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.

 

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