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Etiquette Past vs. Present: Introducing Your Significant Other

I don't know about you, but when I'm dating someone, and we're in an established relationship, I like to be introduced as what I am — their girlfriend. Often times, though, men don't feel comfortable putting labels on their mate, and Emily Post agrees with this practice:

The English language may contain more words than any other, but it has yet to supply satisfactory designations for people in intimate relationships other than "husband" and "wife" and the French "fiance" and "fiancee." So begin with the introduction basics: a gracious exchange of names. Spelling out relationships in an introduction can be a distraction and may make people uneasy.

I happen to think not explaining the relationship makes things more awkward, especially for the person being introduced, but what do you think? Do you prefer to be introduced with a title that explains your relationship, or are you completely indifferent?


Join The Conversation
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
He won't let me introduce him as my "sex puppet" so boyfriend it is. We live together and are practically engaged though... what do you call that? :p "My life partner"...
SeaAre86 SeaAre86 8 years
Runninginboston - I totally agree with you. Boyfriend/Girlfriend sounds so childish to me these days. I also hate the term partner. To me, it doesn't sound affectionate at all.
jesssa jesssa 8 years
itsme3683 - lol, funny story, a cultural studies prof of mine [think k.d. lang type of woman] always referred to her husband as her partner. everyone and i mean EVERYONE in my class thought that she was a lesbian [obviously not that there is anything wrong with her being a lesbian nor did it affect her ability to be a satisfactory professor, in fact she was a great teacher] until one day she said something along the lines of 'my partner, HE blah blah blah'. the collective sharp intake of breath from the lecture hall was deafening lol. turns out she just didn't like the term husband. it was an interesting little unintended experiment though, since the class she was teaching was Gender, Communication & Culture.
jesssa jesssa 8 years
definitely need to be introduced as what i am. otherwise, you're kind of standing there awkwardly looking at each other and the other person is thinking 'ok, and WHY is she here?'
macchiatolove macchiatolove 8 years
if we werent up to the 'boyfriend-girlfriend' stage, then I'd prefer no label. If we're 'official' then I would prefer to be given that title. I also hate partner - itsme, I agree with you - I hate partner also. What's wrong with guys calling their boyfriends boyfriends, or girls calling their girlfriends girlfriends? I don't see how calling them by those names is alienating anyone - if all relationships are equal (which they should be) then using those terms shouldn't make anyone feel left out.
bethsuga1 bethsuga1 8 years
I LOVE the term partner and use it all the time. I work in a diversity office and picked it up there. I'm heterosexual but after 2 years, 'boyfriend' seems childish and doesnt really describe to me what our relationship is. We are equals and I like when he says that I am his partner - it makes me feel like we are adults in an adult relationship and girlfriend seems temporary and for teenagers. And what if we never want to get married ? Partner just seems more equal and permanent. As for being introduced, I could care less. I see it as an insecurity thing a bit I guess.
Miss-Senorita Miss-Senorita 8 years
A label doesn't matter to me but my bf does this.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I like to be introduced with a label, I guess. My husband has always introduced me as either his wife or his beautiful wife, depending on how I'm looking that day, lol. When we were dating, we'd introduce each other as boyfriend/girlfriend and then fiance/fiancee. It can be kind of awkward if you are in a long term relationship and aren't engaged. One of my friends has been with her boyfriend for several years and they have a house. They're not engaged, but people sometimes assume they're married, which pisses her off. She doesn't like to use the term partner because it sounds so impersonal. I tend to me, a partner is someone you work with or something, not someone you're in a relationship with.
eowynnie eowynnie 8 years
I've been introduced with the "girlfriend" and "friend" labels before, and I do have to say that when you're first introduced as a "friend," it can get confusing for the people you're introduced to. Strange how one word can make such a difference. My boyfriend introduces me as his "sweetheart." It's pretty funny - having a grown man introduce me to his co-workers, friends, etc. as his "sweetheart." I love it, though! It always makes the other person smile.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
kat8637 - good point - it just makes it clear for everyone involved especially the person who is on the opposite end and, to respond to a couple posts above, if my boyfriend referred to me as his FRIEND i would be so out of there...if you're too new in the relationship to define it, say nothing, but FRIEND is not good unless you are actually a FRIEND, a very obviously platonic friend without previous or possible future relations!
jessolicious jessolicious 8 years
my answer is yes - that label matters to me and i think it says a lot about the other person's feelings about your relationship with them. there's always that period of gray area in a new relationship, but in a long-term and committed one i'd expect to be introduced with the title "girlfriend" or "wife" preceding my name unless the person i was being introduced to was already aware of what role i played in my man's life. i can't think of a single situation in which being introduced as someone's significant other would be grossly inappropriate. it's a simple and harmless gesture that acknowledges your relationship.
kat8637 kat8637 8 years
I think it would be more uncomfortable for the person your introducing your significant other to, to have to guess what relationship you two are sharing. I have tried both techniques and believe me when you leave the gf, bf detail out the person ends up asking you eventually.
cfp cfp 8 years
This is SO funny because I was just talking to my friend about this after an incident this weekend. A guy I just started seeing took me out and throughout the night introduced me to all of his friends as "my friend Carly." It was so awkward and I hated it. I mean, I understand that it's way too soon for him to be referring to me as a girlfriend, but I'd really prefer not to have a title at all. I feel like with the title, people paid less attention to my name and instead would remember me as "the girl that so-and-so is with."
skigurl skigurl 8 years
itsme - i worked with a guy who used the term "ex-spouse"...was she female? why not ex-wife? makes me nuts. some people try SO HARD!
mynameischief mynameischief 8 years
I'm with you runninginboston, I have been with my guy for seven years and we don't plan on getting married... ever. I always wonder how weird it will be when we call each other "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" when we are celebrating our 15th anniversary...
itsme3683 itsme3683 8 years
skigurl--I hate the term "partner" as well! When I was doing this freshman orientation leadership thing in college, part of our training was that we never said boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife--we had to use the term "partner" because otherwise we might alienate people who were not in heterosexual relationships. It's just like, ok, I'm all for sensitivity so maybe me going around asking every boy I meet if they have a girlfriend isn't a fantastic idea, but is it so wrong for me to say that I have a boyfriend? I mean, I AM in a heterosexual relationship, and last I checked, that's not illegal. Sorry. That was a mini-rant about the desperate political correctness that is my college.
Ac2366 Ac2366 8 years
I don't care either way. I don't mind being introduced with just my name and no label because, well, I am me and I don't need to be introduced as belonging to someone. I don't really care for people to know all my business anyway. My bf can introduce me as an individual. We both know we are together. I won't be upset either way though. I'm pretty hard to offend. My bf is lucky to have me. :p
geebers geebers 8 years
If these are people that I don't know and they do not know me- I want to be introduced as the girlfriend or with my first name and his actions made clear who I am (arm around me, holding my hand-whatever).
lemamike lemamike 8 years
I agree that "this is my boyfriend" or "girlfriend" can be awkward and sound funny but there is a BIG difference between those people and friends. it's not necessarily for our own validation of the relationship but just for the understanding of all parties involved! This bf/gf i AM sleeping with and this other "friend" i am not lol.
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
As for me introducing my boyfriend, I'll always introduce him as my boyfriend. Except when he met my mom and my family, they knew his name and knew we were dating, and I didn't introduce him as "my boyfriend" since that would have been awkward for me. But, if it was just some random person who I happened to know from a while back or whatever, and had no clue about my personal life, I'd introduce him as my boyfriend. I'd feel weird if I didn't.
cbaby28 cbaby28 8 years
with a label for me
greenapples1987 greenapples1987 8 years
i like it when my guy introduces me as his girlfriend..but sometimes he dose not do that, instead he says something like 'this is my friend'. when we are going out and going to be meeting his friends i try to mention before we leave, how to introduce me. because of the big age differecne between us, i feel that some people will be somewhat curious if he says i'm his friend and will be a little cought off guard when he says i'm his's complicated as you can see lol
skigurl skigurl 8 years
runningboston - people tend to use "partner" in that situation and i absolutely hate the term partner if you're dating, it's boyfriend/girlfriend if your'e engaged, it's fiance/fiancee if you're married, it's husband/wife the use of "partner" or "spouse" is so self he your tennis partner? your business partner? no? oh okay, it's your boyfriend then. perfect.
RunninginBoston RunninginBoston 8 years
I wish there was a good word for the stage between boyfriend and fiance. I mean, boyfriend can mean 2 months or 6 years, and those are two very different relationship statuses.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
aimeeb - the point of an introduction is that you DON'T know the person...
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