When asked the question “Are you in a relationship?” an appropriate answer would be “No, I’m married.” However, if asked “Are you married?” you may say "No, I’m in a relationship.”

But my question is, what is the equivalent of the word married for people who are in a relationship?

  • Yes, sorry. Didn't spot that mistake.
    – Layke
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 17:16
  • 3
    In what country is a marriage not considered a relationship?
    – Layke
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 18:01

4 Answers 4


"Relationship" is a term with multiple meanings.

Marriage itself is a relationship. So when you are asked "Are you in a relationship?", an appropriate answer would be "Yes, I'm married".

There are other relationships, such as brother and sister, parent and child, colleagues, friends, tenant and landlord, and so on. However "are you in a relationship" usually refers to a monogamous relationship with a boyfriend/girlfriend -- you wouldn't answer the question "Yes, I have a sister".

There is no commonly-used word that you can just plug into a sentence that means "in a monogamous loving relationship but not married".

If the couple are living together, you might say they are cohabiting, more informally shacked up, or simply living together.

Words such as courting, going steady, seeing someone would be widely understood, but may seem outdated or incongruous to some people. ("Courting" is the language of my grandparents' generation; "Going steady" is the language of a 1980s American high school sitcom, etc.)

  • 2
    Other words that come into play here: "dating" usually means a relationship in its earlier stages, and "in a committed relationship" usually means a status similar to marriage. (A marriage is also a committed relationship, but you'd usually say "married" unless this is, say, some government/insurance/employment/etc form where the relevant factor is just "is there someone else being covered or not?".) Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 17:04
  • 2
    Careful with "dating". It can mean "in the early stages of a relationship", but it can also mean "going on dates with a string of new potential partners on a regular basis"
    – slim
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 17:06
  • 1
    Yes, dating is either un- or not-yet committed, and in the "un-" case could involve multiple partners, sequentially or concurrently. Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 17:20

It's been a while but I used the expression "spoken for" as in "I'm sorry but you'll just have to make do with the second most wonderful man in the world. I'm spoken for."

  • 2
    Yes, it is a little dated (not to mention self-deprecatory), but if I needed to say it I'd probably rather this than "attached" (which to me suggests you see yourself as a barnacle or some other kind of parasite). Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 18:48

You can also use "attached". In most contexts this would be understood and it is not particularly colloquial like the other answers offered.


I personally do not see the distinction between "in a relationship" and "married", unless you are offered up both (such as when you are selecting your "status" in Facebook).

Saying that you are in a relationship will include marriage, but also people who are not.

In England, a colloquial version might be to say:

Q: "Are you married?"

A: "No, but I'm seeing someone."

(Other usages might be "courting" or "going steady").

  • I see a pretty obvious distinction between "in a relationship" and "married" - the time scale. The phrase "in a relationship" moves the needle from just to the right of "one-night stand" all the way to "until death do us part". The word "married" states an expectation well over on the right side of the gauge - even if it doesn't necessarily work out that way. Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 18:55

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