What happens when you hate the word 'boyfriend'?

You were blessed with good looks, admirable charm and an unrivaled sense of humor. Just one pesky trait lessens your desirability in the local meet market.

You can’t say the word “boyfriend.”

Outsiders roll their eyes, but you maintain it’s a medical condition -- unofficially, of course.

Regardless of the seriousness of your relationships, your mouth runs dry upon introducing your better half in public.

You utter a series of incoherent sounds before resorting to “partner,” “significant other” or -- in especially weak moments -- “the boy.”

Sound silly? Think again.

I know many women whose vocabularies have blocked any mention of boyfriends.

In a handful of cases, the issue reflects a fear of commitment.

But more commonly, the verbal block has absolutely nothing to do with the seriousness of the relationship.

“Boyfriend” is just an awkward word. Lots of women say it puts their relationship on a juvenile level.

When viewed in isolation, the term often generates images of passing notes and holding hands in the park.

Which is great -- if you’re savoring your first fifth-grade crush. The label seems a little out of place if you’re in a relationship that’s endured annoying exes, career drama and 30th birthday parties.

Nonetheless, many daters remain immune to a verbal block against “boyfriend.”

Because, well, what’s the alternative?

Popular women’s websites don’t offer much help.

Exhibit A: One website’s list of alternatives to the word “boyfriend” includes the term “manfriend.” That’s only an upgrade if you want your friends to think you’re dating a jolly giant robot.

Sure, you could opt for “significant other” -- just be prepared for the inevitable “insignificant other” jokes that follow.

There’s always “partner” -- a term platonic enough to put your relationship on the level of science fair projects and ping-pong teams.

And let’s not forget “boo” -- a label that can be seriously uttered by a segment of the population that’s about as large as the number of people who look good in skinny jeans.

Maybe there isn’t a viable alternative.

Fortunately, the way you present your relationship to outsiders is hardly the most complex issue in the dating world.

Chick flicks remind us that labels aren’t always necessary.

So put your concerns in perspective and be thankful your condition hasn’t imposed a verbal block on words equally critical to a relationship’s success.

Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at ssorich@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8516.

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