This is a lead-in to tomorrow's post... and a funny article that I found some time ago. This hit on the same question we talk about in my office. When I speak to one of my co-workers, I always ask about her "manfriend" because I feel that boyfriend is just a very weird way of referring to the man with whom she spends most of her time. Manfriend just sounds creepy and awkward and no better than boyfriend... but it also sounds funny....so I keep using it. And, it has caught on around the office.
I was wondering if any of you have a term that you use - whether it be funny or serious. I don't need an answer now, mind you... but I just want to make sure I'm prepared in case the occasion arises when I might need a term. (That's a joke!) ;)
Excerpts from a USA TODAY article by Sharon Jayson from 6/22/08
If you're single and dating and aren't 25 anymore, here's a quandary you've no doubt encountered: how to describe the object of your affection.
Does "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" seem silly? "Significant other" too stilted? "Partner" not quite right?
"People feel a real need for a term that refers to one's romantic partner that does not sound childish," says Jesse Sheidlower of Manhattan, editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary. " 'Partner' sounds too official. 'Companion' sounds too unromantic. 'Lover' is too explicit. 'Boyfriend' and 'girlfriend' seem inappropriate unless you're a teenager..."
The need for just the right descriptor is a signal of the societal changes surrounding social identities, says linguistics professor Arnold Zwicky, a visiting professor at Stanford University.
According to the most recent Census data, 42% of U.S. residents — about 92 million Americans ages 18 and older — are unmarried. More than 30 million live alone, making up 27% of all households; that's up from 17% of all households in 1970.
Lynn Bartholome knows this question firsthand. The associate professor of English and philosophy at Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y., is president of the Popular Culture Association and the American Culture Association, international academic groups that study everyday culture worldwide.
She's also 57 and dating.
"I've talked about this with some of my female friends," Bartholome says. "I don't know what to say. I say 'the guy I'm dating.' I really honestly feel weird calling him my 'boyfriend.' Is a man you date ... a 'beau,' 'a significant other,' a 'partner'? I don't know."
The aging of baby boomers may be one reason society has been seeking a mature version of boyfriend and girlfriend, suggests Dennis Baron, an English and linguistics professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Grant Barrett of Brooklyn, N.Y., a lexicographer and dictionary editor who co-hosts the public radio show A Way With Words, says such questions are asked fairly regularly on the show.
"If you're in your 50s and living with somebody in a romantic relationship, what to call each other? You can say 'boyfriend' and 'girlfriend,' but you're not 13 and it doesn't really fit. You can say 'significant other,' but there's no love in that. One caller suggested 'paramour,' but that's old-fashioned," he says. "There are a ton of different options and none of them seems to work."
Barrett recalls his grandmother facing the same questions. Her romantic relationship lasted into her 80s.
"She did call him 'boyfriend,' knowing full well how ridiculous it sounded."