Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Lists, Theory & Essay

Why You Should Never Say “Boyfriend” (or “Girlfriend”) Again

[***LATE BREAKING ADMIN NOTE: Tune in this Sunday night, March 6, 2011,  at 11pm to Weekly with Ed Gordon on BET as Panama Jackson represents for VSB and talks with Ed about our first book and various facets of relationships. I’m pretty sure Steve Harvey also got mentioned. Oh, and Brick killed a guy. Also, VSB was recently written up in The Washington Post by reporter Erin Williams for this Sunday’s print edition. Peep the article here. WaPo and BET…slow week at VSB. Thanks for putting us in a position for these things to even happen for us. We truly appreciate it. ***]
 

The gentleman caller

***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)

“boyfriend”

–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.

 “girlfriend”

–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.

“mate”

–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.

“manfriend”

–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.

“ladyfriend”

–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.”

“significant other”

–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?”

“gentleman caller”

–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.

“partner”

–Along with “rainbow” and “hummus,” gay people ruined this word for everybody else.

“man”

–Too possessive sounding, and too stupid sounding when any woman under 30 uses it.

“woman”

–Just like “man,” “woman” only works with somebody you’ve had sex with at least 1,200 times.

“my girl”

–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.

“my boy”

–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.

“my lady”

–Would work if not for the fact that America hasn’t housed an actual “lady” since 1983.

“wifey”

The shelf life on using “wifey” in an unironic sense expired in 2001.

“my chick/dude

—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.

—The Champ

Filed Under: ,
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • http://twitter.com/Phidelity15 Phidelity15

    Ohhhhhh say it aint so!! Am I first?!?! Yay
    *throws confetti*

    • Tes

      *hands out #1 cookies while cuing “We Are the Champions”*

      • j.ivy

        I plan to walk into my wedding reception to “We are the Champions”. Love that song. Lol

      • Shar

        I just use his name, we’re secure enough to not use a title… we know what we are to each other…

      • Shar

        I just use his name, we’re secure enough to not use a title… we know what we are to each other..but. I have referred to him as “my guy” though, when chatting with the girls

    • Yoles

      congrats!!
      i was never given any confetti, glitter or any other congratulatory materials but i can say YAY and do some happy hand signs (not to be confused with gang signs) for you!!

      • Corey

        Hol up lil shawty! I seent that. What set you claimin fool!?

        • Tes

          Say bruh, I’mma need you to stop loud talkin my cuz like that folk!

          • Corey

            Aye aye aye mane! Don’t thank you can’t get it too cuz!

            • Tes

              Fool you don’t know what I’m bout or where I’m from! If you feelin froggy, take a leap den folk!

              • http://twitter.com/kjnetic peter parker

                *plays Knuck if you Buck*

                *starts throwing chairs, #Boondocks*

                • Tes

                  …I’m Mad!!

              • V Renee

                If you feelin froggy, take a leap .

                Did yall hear the phone call when Nephew Tommy pranked Byron Cage? He called and told him he didn’t win some type of award and that Marvin Sapp really won, so he needed to come to his house to collect it. Byron went off and told him, “If you feelin froggy, leap. I’m from Detroit and don’t let the church man fool ya.” HILARIOUS!

                • http://twitter.com/#!/NewYork2VA NY2VA

                  He told that fool, “Don’t get it twisted. You ain’t dealin with no punk. The Lord will forgive me.”

                • miss t-lee

                  Giiirl…thanks for putting me on to this. Byron was ret’ to go boyyy.
                  “Come by my house, if you want to!!!!” LMAO!!!

      • Yoles

        aww damn… funny… what’s real funny is i’m an old a$$ NYer so i’m not even sure which gang Corey & Tes were referring to.. i need to keep my finger on the pulse… damn age
        no bueno

  • http://racialicious.com A Boy Named Art

    No love for “slampiece”?

    • Perfect Square

      lol

    • Asia

      Not at all dear sir, LMAO “slampiece” tho

    • NinaFontaine

      Uh Negative!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      unless someone sways me towards the bottom of the thread, i hereby vote “slampiece” as the new choice

    • Medium Meech

      Sounds like a song Fredro Starr would make if he were trying to launch a solo comeback.

    • Sea Jay Bee

      Or, the local Chicago favorite, “bust down”

  • TheAnti-Cool

    Deja vu all over again?

    • http://hotbiscuitsandgravy.blogspot.com Bengemin Grehe

      I got deja vu. Not sure if it’s the same kind you got, tho. But thas all I’ma say about it.

      • TheAnti-Cool

        I’m strangely intrigued by this…

    • CurlyTop

      I got it too. Weird

      • TheAnti-Cool

        Click the “what’s in a name?” link under Related Posts and all will become clear.

        • Tes

          That explains it.

        • http://hotbiscuitsandgravy.blogspot.com Bengemin Grehe

          Yeah, it was the same Deja Vu feeling you got.

        • CurlyTop

          <_< lol. I knew I read this before. Well, guess I have to actually do homework today

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “Deja vu all over again?”

      what chu talkin bout, willis?

  • Sylph

    Still pondering but Mister is one that need not be on the list (and yes, I know someone that calls her boyfriend this). Too many The Color Purple screenings effed that moniker up for me.

    • Tes

      lmao
      Co-sign!

      • Yoles

        @Sylph

        what about “The Mister” ex: the Mister and I went to…..
        i don’t think it’s bad… i kinda like it

        • Girl Kanyeshrug

          I like the Mister, but then you will have to say The Madame for the female counterpart (and I dunno about that-ew)

        • Sylph

          Still doesn’t sit right with me. If I call him Mister, I might as well follow up with his last name. Too formal? Yeah but said in a sexy voice it may work.
          I call certain men I like Sir. It’s respectful and endearing to me.

          • http://alvinmilton.com AGDM

            AND NAUGHTY!

    • http://shesoflyy.wordpress.com Muze

      i like the term Mister. i use it. lol. only when i didn’t want the person to know his name though. lol.

      I did however, use Sir for someone a while. *memories* lol.

      sounds weird now, but back then twas very endearing.

      lol @ the color purple reference though. never crossed my mind. wow.

      • http://twitter.com/SmartFoxGirl SmartFoxGirl

        Yeah I use Sir alot.

    • V Renee

      I like Mister too. Mainly because of The Color Purple. LMAO

      • WIP

        “Where Ceely?” “Fixin’ to shaaaaaave Mista”

        • http://twitter.com/#!/NewYork2VA NY2VA

          DEAD!!!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      this thread needs an intervention

      • makidada

        “M-I-S-T-E-R period…” while shaking in my boots!

  • Tes

    FIrst, dude in the picture is a low-key creeper. Hell not even low-key; I had to look over my shoulder when I saw him just to be on the safe side.

    I also see you’re feeling yourself with the whole Tyler Perry thing (as well you should). ;)

    And I agree: My soulmate/ect is just an eye-roller. Especially soulmate to me as, true story, a dude I met on a Monday texted me continually into the next day and by mid afternoon I was his “soulmate.” T_T seriously. F*ckin creepers…

    As for nicknames, I’d have to go with “lover,” short, sweet and says it all. Personally, I don’t mind being called somebody’s “woman,” but then again I’ve been known to have a bit of a thing for Tarzan-ish men :)

    My best friend uses the term “carpet cleaners” for men who she doesn’t date but has chex with on a regular basis. At first I was like “eww” then I was like “I guess.”

    Sidenote: What’s wrong with just using the man’s name? If I’m with him, and everybody knows I’m with him, why I gotta be creative and sh*t? Why can’t I just say me and John went to Chacho’s and had chalupas and body shots?

    • Yoles

      @Tes

      i also like “woman” and completely agree with using the person’s name…

      • http://iamyourpeople.com/ I Am Your People

        I just go with his name too. But I am guilty of saying “manfriend”

        • Tes

          “Manfriend”
          *snorts*

          • Girl Kanyeshrug

            LOL!

    • http://www.mysixcents.wordpress.com k. lysha

      I always favored just calling people by their name. But I guess occasions do come up when you need to make it clear that the person is not your brother, or the guy who just happens to work in the cubicle across from yours. And I’m at a loss for what the appropriate term for that should be.

      • Leonie UK

        His name is the best option,otherwise it’s “Manfriend” I know so off key. But anything wit the word “Boy” gets no mention.

    • chocolate milk

      I’m always kind of creeped out by the term “lover”. It always makes me think of old people having “relations”.

      • Tes

        I tell my best friend I plan to get it in for as long as physically possible; by then I’m pretty sure I’ll be using the term “manfriend” instead though.

    • http://twitter.com/SmartFoxGirl SmartFoxGirl

      Yes that is a textbook Creeper. Creepers are men you know you can’t be too nice to or even show your teeth as they might form some un-healthy attachment to you. Oooh girl I learned some valuable lessons back in the day.

      • Tes

        Tell me about it. Dude ain’t even know my name until I walked away and he asked me. 14 hours later he’s inviting me to his house (which I repeatedly said no to), offering to make me barbeque and saying he needs a soulmante and he just wants somebody to love (no Bieber). I kept telling him, you know dude I’m old school, you can’t just come at me like that and what does he do? He asks to come to my house. T_T The f*ck?
        Please tell me it won’t always be this way >.< lol I need that lil bit of hope.

        • resIpsa

          you’ll have hope as long as you DON’T entertain stalkers! ANY, and i mean ANY gesture that’s not accompanied by you walking away with a look of disgust will only ENCOURAGE them!
          perfect your cringe which looks like you could reach for your tazer at any moment, and you won’t have to deal w/ strange dudes askin’ to come to your house. the nerve! #creepydudesgotstago

    • http://kineticculture.com NubianEmpress

      I just use boyfriend…but if I didn’t I think I would use “Preferred Smang Provider”

      • http://thatswhatgemsaid.wordpress.com Gem of the Ocean

        LMFAO @ PSP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        yessssssss!!!

        or “Preferred Smang Partner”

        or “Significant Smanger”

        • http://naturallyalise.com/blog/ Naturally Alise

          Significant Smanger gets my vote!!! How about “Smash Bang Fusion Facilitator”?

          • http://thatswhatgemsaid.wordpress.com Gem of the Ocean

            YESSSSSS!!!!!!

        • shannon

          im a take that from you and slam piece from up above…..smangpiece! lo

      • http://twitter.com/#!/NewYork2VA NY2VA

        Smang-a-licious

      • Medium Meech

        I may or may not have been called Smangdingo.

        • http://twitter.com/#!/NewYork2VA NY2VA

          Awwwwww shuck now…

  • Yoles

    i think it depends on who you are talking to about your s/o and what medium is being used… for instance s/o works so well in written exchange, boyfriend/girlfriend works well with close friends & family, my lady/my man just flows when speaking about something nice that was done by that particular person, old man/old lady when you’re speaking with older black folk and paramour fits just right when you do not want to indicate the sex of your s/o. i guess you can also say “the person i’m seeing” or something along those lines…

    personally, i stick with my man or i just use his name or if feeling raunchy i’ll just call him my in house d*ck lol

  • Corey

    Wait…..so double dates at Dave and Buster’s are no longer cool? *Note to self: Find new location for date tonight*

    LMAO!!! @”Shirley’s”

    Sir, I’m going to need you to back up off the southerners.

    • Tes

      I’ont know what Champ’s talmbout. Dave and Buster’s all day!

      • Corey

        Ok just making sure it wasn’t a ME thing here.

        • Tes

          But keep in mind I’m as close to 25 as I am to 15 so I may be a little biased. You can’t go wrong with a trip to the beach and some marshmallows though.

          • Corey

            People take themselves waaayyyy to serious these days. I’m not THAT old yet. I still enjoy fun. Stuffy and pretentious will never be used to describe me.

            • Tes

              Fun is relative though. Some people define fun as suits, ties and paint splashed across a canvas, other people think of it as a bonfire by the beach or a trip to the monster truck show. There’s a happy medium, isn’t there?

              • Corey

                They can splash on deez!

                • Tes

                  Voila! It’s art!

            • http://twitter.com/kjnetic peter parker

              well, i never…

              *sends Kenny G after you*

              • Classy6ft5

                lol! I love that commercial!

              • Medium Meech

                LOL.

  • http://www.findthepieces.wordpress.com Alisha L. Gordon

    This post is ev.ry.thing.
    You’re right. At 28+, you just can’t throw the word boy/girl friend around all willy nilly. It’s so undergrad.

    We must, we must, we must increase our bust-ticity [i made that up] to greater terminology for those we adore, share our beds and last chicken wings with.

    Great read. Gon’ to RT rat nah. [that’s just some Southern twang for you; thanks for the Southern shout out.]
    [@dstarwriter59]

    • http://eboneeyes.wordpress.com Eb

      “We must, we must, we must increase our bust-ticity [i made that up] to greater terminology for those we adore, share our beds and last chicken wings with.”

      *slow nods*….yip show ya right!

  • http://www.awordorthree.com crystal marie

    I call my significant other Mr. Xoom. Because he’s that man of ambiguous descent in the Verizon motorola commercial.

  • http://naturallyalise.com/blog/2011/03/04/slang-fridays-you-dont-know-my-life/ Naturally Alise

    I don’t mind girlfriend/boyfriend, except when my mama says it… which is funny now that she is currently booed up, but she would refuse to ever introduce any of my boyfriends with the title “boyfriend”. She would always say “Alise’s friend” o_0. Really Ma? You introduce my cohabitating annoying f*cker who has been in my life for years as my “friend”, but now all of a sudden you have a “boyfriend”. See this seat Ma? –> \_ , this is your new boyfriend, become acquainted with it.

    Funny thing is I once had a boyfriend (he was crazy) that was really upset about the introduction, he saw that as a sign that I didn’t take our relationship seriously… and at that moment was when I actually DID lose all seriousness and interest. smh…

    • naturalista88

      I *lmao* @ your entire comment. Just gave ya mama one of them reclining joints to saddown in *lol*.

    • Hawaii

      LOL @ the seat.

      My mother does the same with my sister, “her friend”. *smh*

    • CaribbeanQueen

      “but she would refuse to ever introduce any of my boyfriends with the title “boyfriend”. She would always say “Alise’s friend”

      my mom does the same thing.. If he’s over at the house and one of her friends comes over or even when talking to family about him. she calls him my friend.. when everyone knows that we’ve been together for over 2 years. I think my mother is in denial. Until I get married everyone is just a “friend” .

      • http://naturallyalise.com/blog/2011/03/04/slang-fridays-you-dont-know-my-life/ Naturally Alise

        that used to be her explanation, that I wasn’t married and “too old” to be talmbout a “boyfriend”… imagine my side-eye reaction….

      • Tiger Blood

        HAHA. This is kind of like how, because my mother is 62 years old, every adult male I tell her about (which is all of them…no mary kay latourneaux for me) is a “nice boy”. I think she’ll call the guy I marry a man *crosses fingers*, but everyone is 35+ years younger than her so we’re all kids to her lol.

    • DC1913

      LOL! My family refers to all of my bfs and my brothers gfs as our “friends”

      • KBBN

        so it isn’t just at my house. my dad tried to defend this by saying “i’m only going to use son-in-law one time!” hmmkay!

        • Tes

          “I’m only going to use son-in-law one time!”
          *snicker*

      • SpottieOttieDarlin

        same here…I think this is a Southern thing but I like it.”friend” is timeless!

        • Nameless for Now

          I use lovah and friend (no Luda). Even my almost fiancee I called friend! Boyfriend just sounds like high school…

          Nothing wrong with a Southern thing! : D

          • Leonie UK

            When my aunts pronuce an introduction they always forget the d at the end. It’s always ” Frien” with the side eye and humph at the end instead. I try not to subject anyone to my father because he also says the son -in-law once as well.

        • NolaDarling

          Yup, it’s certainly “friend” or “freen” with an added emphasis at the end.

    • http://www.pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

      Alise, I’ve already drafted my quittage papers, now that I’ve seen you actually draw a dayum SEAT on the internets, I’mma need the process quickened.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/NewYork2VA NY2VA

      See this seat Ma? –> \_ , this is your new boyfriend, become acquainted with it.

      This has given me life and I will be jacking you for it. Here are my personal interpretations.

      Have a number of seats \_ \_ \_

      Have a stadium of seats \_\|_\_ _/_/_/
      \_\_\__/_/_/

      Sit yo fat a$$ down! \________________/

      • Yeah…So

        lol… sit yo’ skinny @ss down \_/

        • Yeah…So

          short @ss ._.

          • http://twitter.com/#!/NewYork2VA NY2VA

            LMAO!!!

          • http://naturallyalise.com/blog/ Naturally Alise

            *DEAD*!!!

      • http://twitter.com/SmartFoxGirl SmartFoxGirl

        LMAO!! *jacked*

      • http://thatswhatgemsaid.wordpress.com Gem of the Ocean

        lmao i cannot with you miss thing. i need you to saddown in one of your many seats!

      • http://www.pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

        NOT the stadium seats. BYE all ya’ll. Just BYE.

        • miss t-lee

          I too, was just murked by the stadium seats. bwahah!

    • http://thatswhatgemsaid.wordpress.com Gem of the Ocean

      LOL my mom uses “friend” too. but only if its dating. not if hes a long term SO.

      my dad on the other hand refers to any guy im dating as my “little boyyyyyfriend” with airquotes and all LOL. my dad is so extra and ridiculous for no reason.

      • Medium Meech

        And I shall be the same way with my Meechalitas

        • http://thatswhatgemsaid.wordpress.com Gem of the Ocean

          LOL @ meechalitas. as you should!!

          my dad taking none of my previous boyfriends man friends SOs guys im dating too seriously made me feel loved and kept me highly entertained. especially when some of them only garnered enough respect to be called “what’s that n*ggas name again?”

      • DQ

        I like your dad. He makes them ninjas earn a title.

        • http://thatswhatgemsaid.wordpress.com Gem of the Ocean

          LOL you aint neva lied.