Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Adult-Couples-Who-Aren't-Married Label Conundrum

I am in a wonderful, committed relationship with a woman named Barbara. When I introduce this woman I love, I say "And this is Barb, my girlfriend."

Girlfriend. I'll be 50 in September.

I'm not necessarily a fan of labels, but I'm an analyst by trade. Quantification, patterns and labels come with the territory. As does obsessing over minute details and trivia. And something about the label "girlfriend" or "boyfriend" just doesn't sound right.

In the grand scheme of things, this labeling conundrum falls in between:
  • If I'm really environmentally conscious, why don't I drive a Hybrid? and
  • What is the appropriate second age (preschool being the first) when it's OK to wear shorts and a shirt of the same material again?
 But what's the alternative?
  • My lady - Hello, 1972. Oh, how I've missed you.
  • My woman - Stated like a true man proud of all his possessions, including his '86 Camaro.
  • My partner - Too confusing. Yes, I'm a gay-rights activist. No, we aren't a law firm.
  • My companion - I'm not 87 and she's not for hire.
  • My steady - Hello, 1955. I wish I still had my letterman jacket. If A/V had a Varsity Club.
  • My wife - We're not married. Yes, we'd love to talk with you, someone we've just met, about our personal decision of why, if ever or when.
  • My common-law wife - I haven't checked the Annotated Code of Maryland recently to see if we qualify. If we do, can we share a health benefit plan? And we're not starring in our own reality series on TLC. Yet.
  • My soul mate - Because that doesn't get old at parties when meeting couples who obviously aren't.
  • My friend - Nothing screams non-committal more than this one. It also implies a hidden relationship. "This is... my friend, Barbara."
  • My best friend - Absolutely true but doesn't highlight the romance. I also don't rank my friends. Believe me, I have at least eight best friends. Wouldn't it be fun to do, though? "This is Steve. He's in the Top 10. Oh, that's Dave. He was at three for decades. But then he wouldn't stop quoting FoxNews. He's been climbing up from eight since the election."
  • My confidante - Maybe if I'm sharing my secrets by candlelight with my ghostwriter, in the Renaissance era.
  • My main squeeze - Seriously? Maybe if I was a C.I. for Starsky & Hutch.
  • My shorty - Sounds hilarious coming from me. She's taller. 
  • My schmoopie, cuddle muffin, precious - Not enough Tagamet to even finish this one.
So unless someone comes up with a better alternative, I'm going to stick with girlfriend. Just know when I use "my" it means "in relation to me" not "possession". And she is my soul mate.


One Wink at a Time said...

Great post, Mike. It truly IS a conundrum, I'd say. "The Love of my Life" even sounds kind of dramatic, as if you've been down some torturous path up to this point. Maybe just say, "This is Barbara," and throw her back and plant one on her like in a forties movie?

Mike said...

I like that, Linda! I'll just try something unique on every introduction. *She dips me for a black & white moment and I lift my left foot*

Dave Bittner said...

The only one that comes to mind is, "Better half."

It's a bit old fashioned, but implies a level of commitment without actually saying "we're married."

Mike said...

Not a bad suggestion, Dave.

Unknown said...

Yes! I made the top 10 :)

Steve said...

Even better is that I show up as 'unknown' above.

Mike said...

If I had said "Mike" I would have kept 19 of my friends guessing. :-)

Perry Block said...

Very funny! In my view, only the following is not corny or forced:

"This is Barbara."

With the proper inflection in your voice to say it all.

Mike said...

Perry, that's it! But in my best James Earl "This is CNN" Jones. FINALLY, my 15 minutes of radio fame is paying off.

Patrick Kirk said...

Mike, my wife likes to be introduced as "the woman who puts up with me". Feel free to use it since we don't swim in the same circles ;-).

Mike said...

Patrick, I will paraphrase so it isn't directly plagiarism "the woman who tolerates me". Thanks!

And I don't swim.