DEAR AMY: I’m wondering, what is the proper way to introduce or refer to your “significant other” when dating in your 50s? We are both divorced and have been dating for the last 31 / 2 years. I refer to him as my “boyfriend”; he refers to me as his “lady friend.”
I feel “lady friend” sounds as if we are a couple in our 70s or 80s; he feels we are too old to be referred to as “boyfriend” or “girlfriend,” and I agree that it isn’t ideal, but it seems better than the alternative.
What is the correct term to use so people know what we are to each other, whether it’s an introduction, or whether we are talking about the other one to someone else? I’d like your opinion on this. -- Too Young to Feel Old
DEAR TOO YOUNG: Some people go for “sweetheart”; others prefer “main squeeze”; and I’ve taken a recent liking to “man toy,” which I debut in this space, hopeful (but not optimistic) that it will sweep the nation.
I agree with him that “boyfriend” sounds like the title you’d assign to a kid named “Scooter” in geometry class, but “lady friend” sounds saucy — and not in a good way.
When you’re introducing one another to friends, your first names will suffice because your body language will say it all. And so there’s no clear winner on this one. On the other hand, there’s no loser, either. Because at the end of the day, you’ll still have each other.
I’ll run reader suggestions on this.
DEAR AMY: I just had to offer a comment regarding your column that appeared on Valentine’s Day — the letter from Karl Pillemer of Cornell University regarding the secrets to a long, happy marriage.
I feel qualified to weigh in on this topic; my husband and I marked our 50th anniversary a few months ago. We actually met at age 14, in ninth-grade homeroom, and have been together ever since. We feel truly fortunate to have found each other at such a tender age and to have had such a good run.
It was as if Mr. Pillemer had held a mirror up to our life. We have talked many times about the importance of having the same core values, being friends first and lovers second, and never holding grudges.
Item No. 4 — talk to each other — has been a critical and valued part of our long relationship.
If we were to make any additions to the list, it would be the importance of a sense of humor. Being able to laugh is essential — first at ourselves, and then at the absurdities of our everyday world. We also try to always be aware of the needs of others and to be generous with our resources and our time.
Granted, life is not always perfect. But we know we are blessed. The strength of our relationship has seen us through those “inevitable rough patches.”We are grateful for each day together and do our best to spend them wisely. -- Jan Pieri, Minneapolis, Minn.
DEAR JAN: Thank you for contributing to this discussion on “rules for living.” I am enjoying readers’ contributions.
DEAR AMY: I’m responding to the letter from “Shocked,” the newlywed who chose to keep her maiden name. I got married 18 months ago, and I’m still changing my name. It has been an ordeal. It’s been an endless stream of phone calls, letter-writing, forms to fill out and providing certified copies of my marriage certificate. I figure I’ll have it done by our fifth anniversary.
Newlyweds — before you decide to change your name, you should open up your wallet and list every card in it. Then list every e-mail address you have; every online shopping account you have; every personal, professional and social organization you belong to; review bank accounts, and list the vendors for your bills; then collect every legal document that you have — for your home, your car, your insurance, etc. That is how many companies you need to contact to change your name.
Kudos to the woman keeping her name. I wish I had. -- Exhausted
DEAR EXHAUSTED: In my life, the husbands may change, but the name stays the same.
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