Question: Girlfriend? Boyfriend? Boifriend?

Argo asks…

Is there a gender-neutral equivalent to boyfriend or girlfriend? I am dating someone for the first time since I have been recognizing myself as a genderqueer boidyke, and “girlfriend” doesn’t fit. But “lover,” “significant other,” “partner,” and other politically correct words sound dry, or make it sound as if we are in a much more committed relationship than we are. Is there an alternative?

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «


Posted by on December 20th, 2009 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 55 comments »

55 Responses to “Question: Girlfriend? Boyfriend? Boifriend?”

  1. jay

    well my sig other and i when we were together we just called each other our boifriends..it seemed to fit and it made us both happy. we’re both genderqueer and it worked!

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  2. Kate Sloan

    When I was with someone genderqueer we used a lot of words like darlin’, sweetie, honey, baby, etc.
    “Cuddle buddy” was also a favorite.
    It all depends on what you’re comfortable with, really.

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  3. Tor

    I’m dating someone genderqueer for the first time, and I’ve been asking myself this question too!
    I’ve been alternating between partner, special friend, boyfriend and, recently even girlfriend. Special friend is my favourite, but I feel like a dork saying it… looking forward to hearing some fresh ideas! :)

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  4. Paradox

    I like “sweetheart” because it clearly conveys that it’s a romantic relationship without implying too much seriousness and without specifying a gender. Partner and significant other always seemed to imply too much marriage and commitment to me, and I want to be able to acknowledge relationships that aren’t at that point yet.

    Sure, it sounds a little like something from a Hallmark card, but I think it best gets the point across. I also personally like this because it doesn’t indicate a presence or lack of monogamy, which is an issue for polyamorous me.

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  5. Idgie

    “This is my schweetie!” I also like the old fashioned word “beau”

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  6. k

    I like boygirlfriend, or girlboyfriend, for my androgynous lover. :)

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  7. Celeste

    I just say “This is my ” :)

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  8. Celeste

    Oops..the coding didn’t work on that. I meant to say “This is my -insert person’s name here-.”

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  9. the raven

    personally, even though i know it’s not “politically correct” to say such things, i generally introduce persons like that as “this is mine.” then again, i’ve got some major dom tendencies, so that may be why i go for the ownership thing.

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  10. jay

    is there really a problem with asserting your ownership? i dont think so..

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  11. Hanna

    My partner calls me “the old one” with a hillbilly accent (I’m two years older than her)

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  12. Sarah Dopp

    I’ve been using “this is my sweetie”, despite the fact that I used to hate it.

    My sweetie uses “companion,” but that feels weird to me. and probably falls under “more committed than you want to express.” I also say “partner.”

    Sometimes I’ll get creative and say things like “my favorite critter.”

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  13. the raven

    jay: ha, i certainly don’t think so. but people are big on equality and the like, and sometimes they don’t see the sweetness and humor in such things.

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  14. Jessie

    I enjoy being called “birlfriend”…it’s sort of a silly combination of boy and girl, but it plays to my sort of silly embrace of both identities.

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  15. Keanan

    I’m not really old enough for a relationship yet but I was wondering what your definition of boidyke was. It is a term that might fit me but I can’t find a definition on it.

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    GeorgeAnne replied:

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=boi%20dyke
    I think the important thing to understand with these terms is that they are self-identifying. I suggest never calling/referring to anybody any term (especially something as contentious as “dyke”) until they identify themselves as that.

    Another important thing to note is that everyone who identifies as a “boidyke” definitely has different definitions of the term.

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  16. Zak

    My girlfriend and I have the same problem. She calls me her boifriend around people who would get it (aka, GLBT friends) but hasn’t figured out what to tell people who wouldn’t. My ex used to just say, “hey, this is my S.O….” I thought that worked nicely. A little less bulky than “significant other”

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  17. Jess

    I like “date.” “This is my date so-and-so.”

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  18. Renae Ann

    …there are friends, and then there are Friends…
    I like my friends, but I love my Friends :)
    …at least this is sort of how I see things before they’ve become a partner, wife, SO, etc. :)

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  19. Nimoru

    In my case it’d be like “Hey Mom and Dad, this is the person who miraculously wants to share saliva with me.”

    But, well, darling or other pet names are good to work across the point that HAY GUYS WE SHARE SALIVA AND POSSIBLY OTHER BODILY FLUIDS TOO.

    Personally, I like weird pet names. You can get inventive if you want, it’d probably make the relationship more personal if you’re into being cute. Think out of the box! If “hey, muffin” floats your boat, then sure, but the looks you would get for a screamed “HI MY DARLING FERRET” would be PRICELESS.

    I’d love to be called birlfriend or boifriend by somebody though. Actually, never mind. Anything works for meeee ^^

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  20. kyprieth

    I just realized that I don’t entirely feel comfortable being a “girlfriend”. I think I would really like it if my boyfriend said, “she’s my boifriend” about me, but people who aren’t in the know about genderqueerness would not hear the “i” in the word. And we’re 19 and 18, so other commonly used terms — SO, partner, lover — just seem awkward.

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  21. XylophoneGender

    Personal preference: I’ve settled in nicely with s.o. both for me & for my s.o.
    I will admit to using more gendered terms around folks who are queer-oblivious for the sake of coming out because visibility is important to both of us. It’s an awkward-feeling compromise.

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  22. Epochryphal

    I like “SO” myself, and I’ve heard “This is my person” and “my heart,” which are both sweet and, I think, personal.

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  23. Pau

    My girlfriend sometimes used “gender neutral friend” which is quite cool. I think I could get used to boifriend too, but I’m not sure non LGBT people would get it…

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  24. Chase

    I’m currently single, but I think I’d like to use the term “boifriend” for whoever I’m in a relationship with.
    It would be interesting because I’m a bio. male genderqueer transdyke/boidyke and people usually mistake me for a gender-bending gay boy, so when I tell them about my boyfriend and they meet hir and see that ze’s an androgynous female, they would be surprised or confused haha

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  25. jean c.

    I like “sweetheart” myself! in kind of a pre-hallmark-cards, romantic early 20th century way. “partner” & “lover” are accurate sometimes… but “sweetheart” is a nice & easy way to refer to the person in question, without specifying their gender (or my orientation), to other people.

    in past relationships I’ve also used “my Friend”, with the capital-letter emphasis… but in the relationship I’m in now, sweetheart definitely feels awesome & right on!

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  26. Milner

    Something that one of my friends started using last year (with his SO who identified as genderqueer at the time) was “my person”. It’s cute and universal–even our straight cis couple friends use it sometimes instead of boyfriend/girlfriend.

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  27. soph

    “this is my second body”

    thats how i’ve started thinking of my ‘partner’ now that we’re comfortably intimate but not majorly serious…

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  28. Rin

    My roommate called her boyfriend her squish, not for gender reasons but just because it was cute.

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  29. Protagon

    My S/Os in the past and I have generally refered to each other as one-another’s inamorats.

    ‘Inamorato’ refers to a male lover and ‘inamorata’ refers to a female lover, making ‘inamorat’ a nice in between. Just simply ‘lover.’

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  30. Adisson

    I say genderfriend. because I like the way the “end” sounds are repeated. :)

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  31. --Z--

    I actually quite like “lover”. To me, it conveys things perfectly.

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  32. Jules

    These days I wind up saying “My… *confused look* girlfriend?” or “My… *confused look* boyfriend?” or “my partner” a lot, but the first two just don’t feel right and the third sounds weird to most people coming out of a seventeen-year-old’s mouth. I’m looking for alternatives, and I’ve found that the best quirky pet names (like “My Makeout Hobo”) come when you’re not looking for them. I knew a “girl group” who called each other “my robot” and “my leading lady.” (Girl group, not couple, because of the open relationship.)
    “My squeeze” is a nice one, I think, because it definitely doesn’t have any sex/gender implications.

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  33. Eli

    I struggled with this question as well, until a very clever lover of mine started calling me her steady, which worked very nicely for us.

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  34. Tamar

    i like “my person.” it’s generic and can have a whole variety of connotations, depending on your tone. said sweetly, it can sound quite endearing and show that you care about this person, while not giving the impression that you’re necessarily in a deeply committed relationship.

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  35. Lilybean

    I don’t see the problem with ‘partner’. Theoretically at least, its a perfect word. It’s all-inclusive – even heteros use it, it doesn’t convey any more or any less then it needs to, and everyone knows what you mean.

    Of course, if you find something else you like (I love the idea of using completely unrelated words or the person’s name) then that’s great too.

    As a side note, whenever talking about future partners, i say ‘I’ll do such-and-such when I finally have a girlfriend/ boyfriend/ whateverfriend’ but I’m not sure if whateverfriend would work on its own…

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  36. Anonymous

    I always liked “partner in crime”

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  37. Anonymous

    In a relationship I was in where it wasn’t the respective genders that were in question, but the seriousness of the relationship, my partner and I ended up using “gruefriend” and “bleenfriend.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grue_and_bleen)

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  38. Fro

    I like the simple possessive “mine”

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  39. William

    Anonymous 7 – I LOVE you (I’m a geeky philosophy student).

    These days I have the gender-neutral-sounding FIANCE to use to describe my lover. But we’ve been through SO (and, confusingly, SOOSO – Significant other’s other significant other) boifriend, boygirlfriend, NAMEfriend, boy/girlfriend, queerfriend, partner, current (other people go on about their exes, I have a habit of talking about my currents), companion, primary and lover…

    And, yeah. Most days I mix it up for my gorgeous genderodd fiance so hir sex/gender is never assumed though we will collectively refer to ourselves as boyfriends – just so we match (it’s cute).

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  40. Kab

    I usually get called ‘the queerfriend’, which I must say, I kinda like :o)

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  41. Jesse

    My girlfriend calls me her mushyfriend, but that’s specific to our relaionship.

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  42. Heather

    I call him my soulmate because that’s what he is. I would not want to call him my boyfriend or for him to call me his girlfriend even though he identifies as male and i indentify as female. It’s because our connection really transcends the roles defined by those words. Afterall, “girlfriend/boyfriend” is all about telling another person who the person you are with is to you. I would pick a word that really describes that, rather than a word that gender identifies in any way.

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  43. kendall

    My father was talking about my brother’s girlfriend of almost 2 years spending christmas with us, and how I’ve had girlfriends [some ended up being “exgirlfriendswhoarenowmen-itsalongstory” who ended up transitioning just post break up] But my dad decided to be awesome, and say that I was allowed to have intimates over for the holidays if we dated for x amount of time but it would be awkward to go from never having met someone to having to buy them a xmas gift and all that–but he said–its not cause youre gay or whatever both you and your brother have have your “significant-significants” over for dinner…its not a gay thing its a time/comfort factor

    –So I TEASE people and say “so are you bringing your significantsignificant to the party?” But I do like “mon petit chou” I would just make it specific for the person, I hate partner because it seems sterile to me, like oh this is my tennis partner my labpartner, other than latin dance partner it lacks fire, it seems more business than pleasure to me. I have called someone I’m not even dating “my femme” before… adding sometimes “My one woman femme advisory council unit–she makes me read packages twice outloud before I dump the contents into a situation it can’t get out of, helps me a lot with hair dyes and cakes” I’ve had “this is my hobbit” for a shorter bluest of the blue eyed fiesty ex of mine who decided to climb a 40ft bluff and go down 39 of it on their back to which I responded lovingly once seeing they weren’t hurt “you cannot simply walk into mordor..duh” and I also had a “my hamster” because she lived with my family and I, and I’d get called into work and she didn’t know anyone or have a job and you could leave her in a room with a water bottle, a bed, and some chips and come back and she’d be in the same spot, I’d joke “Wellllll its almost breaktime better call home and make sure my hamster hasnt wrecked the place” but yeah, I would gear it towards the person themself and a hilarious inside joke that makes you seem insane to all others, my personal favourite that I’d been called was “my dyke in shining armour” I used to love being called that, it doesn’t fit so much but it was the fact I felt like a protector… I enjoy neovictorian steampunkery so “my darling dearest darling” and silly things. I don’t really date enough to have awesome names but I worry when I get married I now pronounce you wife & wife will kill me, I’d rather just, I pronounce you both betrothed to eachother, or something neutral, I now pronounce you pixy and muggle. that kind of thing.

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  44. Juu

    My boyfriend and I have been discussing that as well (I’m genderqueer). He’ll still call me his girlfriend to most people we meet, because it doesn’t bother me too much. I do, however, love what he came up with. He calls me his sirmadamlady. For some reason I find it really endearing.

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  45. Meike

    My girlfriend has been asking me this for a while now, since I’ve shared my discomfort with being called her “girlfriend” too. I think I’ll either tell her to call me her “boifriend” or her “NAMEfriend”. Or maybe her knight in shining armor. :)

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  46. Claudius Maximus

    I have being dating an awesome girl for 3 months now. We are not oficially a couple but I describe her to people as ” My girl”, ” The girl I am dating” and when I really want to make a statement ” My girlfriend”. I am pretty masculine looking and I am good with female pronouns so when the time is right I hope we start calling eachother ” Girlfriend”.

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  47. Manda

    My person and I had the same conversation the other day… I decided to call them my “Watson.” Or my “Wooster.” Because we’re both obsessed with various British TV shows and are complete dorks… I also might use Merlin/Arthur. Funny that these are all male characters… <_<

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  48. Xeda

    Cool, I like these :) I definitely think the best ones here are squish, steady, and genderfriend. I am kind of glad that these will never apply to me, though, as I, too, have the title of “fiancé(e).” Now what do I get called when I am married…
    husband + WIFE = HifeN? Is that, like, hyphen? Will I be a “-” O.O Cool!

    “So have you met my -?”

    Anywho, I think if we ever adopt a child (or have a biological one?), I will push for Zee. This way, when people refer to our child, they can say Zee and it will sound like a GNP :D

    “So then Zee said…”

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  49. Lleucerys

    Just wanted to say that I felt like going and “liking” all of your comments haha, sirmadamlady is so awesome. Pixy and Muggle..! MY DARLING FERRET!

    …Ahem. I love the funny/personal ones but it’s awkward that there’s nothing much between humour and formality for the youngins like myself. I do like my “current”, “person”, “NAMEfriend”, “inamorat” and also “paramour” which I found here-> genderqueeries.tumblr.com/titles which is a bit awesome too XD. I don’t think most people’d get it without an explanation though.

    Pondering as I’m newly back in relationship land and found that I’m not entiirely comfortable with being called “girlfriend” anymore =\. Something silly will probably be made up, or maybe just “this is my -insert name-“.

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  50. Cam

    I’m all for interpretation. I’m trans as well as genderqueer, so my body is physically neither gender. Thus, people call me as they interpret me, which I like. I have people who interpret me as male, so use male terms like “boyfriend.” I have people who read me as female so use “girlfriend.” Both are equally true/untrue, but it’s more about letting them decide what they see, not about me forcing them. What’s funny is when the two sides clash, and people are talking about me using mixed pronouns.

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    Lleucerys replied:

    Ha, I like that approach. Letting people interpret you how they do… I tend to be happiest when people get confused, but I’m not trans so usually that’s small children and drunk people =P.

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  51. Lleucerys

    I was thinking about this the other day and the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” came about when people started thinking that you could be friends with your (hetero) significant other- well, according to Lacy Green: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–AcYR6axgA . Women of an older generation (see: my mother and her friends haha) tend to talk about their friends as their “girlfriends”. So boyfriend = significant other, girlfriends = friends. This system doesn’t work when you add a dash of queer. It also implies that you only have one guy friend or that that’s implicitly sexual (or vise versa, but I haven’t heard it used that way).

    In current use, these terms have a nice, young-a bit casual-but decidedly in a relationship-sound. Picked apart they don’t make a lot of sense though. I’d like something else with a similar to enter the vernacular I guess.

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  52. Lleucerys

    similar meaning*

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  53. Anonymous

    I’m genderqueer and my girlfriend calls me her nerdfriend. Its pretty adorable.

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