So, a few posts back, I mentioned the conundrum of what to call someone you are dating seriously when you’re beyond the teen years. When you’re young, and I mean, “ink is barely dry on the driver’s license” young, you refer to each other as “boyfriend and girlfriend”. It’s cute…he’s a boy; you’re a girl, and you’re friends as a somewhat exclusive unit. Ergo, “This is my boyfriend.” This nomenclature remains as we age I suppose; I was married during the “boyfriend” stage and didn’t divorce until 47. So I skipped that entire awkward period of trying to figure out what to call someone I was dating during my more mature (and we use that term loosely) years.
When I found myself easing back into the waters, I was “just dating”. Men I had coffee with were “dates”. That makes sense, as a coffee date is what we had. Nothing more complicated or committed than that. So there was no need to classify or explain the event. Coffee date. Most of us have coffee dates, so there is no hint of a relationship. However, my coffee date with “Bruce Wayne” (go back and catch up if you are wondering…) progressed to dinner right after coffee, on the same night, so this one looked to having naming potential.
And it was…around family and close friends who know we are together, there is no need to slap a label on what we are. We’re…well…together and supported by our inner circle. And that is a lovely feeling. We don’t need to explain ourselves to this group; they know we’re treading carefully yet joyfully having both had long first marriages. But since we are moving out and about all over the city more and more frequently now as a couple, we are starting to run into people we know. Rather than just strike up a conversation and fail to bring the other into it, we’re pretty well-trained to make introductions (good “home training” I like to say). Here is where it gets a trifle “odd”…it feels a touch weird to refer to the man or woman you’re with as your “boyfriend/girlfriend”, when said person has gray hair and grandchildren. “This is my friend, Sally,” sounds too impersonal, as if you’ve just started bumping into people you know while running errands and want to make sure everyone can follow who is who. You aren’t engaged, so fiancé isn’t appropriate. “My BFF” doesn’t quite cut it. “My date” isn’t exactly right when you run into people you know in the Walgreens…or else it might lead people to jump to conclusions about why you and your “date” are in a Walgreens in the first place.
So, what exactly “is” this called? I suppose one could, depending on your personalities, start interjecting some humor into the labeling. “I’d like you to meet the woman who gives great back scratches but can’t find her clip on sunglasses twice in a row,” or “Betty, meet the man I’m seeing who stuffs his pocket like a squirrel.” You know, just to distinguish this person from anyone you might have seen us with, date or not, in the past.
Personally, I’ve taken to introducing “Bruce” by “I’d like you to meet ‘Bruce’,” and then I leave it at that. Let’s be honest, regardless of how you introduce the new person in your life, people will make their own conclusions, or not, based on their level of interest in your life. If they are really interested, they’ll ask you something personal such as how long you’ve been dating. If they don’t care, they’ll just move on with their conversation or life, as it should be. In the end though, it’s only what the pair of you call each other when you’re together that matters, isn’t it?
So let’s weigh in here. Leave a comment with how you and your other half/partner/BFF have handled this socially awkward situation.