What do you call your relationships?

General discussion about relationship issues.
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ghosts
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What do you call your relationships?

Postby ghosts » Wed Jan 16, 2008 9:31 pm

Inspired by some recent off-the-board discussions, I'm curious to know what people call some of their relationships. Although... perhaps this won't be incredibly relevant to many of you. But anyway - boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband, friend, lover, partner - there's a lot of terms out there to use. Which ones do you use for your more important relationship(s)? Do these terms ever feel inadequate? How much do you feel the need to have a relevant term to use?

I'm always sort of stuck here. I don't call anyone "boyfriend", "girlfriend", "lover" (ick), or even "partner" - I use the word "friend" as a general term to call everyone. But when it comes to everyday conversation... I suppose it depends on the situation, but I think I'm leaning away from using terms like these - ie, "My boyfriend does this and that, etc." Instead, especially with people I'm more familiar with, I'll just use the person's name. It might get people confused if they try to figure out what *exactly* our relationship is with each other (are they just friends, or something more?!), but I think it feels better to me - except when it becomes necessary to use some sort of label/term rather than the person's name. I'm not about to say "My Johnny/Billy/etc" 'cause that just sounds awful to me - sometimes it just seems necessary to use "My friend so-and-so" because of the language.

I suppose I'm asking about this because each of these terms is loaded with expectations about how important that relationship is to you, how serious, as compared to other relationships. So that's why I get stuck sometimes, because I'm not sure what to do - that's why I like referring to people by name, even if it does confuse people - well, I suppose it gets them thinking, at the very least? In the end, perhaps it doesn't matter all that much what the general public knows/thinks about any of my relationships - if a person knows me, then they'll at least start to get to know a bit more about my relationships, and how important they are to me.

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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Karl » Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:15 am

If I'm talking to someone who hasn't met her, I will refer to my wife as 'my wife'. If they have met her, or I've previously referred to her by name and then defined our relationship, then referring to her by name is enough. Before we were married I almost always referred to her by name, almost never as my 'fiance'. It took some time to get used to referring to someone as being 'my wife'. Everyone else I know is 'my friend', or 'my colleague' if I know them through work.

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Jessamyn
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Jessamyn » Thu Jan 17, 2008 4:45 am

it depends on the context and the person I'm speaking to, but the boy is usually just 'the boy,' or I refer to him by name. with people who don't know him or of him, he's my boyfriend, or the guy I'm dating. I don't usually have a lot of trouble with terms... I guess because we started dating before I really knew anything about non-heteronormative relationships, so by the time I did I was already used to calling him my boyfriend.
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spin
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby spin » Thu Jan 17, 2008 3:01 pm

I just used the term "my boyfriend" for the first time in casual conversation (with an acquaintance who doesn't know anything about the situation) and. . .I don't think I'll ever do that again. Ick, just not right for him or me or our relationship. I think he's "the fella" or "my fella" at this point--a bit of a step up from "somethingorother." It's odd, I could stomach being his "girlfriend" much more than thinking of him as my "boyfriend." Is that unhealthy? But I very much like "lady/fella."

In general I tend to use possessives a lot to refer to people I have all sorts of friendships and relationships with. I talk about friends as "my [their name]." I often refer to people as "friends" or "my dear friend [blank]." I also have an old habit of referring to coupled friends in context as "boy" and "girl" (or "girl" and "girl" or whathaveyou) but I'm afraid it's past time to grow out of that one.

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Mr. Paradox
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Mr. Paradox » Thu Jan 17, 2008 3:43 pm

I'm so happy I've made it to the stage where I can just say "my wife." It's just a simple descriptor, without the self-congratulatory note of "my girlfriend" or (cringe) "my fiancée."

For other people in my life, I have a habit of trying to put more into it than just "friend" when the situation allows. Like, "Brendan, the gentleman with whom I lived and explored in London" or "Francis, my old housemate and Best Man" or "Peter, who's been my friend so long that I remember his fifth birthday party well" or "Dorothy, one of my favourite people in the world." Sometimes they're just "friends," of course, but I give credit when I can.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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spin
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby spin » Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:13 pm

Goodness, Mr. Paradox, your friends must be very flattered to be referred to as such.

I do a little of that, but mostly for first introductions.

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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Kez » Sat Jan 19, 2008 3:06 am

Yes, for first introductions, a general biography as well.

Other times - it's "One of my friends, Emma and I ..." or simply "Emma and I ..."

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Placebo
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Placebo » Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:39 pm

I often come up with some creative descriptor for any of the people in my life that will make them stick out in the other person's mind--some handy tag that may relate to their personality or job or when I met them (ie, "Lone Wolf," "Yeast man" "Young professor," vs "Mean professor" "Ditzy sister" vs "Tough sister"; "High school friend" vs "College friend". . .something like that) and then slowly start working their name into the conversation once I start mentioning them more often. It helps keep people straight.

With closer relationships. . . I've never yet called them anything but friends or roommates, although it's usually fairly obvious from how often I talk about them that they're probably pretty important to me. And I like to use semi-derogatory/affectionate names, too, either too the person's face or while talking about them when they're not around--"little boy" is a common one with one friend, my younger sisters are often some nickname or other--it could be "slimeball" or it could be "beloved" . In my head all of those terms mean the same thing, and it roughly translates to "I love you," whether I'm talking about them or to them.

Things like "partner" or "boyfriend" or "significant other" sound weird--sometimes one of my friends and I will jokingly refer to each other in boyfriend/girlfriend terms, but only to each other, and only joking. If people ask if we're dating, I will say, "We're friends; it might end up "that way" or not, but I'm comfortable with it the way that it is--whatever it is."

I do call all of my relationships "relationships" even though that makes them sound more formal sometimes--I wish there was a word to mean, "we're friends and good friends and maybe "more than friends," whatever that means, and we have a "relationship" going on that means that we are going to be around for each other for a while, and it transcends the word "friendship" which is shallow and used on everyone from a casual acquaintance to a sibling-equivalent; and we don't really know what kind of "relationship" it is, because they don't really have kinds--each "relationship" evolves independently, and we're still figuring out the specifics." I guess that's a mouthful to attribute to any handful of syllables, though. :lol:
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Omnes et Nihil
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Omnes et Nihil » Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:21 pm

ghosts wrote:Inspired by some recent off-the-board discussions, I'm curious to know what people call some of their relationships.


*throws arms up in the air*

I give up. For now at least.

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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Kez » Mon Jan 21, 2008 2:53 am

Omnes et Nihil wrote:
ghosts wrote:Inspired by some recent off-the-board discussions, I'm curious to know what people call some of their relationships.


*throws arms up in the air*

I give up. For now at least.


?

I call my relationships Sandy. And Robert.

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Mr. Paradox
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Mr. Paradox » Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:14 am

That's confusing. You should call them Bruce.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Puppy
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Puppy » Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:51 am

I only call Hayley girlfriend in AVEN and in person. Or Hayley, or Hay, or some sweet names. :)
But 'girlfriend' doesn't translate to Finnish, it just doesn't sound right. Might be because our relationship works in English. She is 'Hayley' as she was before she became my girlfriend.

I mostly prefer calling my people by name. Most of them don't fit in any common term and using those would cause other people go 8|. :lol:

And just noticed that I use 'my people'. :mrgreen:
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby ceres » Mon Jan 21, 2008 8:01 am

I generally call them friends.

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Spooky
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Spooky » Sat Jan 26, 2008 5:25 am

Friends are friends, family are family. My partner is my partner, or is referred to by name with people who know her. I find that most of my relationships currently fit in the the 'normal' terminology and, if they don't, they'll be given an affectionate nickname instead.

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Shockwave
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Shockwave » Sat Jan 26, 2008 4:59 pm

The ones that last are my friends, the ones that don't are flings...

Is "asexual player" an oxymoron?

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Placebo
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Placebo » Sat Jan 26, 2008 5:03 pm

Shockwave wrote:The ones that last are my friends, the ones that don't are flings...

Is "asexual player" an oxymoron?


No way!
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xaida
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby xaida » Sun Jan 27, 2008 9:30 am

Like Spooky I always made to fit my relationships of all sorts into the classical categrories. Maybe I had to explain that unlike others my bonds with my family are primary in emotional intensity and local distance, but there was no need to do anything about the terminology.
Then I met this... wonderful guy I "have" now (I even need a better word for "have" here) and things became rather complicated. We are constantly figuring out how to call our relationship. We started off by calling it a "good acquaintance", but you dont go to see couple therapists when you experience problems in a good acquaintance, or do you? So we called it an exclusive non-Relationship, but it became too relationshippy and thereby disastrous as multiple passionate fights taught us that we just dont function together. So we took the best of it and arranged regular jours fixes in anonymous hotel rooms (deeply satisfies the shady, conspiratory and delicate other side of mine), which I started calling an affair while he calls me his non-girlfriend and the like. I hope to still make up and attach a whole lot more labels to better describe whatever we are working out together.

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Saiya
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Saiya » Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:31 pm

Pretty much most of my relationships i just refer to as friendships even in regards to my family,
they feel like close friends more then anything else.
Been in a couple of traditional relationships but even those still just felt like good friendships, there
just wasn't much i did with them that felt exclusive or different enough to make me regard them as
anything different from most of my friendships. Some of my friendships are definitely closer then others though.

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School Of Fish
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby School Of Fish » Sun Feb 03, 2008 8:27 pm

Being that other than sex, my relationship with Dela is pretty much the same as any other "mainstream" boyfriend/girlfriend relationship... that is a monogamous, exclusive, "snuggling-and-face-eating" kind of thing... I don't worry so much about what to call it.

I think that the question here is less an issue of our asexuality, and more of a linguistic one.

When I wish to communicate the way that Dela is related to me, I usually refer to her as being my girlfriend for ease of communication with others.

Girlfriend is a term that Dela hates... but most people know what the term means already, and what it means in most people's minds describes our relationship-- except minus the sex.

Words are simply a vessel for meaning, what they actually are is arbitrary. They are just sounds, or symbols. If sounds that came from people's mouths had steadfast meanings, then we would only have one language.

Languages, though, require people to share meaning.

The meaning that is carried by them is what is important, and so for me, "Girlfriend" is just a tool to communicate with others the relationship that Dela and I share.

Dela really wants me to use something else. We started out referring to eachother as boyfriend and girlfriend (but in reverse). That led to some interesting explaining that I had to do later.

So we settled on the terms "Romantic Girl Partner" (Dela) and "Romantic Boy Partner." (Moi)
It's a bit of a mouthful, but it makes her happier than using the "normal" ones. So... Yeah.

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KAGU143
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby KAGU143 » Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:51 am

I refer to Kæth in a variety of ways, but, like School of Fish said, they are all just verbal shortcuts. Examples would be: boyfriend, partner, significant other, one of my best friends, etc, etc.

What I call him in my head when I think about him is too complex to translate into words. It includes all of the concepts suggested by the words above, but it goes much, much farther. I have always been very reticent about discussing my feelings. Even admitting that I HAVE any can be very difficult for me at times.
Kæth knows how I feel, but I don't really see why the rest of the world needs to know the details.
If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

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School Of Fish
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby School Of Fish » Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:29 pm

KAGU143 wrote:What I call him in my head when I think about him is too complex to translate into words. It includes all of the concepts suggested by the words above, but it goes much, much farther. ...snip...
Kæth knows how I feel, but I don't really see why the rest of the world needs to know the details.



Yeah. In my head Deladangerous is just [actual name withheld for privacy's sake].

I agree that it's too complex to describe, and there isn't, nor should there be, a single word for it.

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EGD
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby EGD » Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:36 am

ghosts wrote:I'm always sort of stuck here. I don't call anyone "boyfriend", "girlfriend", "lover" (ick), or even "partner" - I use the word "friend" as a general term to call everyone. .


the first person I saw, we were awesome at the beginning.
Um, he asked me to call him stooge and not boyfriend. [laughs.]
Last edited by EGD on Wed Mar 05, 2008 1:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Noskcaj.Llahsram
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Noskcaj.Llahsram » Tue Mar 04, 2008 8:29 pm

I call most people 'acquaintance', thier are a few (read two, working on number three) people I call 'friend'. I am a frim believer in the saying "a friend (read acquaintance) will help you move, a good friend (read friend) will help you move a body," if one of my friends called me at 3:00 am and said "Look I need your help." I'd go over, and if, god forbid, there was, I dunno, a dead hooker I would help them get ride of it, no questions asked. Hell in all honesty I would help them even if I got over there and I found my other friend's body, though at that point I'd be expecting some sort of explanation. :read: Wether I'd extend this same privilege of trust to family has yet to be determined. You don't choose your family, you don't choose your enemies, you only get to choose your friends, there is no reason you shouldn't hold these people to the highest of standards, or deprive them of the your most devote loyalty once earned. I've never understood why, but my views on friendship have always had this scary immutable, down right extremist stance. hmmmm :think:
What is love? Well, you know that feeling you get when you've been locked in a tiny dark space alone for a year? It's kind of the opposite of that.

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Dargon
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Dargon » Tue Mar 04, 2008 8:34 pm

Noskcaj.Llahsram wrote:I am a frim believer in the saying "a friend (read acquaintance) will help you move, a good friend (read friend) will help you move a body,"


Reminds me of another one I tend to use.

An acquaintance is someone who will stand at your funeral, look at your body, and say 'that was stupid of you.' A friend is someone who will stand with you at that gates, look at you, and say 'that was totally awesome!'"

Also, friend is not a term I use lightly. Most people I will refer to as a "buddy," or a "pal," but there are very few I describe with the word "friend."

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Fox
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Fox » Wed Mar 05, 2008 2:23 pm

Dargon wrote:
Noskcaj.Llahsram wrote:I am a frim believer in the saying "a friend (read acquaintance) will help you move, a good friend (read friend) will help you move a body,"


Reminds me of another one I tend to use.

An acquaintance is someone who will stand at your funeral, look at your body, and say 'that was stupid of you.' A friend is someone who will stand with you at that gates, look at you, and say 'that was totally awesome!'"


At an acquaintance's funeral, I would wear black and be politely grieving. At a friend's funeral, I'd wear black and be politely grieving, all the while surreptitiously trying to take off with a finger...if not the whole corpse.
"I had an encounter with Death and all I got was this lousy sheep bone."

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Dargon
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Dargon » Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:29 pm

Fox wrote:
Dargon wrote:
Noskcaj.Llahsram wrote:I am a frim believer in the saying "a friend (read acquaintance) will help you move, a good friend (read friend) will help you move a body,"


Reminds me of another one I tend to use.

An acquaintance is someone who will stand at your funeral, look at your body, and say 'that was stupid of you.' A friend is someone who will stand with you at that gates, look at you, and say 'that was totally awesome!'"


At an acquaintance's funeral, I would wear black and be politely grieving. At a friend's funeral, I'd wear black and be politely grieving, all the while surreptitiously trying to take off with a finger...if not the whole corpse.


Hey, I've already got you getting a whole foot in my non-legally-binging-last-requests, be happy with that.

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Fox
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Fox » Fri Mar 07, 2008 6:30 pm

YAY I CAN HAS FOOT.
"I had an encounter with Death and all I got was this lousy sheep bone."

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Noskcaj.Llahsram
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Noskcaj.Llahsram » Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:12 am

left or right, these things are important.
What is love? Well, you know that feeling you get when you've been locked in a tiny dark space alone for a year? It's kind of the opposite of that.

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spin
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby spin » Thu Mar 13, 2008 1:20 pm

Bah, I'm running into these issues again. I've found myself using the word "partner" a lot when I discuss my relationship online. Like I said earlier I'm not at all keen on "boyfriend." We are something besides (but I won't say "more than") friends, so "friend" doesn't seem to adequately cover it. My closest friend and I have a nonsense nickname I refer to him as, but it makes no sense to anyone else. I've defaulted to "boyfriend" again a couple of times while talking to acquaintances, and it still never feels right. On the other hand "partner" seems too formal for everyday use. Online, I use "fella" when I'm being more casual, or "partner" when I'm being academic or when I want a gender-neutral term.

Nomenclature is frustrating.

Friendships, I feel I can shift. For example, the person I refer to as "my closest friend" could be "my best friend in town" or "my good knitting buddy" or "the one who gives me rides places" or "[name] who makes awesome cookies" or simply "my [name]." But I feel like, socially, a romantic relationship requires a more stable description. Does that make sense? Is there anything to that?

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Olivier
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Re: What do you call your relationships?

Postby Olivier » Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:08 pm

Online, I tend to go for partner - I don't find it particularly formal. Maybe that's because I live in a place where non-conforming relationships are pretty common, and so using "partner" is very common, as it avoids having to make assumptions about anyone's marital status or orientation. Sometimes I use "my wife" if the context is marriage or long-term commitment, (or if I just feel like it :)).

But in the real world I rarely use either, 95% of the time I just use my partner's name. It's usually fairly obvious from the context who I'm referring to, and what our relationship is. To the extent that it's not obvious, I don't really care: people can think what they like.