***I originally touched on this topic a couple years ago, but a couple recent developments inspired me to revisit and revise***
Several weeks ago, one of my homegirls told me that the dude she’s currently dating referred to himself as her boyfriend for the first time. After we had a solemn moment of silence to honor the passing of her perpetual singledom, the conversation quickly segued into a full-fledged discussion about the complete and utter weirdness of the words “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” — the generic terms most people use to describe an exclusive and non-married significant other.
Why are these words so weird? Well, how strange is it that the title your six-year old niece would give the kid who flirts by throwing erasers at her in homeroom is the exact same title a 50 year old divorcee grandmother would use to refer to the plumber she met at a Promise-Keepers conference in Kansas City?
Obviously, I’m disturbed by this. So disturbed, in fact, that I’ve decided to devote today to an examination of many of the most popular terms used for non-married significant others. Hopefully, we can come to a final consensus about which is the most appropriate, and hopefully this consensus will spread. (And, um, if you don’t think we have the power to start trends, try googling “Tyler Perry Love Jones” when you get a minute)
–The common generic term for a non-married significant other (male), but the “boy” involved gives it a bit of a juvenile feel. Sure “boyfriend” is cool when you’re 14, double dating at Dave and Busters and fantasizing about a possible extended finger bang in the backseat of an older brother’s Buick Lesabre, but it just sounds wrong to think about a 45 year old woman asking her boyfriend to rub her feet so she won’t get the gout.
–Also a common generic term, but black women’s selfish need to steal “girlfriend” instead of just inventing another word for the people they dread going to Sunday brunch with have made it too ambiguous. We need some unambiguousness.
–Too vanilla. Also, since “mating” is one of the proper ways of saying “f*king,” isn’t saying “my mate” the same as saying “my f*ck?” A bit presumptuous if you ask me.
–Just sounds too old and too creepy. I can’t tell if it’s a term for a man a woman’s in a relationship with or Wendy Robinson’s euphemism for a vibrator.
–Whenever I hear this term I think about some 45 year old divorced chick named Shirley that works at Blue Cross/Blue Shield, drives a Cavalier with a leopard interior, and smokes Newports. Also, if you can find a way to ignore the pre and post coital coughing, she’ll probably also have the best p*ssy you’ll ever have.
I actually think that all 45 year old women who still date should just be referred to as “Shirleys.”
–Eh. Along with being too formal, it’s entirely too misleading. I mean, what if you’re just exclusively dating and sleeping with this cat, but the relationship and the person really aint all that significant to you? If significant other does eventually replace boyfriend and girlfriend, do you reserve the right to change it to “aside from his uncanny resemblance to a tripod, I couldn’t give a gotdamn less about this n*gga other?”
–While well-intentioned, gentleman caller just can’t escape the date-rapey vibe it gives off. Whenever I see this I think of a character Clifton Powell would play.
–Along with “rainbow” and “hummus,” gay people ruined this word for everybody else.
–Too possessive sounding, and too stupid sounding when any woman under 30 uses it.
–Just like “man,” “woman” only works with somebody you’ve had sex with at least 1,200 times.
–Although flawed, “my girl” remains my favorite. It sounds a bit more intimate than girlfriend, and also lets the person you’re referring to know they’re your n*gga as well as the person they’re having monkey matrix sex with. Trust me: a man probably won’t refer to a woman he’s sleeping with as “My girl” unless she passes the V Test.
–Although my girl and my boy hold semantic similarities, they don’t have the same connotation. There is nothing that says “Yeah, Charlie Sheen has a better chance of giving a toast at Chuck Lorre’s grandson’s Bar Mitzvah than this cat has of sleeping with me” better than a chick referring to a guy she’s seeing as “my boy.”
bf” and “gf”
–Great for text, but they both just sound too impersonal. Plus, “bf” sounds too close to “bm,” and no one whats to be referred to on a consistent basis with something that sounds a euphemism for sh*tting.
–Would work if not for the fact that America hasn’t housed an actual “lady” since 1983.
–The shelf life on using “wifey” in an unironic sense expired in 2001.
—This is a bit too Mid-Atlantic-ey. Fine for me, but I like to keep things simple for the southerners. I’m considerate like that.
“my earth/God/goddess/queen/king/power u/spirit/field/galaxy/soulmate/vision”
—Shut the f*ck up.
Ok. I’m stuck. With the exception of the admittedly lukewarm “my girl,” none of these terms seem to work.
People of VSB: What do you think? Can you think of a term or two that should be the definitive non-married significant other title from this day forth?
The carpet is yours.
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