You Won’t Hear the Label “Boyfriend" Come Out of My Mouth

I was searching for a more equal playing field, as far as labels go.

Gillian Sisley
Apr 26, 2019 · 4 min read

I think I referred to my fiancé as my “boyfriend” once while we were dating, and before we got engaged.

It felt weird. I didn’t like it.

So I didn’t call him that again.

There were several reasons this title felt far more suitable for us. And here they are:

Boyfriend honestly felt too juvenile.

It’s super cliché, but from our first date, we knew we were going to be spending the rest of our lives together.

Boyfriend felt so high school.

Boyfriend felt like my immature, dead-beat ex who was abusive and topped off our entire god-awful relationship with a traumatic sexual assault.

“Boyfriend” wasn’t going to work for this guy — he was far more than that.

So I use a term which, to me, feels far more intimate.

I call him “My Partner”, instead.

It’s a small step towards achieving equality.

When I would talk to someone new, and reference “my partner”, they wouldn't know whether my fiancé is a man or woman (or either, or both) until I used his or her pronouns.

And that’s a good thing.

Because heterosexual relationships aren’t the only ones that exist, and they aren’t the only ones that are “normal”. Same-sex and polyamorous relationships (to name a few) are just as justified and should be just as normalized.

When I call my fiancé my “partner”, I imagine there’s a little light bulb in the heads of most people that wonders about my sexual orientation. It’s only human nature. To some, it may be really frustrating to them.

To others, they may ask for calcification, and that’s fine by me.

Because that’s not offensive to me. Just like we ask for clarification of a partner’s name when we’re in conversation with someone, it should be just as normalized to ask their gender, so you can use appropriate pronouns when speaking about them.

That said, don’t ask what my sexual orientation is outright — that’s rather rude. But asking for clarification of my partners gender? It shows that you’re not making any assumptions, and that’s awesome in my books.

Simply because, either which way, it really shouldn’t change anything. It really shouldn’t matter whether my fiancé is a man, or a woman, or a non-binary person. My partner is my partner, and our love is no more valid or invalid simply because we are a cis-couple.

I don’t consider myself free until basic rights are universally respected.

We call one another “partners” because it is synonymous in our eyes to calling one another “equals”.

Boyfriend and girlfriend carry gender stereotypes with them — “partner” is gender neutral, and carries no further expectation than a loyalty and commitment to one another.

That’s a really important factor to me.

I’m a human rights advocate, a feminist, and any which other titles to describe someone who strives for total economic and social equality of citizens in the world. I believe in not only being a national Canadian citizen, but more so being an active global citizen in my community and beyond.

My passport says “Canadian”. My heart says “Citizen of the World”.

So I do what I can, recognizing the privilege in which I live, to help others achieve what their personal definition of equality may be. Because it looks different depending on where you are in the world.

While I can’t take on every single cause (man, I wish I could), I learned during my International Development major that in order to truly make a difference, you have to choose your causes and follow through with them.

The impact can get diluted if you’re trying to have your hand in changing every single problem the world is facing today.

I narrow my focus particularity on the education of young girls in developing countries, and overall gender equality. You might have different causes which speak more to your soul, and I completely respect that.

Have faith and respect for your fellow advocate — they are passionately pursing the causes which you wish you could, but are either not as qualified to aid in (ex: you can’t deliver medical treatment to impoverished children if you’re not a physician) or simply do not have the human capacity to take on.

But I do believe in one fundamental truth:

Every little positive step counts in the fight towards equality.

Final word.

At the end of the day, whichever labels you and your partner use is entirely and completely up to you.

Some of you may really like using boyfriend and girlfriend — by all means, use it! Every relationship is unique, and carries a different nature.

In my personal relationship, before we were engaged, I took “boyfriend” out of my vocabulary. My fiancé also didn’t call me his “girlfriend”. It was just “partner”. It felt more intimate and grown up, which matched the level to dedication and commitment we made to one another.

But that’s just me. Every person has their own preference.

And I encourage you to feel empowered enough to use the terminology which feels most comfortable to you.

It’s your life — live it the way you see fit.

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories…

Gillian Sisley

Written by

Online solopreneur. Tea drinker. Committed optimist. I write about womanhood, writing & entrepreneurship. Never miss a single beat 👉 https://bit.ly/33XgtKT

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories, and share our lives together. We will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.

Gillian Sisley

Written by

Online solopreneur. Tea drinker. Committed optimist. I write about womanhood, writing & entrepreneurship. Never miss a single beat 👉 https://bit.ly/33XgtKT

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories, and share our lives together. We will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.

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