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I'm in my mid 40s and dating this lady of a similar vintage. I am trying to find a good word to describe our relationship, but "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" seems inappropriate for us. It reminds me of those forty year old guys who say "I'm gittin' down wi ma hommies." It communicates, but it seems out of place.

Perhaps it is the "girl" and "boy" part that bothers me.

Any suggestions for something more appropriate?

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Jonathan Richman redeemed the term for me. –  Callithumpian Jun 24 '11 at 3:23
    
How about "Darling"? Chiang Kai-shek called Soong May-ling so in his mid-age years. –  Terry Li Oct 28 '11 at 19:14

16 Answers 16

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Depending on how comfortable you are with the mixed connotations of the following suggestions:

  • lover
  • partner
  • companion
  • mistress
  • significant other

You also just refer to her by name which would probably be more polite. Depending on the context you can use the term "dating":

We are dating.

Sue and I are dating.

We went on a date.

Sue is my date.


Edit: Not that there is anything wrong with girlfriend. I understand the desire to avoid it but it has its use even amongst older couples.

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Good summary I think. Just to add to the second section: "We are together/going out/seeing each" are also more or less equivalent. –  Noldorin Jun 24 '11 at 1:24
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I'm not sure "mistress" is a good synonym. For me, at least, it has a (somewhat salacious) meaning that goes beyond a connotation. –  grautur Jun 24 '11 at 2:59
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Most of these words mean something rather different from "girlfriend". "lover" is normally understood to imply a sexual relationship. This may or may not be the case in your relationship, and even if so, it probably more information than you want to give in a casual context. "mistress" is normally used to describe the woman that a married man is having an adulterous affair with. Again, I don't know if that applies to you, and if so you probably don't want to announce it publicly. –  Jay Oct 28 '11 at 18:13
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(continued) There is an effort to make "partner" an accepted term for any sort of romantic relationship, but today it is mostly used by homosexual couples and people living together without benefit of marriage. If you move in morally liberal circles it may be appropriate; to more conservative people it has undesirable connotations. –  Jay Oct 28 '11 at 18:15
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@Jay You're wildly out of date regarding "partner", I feel. Certainly in the UK it's extremely common for couples of any genders and orientations. –  Martin McCallion Sep 1 at 15:18

A couple options:

  • Significant other (helpfully, this seems to work for just about any relationship more significant than "just friends")
  • Lady friend
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You could say lady friend, but that sounds a bit disingenuous. I think I would go with significant other, those that seems to imply marriage. You could try describing the relationship instead of labeling it by saying that you're dating.

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Lady-friend sounds close to ladybug. Cutsies –  Adel Jun 25 '11 at 20:23

A few options to consider:

"Significant other" or "S.O.": A bit wordy, and the abbreviation probably would get a "huh?" in conversation.

"Partner": Ok, but people will read same-sex into it unless clarified.

Both of these have a "several years girlfriend" feel to them.

"Woman I'm Dating": Wordy, but not bad.

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Yes, partner is particularly amusing when you know that your (opposite sex) partner is normally called by a shortened form of a name which would normally be assumed to be of the same gender. *8') –  Mark Booth Jun 24 '11 at 14:05

How about:

Sweetheart

A common term to refer to "your lady" i.e. That one, over there, she is my sweetheart.

Kinds of indicate a closeness to your heart :)

Also, if you like something more passionate:

flame

I wouldn't use "mistress", as it has a nuance that doesn't quite describe your relationship, or "partner", as that makes it sound too businesslike.

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I'd suggest

"person I'm seeing" or "lady I'm seeing"

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I personally find the term beau quite endearing and appropriate for men of all ages. The feminine equivalent is belle, which is also nice.

Or you might like sweetie, if that's not too sappy.

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For many older dating couples, the terms, lady friend and man friend, are acceptable. Or even more simply, lady and man:

  • There's my lady.
  • He's my man.

The most politically correct term might be signifcant other, but that could be interpreted by some to mean you are married. Companion and partner do not seem to work, as they most usually refer to short-term couplings, e.g. one-time dates at dances and parties, etc.

Another pair of terms I found is inamorato (male lover) and inamorata (female lover), but these words might be obscure.

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Halfway between endearing and tongue-in-cheek, there's always Keith Mars' "special lady friend". –  Russell Borogove Jun 24 '11 at 17:30

I'm in my early thirties, and I most often use the word lady to describe my girlfriend. As a note, though, I've used the same word since my early twenties.

However, I really see nothing wrong with using girlfriend, at any age. No one will think you any less mature (or whatever else) because of it – I certainly won't.

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The next best term is "significant other" but then you sound all-robotic-&-stuff.

After that, my "complementary gentle-being"....

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Also.
In scientific community "a collaborator" can now how this meaning.
(So, If you are talking with a scientist you better avoid the term.)

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Frankly, I think "girlfriend" is the best and most appropriate term. I've never understood it to imply that you are teenagers, and I really don't know any other widely-used term. There are some obsolete terms, like someone mentioned "beau" and "sweetheart", but I think these are pretty rarely used today. Well, if you're worried about sounding like you're trying to be trendy, maybe you consider sounding quaint and old-fashioned a positive thing.

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I'm rather fond of squeeze myself.

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My suggestion would be "better half."

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Suggestions: beloved, sweetheart (Arabic: habibi) mi amore (Italian), my love, my darling, companion de vie (French, though not sure I spelled it correctly), honey. "Companion" seems common among retired people, but that can also be a weird euphemism or casts doubt on whether they even are or can be romantic, or whether they just like to travel together. "Fellow traveler" for science fiction fans. For long, "the other half of my heart." "Better half" is a humorous term and I have heard it used mostly by men to refer, in a complimentary way, either to their own wives or to their friends wives (also mild insult to the friend, but not necessarily).

"Significant Other" is actually a social science term, and it INCLUDES one's children, parents, really important friends or anyone who is personally quite important to one. I am a social scientist and I find this too broad, and also terribly unromantic. Though it is in common use. "Adult attachment figure" would be a psychological equivalent. Ick, right? Likewise, POSSLQ (poss-uh-queue): which I think stands for person of opposite sex sharing living quarters -- a term from the census. Distinctively impersonal unless tongue-in-cheek.

"Partner" is the term lots of people are using, to not exclude those in committed relationships who may or may not be married (was especially inclusive when or where gay & lesbian marriage was illegal. Its also gender-neutral and egalitarian. Personally I also don't like this because my connotation with partner is business partner or legal partner, and that again doesn't convey the lovingness and personal and emotional bonds of the relationships we are discussing. "Life partner" at least is better.

A few commentators do not seem to be distinguishing between how you would address one's beloved, and how one would refer to one's beloved to other people. Private and public terms can be different if you both want a private term or terms.

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Girlfriend and boyfriend also imply that the other IS a girl or boy, and many adults now would like to be recognized as adults. –  Felicia Pratto Sep 13 '13 at 15:51

I'm in my mid 40s and dating this lady of a similar vintage. I am trying to find a good word to describe our relationship, but "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" seems inappropriate for us.

I find myself in a similar situation.

What follows is my very subjective and personal viewpoint. No doubt there will be some who will disagree with my interpretations, but I hope it explains why I (along with many other middle-aged people) share this dilemma.

I am 48 years old while my boyfriend, an Englishman, is only 57. It does sound a bit awkward when I talk about my boyfriend with friends and relatives, as neither of us are in our teens or twenties and for better or worse we normally associate girl and boy with young people.

I feel uncomfortable saying partner because we do not live together, and that term (for me) expresses a long-term commitment. I would use, partner, when you have been living together for a certain time, and the relationship is consolidated. As an expression, partner, is acceptable at any age, it's the unmarried equivalent of spouse.

I don't think my boyfriend has ever called me his Lady friend to anyone, and I have never heard him use that term within earshot. It lacks intimacy, and sounds old-fashioned, if he were to ever use that expression it would be in a humorous, jocular manner.

I have never been called a mistress in my life by any boyfriend, even when that man was married to someone else. But technically speaking, in an adulterous affair, the term, mistress, is appropriate. For this reason my current boyfriend (who is divorced) never calls me this, and I would object strongly if he ever did.

The term, significant other, I hate. I couldn't possibly bring myself to call any boyfriend that. It sounds horrible, and what does it mean? "This is the other person who plays a significant role in my life"! :)

However there is a term, which we call each other with affection and it works for us. Sweetie. You're my sweetie is something we say to each other, and with very close friends it's a term that doesn't sound too sugary or cloying. I like being called sweetie. The term, girlfriend, is slowly growing on me but will I feel the same in my mid-fifties? I doubt it, unless of course he moves in, in which case I'd be happy to call him my companion or partner to anyone.

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