Remember relationships your freshman year of high school? You met someone you liked, asked them out, and if they said yes, that was it, you were officially boyfriend and girlfriend. But, time passed, we grew up, and suddenly relationships stopped fitting so perfectly into the boyfriend and girlfriend model. What do you call the cute girl you’ve been hooking up with, but aren’t officially dating, when you introduce her to your buddies? Or maybe you are officially dating, but boyfriend and girlfriend sounds just a little too much like you’re still in your freshman year of high school? Here’s a list of five new options for referring to your special someone, perfect for any of today’s love stories.
1. Current Cutie
When to use it: We all want to know what other people’s relationship status is, whether their officially with someone, hooking up, or even just eyeballing the hottie in the cubical next door. The gender neutral and casual tone of this phrase leaves all those possibilities open, making it a great phrase for when you’re getting to know someone new or catching up with an old friend and want to ask if there are any other important people in their lives. Plus, it doesn’t sound near as vague or unromantic as asking someone if there are “any other important people” in their lives.
When not to use it: It’s best not to ask people in long term relationships or that are married if they have a “Current Cutie,” as in this situation, the phrase could be interpreted as refereeing to an external mistress or lover.
Additionally, referring to your current partner as a “Current Cutie” could make him or her think you don’t plan on sticking around for long as current often implies a shorter time scale.
When to use it: You’re basically dating, but nobody has officially dropped the boyfriend/girlfriend question, leaving you wondering what exactly you are, but also to scared to bring it up unless that compromises the relationship you’ve already got. This term is effective for quickly explaining the significance of your relationship to others with out having to worry about jumping the gun on declaring your formal status.
When not to use it: I can’t imagine that anyone would actually want to be referred to as a girlfriend/boyfriend-ish, so I definitely wouldn’t use this word when introducing your partner to others. If you find yourself needing to use this term a lot, it’s probably best to just work things out with your boyfriend-ish/girlfriend-ish so you’re no longer floating around in “ish” land.
When to use it: You’re totally in love, and you don’t believe that the words boyfriend and girlfriend could ever represent the true adoration present in your relationship. This option is also gender neutral if you’re into deconstructing heteronormativity.
When not to use it: If you and your partner haven’t already expressed your mutual love for each other, this is a poor choice, as it could make your “sweetheart” feel rather uncomfortable. Additionally, sweetheart has a docile and feminine ring to it, so if your partner is concerned about maintaining a powerful and masculine identity your endearing complement might be taken differently. Similarly, it can be perceived as unnecessarily gushy, and upon it’s use can lead others to not take you seriously.
When to use it: Like “sweetheart”, this choice implies that your love for your partner is more meaningful than than just another boyfriend or girlfriend. This timeless classic is powerful, to the point, and expresses not only the sweet adoration of “sweetheart” but also the lust and maturity of a real relationship.
When not to use it: Like with “sweetheart” this is a term that shouldn’t be tossed around with any old relationship. Expect some follow up questions if you use this one, as it won’t be swept aside in a conversation as easily as boyfriend or girlfriend might be. This term is not as appropriate for conversations in a formal or business situation.
When to use it: Your significant other is more than just a hook up or romantic match, but a friend, a comrade, a partner. You support them as they support you, and together you accomplish things that neither or you would on your own, whether it’s holding down a house, taking care of a dog, or planning your next vacation.
When not to use it: This word can often be associated with gay partnerships or with older couples. Neither of which is a bad association, but know that it may be interpreted differently than you mean it to be.