The F word

Updated Oct 12 2015
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"
  • "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?

  1. my boyfriend and I dated for 8 years before getting engaged, so "boyfriend" definitely was not appropriate for the seriousness of our relationship. My friend starting calling him my forever boyfriend, which I love. Now that we're engaged, he hates the word fiance, so he calls me his future wife.

  2. Once my current-f-word and I knew we were going to get married eventually, but before we were officially engaged, I really wanted a word to call him that was more than just "boyfriend" (I guess "beyonce" never occurred to me, though I don't think he'd go for that). So in trying to mix "boyfriend" and "husband", I came up with "boyband". Never called him that, but the thought of it amused me to no end 😉

  3. I could care less about the "F" word its my fiance that has taken a dislike to the word. I called him it once and we decided to change it to engagment buddy. He greatly approoves of this vs the alternative. I love calling him that and it catches a lot of people off guard

  4. I know how you feel because I'm younger so when I say it everyone looks at me like "WHAT?!" I feel like I'm walking around with three heads they give me such crazy looks

  5. I am so happy that i came across this post (and this website). Here I've been thinking that something is wrong with me because I am not wanting to make everything so "fussy". It's nice to know I am not the only one out there who cringes and the idea of the "F-word" among other things. My guy still thinks it's weird that I get a little uptight with all the yucky love crap. Our wedding vows should be pretty interesting (and oddly enough what i am dreading the most). i am uncomfortable with PDA along with everything else! lol. What the heck am i gonna do?!?!

  6. I think it's easier to label the relationship than the person. Rather than "This is Aaron, my fiance," go with "This is Aaron; we're engaged." Just my thoughts.

  7. Normally I just say "This is my Ryan"… I hate both boyfriend & fiance. Boyfriend is too middle school & fiance is too… "HI I'M GETTING MARRIED GUYS!!!!" Ick. I dislike labels like that as a general rule, so its easier to just introduce him as *my* Ryan.

  8. My husband and I just used "boyfriend"/"girlfriend" right up until the wedding. At some point hubby's dad started introducing me as his son's partner, rather than girlfriend. That happened even before we got engaged.

    I'm relatively comfortable with introducing him as my husband now, but I have to admit, it still feels kind of weird to think of myself as a "wife".

    But yeah, neither of us were really comfortable with the F word and we didn't really see the need, so we just skipped over it. Worked for us. 🙂

  9. I realize this is a bit late, but I wanted to chime in. I too have issues with the word "fiance." My partner (haha – see!) is not a native English speaker. When he proposed he got nervous and, instead of saying, "Will you marry me?" he said, "Will you be my Engagement Woman?" so… we go with that.

  10. I'm late to the party, as usual! Skipped from page 1 to page 9, so I don't know if someone has perhaps mentioned it, but what about the term "soulmate"? That puts the serious spin on it, sounds sweet and spiritual and should, hopefully, stop most people from saying, "so, when are you getting married?" Most but not all, I'm sure (rolls eyes). Also, I've always loved the Spanish "Mi Corazon" but it may be not quite as serious sounding. Novia/novio sounds good, too. Don't know how that plays in Spanish/Latin societies. I definitely like soulmate or, heh heh, soulmate-to-be???

  11. I find it interesting that so many people dislike the word 'fiancé'. I actually dislike the word 'boyfriend'. I find that 'boyfriend' sounds so young, almost juvenile to me. Saying 'fiancé was a little strange (but good) at first, but to me it sounds like it carries expectation and responsibility towards each other, whereas I personally find that 'boyfriend' doesn't sound as committed. I've been with my partner for 8 years so far… he was my boyfriend for the first half of this time, and my fiancé for the second half. I've called him by both names – and now I'm looking forward to calling him my husband. 😀

  12. I went to see my doctor the other day about some allergies, and I made a comment about my fiancé. He responded, referring to my fiancé as my 'intended'. I thought that was a little funny. I never really heard that before outside of book or movie. It sounds a little political maybe? I liked hearing that – I thought it sounded very respectful and mature coming a third party, but I wouldn't say that myself, as it sounds like I intend to marry my fiancé, but may jump at some other opportunity. Interesting.

  13. My mom started calling him my fancy, instead of fiance, and my aunts all call him my husband, it's just easier. Since we had to push our date back 4 years, I called him my husband when necessary just to avoid the questions. Now we are in the home stretch, and since I just started a new job, I feel like I need to switch back to fiance, and explain the whole thing all over again. We have been engaged for 6 years…

  14. I have been using partner since I first met Grant (skipping the "boyfriend" word all together). Being poly, I generally use boyfriend, girlfriend and lover as words to describe the other people we are with. It doesn't work for everyone, but I really like the neatness of having a different word for everyone.

    Since our engagement, I will sometimes use fiance(e) as a term, but it is still not totally natural. We are both queer, and in any traditional sense… I make a freaking USELESS "wife candidate". I find it silly. When I am not using partner, I will use "honey" or "life mate". (Some people find "mate" very baby forcing, but being English "mate" was just a word for closer friend…. So "life mate" is sort of a way of saying "closest friends for life".)

  15. I'm to use to boyfriend. i say "my boyfriend, fiance, thing" ….i'm a little special with words…. >_>

  16. My future husband will be my second marriage. So. As tacky as it is I refer to him as "The husband I'm going to keep." Bwhahaha. <3

  17. Oh my lord I have agonized so hard about this! The word "fiance" makes me want to puke. Especially since I live in Utah where getting married is a big fat hairy deal and calling your partner your fiance elevates you into being socially exalted and I hate that. I have no idea what to call us… It's hard because I want to stay true to our relationship but at the same time I want people to easily understand it. It's all so confusing. XP

  18. I understand 110%. My man & I have been engaged for well over 3 years now & the only times we have ever used the word "fiance" is in the work realm. We thought employers might think it was more stable than just a simple boyfriend-girlfriend fleeting romance…

  19. I had a little trouble too to begin with. I had just really gotten comfortable with calling Daniel my boyfriend after a year and when it hit me we were fiance and fiancee, it was hard to switch, but I did it. About 5 months later we both found that saying husband and wife were easier because thats how we trated each other and it was gonna be anyway, so whatever. Everyone knew we werent married and knew the date, so they didnt argue with us.

  20. I don't dig partner…it makes my betrothed and I equals, which is great…but it makes me feel like we're not equals to cis/straight couples. I had surgery in December, and I made sure to give her a promise ring [I'm out of work and engagement rings have been picked out for months, and she's offered to pay for her own ring, but I think it'd be as rewarding and romantic to earn it myself] In the hospital, we had to deal with a really mean nurse when I got out of surgery, she let my mom in but not my girl, she told the staff that she was my partner, the nurse said "only one visitor at a time then" which is bunk because the woman beside me had like 4 people… When I said she was my fiancee they treated us like valid members of humanity, like we almost had legal standing. I'm a closeted transguy, but I'm dorkishly even more excited about the wedding than my wife to be. We've been friends for 8 years and I'd been 'jokingly' telling her for the past 3 years based on misguided notions of love from romantic comedies that I was marrying her by the time she was 30… We would plan our imaginary wedding as friends except she had no idea I was fully serious. No one except her really sees me as a man, so when she uses the neutral pronoun of fiance [spelling isn't picked up on verbally] it's such a blessing to know that she's able to secretly nod to my maleness and no one really has to know how we identify one way or another. Just your average queer straight couple really, with respect to her bi'ness. I find a lot of hang ups about language in general, I'm absolutely terrified of when we are actually married and I have to be her wife on paper… If you're female and married you're a wife, it's semantics. We're trying to think of simple ways to not have "I now pronounce you wife & wife you may now kiss..the bride? no no the other bride..eachother" because it would kill me… it would completely ruin my day to be called a bride or wife, I'm going to have to smile through it, but it's not what's in our hearts. And to have me do anything more masculine than wearing pants to our wedding will kill my mom, so it's a real toss up. I love fiance, it makes me feel like she doesn't have to out me and have people rub in my face that I'm female. It's not about being better than single/unmarried people or proving ourselves as a mature responsible valid couple… but it's one of the very few words she can use for me that doesn't hurt or feel like a lie.

    • "When I said she was my fiancee they treated us like valid members of humanity, like we almost had legal standing."

      Interestingly enough, THAT'S how I ended up getting "engaged." Boyfriend ends up in the hospital while we're on vacation. My mother tells them that I'm his "fiance" and instantly I get an all-access pass — even get to spend the night with him. Long story short — the word spreads about the fiance thing, people start congratulating us, we decide that clearly the world is telling us something and decide to just stay engaged. But that's the moment I began my struggle with the F word. It never felt right. But I can totally see how it would be a blessing in your case — the same word no matter who you're referring too!

      You can always choose not to have that "you may kiss the bride" moment. Think about creating your own ceremony from scratch, at end it with "you may now seal the deal with a kiss!" 😉

  21. I wish that hospitals would let people be closer without legalities, I think if the sick person would want you there then you should be there, there are people I'm related to who would be the last people I'd want to see in an emergency and people who are just friend who would make me feel so much safer, I understand rules are rules but [cliche] I think often we pick our own people who matter to us and they're not always blood relatives to feel like family… sometimes just the simplest comforts helps you through it all, alternately, dealing with negative people [ie: witchy nurse] puts you in a worse headspace when you're already in your own personal battle.

    I'm lucky to be in Canada, I still deal with a lot of closed minded people, but if I were in the bible belt or something it could be so much worse.

    I do understand how not every transitional step in a relationship needs it's own label and that what fiance[e] means to one person might mean something else to another as far as the weight of the word itself, it's like, you're getting married but you're still who you are and once you're married you'll still be those same people, or whatever the situation is… but for me I like that it's neutral.

    We're kind of, bitter in our own rights, we're silly and sarcastic… so we're thinking of something along the lines of "Welp, you're stuck with eachother now, so you might as well kiss"

    We've had a hell of a year, I moved in October which was really fast in the relationship, but by the time we're married we'll have known eachother close to a decade, but the second day there while I was still unpacking she ended up with some nasty flu bug that was causing pneumonia or bronchitis or some such thing that was going around, which had her passing out and she was screaming for me to call an ambulance… I didn't even know our address yet, it was such a nightmare… I'd never really spoken to her parents but she was crying and asking me to call her dad, it was so awkward. 2nd Day living here… My mom offered to drive 45 mins into the city at 1am to keep us safe in a maternal way, and I told her I thought we'd be okay, and she told me Lindsay was lucky I was there, and that it was just kind of trial by fire, and we were going to just get the tough stuff out of the way early… So the "pssh, guess we're stuck with eachother now" is a literal "in sickness and in health, in richer and in poorer" Which with both of us being in the hospital in a 3 month span and me not working for a year, is pretty close to the truth.

    I got a tattoo in honour of surviving this year, I'd never really had anywhere other than my parents place I called 'home' before, I've stayed in sketchy sketchy hostels in other parts of the country for months when I couldn't afford a real apartment, I've couch surfed for extended periods, I've had arrangements kind of fall through but I've never had a place that felt like mine, or felt safe, and I never had a key that I could have for keeps, and I remember how scared I was when I kept rejecting her housekey offers because it felt so fast, even though it was what I wanted, I didn't want it to mean more than she meant it as, I didn't want to get my hopes up if somehow things were more casual than I thought… So I have a key tattoo because this is the first time I've really had a changed definition of home…someone who knows all my secrets…who I don't try to push away and emotionally lock out… it sounds silly but I feel like I've got something good and I don't have to run so much now

  22. I'm semi-engaged at the moment. I don't take issue with the word fiance, but since my guy wants to be a teacher, I call him my "Private Tutor." It's fun, and implies a teensy bit of naughtiness.

  23. I refer to my husband-to-be by his first name.
    If it was good enough for his mum to call him that, it's good enough for me.

  24. My betrothed and I both cringed having to get all fancy and use a new word to describe each other for the year we were engaged. I introduce him as my pre-husband and I'm his pre-wife.

  25. I honestly hate the word boy/girlfriend. If you are over the age of 18 it should be banned from your vocabulary. I call my guy my "future fiance". For thosem who can't fiqure it out it is a guy who wants to marry you but hasn't put the ring on your finger yet. It sounds better than boyfriend but you aren't lying either because he isn't your fiance yet. So grow up and call your future hubby or wifey something better than boy/girlfriend. Don't they deserve that?

  26. Before we got engaged, I had mostly made the switch from saying boyfriend (which seems somehow not serious enough for someone I've been with for over 5 years) to saying partner. Now that we're engaged (it's only been like a week so I'm still not used to it) I keep saying things like "this is my boyfriend FIANCE! Jonathon." It's kind of ridiculous. 😛 I kind of like the "betrothed" idea, because it's so formal that it's funny!

  27. I call him my Fee-yank, and I'm his Fee-yanky 🙂 (our simple minds are easily amused by mispronouncing various things)

  28. I really wish I'd found this thread agaes ago but I'm going to add my thoughts anyway. I'm from the the U.K and saying the word "FIANCEE" makes me want to punch myself in the face. I just cannot say it with hearing a a fake / snooty french accent klaxon going off in my head.
    We have come up with "this is the to-be" – as in "the to-be and me". But the best one I've found is him calling me his "pre-wife". In fact I like pre-wife so much I may just stick with it after the wedding.

  29. I'm so glad I'm not the only one with a mortal fear of all things "fancy".
    I started out using 'partner', but around here, that's only what you call your boyfriend/girlfriend if you are homosexual, and I got a lot of funny looks. Finally, I got so exhausted by the whole thing that I now call him my 'husbandfriend', since he is both my husband, and my boyfriend.

  30. I think I would be comfortable with referring to my betrothed as my boyfriend – maybe introducing him as follows "This is my boyfriend; we're engaged."

  31. I have never has a problem saying the word "boyfriend" and I don't think I would feel uncomfortable saying the word "husband" but, honestly, "fiance" freaks me out. It seems arrogant, and stuffy to me. I tend to say something new every time I introduce Brandon to people and usually its is something off the wall that slips out. In a rush I usually just call him "my dude." Unfortunately there is always that situation where you are around someone who refuses to understand what you are saying until the word "fiance" is almost literally choked out of your throat. When that happens, somewhere in the back of my head it's always in a french accent followed by a "hauh hauh" and a mustache twirl. Overall, I like the "matrimonial Candidate", but I think I will change it up a bit and call him my "Dating Prospect Champion" because he is the only one I have ever said yes too (I was asked twice before.)

  32. My mister and I came up with "husby" and "wifeby" to describe ourselves. We're not yet engaged, but he is my "husband-to-be", so husby works perfectly for us!

  33. At first I felt uncomfortable saying "fiance". I had finally gotten really comfortable with "partner", and I think I felt so dramatic saying "fiance". But then again, I also remember feeling that same awkward transitioning into using the word "boyfriend" and "partner". Hearing these terms come out of my mouth made me pause and think "Wow! That person is my boyfriend/partner/fiance!" I accidentally added drama to it by hesitating using the term because my heart just leapt a little. As time goes on, "fiance" just comes naturally so I no longer feel uncomfortable with it and cease making it a big deal.

    Also, my partner prefers to be called my fiance. He insists that these two years are the only time we will ever have to call each other "fiance" and I think he makes a really good point!

  34. I had a hard transition from saying boyfriend to fiance and now that we're married I'm having the same difficulty going from fiance to husband. We got married at the end of September and I still catch myself going between fiance and husband.

  35. I have been with my partner for 6 years and been engaged for nearly 12 months and i am still having so much trouble with the F word! I feel like every time i say it im making a point of saying "Mwahaha im getting married and you're not!"
    But i agree, Boyfriend makes me feel like im 14 again. I tend to stick to calling him The Boy. I have called him that for the last 6 years and i dont think its going to change.

    He on the other hand has been taking notes from his Tim Minchin DVD and has started refering to me as his VELP – "Vaginally Endowed Life Partner" *Que eye roll* Oh well!

    I'm sure somewhere along the line i will get used to saying it. I only have another 15 months to use it so i feel like i should make the most of it

  36. I love that I stumbled across this! My partner and I never use the word fiance. I don't like it – we're not French and it feels so unnatural to say. Funny how so many people seem to have such an issue with it when it is absolutely none of their business. I won't be wearing a wedding ring either as my skin reacts terribly. We aren't bothered by it, but the reactions we get are ridiculous. Anything slightly against the grain and it is sacriledge! Love this site, it's very comforting!

  37. I LOVE the term fiancee. My fiancee and I have been together for a lot of years, and we struggled through using the term "partner." And it was always "Oh, you're lawyers?" or "oh, you're roommates?" and it was never, ever, easy. Using fun terms like "adventure buddy" are even worse. No one gets them at all. Maybe it works if you're straight. Shrug. But now I get to use a word that everyone understands! it is gloriously freeing.

  38. I'm a little sad to learn that so many people think of "fiance" as stuffy or pretentious. We're a little older, so boyfriend/girlfriend has always been awkward for us, and I've never really liked the alternatives (partner, S.O., sweetie, lover). I was so happy to ditch boyfriend/girlfriend when we got engaged.

    Maybe it's all context. Maybe in some regions, or some communities, or some age groups(?), "fiance" has a more snobby ring to it. Or maybe I'm just completely oblivious, who knows.

    Eh, I usually avoid the issue entirely by using his first name and letting people figure out that we're in some sort of romantic relationship from context, or from how affectionate we are with each other. The people who are close to us know that we're getting married; and for most of the people who aren't that close to us, it doesn't matter what they conclude about the nature of our relationship.

    We do amuse ourselves though with funny terms for it. One of us will look at the other and say something like "you're my betrothed" or "we're affianced" or "we're gonna get marriedicated" or "you're my fiyanky". Usually followed by much giggling. 🙂

  39. I'm so happy I read this today! We've never identified with fiance/fiancee, but then, we didn't get engaged either, which caused some confused surprise when the wedding invitations went out!

    We just use 'Partner', because that's what we are: partners. (We normally say Teammate at home, but that requires far too much confusion in the real world!). Occasionally, we'll say 'husband/wife – elect' when we've been watching too much West Wing.

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