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What Do I Call Him?

Boyfriend? Friend-With-Benefits? Partner?


lesbian teens holding hands

Many GLBT teens struggle with what to call people they are involved with.

Image (c) Made Underground

If you are like a lot of GLBT teens who are dating or in romantic or sexual relationships, what to call the person you are with is kind of confusing!

As one teen writes:

"So me and this guy have been talking for a while and we both like each other and I already asked him out. We've started showing affection toward each other within the past week, holding hands, cuddling etc. (kissing to come?). So we are at this point suspended between friends in mutual like and beaus. I'm kind of confused about what we should call each other and what to call our relationship. We both thought "open relationship" and "friends with benefits" sounded a little bit... er, slutty. And being his "special friend" just doesnt have a good ring.

This is a good question and here are some suggestions from other teens.

One offers:

"Boyfriendié? Like fiancé and boyfriend combined. Basically, boyfriend-to-be. I'd pronounce it boi-frend-ee-aye"

Another suggests that a specific title isn't the most important thing. He says:

"Just got with the flow. Enjoy being with who you are with. Don't worry about labels. I think you should be more concerned with making the best of the limited constrained time you spend together, than what you call it. Let it all evolve naturally. Consider yourself lucky, there are many out there who wish they were in just one of your shoes."

That is solid advice, but not everyone can be so casual and it is natural to want to name one's situation.

Here are some of the pros and cons to a few different terms.

Boyfriend and Girlfriend

Pros: everyone has a pretty good idea of the nature of your relationship and that you are dating.

Cons: these terms can sound outdated, too serious or too casual. If you are not monogamous, many people will assume you are. Plus, they will instantly out you are gay, lesbian or bisexual, which not everyone is comfortable with.


Pros: this term is gender neutral and conveys the idea that someone is in a serious committed relationship.

Cons: people might think you are talking about a business relationship or someone you are working on a school project with. As with the terms boyfriend or girlfriend, many people assume that "partner" implies that the relationship is exclusive when you might not be at that point. A lot of teens think the term partner sounds too grown-up and is just a replacement for husband or wife.


Pros: this can be a pretty accurate way to describe your situation. It shows you have some sort or relationship that is not purely platonic.

Cons: the implication of this term is sexual and not everyone wants sexual innuendo to be the defining point of their relationship. The term can also feel a little insulting if both people aren't on the same page.

Just Use the Person's Name

Pros: some teens simply introduce or refer to the person they are involved with, by name. For example one might say, "I'm seeing Amy later." Or, "Last night I went out with Jim." This can avoid any awkwardness.

Cons: People will just assume you are talking about a friend. This can lead to confusion, a pal making a move on the person you are involved with or similarly complicated situations.

Ultimately, there is no perfect way to describe a relationship that will work for everyone all the time. You can always try out a few terms until you find one that feels right.

Often we want to be able to explain dating or sexual situations in one easy term. But as many people discover, relationships don't always follow a script!

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