Photo by docksidepress, used by CC license.

I'm putting this out there because I believe I can't be the ONLY ONE to have felt this way. Okay, here's the deal: I hate the word “fiance.”

My partner Aaron and I were engaged for a year and we never got used to saying it. It just felt funny on my tongue and weird coming out of my mouth. Another one of those “this feels too fancy for me” things. (I swear, I must have some sort of insane anti-“fancy shit” complex. Is there a name for that? Okay, I'm getting off topic, rein it in Megs.)

It got to the point where I started to dread when I would have to introduce Aaron to someone new. There was always that moment where I thought that I'd be okay saying “my fiance” — I'd just grin and bear it, no big deal, people do it all the time, what the fuck was wrong with me — but when it came to that moment I'd just freeze. Then this kind of thing would happen all the time…

John: Hey Megs, have you met Wendy?
Me: No, I haven't. Hi Wendy, it's nice to meet you.
Wendy: Hi Megan, nice to meet you too.
Me: Wendy, this is my… (pause for inner conflict) …boyfriend, Aaron.
John: Wow, you're still fighting that word, aren't you?
Me: Yup.

I just couldn't bring myself to use the “F word.” And it caused some confusion too, like, there were whisperings about whether or not we were still planning on getting married because Aaron and I just flat out refused to switch from saying boyfriend and girlfriend to saying fiance.

Aaron was the same way. From the moment we were engaged we talked about not wanting to use the word “fiance,” but what are we to do!? There's no other term for it that didn't give us the wiggens; betrothed, intended, future spouse? Nope. Uh-uh. Too formal. But the fact remains that he's more than a “boyfriend” but he's not a “husband” yet.

To anyone who is freely and happily using that term — good on ya mate for that! I think people should be happy to, both, be and have a fiance. For the longest time I couldn't wait to be affianced. But once I was, I just couldn't bring myself to ACTUALLY use the word. I'm telling ya, sometimes I hate myself. 😉

So, here are some of the terms we finally came up with to use instead of “fiance.” Feel free to use them as your own…

  • “Marrying girlfriend” or “marrying boyfriend.”
  • “My future partner in crime,” sometimes shorted to just “partner.”
  • “The one I caught”
  • “Feyonce” (like Beyonce)
  • “The guy/girl who's making an honest girl/guy out of me”
  • “The one who would have me, despite all the glaring flaws.”
  • “That guy/girl that I'm gonna marry.”
  • “Matrimonial candidate”
  • “Spousal Unit” as suggested by a reader
  • Or, my favorite, introduce your partner in a french accent as in “Zees ees mah fee-yon-say.”

Does anyone else feel the same way about the “F word?” If so, what terms do you use instead?

Comments on The F word

  1. It’s so weird to say that word. Every time I say it, I feel like I’m trying to put us in this separate class of people. Like, “oh no, he’s not my petty boyfriend…why, he’s my FIANCE…(insert uptight and snobby laugh)” I like your suggestion of using the French accent because that makes it less serious and snobbish, and makes it fun!

    • Yep, this is how I feel about “fiance”, it feels to me like I’m saying “I’M GETTING MARRIED AND YOU’RE NOT SO I’M BETTER THAN YOU!!!!1”. Or maybe I’ve just met too many people who think that a fiance (or husband) is a status symbol…

      We used to work together, so I can generally get awway with just using his name as most people know him. Around the OBB Tribe, I tend to use “other half” to describe him.

      • I have the issue that I told my fiance not to propose unless he was willing to marry me then and there, so if there was some button we could have quickly and painlessly pressed to be “ta da! you’re now husband and wife” I think we would have done it then and there. But whenever we’ve tried using the words “husband/wife” (because that’s how we treat each other) people are always like “hey, you’re not married yet! You can’t use that word until you’ve thrown the wedding party and/or signed the government paperwork!” (signing the government paperwork costs $400 and given that we’re both studying its hard to justify spending that on getting registered just so that we are socially acceptable enough to use the term “husband/wife”). So it sucks. For me personally, he’s not my boyfriend, he’s actually willing to commit to me for life. But until we pay for the government to update their computer systems or make the promises in public in front of witnesses (not just reaffirm them to each other privately every day), we’re not allowed to be treated/seen as married. So unfortunately I’ve had to settle for the awkwardness of “fiance” because we can’t justify rushing to spend $400 (and the month’s preparation, digging out birth certificates, etc, not to mention the fact that marriage in Australia is still the John Howard vows “one man one woman exclusion of all others for life”). It’s not going to improve our relationship, and the only perk will be that people will view our commitment as seriously as we do (which is why I empathise with the LGBTI community, because in Australia its only when you are married [not even civil unioned] in the eyes of the government that your commitment gets taken seriously).

        • $400 to make it legal?!? Geez! I am so, so, SO sorry! Totally understand why you and your guy would wait to make it “official”, especially if you already feel married and all of that. Any ideas why it costs to much?
          The fees here in the U.S. vary from state to state, but here in Portland, Oregon, it’s $60 and a 30 minute wait for a marriage license.
          Congratulations to you both on finding one another! 🙂

          • In France, civil marriage is free because it’s a civil right, and you shouldn’t have to pay for it (you still pay the church if you want to go there). It’s the same for birth and death.

          • We paid €200 as a “notification fee” when we went to book the dates for our civil marriage in Ireland. There will be another €200 or so for the actual wedding – basically travel expenses for the registrar’s 45-minute car trip to our town..

            Getting married in a church, the priest does all this paperwork for you — and yet people balk at the thought of paying them….

        • Well said! I’d rather save $400 and do it privately then frame the certificate on the wall just so I don’t have to hear another person tell me it’s not okay to get away with saving that $10 000 for a house instead of blowing it on a wedding! I dont get taken seriously so I just say boyfriend to people at my college. Occasionally people will be observant and notice the ring and frankly, the ring is the only thing that does get taken seriously! Why? My years of explaining this is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with doesn’t, but having a giant expensive ceremony and a ring…that’s different?

        • Yeah, I feel the same way! I just call my man to be my husband. I don’t care if the papers aren’t signed yet. I don’t care what other people think.. we are going to get married and I might as well get used to calling him “my husband” rather than “Fiancé”. Fiancé isn’t going to last anyways and I do feel weird saying that.

          I don’t really think that it has to do with the word fiancé but once you say fiancé your kinda put on the spot and then here comes a million questions that you don’t really want to answer, but at the same time don’t want to be rude. Once the conversation gets going and its just question after question and you’re just trying to look anywhere for a way out. Its not that I am not excited about the wedding or anything, its just that a conversation should be equal. I was always taught that if you talk about yourself too much its rude. Someone says something to you, you’re supposed to reply back.

          • I just stick with boyfriend, or ‘Im Indoors when talking to my hobby club friends online. The ring on my hand is obvious, but I look younger than I am so it comes as a shock to strangers that I’ll be married in 3 month’s time.

            He has used “fencee” quite often in informal settings. I like it. 🙂

        • honestly id just buy rings. people would just assume you eloped and then it would be done. Plus you can get cheap silver rings that are not expensive or even plastic. doesnt need to be fancy and it does symbolize a union. i dont think the paperwork so much matters as the union affirmations and public announcements do. shouldnt matter but it does. you can also switch to calling him your partner. that doesnt have a label on it like husband

    • I totally agree with you on this. He’s my boyfriend…who I’m also marrying. I think using “fiance” just makes it seem like I’m trying make our relationship sound more important now that I have a ring and am looking at pretty dresses.

    • Yes! I completely agree. Every time I say it, I feel as though I’m somehow glorifying the fact that we’re getting married. And it also opens up all of the questions about “how’s all the planning going” to some stranger you’ve just met. I usually just end up sticking to partner.

      It’s weird, because before I was engaged, I loved the term, but now, I just cringe whenever I say it.

      • I agree with you. I used to love the term and would get that girly, giddy rush of “awwwww” anytime someone introduced their “Fiance”. But I have a hard time using it now. If I do, there’s always an awkward pause, and half the time I still say “boyfriend”…

  2. I’ve had the hardest time with the word fiance for several reasons – the first being that we were 18 and 20 when we got engaged, and the second being that we’re waiting until we have college degrees to get married. Now that it’s been almost three years, the “OMG you’re so young” comments have dwindled into extinction, so I feel better about introducing him as my fiance.

    We live in a fairly affluent community that seems to equate marriage with being something you do when you’re thirty, so saying that we’re engaged seems to stir up feelings normally associated with teenage pregnancy.

    I usually say boyfriend to acquaintances and fiance to friends that he doesn’t know, and he always says fiancee about me.

  3. I am totally the same way! I feel like a total dick when I say fiance. I usually refer to him as “future hubs”, and between the two of us (since we’ve been together for over 5 years) we just call the other “hubs” and “whiff” (family joke about mispronouncing wife). I totally get what you mean when people don’t know how to react to you not saying that damned word but hey, you’re [email protected] Offbeat Megan! You do whatever you DAMN please!

    • FUCK YA TORI! 🙂 THAT should have been my response to the nay sayers: “Do you know who I am!? I’m fucking Offbeat Megan, jerk! I do whatever I DAMN please!” I love it.

    • I use “future hubby” a lot. It sounds so affectionate and endearing and just makes me happy.

      • My fiance and I were informally engaged long before he actually got down on his knee. During that period in between boyfriend (which felt awkward) and fiance (which now feels awkward), we called each other “life buddy.” No reason that can’t work for engaged or married couples too!

  4. I’m definitely not a fan of the word either. I’m still calling him my boyfriend, but it’s only been a couple weeks. Maybe I’ll get used to it.

    • It’s been a year for me and I still call him both…when I remember society wants me to say fiance.

      • Same for me although a lot of my friends at work call him my “hubby” already even though we’re not married yet.

    • I’m hoping so as well. Although it’s been nearly 5 months and I still say boyfriend! Occasionally I say fiancé, but mostly I just call him Andrew. Seems to do the job!

  5. We say fiancé(e) – it makes me twitch but my fiancé is from an evangelical Christian background where it’s sort of, well, that kinda thing dictates a lot of the way we use language, not just the *twitch* ‘fiancé’ thing.

    When I was a kid I thought ‘fiancé’ sounded altogether too much like ‘fanny’.

      • Haha that’s what we’ve been saying! I can’t bring myself to use the F word. I can’t even bring myself to use the W word! So I’m not having a wedding I’m having a BBQ, it’s the codeword.

        • It’s more of a private thing right now but we’ve been refering to our wedding as “Cake Party”.

        • Ha! We call ours “That Day” or “That Event”. Also hate the word fiance, I worry I sound like I’m showing off. That Day is in five weeks so soon I get to say husband which I like much better!

        • Hee, ours is “W-Day.” Because a lot of time it feels like we’re preparing to invade a hostile country.

        • I love this! I have been struggling calling Will my fiance from day one. I just introduce him as my life partner lol! Glad I’m not the only one struggling. We’re getting married pretty quick too- only 2 months to plan- so calling it a “wedding” {shudder} makes it so much scarier and too fancy. We’ve started calling it our party in the mountains or Mountainfest lol.

      • I never really got the hang of fiance either… I used partner a lot, but Beyonce is definitely my preferred fiance-term (i think I got it from OBT). My beyonce is still using the ones from before we were engaged (boss, misses, etc) for work friends (I don’t love these, but it is totally in line with his workplace culture…), and as the wedding draws closer he has started to call me his wife, especially dealing with real estate agents and the people moving us across the country for his work…

      • Yup we also used beyonce in our household and it felt right. I’m also a fan of the term ‘sweetheart’. I feels … well sweet I guess. A little old fashioned but in a good way.

      • We’ve been using “beyonce,” too! It started a couple years ago with some friends who were engaged. And it’s stuck with us! I also like that it’s like a combination of “boyfriend” and “fiance.”

      • We totally use “beyonce” instead of fiance as well… It’s amazing how many people don’t even notice we’re doing it, or kinda seem like they think we said something strange but aren’t quite certain! So much better and so much less pretentious!

  6. “partner” is great because you can keep using it after you get married so you don’t have to switch to “husband” which is my least favorite.

    • “Partner” has the added advantage of confusing the heck out of the homophobes. “Partner…? But she seems like such a nice straight girl!”

      • I LOVE partner for those both reasons — you never have to switch over once you start using it, and it freaks out the squares. I use “partner” all the time in Offbeat Bride articles. If someone doesn’t refer to their husband/wife/fiance as any of those particular monikers, my go-to word is partner. “Tribe member BLAH and her partner BLAH made these awesome things…” It’s a great word.

      • Yes, and it’s not limited by legality/religious restrictions. I imagine I will start using partner to refer to my boyfriend after our commitment ceremony. Because at that point he’ll officially be more than a boyfriend – but he’s definitely NOT my husband (since that slot is already full).

        • Anie,

          Confuzzled, but mildly fascinated, by your statement:

          ‘ … Because at that point he’ll officially be more than a boyfriend – but he’s definitely NOT my husband (since that slot is already full).’

          ‘Commitment’ ceremonies can be all kinds of things, no doubt; but I’m curious as to how the ‘husband slot is already full’ ? Feel free to email me back about this, as I’m intensely curious.

          Oh, and to the rest —

          Fiance. Yeah. The first couple of … months? Yeah, months — it was MADE of AWESOME. Then after awhile it was just … unwieldy. Most of the time he’d be, ‘Have you met Preston?’ Or, ‘My soon-to-be-but-not-yet-husband?’ And, occasionally, ‘Oh! Meet Preston! The one I’m marrying.’ It was cool to use ‘fiance’ within the span of time where it was, ‘OOH! SHINY!’ — but after that point … meh.

          Speaking of — cool website! I’ll definitely post stuff of our own ‘New Year’s Eve Party, And, Oh, Yeah, Also Wedding’. 😉

          (We’re not fancy folk, either …. )

          • Not that I’m more aware than you are, but I’d imagine that she’s currently in the throes of a divorce where the old husband just won’t let go. Or he’s MIA and refuses to cooperate so she’s dealing with technical paperwork and stuff.

          • I’m not positive about what she means either, but when I read it I assumed that she’s poly. In that she has husband who she’s married to, but also has a boyfriend who she wishes to make a commitment to.

            Just making a guess here, that’s just what I think of when someone talks about having a husband/wife as well as boy/girlfriend.

        • What Matt and I use is

          “boyfriend/fiance/husband/ person I end up doing laundry for” and…


          Yeah I get weird looks but… Haters gonna hate.

      • I always think people assume i’m a lesbian when i say partner – so i use it alot 🙂

        I also like ‘other half’ or ‘him indoors’.

      • I use partner frequently to describe my…partner (heh) to people who don’t really know us because it connotates a lesbian relationship and, while I am often miscategorized as straight, I *am* a lesbian…who happens to be dating a male-bodied person.

      • Heh, I think that can be quite an American thing. I moved from New Zealand to the US a few years ago with my partner – with whom I had been living – and eventually stopped calling him my partner because people thought I was trying to “hide something” I reluctantly called him my boyfriend, even though it sounds like I’m 15, not an adult who moved halfway round the world to be with someone.

        He proposed while we were away and I have to admit I was relieved to be able to call him my fiance. This stopped when we went home, and even now that we’re married, I still like to call him my partner. He’s my partner in crime, and it feels more equal. I don’t mind calling him my husband, although I tend to employ the term husband for comic effect with friends and family.

        Partner is a pretty normal, non-threatening term in NZ. I should point out that homosexual couples – and heterosexual ones, for that matter – can have a civil union partnership, or be “cupped”, here.

      • We’ve been referring to each other as “partner” for years (been together for 9+ years and lived together for about 4 and a half now). The best though has to be when he says “my partner Dani(Danny).”

        Love scary the homophobes. 😀

      • It’s funny, because as a queer lady, I actually do use “fiancée” to refer to my future ladywife – because I found that when I used “partner”, people would go to astonishing lengths to come up with a no-homo explanation. Saying, “This is [lady], she’s my fiancée”, puts it right out there, with no space for them to pretend to misunderstand.

        (There’s a whole other post in there, about how getting engaged put our relationship on a footing that made it a lot easier for our families and coworkers to understand—like, oh, they’re lesbians, but they’re getting married! we understand that!—but that is for another day.)

    • See, partner drives me nutty because it sounds like “SEE I DON’T HATE PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT I PROMISE! AND THAT MAKES ME SOOOOO MUCH BETTER THAN YOOOOOUUUUUU!” Or maybe it’s just me. I have no problem calling my husband my husband because, well, that’s what he is. If he were my wife, then I’d call him my wife! But I’m a bit more traditional and like the fact that husband/wife clearly indicates our commitment to each other as a family, whereas he could easily be my business partner, workout partner, ect.

      • Partner drives me nutty for the same reason; while I understand people’s reasons for using it, I never could. To me, it seems like a way to mask straight privilege. If you’re taking advantage of to right to marry – as I will be – you should own it. My future wife will be my wife because the law affords us the privilege, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. I do concede that the gender neutrality of it can be useful at times, since the terms husband and wife may not fit everyone’s gender identity. But, as is the obvious point of this post, different words work for different people!

        • It’s so interesting to read people’s takes on the word “partner”. I’ve used it in place of “fiance” frequently, mostly because unexpected circumstances have pushed our wedding date back a year at a time for nearly five years now and “fiance” had started to feel worn out (although I’m not so hypocritical that I can’t admit that part of it was to show that I’m “cool” with same-sex relationships – AND to freak out the squares. Busted).

          • I started using “partner” before we were engaged because I was going through a medical crisis and “boyfriend” just wasn’t doing enough for medical staff. We made it more “official” by changing the word and people looked at us differently.
            Now we are engaged and I also hate “fiance” so I’m sticking with partner.

        • I see partner as a word that puts the focus on gender equality in a relationship more than the words husband or wife. I understand that some people would rather be “husband” or “wife” than “partner” and are legally unable to do so, but for me it would be more about naming the relationship as something that is about two adults coming together as a partnership. I also live in an area with quite a few unmarried couples (who have been unmarried but together for at least 10 years) so perhaps I’m just conditioned to just assume that I need to ask further questions rather than assume that they’re gay or in a business enterprise.

    • I use partner currently. My lover and I (said in the Rachel Dratch/Will Ferrell hot tub voice) have been together for 4 years, we live together, we work together, we travel together, we sex it up, we will mostly likely get married in the next few years. So I say partner… though I am loving “Beyonce” for future use. 🙂 We are both in the late 20’s-early 30’s range, straight in nyc. I also sometimes say “my sig other.”

      My hippy dad always had “lady-friends” and my mom (a therapist specializing in elder sexuality), has a male “partner” she owns a house with and has been engaged to for 7 years.

  7. We refer to each other as “this guy/girl I know.” And if I’m talking about him to someone who’s going to meet him once or never, I just say “boyfriend.”

  8. I’m so glad you posted this! I don’t like the word either. It’s even worse when people *correct* me–smugly, “he’s not your boyfriend anymore!” I tend to just call him my man and leave it at that 😉

    • Ugh, THIS! Yes. I tried every time I said “boyfriend” I got freaking corrected (usually by the older people in my family). WTF guys, it’s not like I forgot or anything, clearly it’s a choice.

      • I, on the other hand, get “Oh, what’s your friend’s name?” from the older members of the family. Or “You should invite your friend Anthoney for the holidays.”
        Yeah, Gramma. My ‘friend.’ That’s what the love of my life is called. Good job. lol.

        • HA! My grandma did the “friend” introduction thing, too. I was all like, “you mean my BOYfriend, Grandma?” Lol…

          Also, am I the only one who doesn’t like the word “boyfriend” all that much? I still use it, because I don’t really like any of the other descriptors out there, but it sounds so middle school to me.

          When we get engaged, I think I am totally going to use “betrothed.” And if I’m feeling particularly snobbish, I’ll say “betroth-ed” in a snooty English accent. It will be awesome.

          • I’ve been with my “boyfriend” for 7+ years and we’re neither married nor engaged, with no real plans to do those things anytime soon. I HATE the word boyfriend because a) it sounds like I’m 13, b) it doesn’t accurately express our comitmment to each other, and c) ick. I use partner all the time, and I actually really love it; I’m sure I’ll continue using “partner” when we eventually decide to get hitched.

          • I hate the word boyfriend, too., and I thought it was just me. I usually avoid saying it as much as I can unless I have to. It’s nice to see that someone else hates that word too!

        • I’ve also been refered too as my partner’s ‘Friend’ even though it was at our engagement party. Kinda passive agressive I think.

          I find that calling him my ‘partner’ feels more comfortable to me. A lot of people think that I’m already married and refer to him as my husband. Which I’m cool with, kind of a practice run to get me used to calling him it fo’ reals 😀

    • Oh my gawd, YES! Even my close friends do that to me! I’ve resorted to calling him Agent Banana Mchammock and telling people he’s giving up the exciting life of an international spy to be a homebody.

    • Ugh!!! Being corrected is the worst.

      People saying “nu uh, he’s your FIANCE” *big stupid grin*.

      Yuh, thanks I know… Although, I’m totally going to swipe Agent Banana Mchammock from Roarkette, that is SO RAD. Although, maybe I’ll mix it up a little and throw some ninja in there. Just confuse the heck outta people.

      • Hehe, I call mine either “Lover” or “My ninja” I have also on a rare occasion, said, just to confuzzle people, “This is the man who cleans my apartment, whom I am also having incredible amounts of sex with.” And he just grins. Shakes their hand, (Which they usually look slightly cautious about) and goes about his business. Which usually means nuzzling my neck. 😀

          • My uncle has been engaged for 15 years and once said something about a maid, and he meant his fiance. I was like, you are doing WHAT with your maid?

          • Now that Aaron and I are married I call him “that guy I married” so I love this.

  9. Yes! I still call myself R’s girlfriend from time to time. I’m getting more used to “fiance” wrt my dude, but we also try to use partner when we remember. I have a feeling that husband is going to feel really really bizarre, though a tiny bit of me is looking forward to that. Both fiance and husband have a touch of “hells yeah I’m done with this dating shit” (hopefully), which calms me during the wedding planning hell.

  10. WOW I thought I was the only one! Just last night, a friend introduced us to his parents…and after saying this is his girlfriend sarah…ha asks you guys are engaged though right!?
    Yes we are. We just don’t need a fancy name for it! 🙂
    I do like the idea of saying ‘partner’. Simple and covers everything.
    Thanks for the awesome post and reminder I’m not alone!

    • “Thanks for the awesome post and reminder I’m not alone!”


      I read this blog for the confirmation that I’m not the only one trying to carve a place in a conventional world for my non-conventional self.

      I’ve been engaged twice before and even though Chris has informed me he wants to marry me, I’m leery of calling him my fiance. The word is tired now, and since he more made a statement of intention to court me than a proposal, I’m free to get away with it.

      • courting!! now there’s a level of relationship that hasn’t been talked about in a while. i think it’s time it has a comeback! sounds kinda like “more than just dating-boy/girlfriend but not to the engaged stage yet” i love it!!! thanks for the reminder;)
        oh- and to the grandma comments: i would be thrilled if my grandmother introduced my man as a “friend.” currently he’s been reduced to some kind of escort. to quote my lovely grandma, “it’s nice you have a boyfriend. now maybe you can go places sometimes.” as sweet & well-intentioned as she was being, it took all my willpower to not shout down the phone, “GRANDMA!!! IT’S 2011! I *am* allowed to leave the apartment on my own now. It’s called the women’s lib. movement…” i just silently shook my head instead. lol.

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