Question for unmarried gay Dopers: boyfriend vs. partner

For gay Dopers who are in a relationship, and can’t marry: at what point does your “boyfriend”/“girlfriend” become your “partner”? I mean this mostly in the context of describing the relationship to others, especially casual acquaintances.

Is it based on time?living arrangements? (that’s my uneducated guess FWIW)

I am heterosexual but it annoys me when anyone uses “partner” for something other than a live in relationship. For me it’s short for “life partner” not “sex partner”.

It’s more a matter of personal choice. We’ve been together 13 years, lived together for 11 and are registered domestic partners. I vary between boyfriend, partner, fiance, SO. Pretty much whatever comes out of my mouth at the time.

I’m single, but my gay male friends in relationships (all co-habitating, with relationship ages around 2-4 years, and no desire to marry) are still boyfriend and boyfriend.

Oddly enough, a few of my straight friends with equivalent relationship characteristics use the term “partner”.

Lesbian checking in. I would use partner for the person I live with, not someone I’m dating. I might, on occasion, also use girlfriend. I don’t recall casually dating friends using ‘partner’ but we’re talking about lesbians here - I wouldn’t be surprised at hearing ‘wife’ used after the first coupla dates from some people.

Aaaand the U-Haul archetype rears it’s head! :slight_smile:

FWIW, I don’t much care for the word “partner” in a romantic context, mostly because I am used to using it in a business context. I’m often forced to use “the guy I’m working with” instead of partner to avoid confusion.

I dislike “partner” for same reason.

I have a very hetero guy friend who has a business partner. He is very annoyed that he can’t simply refer to him as “my partner” anymore without raising eyebrows.

Boo hoo

‘Business partner’ is hardly a mouthful. And you can hardly resent gay couples adopting the term, when we’ve been blocked from from having a ‘spouse’ since forever.

Yeah, life is tough over where he is, I can tell. I mean, Og forbid anyone should think he wasn’t very hetero. I’m sure your friend would prefer if all of us were able to say “husband” (or “wife” as appropriate) instead. That would remove all confusion.

In my case, we bonded and moved in together pretty quickly, but I don’t remember when “partner” became the usual word. I don’t think it was a specific event, so I imagine it must have just been passage of time.

eta: ninja’d by SanVito. Great minds, and all that…

Heh, it was a recent conversation with a 20-something lesbian that called the girl she was dating her “partner” which reminded me of this peeve of mine.

We’ve been together over 26 years, and “partner” wasn’t really in use back then. I think we just referred to each other by name. For a while we used “husband,” and at some point switched to “partner.”

She’ll be a U-Haul lesbian then. I agree with you, partner says ‘long-term committed relationship, sharing bills and children’ to me. What’s wrong with girlfriend?

To me, “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” sound so… teenager-y. It just sounds really immature coming out of the mouth of someone older than 25 or so.

I think this may be because I, on some level, think the words are actually calling the other party a “boy” or “girl,” which is just plain wrong.

I’m un-hetero-married* and I want to use partner! Tell those businessy people to get their mitts of my word. :mad: They can have business partner. What do they want me to do? Start referring to him as my “super happy sexy-times partner” or my “long-term boinking partner”?

I don’t mind saying boyfriend most of the time, but sometimes it seems weird to say that I’m missing a meeting because I’m visiting my “boyfriend’s grandmother” in hospital, ya know? Like I’ve known him for two days and I’m bunking off. We’ve been together 12 years, for some things “boyfriend” just doesn’t cut it.
ETA: obviously I do not mind sharing partner with “gay partner”. Like marriage, it’s the same thing. It’s just the business people I don’t want to share with.

*As opposed to “gay-married”. As opposed to “married”.

Perhaps it is just me, but I think a first name is more than enough information to provide. It we are at some group function a simple “Hi. I’m Tom and this is Kelly” works well. If pressed, we can provide more details such as “married with a daughter.”

“I’m sorry I can’t be there at the Important Business Meeting, but I am attending Tom’s mother’s funeral.”

“Who’s Tom?”

Can’t stand ‘partner’ because every time I hear it I want to say ‘Howdy Partner’ in a silly Texas accent.

Unmarried straight people navigate this same terrain, why not just use ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ like we do? If I need to introduce a woman I am with, a woman I happen to be having sex with every weekend but who isn’t yet my ‘girlfriend’, I have the same dilemma as a gay person, don’t I. We could all use some more words to decribe states of a relationship. They would probably just get us in trouble though.

Perhaps I have had good bosses but at work “Tom is at a funeral” is all that is required. When I return, they may inquire further and offer condolences.

Because, unlike straight people, many gay people don’t feel like outing themselves every five minutes to total strangers. ‘Partner’ side steps having to stick a ‘hey look at the gay person over here’ sign on our heads. Sad that many of us still have to feel this way, but straight people don’t have to declare their sexual orientation every time they casually mention having to call their SO, or whatever.

Sometimes we want casual acquaintances to recall meeting a really interesting designer/dog walker/woman at the gym, rather than ‘a lesbian’.