After almost four-years together, Kyle and I are definitely coupled. We live together. We have two dogs. We share expenses, insurance, and a mortgage. But the longer our relationship goes on, the more I chafe at how introducing him to people as my “boyfriend.” What do I call him?
Boyfriend makes me feel old. It’s also not descriptive of our commitment to one another. I’ve had boyfriends; Kyle is not a boyfriend.
My former boss refers to him as “my gentleman.” This always makes me feel like I live in Victorian England. Plus, I’m not going to refer to him as a gentleman until he starts putting the toilet seat down.
The paperwork we signed for health insurance calls him my “committed, intimate domestic partner.” A term with about as much charm as a drunken frat boy with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
A friend jokingly suggested that I call him my “lover” referencing Carrie Bradshaw. I laughed so hard I choked on my cocktail.
The drop down menu on my emergency contact list selected “significant other.” A term I’ve always felt was too clinical to be used to refer to someone you love.
I wholeheartedly reject “other half.” I am not a half. Being with Kyle does not make me whole. I was already whole before he got here.
So that gives us the only term left: partner.
This is apparently short for “life partner.” I’ve always thought that it sounds a bit like we have a law firm together. Plus, if the Internet thinks that what qualifies a man to make the jump from boyfriend to partner is that he will pick you up from the airport, this term isn’t strong enough.
Being unable to find a word that felt quite right, I decided to drop the titles all together and just call him by his name. He is Kyle. I’ve stopped clarifying who he is in relation to me.
It took about a week to break myself of calling Kyle ‘my boyfriend’ or ‘my partner.’ It’s harder for others. But I’m slowly, gently cajoling co-workers, friends, and family into only using Kyle’s name.
As for strangers and acquaintances, if someone we just met can’t figure out we’re together by how we act around one another, we have bigger problems than what I call him.
Frankly, I like using his name with no clarifier. In a way, I think it’s made me appreciate him more. It’s like a reminder that we choose to link our separate lives together. I don’t possess him. He doesn’t possess me. And our relationship doesn’t define us.
He is Kyle. I am Abra. We are Abra & Kyle.
What do you call the person you’re in a relationship with? Does it change the longer the relationship goes on? Do you ever feel weird (esp. you ladies over 35) using words like “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”? Leave your thoughts in the comments.