I don't like the 'partner' word

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 15:01 14/09/2012

"I'm just going to start telling people you're my daughter-in-law soon," EK's mother said to me recently.

We had run into some friends of hers - at the ski field of all places - and she had struggled to explain to them who I was.

I laughed and agreed that I often just referred to her and her husband as my in-laws.

After more than four years of being part of their family they do feel like my in-laws, even though technically we're not anything in-law.

The situation came back to me a few weeks later when I was at home watching My Kitchen Rules (I know, I have a crazy social life, right).

Two of the competitors -  a woman and her son's girlfriend-  were described as "potential-in-laws".

While I highly doubt if they will still be "potential-in-laws" after some of the fights they've had on the show, the term intrigued me.

It can often be difficult to know what to call someone these days.

I myself often don't know what to call EK. Sure, he's my boyfriend, but that doesn't always seem an appropriate thing to call him.

When I'm at a dinner party or work function, making reference to my boyfriend seems a bit silly and immature. We're not 14-years-old and holding hands behind the bike shed. We're a serious couple.

I often have to relent and introduce him as my "partner", but I inwardly cringe every time I have to say it. I don't know why I don't like using "partner".

I think it's perfectly acceptable for older un-married couples, but for me it feels too stuffy and clinical to describe our relationship.

We're in love, not playing tennis or cards.Its common usage has caused a of confusion. 

Often when I'm interviewing people and they refer to their partner they have to quickly follow it up with "Oh, I mean business partner".

Or, since the term is genderless, it can prompt me to have to awkwardly inquire if they mean they are in a relationship with a person of the same sex.

Some people have resorted  to giving their other halves quirky names to describe them in public.

I've heard one woman I know introduce her man as her "lover" at a cocktail soiree, while another often speaks about her "man-piece". I have to admit, I was not keen to adopt either of those...

Some men use some equally dubious terms.

Am I alone in my fury every time I hear a man refer to his significant other as his "missus" or "the old lady"? I think you've got your girlfriend confused with your mother there, mate.

Suffice to say, I think there's room for the invention of a new term here. One to describe a couple who are young, living together, not married, but in a serious and committed relationship.

Any thoughts?

Perhaps I should follow My Kitchen Rules' rules and start calling EK my "potential fiance".

The potential depending on how well he woos me/ he ages/ he develops his domestic house skills over the next few years, of course.

What do you call your other half? Do you think there should be a new term for young un-married couples?

Comment below, email me at anna.turner@press.co.nz or follow me on Twitter.

- © Fairfax NZ News

32 comments
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Sara   #1   03:24 pm Sep 14 2012

I agree, I hate calling my man my partner, it sounds so pretentious. I usually just opt for "This is xxxxx (his name)" and let people make up their own mind what he is to me.

Jazz   #2   03:29 pm Sep 14 2012

why wouldn't she just refer to you as her son's girlfriend?

Z   #3   03:37 pm Sep 14 2012

Wow, I so know what you mean. I've outgrown the word 'boyfriend'- we've been together for years and I'm 25 now but we're not going to get married anytime soon as we just bought a house. However I hate the word 'partner' and my other half does even more! What to do?! New word needed.

Laurie   #4   03:39 pm Sep 14 2012

I know it's a bit old fashioned but what's wrong with names - I always introduce my wife as Vicki - does the other status really matter??

AFM   #5   03:48 pm Sep 14 2012

your blogs always make me feel so forever alone.

Ew   #6   03:55 pm Sep 14 2012

Ew I hate the word "missus" and my old lady is so weird…sounds like they're dating someone old! I'd never call my girlfriend that but some of my guy mates do.

Come on   #7   04:02 pm Sep 14 2012

Boyfriend sounds so childish and partner is for old people. Both I find cringe-worthy. Would be easier if my man of four years just put a ring on it already. Fiance has a nice ring to it… literally.

Caro   #8   04:10 pm Sep 14 2012

@Jazz #2 Because she means more to the family than just the "son's girlfriend'. That term is so temporary and informal. Man it annoys me when people don't read the story before they comment!

Wendy   #9   04:20 pm Sep 14 2012

I know that you can introduce people just by their names, but I do think that it is helpful in social situations where you are introducing strangers to use some term to clarify relationships and make everyone feel more comfortable with each other. I don't like 'partner' much either but it's better than most of the alternatives.

spew   #10   04:27 pm Sep 14 2012

Yuck, "man piece", what is wrong with some people!!? That's gross. Ha love the call about 'potential fiance' it's so like that when you think about it…auditioning.


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