Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

Girlfriends and Boyfriends

on January 22, 2015
Image courtesy of Ambro/

Image courtesy of Ambro/

After a luncheon and lecture, I was chatting with another attendee. A few minutes into the conversation about the lecture, the man I was talking to randomly mentioned his girlfriend. I don’t even recall how she was introduced into the conversation. It was strange.

First, this man was at least 70 years old. His contrived reference to a “girlfriend” sounded like he was back in middle school. Isn’t there an age beyond which it’s inappropriate to refer to one’s romantic interest as a girlfriend or boyfriend? I like the term “partner.” That is what everyone calls their mate in Cape Town. It’s gender-neutral and age-neutral and respectful of all levels of commitment—no need for girlfriend/fiancée/wife categories. The only problem is that in America the term “partner” is loaded with all kinds of controversial significance.

The other thing I did not like about the old man’s comment about his girlfriend was that it was a bit of a “partner-bomb.” I think of the “partner-bomb” as the surprise dropping into the conversation the fact that a man has a partner.

I hate when that happens.

I don’t hate when involved men want to be clear about their relationship status. That is a good thing. But, generally, this information should be relayed more subtly. I might ask, for example, “How are you connected to the university?” A perfectly acceptable response might be, “My wife and I like to come to lectures since we live in the area.”

On the other hand, if I ask a man on the refreshments line, “Do they have green tea?” And his reply is, “My wife is on a retreat today or she would be here with me,” that’s a partner-bomb. And it’s unnecessary.

I remember one of the first events I attended at a new church. The emcee for the evening was very funny. I said as much to the woman sitting near me at our table. She and two other women replied, “Look, over there in the pink blouse, that’s his wife.”

What do you think? How do you feel about the partner-bomb?


5 responses to “Girlfriends and Boyfriends

  1. Carole Brown says:

    Just like I feel whenever people are rude about other thiings in their conversation. And that’s what it is when they drop “partner bomb” comments. Ugh!

    • Alease B. says:

      Carole you are so right. A good bit of this is us just not knowing how to interact with each other. I think it’s especially difficult to know how appropriately assert boundaries with single people, especially women.

  2. rebflections says:

    I don’t like the word “partner” at all. It implies that a person might support same sex marraige.
    I think the man was exactly appropriate, even if it was dropping a “clue” about his love life.
    Back in the day, men and women always referred to their girl or boy as a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”. It was normal and par for the course.
    I think the word “partner” is actually even more denigrating, because they are not a “partner” unless either a cowboy is riding with his “partner” or…the word often was only used in the past as referring to a married person.
    When someone uses the word “partner”, it also gives no clue of the context of the relationship as in it is a civil union(which I don’t believe even exists and I don’t believe God says it does either), or is that person married? or dating? or is it someone they work with?
    So in our day of trying to be so “politically” correct, I deny using that word ever.
    Unless it’s in a work context. I think we are losing our “christian” mindset amongst such political correct terms like “partner”.
    As for the older gentleman, and I don’t know him, but to me, I think it’d be cute if an older man referred to his “girl” as a girlfriend. It shows that age is only a body thing. He is probably still a very young man, not immature, just aspiring to have love, just like a young teen boy would.
    I would probably feel happy if he said something like that..happy for him that at age 70, he hasn’t given up on finding a girlfriend, or wife.
    If the younger men were doing that, we’d all be older “young marrieds” by now.

    • rebflections says:

      I also don’t care if someone refers to their girlfriend or spouse, it’s a part of their life.
      I only get upset when someone thinks less of me since I’m not married.
      As for their “status”, it is their reality, and I can’t ignore that.

      • Alease B. says:

        Thanks so much for your comment! I must admit that when I first went to S.Africa I was totally unsettled by everybody referring to their girlfriends and boyfriends and spouses as partners. But I came to like it. You actually make a very valid point, however. It IS important for us as Christians to make a distinction between people who who are bound by the sacrament/covenant of marriage and people who are not. Using “partner” language really is not good enough. I also appreciate your thought about the old dude’s boyishness being a good thing. I, personally, don’t relish the idea of being in any kind of established boyfriend/girlfriend relationship when I’m a senior, though! Thanks again for such a thorough and thoughtful response!

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