What To Call the Person You Live With

Nurses often ask if I’m single or married. “Neither” and a roll of my eyes is my reply.

Other than “Matt,” what do I call the man I’ve lived with for six years?

“Boyfriend” makes it sound like we make out in mall parking lots.

“Lover” sounds illicit and temporary. Plus your coworkers look at you funny.

“Husband” technically is a lie, but many people assume that Matt is my husband, and I’ve stopped correcting them.

“Partner” is usually the word I use, though some people assume I’m gay.

“Domestic Partner” is a possibility, but I don’t think Matt and I qualify to register. I’ve never felt compelled to investigate.

“My Significant Other” sounds too formal and is too wordy.

“My Rock” works well for Jersey brides on Say Yes to the Dress but probably not for anyone else.

“My Best Friend” isn’t wholly accurate, though those couples at Starbucks, the ones dressed in their full cycling regalia, who give each other high-fives in line, are best friends.

“My Other Half” is probably the best option (or, in his case, “my better half”). Although I’m not comfortable with the assumption that people are halves instead of wholes, this phrase gets across the seriousness of the relationship, while conveniently dodging the question of marriage.

The point is: language is a necessary evil. Sometimes we have to check a box. Although all of us deserve the legal right to attain a status such as “married,” a name or status can never truly define a relationship.



2 thoughts on “What To Call the Person You Live With

  1. This was a problem before we were married…and once we were married using the word “husband” also sounded strange to me. Just words, I guess.
    I was always comfortable with saying boyfriend, but if you don’t plan on getting married, it does get complicated to name your person. Which is why I would sometimes refer to Johnny as “my person.”
    I know a few women who have been with their partners (or boyfriend/domestic partner/significant other/etc) for 10-20 years and still can’t seem to figure it out. From what they say, it gets even harder the older you get. It sounds really silly to call the man you lived with for 20 years your “boyfriend.”

    I say find one you are ok with and stick with it. “Partner” seems to be more common and used as a general term these days. I wouldn’t necessarily think someone was same-sex oriented.

    I recently had a friend ask us what we call each other. Most couples have some sort of pet name like “hun” or “baby.” Johnny and I have tried a few out in the past 6 years, but they all sounded weird, so we settled on “You.”
    As in “Hey you!”
    So romantical…

    That’s all 🙂

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