AM
  1. Truman, I am intrigued about this "botfriend" you seem to have encountered in casual conversation. Is this a new euphemism for the electronic device that keeps a woman company while she's single? Or have some women begun replacing human significant others with robots who don't burp, fart or buy sports-themed throw blankets? Either way, I know several women who will definitely want to get themselves a botfriend.

    Just kidding!

    Posted by JinMet June 15, 09 11:49 AM
  1. The only logical choice is "gentleman caller." I imagine he already refers to you as his ladyfriend.

    Posted by Tom June 15, 09 11:52 AM
  1. I've said Companion, Partner, and friend, but Lover brings smiles all around.
    BTW--I like and respect Rico's inputs very much.

    Posted by cvana June 15, 09 11:58 AM
  1. Clearly, he's your "old man" and you're his "old lady." We should use more euphs from the 1970s anyways, back when love was cool.

    Posted by Sally June 15, 09 12:05 PM
  1. I call mine ....MY Love....
    I introduce him to everyone that way...and everyone gets it!! because I too, am over 40..and think boyfriend not only sounds young..but also I dont think it entails all that someone you care about/find once your older , comes to mean to you!
    Congrats!!

    Posted by LiseyLise June 15, 09 12:08 PM
  1. I was happy to read this letter because I too am over 40 and over the moon in love for the 2nd time around. My new beau and I have learned way too many lessons from our previous marriage. We appreciate the gifts that we have found in each other and are both grateful for having someone to just spend time with. It feels like a much more mature, grown up relationship than the ones either one of us had before. So for me, my guy is "the love of my life". I'm so glad that I finally found him and that we can spend the rest of our lives having fun and enjoying some long awaited happiness..
    know who

    Posted by Florida girl 1962 June 15, 09 12:09 PM
  1. My partner in Crime has a nice ring to it.

    Posted by exvermonter June 15, 09 12:12 PM
  1. "the one that churns my butter"?
    "He's the pitcher, I'm the catcher"?
    "Special friend"?
    "main squeeze"?
    ?

    PS, "partner" does sound gay. Yet another word the gay community has ruined.

    Posted by Wilbur Jones June 15, 09 12:13 PM
  1. Zzzzz....first off, I agree with Hoss, this letter is BORING...

    Dude is your boyfriend and that's all there is to it. My grandfather is 85 and has a relationship with a woman he calls his "girlfriend". It is what it is.

    And great...now everyone can get into a nonsense debate about whether or not use of the word 'partner' is for gay or straight couples.....another snoozer...

    Next letter please....

    Posted by bumbly-bee June 15, 09 12:17 PM
  1. You don't qualify for "Partner" status. In the "gay" world, that's the equivalent of fiance(e) or spouse. That doesn't fit here.

    Both opposite and same-sex couples can legally file for "Domestic Partnership" status in MA, but you have to have lived together a minimum of 6 months. You haven't lived together yet, so Domestic Partner doesn't fit.

    You are right: "roommate" or "friend" (which has been used to sanitize introductions for same-sex couples so heterosexuals can feel comfortable) is belittling.

    You have not availed yourself of any traditionally formal or legal status, so I suggest you go with "Significant Other". You can find comfort in that it is used by lots of heterosexuals, and used extensively in workplaces amongst coworkers as well as socially in invitations to refer to someone's mate regardless of status of legal federal/state recognition.

    Posted by yupokay June 15, 09 12:21 PM
  1. i'm in same exact boat and I refer to him as "my main squeeze"

    Posted by ctmk June 15, 09 12:24 PM
  1. I like "boyfriend".
    It sounds HOT.

    Posted by Shecky28 June 15, 09 12:25 PM
  1. Val, Good point on the bridge traffic, it does get quite backed up on a Sunday so much easier after a long weekend to come back Monday afternoon after sleeping in and catching a nice brunch before heading back. Rico is glad you pointed this out and will wait until maybe tomorrow for a good response? Maybe Meredith will post a whole new letter from that poster on what to do now that she realizes what happened on the cape didn't quite stay on the cape :)

    Rico say Thank you to all his fans for their support :)

    Another word in response to this letter...Yes Rico thinks it is very boring as well but Rico still felt it was worthy of a response other than boring. Two happy people together and looking for what to call each other is a good question seeing they are not going to be married. This is not just for same sex couples, it is a good general question for those people over the age of about 30 since after 30 it begins to sound strange to some people to call their "other half" by a specific title.

    Rico is looking forward to the week, looking for some good sunshine to ride and get fresh air.

    Love always,

    Rico

    Posted by Rico June 15, 09 12:27 PM
  1. Val, Good point on the bridge traffic, it does get quite backed up on a Sunday so much easier after a long weekend to come back Monday afternoon after sleeping in and catching a nice brunch before heading back. Rico is glad you pointed this out and will wait until maybe tomorrow for a good response? Maybe Meredith will post a whole new letter from that poster on what to do now that she realizes what happened on the cape didn't quite stay on the cape :)

    Rico say Thank you to all his fans for their support :)

    Another word in response to this letter...Yes Rico thinks it is very boring as well but Rico still felt it was worthy of a response other than boring. Two happy people together and looking for what to call each other is a good question seeing they are not going to be married. This is not just for same sex couples, it is a good general question for those people over the age of about 30 since after 30 it begins to sound strange to some people to call their "other half" by a specific title.

    Rico is looking forward to the week, looking for some good sunshine to ride and get fresh air.

    Love always,

    Rico

    Posted by Rico June 15, 09 12:27 PM
  1. Congratulation, L/W, for having found "the one." I wish you a lifetime of happiness.

    I don't see anything wrong with "partner." And to call it "gay" is to disparage homosexuals. "Lover"? Sounds like an affair, but it is romantic. But I hope he's your lover! "Boyfriend" sounds too old fashioned to me. I'd go with "my guy."

    But valentino is taken? :( I'm the one who wants to be his "rock and redeemer." I'll refer to him as however he wants, and I'll worship at the alter of ... valentino.

    Posted by reindeergirl June 15, 09 12:28 PM
  1. why are you wasting precious letter space with someone who has a perfect relationship? please. go gripe about your perfect life somewhere else. save this space for the people who really need it.

    Posted by chris June 15, 09 12:29 PM
  1. boo

    Posted by jcour382 June 15, 09 12:30 PM
  1. Wilbur Jones #56: what a jerky thing to say. Why do you have go to that place?

    Posted by gay gay gay June 15, 09 12:30 PM
  1. My wife and I are in our mid-fifties. Before we were married we called ourselves a "diad".

    Posted by Andy June 15, 09 12:33 PM
  1. Just call him your boyfriend. What's the matter, you are too afraid of what other people may think of you?

    Who cares? You call him whatever you feel comfortable.

    Posted by Mikey "Insane" Monkeypants June 15, 09 12:40 PM
  1. love the term ..."BEAU" !!!

    Posted by Michelle June 15, 09 12:41 PM
  1. Sweat puppy.

    Posted by bohica June 15, 09 12:41 PM
  1. love the term ..."BEAU" !!!

    Posted by Michelle June 15, 09 12:41 PM
  1. Just call him your boyfriend. What's the matter, you are too afraid of what other people may think of you?

    Who cares? You call him whatever you feel comfortable.

    Posted by Mikey "Insane" Monkeypants June 15, 09 12:42 PM
  1. He's the one who makes your heart skip a beat just thinking about him,
    your silver lining on a rainy day, your ROCK, your soul-mate, your lover, your boyfriend, etc. I could go on and on. The bottom line is he's YOURS!!!
    I'm very happy for you both. I'm also very jealous.

    Posted by Michael June 15, 09 12:46 PM
  1. I know more that one straight couple who refer to each other as partners. It implies you are more than just hooking up but you aren't married either.

    Posted by AbbeytheCutie June 15, 09 12:48 PM
  1. My serious boyfriend. Don't over think it.

    Posted by Lain the Blunt June 15, 09 12:51 PM
  1. Consort?
    Stud-Muffin?
    Co-conspirator? (my favorite...)

    Posted by davita1111 June 15, 09 12:54 PM
  1. Hmmm . . you could go French: my "convivant" . . lends an air of exciting mystery that the word boyfriend lacks . . . stems from "living with"

    you could go clinical: POSSLQ (pronounced "possel-Q" from the Census Bureau's "people of the opposite sex sharing living quarters"), but then again, you aren't yet living together

    why be afraid of "partner" . . that's the word that popped to mind when you said that you are "committed to each other for as long as we both shall live" . . . it's too excellent a descriptor to limit it to one kind of gender pairing

    Kei

    Posted by Kei June 15, 09 12:55 PM
  1. He can call you Betty, and you can call him Al.

    Who cares? Get back to the real stuff!

    Posted by CPThree June 15, 09 01:01 PM
  1. Ok. It's official. :) I'm in love with Valentino. :)

    Posted by KT June 15, 09 01:03 PM
  1. a rose is a rose is a rose

    Posted by henaff June 15, 09 01:04 PM
  1. Call him "my honey" or "boyfriend". I'm so glad that all happy but curious has to worry about in life is what to call her boyfriend. LAME

    Posted by Julie June 15, 09 01:04 PM
  1. Boyfriend / Girlfriend works - even when you're in your eighties. Hope you last that long.

    And yes....spicier letter next time.
    Please.

    Posted by DrK June 15, 09 01:05 PM
  1. How about wife and husband? Do you need the law or religion to use those terms? I don't think so. You've made a life long commitment...that's all you need.

    Now go and be happy as husband and wife.

    Posted by justsaying2 June 15, 09 01:05 PM
  1. Use boyfriend, beau, honey, significant other, or better half if you're not living together - use it and own it, as others have said! What does it matter, if the both of you are comfortable with it?

    But if you do end up living together, my mother's term was always POSSLQ (pronounced Posselqueue). It stands for Persons of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters. It's like a secret code word. :-)

    Posted by Linda June 15, 09 01:09 PM
  1. Get Married Its Legal In Mass and then call him your spouse until then he is your boyfriend, or if you are eternally engaged, he is you fiance'

    Posted by pepperlevine June 15, 09 01:13 PM
  1. reindeergirl-
    I am soooooooo taken...but flatered you thought of me. We each have 2 kids (mine: 12 & 14...hers 19 & 21). Engaged 5 years! Don't want to rush into things, but Aug 22 is THE DAY. Kids back from camp and her's back to college at end of month. Second time is so nice because if you learn about yourself 1st time, repeating mistakes etc is less likely to happen. She fell in love right away. I took forever...But when I did...it was solid...no questions. People do have to take chances and be protective too. I say take the leap and love the adventure. New places are fun to visit...but there's always a home in YOU.

    Posted by val June 15, 09 01:14 PM
  1. ("em") schnookum,sweets, hun,d boo ,mari,goober, pie, love, woo,Cuddle cakes,
    Nugget im trying to tell you use it but say it sexy and sweetcupcake, cutie, sweet pea, sweetie pie, sexy chocolat

    Posted by Ragdoll June 15, 09 01:15 PM
  1. Ummm..he's your boyfriend. doesn't matter how old you are. The term encompasses a vast range of relationships of various depths and permanency, from very new relationships to those that have lasted years and years. As long as you aren't married.

    Far more important than the name you put on it is the actual relationship you have.

    Posted by steve in W MA June 15, 09 01:16 PM
  1. Ok. I say either boyfriend, or other half.

    now on to more important/less boring things....

    Does anyone want to know why Rico refers to himself in the 3rd person?

    Posted by Missingmysoontobelove June 15, 09 01:18 PM
  1. Even though this is boring, I do have one other comment.

    Are you asking what you call each other TO each other? Or are you asking what you call each other to other people? I would say it doesn't make any difference what you call each other to each other - you both know what the deal is (you're both in it "as long as you both shall live", right?). If it's to other people, don't you think it needs to be something that is not conversationally awkward? For example, when introducing him to a co-worker, would you say:
    "Mary, I'd like you to meet my significant other Bob."
    "Mary, I'd like you to meet my guy Bob."
    "Mary, I'd like you to meet my lover Bob.
    "Mary, I'd like you to meet my old man Bob. (I actually find this one kinda funny and I might chuckle if someone introduced their boyfriend to me like that...I do like the 70's euphs, Sally!)

    All of these compared to just saying "Mary, I'd like you to meet my boyfriend Bob." Plain and simple and everyone gets what you mean and it doesn't sound odd - at least to me anyway.

    Posted by bumbly-bee June 15, 09 01:19 PM
  1. My now husband routinely introduced me as "the love of my life." He still does.

    Posted by exiledmainer June 15, 09 01:20 PM
  1. "Companion" vs. "man friend." Choose one. I'd say the LW is too young for the first.

    Posted by winoo June 15, 09 01:24 PM
  1. Boyfriend is better. The other two sound weird. Just say, he's my boyfriend, people will understand. And if they think it's too childish, then forget them.

    Posted by ida June 15, 09 01:27 PM
  1. I want to know what happened after TNTBW's "boyfriend" got back from the Cape.

    Posted by DrK June 15, 09 01:30 PM
  1. significant other

    Posted by lisa June 15, 09 01:42 PM
  1. friend with benefits,,
    or BFF..

    Posted by alex June 15, 09 01:54 PM
  1. If you overthink everything the way you did this, I'm certain you may comfortably refer to him as your "future ex-boyfriend".

    Posted by somebody who is warning you June 15, 09 01:55 PM
  1. Just took a quick glance and see that someone mentioned "beau"...I like that. I'm 39...so I hear what you're saying about "boyfriend" sounding juvenile, although frankly I don't see anything wrong with using it. If you're dating someone and you're not married or engaged, that is what he is..whether you 25,35,45,55, 65, or even 75. Now, if you live together, I can see that "boyfriend" doesn't exactly convey a deeper commitment than just hanging out and dating, but then have to ask though...if all of you are already hanging out with your friends and family, and THEY all know the type of relationship you have with him, who exactly do you need to define him to? Is it people at your job or people you run into that you don't know well? If so, I would just say, "Joe...someone special I've been dating for X months/years". Or use the term that you used in your letter - "honey". That says it all right there...someone you cherish and think highly of, and makes you happy. In the end, it doesn't matter...because the people in your close circle know, and those who aren't, don't need to have the most perfect definition either. Curious though....if he was talking about you to someone that didn't know you, how would he convey the relationship? Does he say "girlfriend"?

    term in your

    Posted by bklynmom June 15, 09 01:56 PM
  1. What's wrong with boyfriend? Surely people know you're beyond the point of going steady to the sock hop.

    How about "significant other"?

    Posted by Madra June 15, 09 02:02 PM
  1. cabana boy?

    Posted by lwagz June 15, 09 02:07 PM
  1. cabana boy?

    Posted by lwagz June 15, 09 02:07 PM
  1. Start sleeping with the pool boy so you can write back with a more interesting letter...

    Posted by yep zzZZzzzZZ June 15, 09 02:11 PM
  1. "My lover" only works when the name is exotic or foreign: "my lover Armando", or "my lover Jean-Pierre" .

    But "my lover Ronnie" just sounds wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Maybe it's just me.

    Posted by Workin' Hard June 15, 09 02:13 PM
  1. How about Papa's got a brand new bag?

    Posted by KG June 15, 09 02:18 PM
  1. My sweetheart and I are in the same situation. He refers to me as his girlfried and to himself as my boyfriend; I call him my companion. Others call us a couple or an item. We are in our late 50s and very happy. Special friend works too. Everyone gets it.

    Posted by Chocolate Chip June 15, 09 02:20 PM
  1. Ok, when I hear the word “partner” I don’t think homosexual, I think business, which is a far better reason not to use the word for a romantic relationship, unless you're deliberately trying to confuse people. The difference between a *business* partner and a *life* partner isn't always discernible from context alone. And why be so vaguely sterile about it anyway? This is someone you love, yes? Go for boyfriend, sweetheart, beau, main squeeze, love...lots of good suggestions above, but I for one am totally 98.7% against using “partner.”

    Posted by StateFlower June 15, 09 02:29 PM
  1. Why is saying he's my lover "gross?" It may be too much information, and not appropriate for every occasion - but does it really elicit the ick factor for you?

    Posted by portiaperu June 15, 09 02:30 PM
  1. Personally - I always liked saying "My Old Man" married or not. And being called the "Old Lady" was fine with me. Or you could say HE/SHE is my SIGNIFICANT OTHER........or this is my BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND - YOUR NEVER TOO OLD FOR ANY OF THESE TERMS......

    Posted by Been around June 15, 09 02:36 PM
  1. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw - he's your manfriend

    Posted by singleinthecity June 15, 09 02:42 PM
  1. I understand how you might think that boyfriend sounds a little "juvenile" or "childish" (even though I don't think there's anything wrong with anyone of any age referring to the person they are dating as their bf/gf,) but to be honest, since you guys have made a commitment to spend the rest of your lives together, I think the term boyfriend doesn't really do justice to the magnitude, commitment, and seriousness of the relationship. He was your boyfriend when you guys started dating, but once you got to the point of agreeing to a lifelong commitment (with or without the paperwork of a legally binding marriage) then I think that at that point "significant other" became a more appropriate term. I have a few friends who have been with their S.O's for years and years without officially tying the knot, and they realized that once they started referring to each other when introducing themselves as "My Significant Other 'Bob.' " then they felt that their relationship was viewed with equal seriousness as a legally binding marriage.

    Posted by Skyler June 15, 09 02:42 PM
  1. Let's have Love Letters for success stories from the regulars here - like the handsome (at least, I imagine he is) valentino, and how bleako went to solid married man, and so many others here who have it together.

    Congratulations to you, too, valentino, on your upcoming nuptials. I wish you and your special lady and your families a lifetime happiness! Mazel tov!

    Posted by reindeergirl June 15, 09 02:47 PM
  1. my partner and I have been in a long term opposite sex relationship for longer than most marriages. Although I use the term partner, I usually follow up by using a phrase or sentence that employs the word "she'. Maybe it's just being self conscious on my part. We also use DP, SO, and co mortgagee as descriptors.

    Posted by steve Hirshon June 15, 09 02:53 PM
  1. my baby boo.

    gardener

    plumber

    Posted by Alex June 15, 09 03:00 PM
  1. How about - he's my sunshine.

    Posted by Amy June 15, 09 03:02 PM
  1. Reindeergirl has a serious crush on Valentino!

    Posted by Tricia June 15, 09 03:05 PM
  1. an ex-bf used to called me 'CRAZY BITCH' and I'd call him my "SICK BASTARD".

    Posted by Been around June 15, 09 03:17 PM
  1. # 96 (somebody who is warning ...) - How negative you are! "Overthink." Is that your favorite word? There's nothing wrong with a little self-analysis, self-realization. She's trying to find a word in her comfort zone. You: "dare pondus idonea fumo."

    -----

    "My man" and "my woman" sound possessive, but, as they are an LTR, so what? But, to co-workers, I'd say "my special friend."

    Posted by reindeergirl June 15, 09 03:23 PM
  1. JinMet (#49)...

    A "botfriend" is a boyfriend who does whatever he's told. Either that or it's what you get when I type without having had my morning coffee yet.

    Posted by Truman June 15, 09 03:44 PM
  1. I call mine my "gentleman friend". Works beautifully.

    Posted by queenB June 15, 09 03:50 PM
  1. Missingmysoontobelove-
    Rico is like an eclipse of the sun: You can't stare at it because it's brightness could blind you. By using the 3rd person, Rico allows you to know him, but not so well that his magnetism leaves you emotionally paralyzed. Be happy just to know of he who is Rico.

    Posted by valentino June 15, 09 04:01 PM
  1. Labels do not define us, actions do.

    You're "committed for a lifetime" routine comes complete with an exit strategy - so I am not convinced. Sounds like infatuation. Do you expect people to respect your relationship the same way they would if you were married? Don't try too hard with labels - it won't work.

    Legally your relationship is nothing; socially others will accept your coupledom as your interactions dictate toward one another. Right now, it sounds like you have a truly awesome playmate with an exit strategy. And there's nothing wrong with that.


    Posted by ItsJustInfatuationWithAnExitStrategy June 15, 09 04:14 PM
  1. special friend??? No.

    I like beau a lot. So cute and old fashioned.
    But maybe significant other is the most proper term. A little long winded though.

    I have a feeling that one term is not a catchall for every social situation. In relationships I have often referred to the guy in my life as significant other when talking to family or in business settings, boyfriend or beau when talking to friends, and lover, baby, honey to his face.

    Posted by blahblahblah June 15, 09 04:23 PM
  1. Having gone thru this, this is what I did - and it does depend on the situation.
    My significant other or (SO) - I call my husband this now as well, and many other people single, living together, dating or married use this - it is probably the most "PC" answer. It doesn't state straight or gay, married or not. Just you are in a long-term relationship with this person
    My beau or boyfriend
    My partner or lover
    My better half, my other half.
    Do what is comfortable for YOU

    Posted by RedSox13 June 15, 09 04:49 PM
  1. it takes a village to raise a child.

    Posted by fred June 15, 09 04:54 PM
  1. You called him 'my honey' in the letter... ta-daaa.
    Next!

    Posted by pb June 15, 09 05:06 PM
  1. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) says you should say grilled cheese sandwich. There's your answer so stop thinking...

    Posted by darwin June 15, 09 05:08 PM
  1. My girlfriend called me sweetie to my face, her BF to her family, and her SO at work and with other people. I called her baby, GF, and "the old ball and chain" to my work buddies. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Posted by billy13 June 15, 09 05:12 PM
  1. Innamorato: In commedia dell'arte, the stock male lover.


    Posted by val June 15, 09 05:15 PM
  1. how about your "life companion"? (my, that does sound old ...)

    Posted by danielle June 15, 09 05:17 PM
  1. You seem to be trying hard to convince yourself and others that saying “boy friend” is your only problem with this relationship. Rather than looking for alternative names (you use “honey” in your letter, why not stick with that), ask yourself why you need to write a letter of this sort. And don’t move in together until you have an honest answer to that question.

    Posted by DoubtfulOptimist June 15, 09 05:41 PM
  1. Why don't you just call each other self-indulgent and leave the rest of us out of it.

    Posted by prairiemike June 15, 09 05:51 PM
  1. Since when is "Old Man" NOT a reference to a father???

    If someone told me she was going to the Cape for the weekend with her "Old Man", I would assume she's sleeping with her father.

    Yeah, I totally get and have heard "my Old Lady", but that doesn't make "Old Man" the direct equivalent (hence, why it's not Old Woman)... Old Dude, or even my Old Guy/Gentleman would be more on par and create far less incestuous confusion.......

    Yeah, no. There's nothing wrong with saying "man", "my man"... but Old Man has been used for far too long as a reference to Pops.

    Posted by DJMcG June 15, 09 06:05 PM
  1. He is your MAN, you are his WOMAN...enjoy.

    Posted by getovrit June 15, 09 06:13 PM
  1. I want to know what happened to the boyfriend that was going to get dumped because he was taking another girl to the Cape.... DETAILS!!! Meredith, can you ask the poor girl to provide a follow up?

    Posted by The Cape is for cheaters June 15, 09 08:04 PM
  1. What's wrong with "my sweetheart" or "my beau". These may sound old fashioned, but they clearly convey the nature of the relationship in a warm and charming tone.

    Posted by juju June 16, 09 06:43 AM
  1. DJMcG,

    "my Old Lady" - yeah, the 70s had LOTS of sexist terms for women!

    Tricia,

    valentino - and religion writer Michael Paulson too! I did those baldies :) (Like Michael - I've no idea what val looks like, it's his voice ... ~~swoon~~)

    Posted by reindeergirl June 16, 09 08:09 AM
  1. My 84-year-old aunt met a man at church and they fell in love quickly. They are inseparable, and deeply in love. She calls him her "pool boy"... it's hilarious. He is a younger man at 82...

    Posted by Lovin' my poolboy June 16, 09 08:13 AM
  1. You're a trite, stuck-up retread, but I doubt you'll be using that one. Call each other boyfriend and girlfriend- that's what you are, even if you're eighty! Stop trying so hard, it's a sure sign of self-deception.

    Posted by hippydippy June 16, 09 08:17 AM
  1. How about calling him your "beau"? It has a classy vintage touch and is a little more sophisticated than "boyfriend." That being said, "boyfriend" describes him pretty well, and will be generally understood to mean "the guy that you are romantically connected with and currently not married to".

    Posted by Storyteller June 16, 09 08:29 AM
  1. I think boyfriend and girlfriend are fine in this situation. After all, the restorative power of newly discovered love makes us all feel like giddy children again, doesn't it?

    Here's hoping you never get past that initial stage of romantic happiness!

    Posted by bidemytime June 16, 09 08:41 AM
  1. I agree with Hoss.....B to the OR to the ING!
    However my advise is to say whatever you are comfortable with. I`ve never been the "My Boyfriend" or "My Baby" type either. So try.......
    ! "This is __________(insert his name)", and hold his hand. People will get it.
    2. "Better Half" is good
    3. "Soul Mate"
    4. "Love of my life"
    5."My Man" (my personal favorite)
    6."My Boo"
    But if a label doesnt work for you, go back to suggestion #1. "ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THEN WORDS"!!!!

    Posted by LilShorty98 June 16, 09 10:17 AM
  1. Smoopy

    Posted by Soup Nazi June 16, 09 10:53 AM
  1. I am disappointed that "gay" was used in such a negative tone, especially by the columnist. My partner and I (I'm male, she's female) refer to each other as such and proudly so. We don't live with each other, have a wonderful sexual relationship, and try to spend time with each other whenever we can. But most importantly, we really see our relationship as a partnership. We respect each other's views, try not to take each other for granted, and treat each other as equals, probably more so than many married couples or boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. I suggest everyone consider re-evaluating their relationship as a partnership and see what happens...ask how your partner feels being treated as such.

    Posted by Rusty June 16, 09 11:25 AM
  1. reindeergirl:
    I didn't say it was right... it's just the direct correlation to "Old Man". Also, I'm pretty sure the "cool biker types" were using 'Old Lady' in the '60s, so the '70s might not hold quite the monopoly on sexist terms that you may have initially thought..... I think we'll need a little more research on the development and implementation of sexist terminology before we can make such grandiose, sweeping assessments. Many believe that the bulk of the groundwork for that particular era of offensive, sexist terms was actually laid in the late '40s/early '50s. Some have even traced it back to the beginning of the Great Depression...

    Posted by DJMcG June 16, 09 12:49 PM
  1. TO FRED THE VILLAGE IDIOT. WELL, IN YOUR CASE, IT TAKES A VILLAGE. (l.m.a.o.)

    Posted by Been around June 16, 09 03:23 PM
  1. I used to use "partner" because the term sounded so adult. But this can be interpreted as a relationship of a business nature, so the use is dubious.

    Now I like "My Man". Retro and funky if expressed as "Mah Man!"

    Really, it can be considered preemptive to qualify or categorize the nature of one's companion. Just introduce him by his first name. The way you two interact with each other will be all the explanation that's needed.

    Posted by snuckles June 16, 09 07:08 PM
  1. Nothing gross about "my lover", though many of my friends (we're all in our 30's) tend to use "my _____ (insert his name)". Or just refer to him by name alone, the relationship will be known to people close to you and others will figure it out.

    Posted by Anonymous June 16, 09 09:27 PM
  1. We like "Partner" and "Mate" but generally just say the name. Everyone seems tp understand.

    Posted by Susan Grindle June 17, 09 11:01 PM
  1. you could use: my significant other or the special person in my life.

    Posted by Lee June 24, 09 02:53 AM
  1. cuisle mo chroi - it is Irish and means "pulse of my heart"

    Posted by jCS July 12, 09 11:46 PM
  1. Partner in the UK now refers to two people in a sexual relationship, either different or same sex. Some people use boyfriend/girlfriend, but I find it sounds like a 9 year old in the playground type thing. I always refer to people by name though. When a friend got married and kept calling him "my husband" like she was so proud of it, someone said to her and does he have a name. It sounds a little pathetic to be honest and she soon stopped it.

    Posted by Sarah August 7, 09 11:59 AM
 
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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