Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Boyfriend, Manfriend, Partner, Companion…a new word required….

Dance "partners" (microsoft)
I read a really interesting article the other day written by a Generation Y male lamenting that his girlfriend no longer referred to him as her “boyfriend”, but in an overheard conversation as her “partner”.  He took exception to this expression writing: “I must have missed the memo on my sexless new categorisation – I would certainly not have approved it.  A ‘partner’ is someone you twirl around at a barn dance”. (Andy Jones, Grazia magazine)

I have had a business partner;  there are partners in law, stockbroking and accounting firms. And so to refer to my personal life-sharer as a partner was not comfortable for me. But despite the fact that the English language is alive and evolving, there is not a word or an expression to reflect the status of one’s “life companion” whether in a gay or straight relationship if not committed to, or already married.

The word “companion” actually applies in both French and Italian. Although in English if you express that term when introducing your personal life-sharer people would look at you peculiarly.

It is very much the norm for people after 50 to choose not to remarry but to enjoy a relationship with someone which is exclusive. There is even now an acronym for those who choose to be together but not to share the same house on a daily basis…LTA….Living Together Apart.  
 LTA, Amsterdam 2010
Given that my last relationship was a long distance one of five years - actually a vast distance one between Switzerland and Australia – I guess that applied.  But I did not have a term to use with which I was comfortable to introduce my (...) when we were together.

"I would like you to meet (D). He is here for a few months from Switzerland".
"It's nice to meet you.  How do you know Louise?" 
"Actually, Louise and I are (....)

Bernard Salt wrote in The Australian on the subject suggesting that perhaps we could refer to these significant others in our lives, whether we are gay or straight, as CLUMPS….Cohabiting Lovers Uncommitted to Marriage or Permanency…OK, I think the term is terrible too!

"Actually (D) is my CLUMP". I would start laughing before I could finish the sentence!

I am sure that as the language evolves in line with society’s changes an appropriate word will emerge…I just hope it does, so that I am able to refer to my next personal “other” with a term with which we are both comfortable.  Suggestions please...

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