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. I always call Adam my Fee-Onz-Say, in a very thick accent lol it changes from day to day. I hate the F word…. I can't say it with out laughing hysterically and turning beet red so it's better if I just make a joke.

  2. i can't wait to call the love of my life fiance!;so cute and formal. It is just so FINAL. Much more than a boyfriend, but not quite a spouse.

  3. My 'fiance' and I ended up going with the terms "pre-spouse" and "husband/wife-in-training". Mostly we use the second, as it is us. We feel we are in training. We continually learn new things about each other, and all of the trials and tribulations of planning the wedding and this extended engagement is just training for the new battles we'll be facing TOGETHER as lifepartners. 🙂

  4. I totally love being able to refer to my sweetheart as my fiance. It gives me a silly thrill every time I tell Siri "call my fiance" in order to auto-dial my sweetheart. I don't at all see it as some "fancy french word" even though it clearly started as French because there's no other English word for it, and it's been part of the English vernacular for a couple hundred years now.

    But its meaning goes way beyond that for me: As a queer baby-boomer, I spent most of my life never imagining that I'd be able to have a real legal spouse any time in my lifetime, so to refer to my sweetheart as my fiance is something that is powerful and important to me. So for me, "Fiance" is an enormous privilege that I gladly and whole-heartedly celebrate finally having.

  5. Before he officially proposed, while we were shopping for a ring and then waiting for it to be made, I hated calling him my boyfriend. I thought that sounded juvenile. He was somewhere between boyfriend and fiance. So I combined the two words and started calling him my boy-ance. People loved it! When he finally did propose I just kept the moniker because I also hate fiance.
    Now that we are married, I miss his old nickname. Husband is boring. 🙂

  6. I am definitely the minority here, but here's why I LOVE "fiancé."

    I am a femme bisexual engaged to a butch genderqueer. As our relationship progressed we avoided "girlfriend" like the plague, as we grew more and more committed to each other. If I said things like "person I am seeing" "person I am dating" they seemed far too clinical, and many affectionate terms were far too gendered. We began using "girlfriend" (me for her) or "ladyfriend" (her for me) a few months before we became engaged, although it never really rolled off my tongue, it was something people understood (read: we are not friends or roommates.)

    Fiancé works for us- it isn't gendered and it is equal. He can say it to him. She can say it to her. She can say it to him. He can say it to her. Ze can say it to whoever they want. They can say it to each other.

    We both use it, often, and love it! We live in Louisiana, which doesn't have marriage equality, yet. We are looking forward to its inevitable arrival. When people ask where we're getting married, we are getting married here. (We'll go to New York to "do paperwork" if we must).

    And I must admit, I do love the coming out moments I have every day:
    Me: blah blah blah my fiancé.
    Customer/store clerk/friend who hasn't heard yet: oh you're engaged! What's his name?/ when did he propose? / blah blah blah he blah?
    Me: oh, she blah blah blah.

    I do enjoy that. Thus far all reactions have been positive and loving or neutral. I love fiancé. It's exactly what we are right now.

    We're discussing options for parenting names, post-marriage terms, etc.

    Anyone have any great ones that work for gender non conforming couples?

  7. Hate it! I hated it the first time I was engaged and I hate it more now. .as my Anthony says 'what is this? what are we French now?" lol
    relationships don't need labels. we are what we are. . together. that's it
    I just call him my Anthony most of the time

  8. I can't say I get this. My boyfriend and I aren't quite engaged yet (pre-engaged), but I'm already itching for a word that's less flippant than 'boyfriend.' I look forward to calling him my fiance. Maybe I'll feel different once we turn that corner, but from my standpoint now, I like the sound of it.

  9. I love this article. I feel weird calling my blondie my financee. It feels kinda like my fantasies all coming true (I have wanted to get married for the longest time. Blondie on the other hand, took his time settling into the concept) and putting us in a box at the same time. It feels too 'one size fits all' to me and I dont really like introducing him as my financee to other people. So I dont. Before he proposed, I was just as commited to him as I am now and I called him my blondie then so I do the same thing now. I introduce him as my blondie. He has always called me his wench (we're sailors and he likes to be a pirate and I like to be difficult and outspoken!) and so he still introduces me as his wench. And we will likely still introduce each other in this way once we're married!

    Weird thing is, I love him calling me his financee when we're by ourselves and theres no one but me to hear it. *shrugs* No idea why!

  10. YESSS!!
    I blame it on the fact that I used to take French growing up and I am inclined to pronounce French words all French-like which makes me sound like a douchbag. For reals.

    I love this site. I love that I'm not the only one!

  11. Huh. This one never occurred to me. I'm glad people have alternatives, but I LOVE saying fiance. I think it rolls off the tongue more than boyfriend, and since I am totally embracing wedding talk it's an excuse for someone to ask questions and for me to blab on and on. 🙂

  12. I hate being called "girlfriend"…it actually kind of pisses me off when people say "your boyfriend". I feel like that does not indicate the level of commitment we have for one another. When I think of the terms "girlfriend and boyfriend" I think of people who are committed, but are just dating. And believe me, there's nothing wrong with that. However, this relationship more is than just dating. We are family. If I could call him my husband now, I would. I know he's still not comfortable with the whole "fiancee" label for me (he would rather call me "wife"), because he probably feels a lot like the other people on this thread about the word. It just seems weird to me when I see people who have been together for 5, 10, 20 years still calling someone their girlfriend/boyfriend. There has to be a better word for a life-partner to whom you are not married to yet, or might not ever marry that indicates family-hood and a life-time commitment.

  13. I've recently started calling my partner "my statistically significant other" or "my significant figure".

    ….this is only funny if you're a math or stats dork. But trust me, it is fucking HILARIOUS.

  14. I have a hard time saying it, I giggle every time which is of course exactly what a mature, engaged woman of the 21st Century should do. He very confidently introduces me as his finacee all the time. I think he likes it, I feel like he's been introducing me to every person we pass lately and I get such a kick out of it. Every time, I grin stupidly and get all squishy on the inside. After 5 years together, 3.5 of cohabitation, you would think I'd be a bit more chill about this whole thing but nope!

  15. I struggle with f-word, mostly because I don't like labels in general and we are choosing not to use the labels husband/wife. It is partly political, because there are many out there who are being denied this right to marry. Why should I go around inadvertently flaunting our marriage to our gay friends! He is and has been my partner for years and some legal document isn't going to change any status we have for each other, it is only making it possible for us to move to a different country together. That said, I have never cringed when someone introduced me to their fiancee, I find it adorable and loving and instantly, you know the couple are dedicated to each other.

  16. I feel like I would just say something like "This is my person. There are many like him/her, but this one is mine." =)

  17. Just got engaged a few weeks ago and we are completely struggling with the the whole fiancé thing. We've been boyfriend/girlfriend for over ten years and seems weird to toss a new label on our relationship… I'm going to start referring to him as my betrothed.

  18. For a while I called my guy "fusband," as in "future husband." Then I stopped because he didn't care for it, but sometimes now I overhear him refer to himself as my fusband 😉

  19. I worked for an airline and we could register a person to travel with us, so I would always introduce my boo as my registered companion. We also eloped, so I never said the F word. It really is a corny word.

  20. My 'fiance' aka 'partner' but preferably Man-Beastie and I equally dislike fiance because… well… it sounds overly elaborate to us, when referring to each other.

    I love being introduced to other people's Significant Others when they use 'this is my fiance' and / or 'this is my partner'. But for us, and our relationship, it isn't right. We were very serious from the start and, being older (though not at all mature!), boyfriend/girlfriend under-states what we mean to each other.

    Partner, however, sounds like we run a business together. I toyed with beloved and betrothed, which were cute but not quite us. I dislike other half, because it implies I'm half a person without him (which I feel inside, but I'm no less valid when he isn't around… I just miss him!).

    So he's the Man-Beastie, I'm the Lady-Beastie, we are collectively The Beasties. It's daft, light-hearted, and very us. Though it doesn't really express how serious we are about our mutual commitment to our life as a team.

    I'm very much looking forward to being officially the Wife-Beastie and to him being the Hubbicus.

    We both, by the way, rather liked Matrimonal Canidate and Spousal Unit. Matrimonal Candidate is right, and non 'poncy' but does what it says on the tin, and Spousal Unit works well given I call my folks the Parental Units, and self-refer as Daughter Unit #1 (being the first-born, not that I'm more important!).

  21. me and mine also have a weird time saying 'fiance'. not because we dislike it, we've just been dating for so long and referring to each other as bf/gf that its weird to say something else. and its almost feels like digging for compliments or congratulations from people who aren't aware of our engagement but I feel like its lying or something calling him my bf when he's not technically that anymore.

  22. It's like you're speaking my thoughts!! I can't STAND the word fiance!! I don't really know why, my friends used to pull me up when I referred to him as my boyfriend, after we got engaged. It just feels a bit…pretentious. He's my partner, so that's what I call him 🙂 He refers to me as his wife despite the fact we haven't actually got married yet, for us, the wedding is making official what we already are – partners for life. e doesn't see a need to give me another title for a little while.

  23. I'm a teacher and work at a school where adult-kid interaction is very important. Teachers have conversations with the kids all the time. I felt weird talking to students about my "boyfriend" because it felt too juvenile. Hence, the term "house-husband-in-training" was born. Now that we're engaged, I'm sticking with it.

  24. I don't really use it because I'm just not in the habit. People are always mistaking us for husband and wife already and we have been using the term partner for a long time since boyfriend/girlfriend sounds awfully trite when you live together and have lived through major calamities together (cancer, chemo, radiation, fertility preservation etc…) but now that we are engaged I think I'll start calling him my "fancy", because it sounds close enough to the F word to be a play on it and I do fancy him quite a bit!

  25. My husband-to-be calls me his "Pre-Wife"- he says it's because he can't spell fiance. I didn't like it at first but now it's come to mean a lot to us both. After being engaged a year now though, he seems to get aggrivated with the "pre" part sometimes.

  26. I don't like boyfriend, I am no longer at school! I actually don't mind fiancé, but he tends to call me his missus, or the boss 🙂 and I call him my fella, or hubby to be, but usually its other half, and this feels right, because its true. I'm looking forward to calling him my husband though

  27. I've been engaged for 6 years and rarely call my guy my fiance, his my significant other or my partner, or even more simply mine! Fiance just sounds so up tight , so old money to me.

  28. YES, I feel weird every time I say it! Glad someone else feels the way I do! I'm pretty sure FH doesn't have the same inner-turmoil as me. He always corrects me when I say boyfriend.

  29. We're in transition, both of us seriously planning our wedding, without being engaged.

    Boy/girlfriend feels childish, but being non-official leaves limited terms. We tend to keep it light, with terms like my "keeper, minder, chief mischief maker, back rubber extraordinaire, queen blanket theif".

    If people want to really be obnoxiously pressing, I tell them that he's my tomorrow. It's the most true thing I can think of and it also is sappy enough that most people get awkward and wander off. 🙂

  30. I on the other hand, adore the word "fiance". Granted I've only gotten to use it for about a week, but I've been dating my guy for more than 6 years. We have grown from awkward teenagers into adults together, we lost our virginity to one another, I was there when his dad died, we flew out of our parents nests and made a new one together– so much life stuff that "boyfriend" just doesn't cut it. It sounds like we are still in high school or I just picked him up at a bar.
    "Future husband" also works for me. And partner. But fiance is a special word to me that better embodies how serious we are about each other and I am so excited to use it.

  31. SO flippin' glad to read this post and so many of the comments who agree!!!!

    Spousal Unit is pretty hilarious….I think I might just try out each option out loud and see which doesn't feel like my tongue gets stuck on itself.

    I think, for me, at the end of the day any and all of the words makes me feel like I'm showing off or something. Like, "oooOOOooo! Look at me!!! Someone loves me enough to put a ring on it…OooOOooO! Watch me with my fancy words!" *does fancy dance*

  32. We don't use the "F" word either. We tend to say, partner, significant other, or just jump right to the wife/husband even though we are not "legal" yet. We have been together about 8 years now (we can't say for sure, because its our time together, not the date of that time, that we care about) so we even occasionally say that say something along the like of "We are Goldie and Kurt – ing it" in reference to Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, who have been together a very long time and still have not yet married.

  33. I have the hardest time with the word fiance, as well. In fact, well into our relationship he was "the b-word" and now I regularly refer to my guy as my "F-Word." That's even how I have him listed in my phone!

  34. Even worse than the word fiance is the word "hubby." I am dreading the day someone refers to my husband as hubby.

  35. Agreed! It feels strange to say. We started pronouncing it "feyonce" like Beyonce as a joke. Turns out that's an actually thing (google away for t-shirts, etc). Most of the time we just shorten it to "my fee", "future hubby" or one of the other random nicknames we have for each other

  36. My problem with the word fiance (or fiancee) is that it sounds so pretentious. I have known same girls who are like "He's mt fiaaaaanceeeeeee," as if it means something MORE than just being in a serious relationship, or that they're just bragging that THEY got engaged. My future in-laws call me his more-than-girlfriend, because they know that that word really f*cking bothers me.

  37. I like variations on the word, domestic. He's my domesticator and we are domesticating in a domesticative domestication. It doesn't carry the non-committal or immature stigma of boy/girlfriend and also sounds a bit naughty, which both of us (shamelessly) are. I love to domesticate with him in front of visitors and sometimes we'll domesticate together when visiting others! ;D

  38. Before we were engaged, I couldn't wait to use the word "fiance" because "boyfriend" started to feel really juvenile after a few years, and didn't represent our level of commitment (we were together nearly 6 years before getting engaged). But now that I am "fianceed", I still find myself using "boyfriend" more often than not. It's all in my head, I realize, but I feel like I/our engagement won't be taken seriously because I'm young (and not THAT young, mid-20s, but I look younger) and live across the country from my person, so most of the people I talk to in person have never met him. I really like the word "fiance", but can't usually say it with enough confidence to own it. I've always had icky feelings about the word "husband", too. Hopefully, I'll get more used to "fiance" (and then "husband") as we get more serious about planning both our wedding and our future lives together. Again, I realize this is more for the sake of other people than myself, but I feel that if I can offer concrete evidence that we're serious (he has a full-time job now! she moved to the same state as him!), then others will take me/us seriously, and I'll gain the "right" to use the terms that have rightfully been ours for nearly a year now.

  39. our friend jokingly referred to me as my fiance's "pre-wife" one day when we were drinking and it kind of stuck as a joke. I refer to my fiance as my "pre-husband" a lot. And one day he called me his "post-girlfriend".

  40. My other half has always been "man friend". He began that way (we were 26 and 27, respectively, when we met almost 7 years ago!), and I've continued to use that term throughout our engagement- and interestingly, so have all my friends and family. Not a single person I care about refers to him as my fiance. Of course, we are also oft referred to as "Chips (him) and Guac (me)" or "Cheese and Crackers", so you probably don't want to follow our lead 🙂

  41. Lol–I have never liked that word either! It doesn't really fit me, or us, at all. I use it anyway, for lack of a better word, when I think about it or I can make myself say it without feeling totally stupid (which is rare). Often, I forget and end up saying "boyfriend." I don't think anyone really cares, nor do I, so I don't get too hung up on it. The word husband has always seemed weird to me too–it reminds me of husbandry. I mean–that's the word I'll probably use, but it will probably take a while for saying it to come naturally. No–it will not be replaced with "hubby"–I pretty much despise that word.

  42. From the opposite end of the spectrum, I love being able to use the word Fiance because it is the most gender neutral term to use when talking to wedding vendors about our queer wedding. If I can just say fiance, then we can avoid the awkward interaction where I have to come out to complete strangers before I can sign a contract or book their services. Gay marriage is legal in our state, so that shouldn't even be a factor. I don't need to come out to every person I meet, the important ones know and that's all that matters. For the LGBT couples, being able to use fiance is that common ground, where some of the uncomfortable interactions are made easier. We are using Hersband and Wife after we get married as my fiance is gender queer and would die if she was called wife.

  43. I've never minded it, when I got engaged I quite enjoyed using the word! However there is a guy at work who hates the word (oddly enough he's french..) and it has led to many confusing conversations about planning a wedding with his girlfriend lol.

    I think I'd use the one "better half" if I didn't use the word fiance. I've always loved it when people said "my better half" so old school romantic.

  44. Thank you! I was beginning to feel like a freak for just not likin the word, I love my boyfriend, I love that we are engaged and can't wait to spend the rest of my life with him, but I HATE that word it just feels wierd.

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