By Jae Lin
When our loved ones identify us with our appropriate pronouns, names, and designations, it is deeply validating and meaningful, because communicate that they see us as we want to be seen. And for every role someone has in our lives, there are almost always multiple and varied ways of referring to that person—when those roles are gendered. (For example: mother, mama, mum; husband, hubby, the mister.) These designations and labels are often used as creative, genuine, and personal expressions about the relationship and everything behind it.
When it comes to gender-neutral terms of endearment, variations of (what has become) the default label, “partner,” can be uncommon to find. Typically, the easiest way to learn the best titles and labels to use for a person is simply to ask them. However, if after brainstorming together for the right word, you’re still drawing blanks, this list may help!
So for your inspiration, here are nine potential alternatives to “partner”:
My Datefriend or Datemate
If you’re looking for variations of boyfriend or girlfriend, these definitely match the same lilt and tone.
“My datefriend took me to the movies last weekend.”
Probably one of the most versatile ones on this list, ‘sweetie’ is bursting with endearment.
“My sweetie sent me flowers!”
Tender. Loving. Forthright. Also, a great reference to the sweetest scene in Grey’s Anatomy. Am I right?
“I really miss my person; I won’t see them for another week.”
Short and sweet, this endearment simply carries love within itself.
“It’s so good to meet you! My boo has told me so much about you.”
(Note, however, that this term is commonly associated with African American Vernacular English, and it is worthwhile to consider whether or not your usage of this term could be seen as mocking or inappropriate.)
Particularly for those with a flair for the dramatic, this one is just oh, so romantic.
“I was at dinner with my lover.”
I love how flirty and fun and versatile this one is.
“My cutie is obsessed with that show, too.”
My Significant Other
S/o for short, this is a time-tested and meaningful way of describing the one(s) you love.
“Have you met my significant other? I think y’all would get along.”
I saved this one for last because it has so much flavor and excitement to it!
“Can you believe my lovebug has such creativity?”
I hope this has been helpful or inspiring for you and your loved ones. When said by the right people, words can hold so much significance. Did we miss any of your favorites? What words feel the most fitting for you?
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