Dumbarse Phrases Revival: Till Death Do Us (Life) Part(ner)?


Which bright spark decided to coin the term “life-partner”?

I saw it used on someone’s blog and cringed – again!

I mean, why refer to one’s chief romantic tie in such a utilitarian manner? It evokes bad memories of politically correct 90s think-tanks trying to reduce words to a nice, lovely, inoffensive, decaffeinated lexicon of lethargy. It makes me think of soft-focus talk shows, tie-dye, and other such sickliness from that era! It sounds like a bullshit term your more kindly Bible-Belt Conservo-crat would patronize a gay couple with, in light of preventing them from poisoning the “sanctity of marriage”. How lovely and antiseptic!

Beyond that, isn’t it awfully presumptuous to refer to your loved one by such a title? I mean, if permanence can prevail in a relationship then more power to the people involved, but going by my own perceptions of the couplings of the human herd, it seems somewhat…well…conceited to refer to one’s amor by such a title. People grow, change, evolve, find things out about themselves they lacked knowledge of previously, and naturally their tastes and priorities go through these alterations with them. Call me a cynic, but use of such a term implies a view of the Other as an immutable, set-in-stone entity, all packaged, frozen and (paradoxically) ready and eager for your consumption.

“Yum, yum,” you might say – unless you happen to identify with this frozen Other!

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m all in favour of long-term serious (yet fun) relationships and the like, but shouldn’t the attentiveness of all parties have the say as to whether your partner sticks around? Can’t people do all they can to keep the fires burning, trust in their own adeptness to power through and leave such clumsy, clunky titles by the roadside?

Yes, not that big a deal I guess, but that term really gnaws on the tits! Got any alternatives that don’t evoke images of a lead weight…or tie-dye?


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9 Responses to Dumbarse Phrases Revival: Till Death Do Us (Life) Part(ner)?

  1. newedition says:

    Ha, great entry! I suspect that “life partner” arose from political correctness; it may have started to refer to same-sex couples, and then was taken up by anyone who wanted to give off an air of romantic enlightenment. (My sister lives in Seattle, one of the most “socially progressive” (read: hippie) areas of the US. When she first moved there, she was confused by the number of couples referring to themselves as partners, because here in the midwest, “partner” is taken to mean same-sex.)
    Unfortunately I have no alternative phrases to offer.

  2. cluebyfour says:

    I sometimes use “lifemate” to refer to my wife (it’s even in my LJ bio). Sometimes “wife” just seems so quaint, and too reminiscent of the traditional, subservient roles of women in marriage.
    I don’t know if I’ve ever used “life partner” before–that always seems to be in the domain of same-sex unions. And you know what? I don’t begrudge them the use of that term. If society is going to deny them the right to legitimately claim more traditional titles, then they can make up their own.

    • MRDA says:

      Hmm, “lifemate” evokes memories of two people sailing away in a rubber dinghy, far from any trace of dry land – life boat situations usually ensue! Heheh! Just my initial thought….
      And yes, gay people should have the right to define relationships on their own terms, same as straight couples – I just wish both groups would choose better terms to make the “sacred institution” of marriage look like the redundant antiquity that it is….

  3. noshot says:

    Bang buddy.

  4. ghostdog_ says:

    Lover. It’s to the point, it doesn’t imply anything else and it gets around the odd feeling I have about the word ‘girlfriend’.

    • MRDA says:

      I like ‘lover’, though I think it places too much emphasis on the sexual component of the relationship, subordinating all else. Nevertheless, it gains points for being stripped of the haziness, ambiguity and sheer adolescence of the term ‘girlfriend’ which I often find used platonically.

  5. Ann Sterzinger says:

    “Top Bitch”? –South Park
    “Best friend and sex”?

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