Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Adult Romantic Partners

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."

11 comments:

Dani said...

"Beau" is used down here in the South quite abit. I always referred to Gary as "my fellow" cause he was clearly not a boy anymore, being so much older than me. (hehe, I love saying that.)

John said...

Well personally, I'd probably try to abbreviate it, which would be ARP, which is pretty close to AARP (as a side note, my sister Rita, age 20, gets letters from them constantly asking her to sign up), which is a little odd, to say the least. I'm done rambling now.

strem said...

I don't know.... since I have this whole manfriend lingo going, I don't know if it will be a simple task to persuade them to start asking, "How is your arp today?" But, maybe it's worth a shot. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, John. It's always a treat!

Dani, does your fellow like the terms beau and fellow? (Or, at least, did he like them before he became your husband?)

His Mercy Endureth Forever said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE "Manfriend" I really enjoyed this! My grandfather dated after my grandmother passed away and I felt really silly saying "my grandfather's girlfriend"

Anonymous said...

HAVING NEVER BEEN IN THE PREDICIMENT OF HAVE TO NAME THIS OTHER SITUATION I GUESS I NEVER GAVE IT A THOUGHT BUT AFTER PONDERING THE DELIMA I HAVE AN OPPINION. "BESTFRIEND" ALL ONE WORD. WE ALL HAVE AQUAINTENANCES, FRIENDS AND GOOD FRIENDS. SOME ARE FORTUNATE TO HAVE A BEST FRIEND. BUT I WOULD HOPE IN THE CASE THAT HAS BEEN DESCRIBED, THIS PERSON WOULD TRULY BE YOUR "BESTFRIEND". HAVING BEEN MARRIED ALL OF MY LIFE. I DON'T THINK WORDS LIKE WIFE, COMPANION, SPOUSE, LIFE PARTNER, LOVER IS EVER GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE SPECIAL BOND THAT WE ENJOY. I THINK WORDS LIKE BOOSUME BUDDIES, SOUL MATES, KINDRED SPIRITS AND "MY VERY, VERY BESTFRIEND" ARE MORE TO THE CORE OF WHAT MY HEART SAYS. "THE ONE THAT MAKES ME COMPLETE AS A PERSON" IS A LITTLE WORDY BUT TRUE. THERE ARE A HOST OF SONGS OUT THERE TO DRAW FROM BUT "THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS" AND "YOUR TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE" I GUESS WOULD BE RATHER AWKWARD TO INTRODUCE SOME ONE AS. I GUESS I WOULD HAVE TO SETTLE ON INTRODUCING SOMEONE THAT I WERE SERIOUSLY SEEING AS MY "KINDRED SPIRIT". AND JUST LEAVE IT AT THAT.

THANKS FOR THE THOUGHTS
BORROWED DAD
aka: Borrowed Poppa
aka: Kelly's Dad

strem said...

Hello, Borrowed Dad. Thank you so much for taking time to stop in, read, and post such a thoughtful comment. You really hit the nail on the head.... and I appreciate what you had to say. Very touching. I long to have that kind of best friend. I am so happy you have someone so wonderful in your life and that you don't take her for granted. Too many do! She must be a special lady, and after reading your comment, it's clear you're a special man. I think you touched on many of the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head, and I hope to make another post on a related topic... hopefully, Monday or Tuesday. Again, thanks for writing! Hope I am able to meet you sometime soon!

Jeremy Sarber said...

I'm ok with "manfriend" though it does sound a bit creepy.

strem said...

With some guys, the use of "manfriend" just accentuates the creepiness that already exists....so maybe it is more fitting with some than others.

Anonymous said...

Hello right back to you. Just a few comments and I'll stop. Mrs. Borrowed Dad IS a very special Lady. Next year we will be celebrating our 40th Wedding Anniversary and I love her as much as when we first met. It has truly been one long courting period for us. We are best friends, we love being together wether its going on a trip or doing chores or quietly reading in the same room. We can't seem to out do each other in doing things for each other. We love to talk to each other about anything. She is smart and witty and cute and pretty and I know I'm biased but she is the very core of my being. I know that I have imperfections but she doesn't recognise that I do. We are kindred spirits. All of this to say that I have been reading your blog for some time since My Kelly girl introduced me to this world and I sense that you too are a kindred spirit. Its in everything that you put in words. I do pray that God will bless you with your Kindred spirit.
I too hope that we can meet some day soon, which by the way our church will be hosting the Primitive Baptist Florida Fellowship Meeting in February and we would love to invite you. We have no one that has commited to staying with us yet and you would be more than welcome to stay with us. Besides, you may need a break from the cold weather by then.
Keep your spirit up.

Borrowed Dad

Owl of the Desert said...

Guyfriend? Seems a little less awkward than manfriend, but maybe it's just me.

Chris said...

How about the guy/man or girl/lady that I am dating/courting? A little more wordy, but less childish, silly or creepy. IMO anyway! :)