More than Boyfriend and Girlfriend?
A Loaded Question
My boyfriend recently posed an interesting question to me: “Do you think we’re more than boyfriend and girlfriend?” he asked with an intent look on his face. This question sounds completely ridiculous, I know, but he meant it in all seriousness. Despite this, I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face. In the back of my mind, I understood what he was really asking: Do you think we act like we’re married, although we aren’t?
At this point, a little background information might be helpful. He was married for almost 25 years to the love of his life. His ex-wife is stunningly beautiful, gave him three children, and, when she wants to be, is the most charming creature imaginable. When she told him she wanted a divorce, he was devastated. This occurred five years ago, their divorce was finalized more than a year ago, and he is still quick to remember the pain that he was caused throughout the process.
So, the likelihood that he’ll ever marry again is slim to none. He was already married once and had a family he adored, so he doesn’t need to do it again. Despite his lack of desire to re-marry, he wants the comfort and security marriage can bring. In other words, he wants us to act like we’re hitched without the actual formality.
The way I’ve described this situation might make it sound more negative than it is. I told you all of this just to lay the groundwork for what I’m about to say. I don’t think we’re more than boyfriend and girlfriend. I don’t think it’s possible to be more than that unless a couple is married. A special category does not exist for people like Brad and me - one in which two people live together, confide in one another, and attend most social functions as a couple. But we are not married, and even though many people think we are, this doesn’t change our situation. So we are boyfriend and girlfriend, period.
Of course, he doesn’t agree. His argument is that he treats me as more than a mere girlfriend, and that our relationship has progressed beyond the “dating” phase. While that may be true in a sense, Brad would never introduce me to another person as “my girlfriend with whom I live and treat as a wife.” If he did, I'd probably turn and run as fast as my legs could carry me.
Despite the different ways in which we see our relationship, this brings to light an interesting point: A couple is unequivocally together in one of two ways; they’re either dating or married. And dating does carry a much lighter connotation than marriage. I’ve noticed that, when I introduce Brad as my boyfriend, peoples’ eyes glaze over just slightly, and their posture is not quite as erect as if I’d said “husband.” It’s as if they’re saying, “Oh, he’s just your boyfriend, and that doesn’t count for much.” Maybe they’re right, because marriages fall apart every day, which means a non-committed relationship like ours could end in a New York minute.
At my age, I never wanted to have a boyfriend. I thought for sure I’d be married with kids, dogs, the whole nine yards. But I’ve learned life doesn’t follow a blueprint, and it’s better to roll with the punches than to fight and resist them. So, for now, I’m somebody’s girlfriend, not somebody's wife. And, until the powers that be invent an in-between category that denotes more than dating but less than marriage, I’ll likely remain a girlfriend for quite some time.