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Better words than "boyfriend" and "girlfriend"?

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Given that Valentine's Day is approaching, I wanted to raise the following lighthearted issue:

A fact of reality, worthy of conceptualization, is that one can have an exclusive romantic partner to which one is neither engaged nor married. Two common words used to denote this concept, at least among younger generations, are "boyfriend" and "girlfriend."

Now, I don't know about everyone else, but I've always felt like there must be some better word(s) in the English language to fulfill this need. Among the many reasons why I don't like "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" is that they have "friend" in them, and I'm in agreement with Ayn Rand that friendship and romance are two radically different phenomena.

So, the question is: do we have any better words than "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" -- words that would be clearly understood if used in conversation? (Or perhaps a short phrase instead of a single word?) Can anyone think of anything?

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"My beloved" ?

That is a great one, but I am not sure I would want to share that with everyone. Although I personally have not had a need for a girlfriend for many years ( :angry: ) I share Alex's discomfort with the term, for precisely the reason that he gave.

How about: "She's MY woman!"

Just (half-)kidding, but I do not have an answer to Alex's dilemma.

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There is always the (not so) fine art of creating pet names for your loved one: sweetie pie, mooky smooky, niddle diddle, or basically any two made-up words that rhyme. Not that I use any of those with my loved one. :angry:

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So, the question is: do we have any better words than "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" -- words that would be clearly understood if used in conversation?  (Or perhaps a short phrase instead of a single word?)  Can anyone think of anything?

I think we're stuck with them, unfortunately. Especially "girlfriend," which has the added problem that it's often confused with "girl friend." I guess it's still better than "The chick I dig."

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So, the question is: do we have any better words than "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" -- words that would be clearly understood if used in conversation?  (Or perhaps a short phrase instead of a single word?)  Can anyone think of anything?

My first thought was "better half," but that could be interpreted as meaning that you are incomplete in some way.

Saying she's your "soul mirror" would be accurate and somewhat elegant:

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=mirror']mir·ror....

n.

[...]

  2. Something that faithfully reflects or gives a true picture of something else.

  3. Something worthy of imitation.

Or, if you are not afraid of coming off as pretentious, i.e., you know she's The One, i.e., you are married to her or certain you will be, then "lodestone" also fulfils this objective. :angry:

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How about "significant other?" It conveys a unique relationship and the high level of value.

Then there's the way my sister would introduce her guy as "my POSSLQ" (pronounced "POS-sil-cue"). That is the official Census Department designation of a Person of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters. The bureaucratese is not very romantic but, when spoken, it sounds kinda cute.

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There is always the (not so) fine art of creating pet names for your loved one: sweetie pie, mooky smooky, niddle diddle, or basically any two made-up words that rhyme. Not that I use any of those with my loved one.  :angry:

Niddle diddle? :o

The words don't have to rhyme. They can be alliterative, such as puppy paws. But such terms are best left between two lovers.

I never cared for the "boy" and "girl" part of those terms, either. After high-school, they just don't fit reality. I like "my man" and "my woman". They reflect not only the adult status of the people involved, but also the sense of ownership (by permission, of course), or exclusivity that exists between lovers.

I've noticed an interesting difference in emphasis placed on the separate words in these terms. Men will tend to say my woman; women will tend to say my man.

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Interesting suggestions all around!

How about "significant other?"  It conveys a unique relationship and the high level of value.

Yes, "significant other" seems to be the best choice so far. I've never used it before -- it's always rubbed me the wrong way -- but the more I think about it, it really is a good one.

Then there's the way my sister would introduce her guy as "my POSSLQ" (pronounced "POS-sil-cue").  That is the official Census Department designation of a Person of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters.  The bureaucratese is not very romantic but, when spoken, it sounds kinda cute.

Ha! That is cute. But don't count on me using it. :angry:

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"Significant other" is good if you're serious, just not at the "fiance" stage yet. But what if you're not quit that committed yet? For such a case I like the term "sweetheart". It sounds endearing and long-lasting, while acknowledging a certain innocence that may still linger in a relationship. I think it'd be lovely to be someone's sweetheart, at least at the beginning of a relationship. :angry:

~Aurelia

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[...]I like the term "sweetheart".

~Aurelia

Oh, I like that word. It has a certain poignancy to it.

There's always the French "beau". I do not know French, so I don't know the female equivalent. Beauette? :angry: I don't think I'd like being someone's beauette.

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Oh, I like that word.  It has a certain poignancy to it. 

There's always the French "beau".  I do not know French, so I don't know the female equivalent.  Beauette?  :angry:  I don't think I'd like being someone's beauette.

The feminine equivalent of "beau" is "belle"--although I'm not sure how the French use it. I've heard of "ma chérie" (fem), though, which means "my darling/sweetheart/beloved". :o

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How about: "She's MY woman!"

Just (half-)kidding, but I do not have an answer to Alex's dilemma.

I used "MY girl" to refer to the lovely lady who is now my wife. Something about the way I emphasized it ensured that people knew I was serious. :angry:

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Actually, "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" are just fine. What's so bad about them? You know exactly what is conveyed by these words, even if the "boy" and "girl" are senior citizens. Isn't it sweeter and more endearing that we have a hint of youth in these words? "Significant man" and "significant woman" may never catch on. And "significant other" works only because the "other" is a bit coy, which works only because the term is not as frequent as "boyfriend" and "girlfriend." So, for my money, I prefer the words we have now, rather than the aforementioned usurpers.

By the way, I don't have a girlfriend. Is anyone out there available? And yes, I'm looking for a woman, not a girl, in case any smart alecks want to quibble about my use of English.

Roger

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Actually, "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" are just fine. What's so bad about them? You know exactly what is conveyed by these words, even if the "boy" and "girl" are senior citizens.

As was discussed above, the main problem with "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" is that they have the word "friend" in them, while romantic partners are on an entirely different plane than friends. This does not render "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" unbearable or rationally unusable, but there's nothing invalid about searching for an otherwise equal word/phrase that does not mention "friend."

And "significant other" works only because the "other" is a bit coy, which works only because the term is not as frequent as "boyfriend" and "girlfriend."

I don't understand your criticism of "significant other." Could you elaborate? "Significant other," while perhaps not as common, is perfectly well understood by just about everyone -- and as Betsy pointed out, it also conveys the proper idea that one's romantic partner is not "just a friend," but is instead uniquely special and valuable.

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Actually, I think we're in agreement. The other terms do have their place, and I support the desire to find more words for the same concept, so long as the differing words for the same thing have different wrinkles. Be that as it way, old standby terms without any unusual connotation, such as "boyfriend" and "girlfriend," have their place in normal, everyday, pedestrian discourse.

As for "significant other," I do like the term. It's great. My point was how coy it was -- not "significant soulmate," but "significant other," almost the "other" as if it were miscellaneous. It's a great word, but to me it has a wrinkle that suggests understatement. For that reason, I wouldn't want that term to be the most frequent term.

Not against any of the suggested words, but for everyday contexts I think "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" are fine.

Again, I think we all agree, anyway.

However, let me ask all of you this question: What's your opinion of silly terms of endearment, such as "schnookylumps" or one of those longer terms, e.g., "my little widdle cuddly wuddly koo-koo teddy bear"? Annoying or endearing?

Roger

Roger

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What's your opinion of silly terms of endearment, such as "schnookylumps" or one of those longer terms, e.g., "my little widdle cuddly wuddly koo-koo teddy bear"? Annoying or endearing?

Endearing in private, annoying in public.

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What's your opinion of silly terms of endearment, such as "schnookylumps" or one of those longer terms, e.g., "my little widdle cuddly wuddly koo-koo teddy bear"? Annoying or endearing?

You described the concept very well yourself-silly. I wouldn't appreciate my (hypothetical) partner refering to me like one might talk to an infant. :angry:

Personally, I prefer terms like "beloved".

~Aurelia

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What's your opinion of silly terms of endearment, such as "schnookylumps" or one of those longer terms, e.g., "my little widdle cuddly wuddly koo-koo teddy bear"? Annoying or endearing?

I was never able to bring myself to use any of those terms - it just felt wrong to me. I think "honey" or "hun" was the closest I ever got, and then only in private. Anything beyond that just seemed too silly.

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If the issue is about what to say in conversation with others about a romantic partner's status, then we always have one option: Say nothing.

I have seen, from both sides of that option, how simple and intriguing it is -- in some social situations -- to simply introduce one's lover by name only. What do the others in the conversation think? Let them wonder! It will add a little spice to their lives, more than a classification would. They may see all sorts of romantic hints -- but without the label. Fine, let them do the induction.

Sometimes, the implicit is more tantalizing than the explicit. That's just as true in the developing romantic relationship itself as it is in speaking to others. Two people becoming romantically involved don't need to make all their feelings -- and therefore their own relationship -- explicit at that point.

Keeping some things implicit for awhile adds to the excitement -- as when a man and woman at a romantic dinner suddenly stop talking and lock eyes. Not much needs to be said!

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I think "significant other" has a kind of vague yet important ring to it. "My woman" a kind of ownership/ cromagnon sound to it. "My girl" or "girlfriend" has a playful and a bit unserious connotation to it.

I have used all of them at different occasions. I like best to simply use their first name when introducing to strangers or acquaintances but to friends and family I like, "This is the love (or joy) of my life." Not quite one word more like a concept phrase, eh? " How about My Joy or My love?

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