I have been dating a woman I will call “Martha” for eight years now. We only recently moved in together because we both had children at home and neither of us wanted to upend their lives with a relocation (I own my own home, Martha does not) and the adjustment of blending our families. This year my youngest graduated college and Martha’s youngest is set to graduate this spring so we decided the time had come to move our relationship to the next level by combining our households.
For the past several years I have referred to Martha as my “lady friend”, considering that the term “girlfriend” sounds more appropriate for teenagers than a couple in their mid-fifties. Martha did not seem to have a problem with this term of endearment and introduction until after we moved in together. Now she tells me that the term “lady friend” sounds “diminutive and patronizing”, as if she is someone I am merely seeing and not completely committed to.
I was quite surprised to hear Martha’s sudden change of heart about being referred to my lady friend, and insulted that she would think I am not 100% committed to her or that I do not consider her an equal partner in our relationship. I have noticed that you refer to the female feline you woo as your “lady friend”, and I was hoping you could give me your opinion on this term – and your reasoning for using it. Is it because you like to keep things casual? Or does the term “lady friend” have special and respectful meaning to you and your special friend?
Dear Big Earl:
I have not been wooing my current lady friend; on the contrary, she has been wooing me. Do you have any ideas on how to discourage an overly aggressive female? There is a new lady cat in my neighborhood, and she is the one I seek to woo, and I am a one-woman kind of cat!
To answer your question about my use of the term “lady friend”, I use it for several reasons. I believe it to be a more respectful term than “girlfriend”, which implies that the woman is no more than a child, and it sends out a message of respect – this female is a lady, not a tramp. I also believe that the term “lady friend” has an innocent charm to it that recalls a time when proper manners were publicly displayed by courting couples.
I do not understand your lady friend’s sudden objection to the term. Perhaps she is seeking to be more than just your lady friend? Is it possible that she is seeking a change of status to “wife”? This could be her passive-aggressive way of telling you that she does not see living together as a tertiary step in your relationship.
I do not suggest making a big deal out of this issue; moving in together will bring big enough issues as it is as you adjust to sharing what was once “your” space and making it “our” space. Rather, the next time the issue of what to call Martha arises, ask her directly how she would prefer to be introduced; some popular choices include partner, life partner, sweetheart, friend, or the dreaded “old lady”. Please reserve the term “special friend” for Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson.
Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.