Terms of Endearment

ARE THE TWO OF YOU DATING? can sometimes be an impossible question. Whether you’re newly met or a longtime couple, terms of endearment can be a source of friction.

What to call those who are less than blood relations yet more than acquaintances? The correct term matters lest you imply that matters are more than they seem especially if unequal affection means that one of you is smitten while the other wants to move with caution.

You want a sufficiently direct phrase to suggest an early stage of courtship and warn others to keep their hands off, yet vague enough to save face should things not turn out as you hope. “We’re getting to know one another” will accomplish this. What this public phrase privately signals is an interest in exploring possibilities without either side announcing (or expecting) a commitment.

Precise terms can conveniently signal a lack of attachment just as well. You can introduce someone as “my neighbor,” or “an acquaintance” from work, church, or your bridge group as the case may be. As always, traditional ways exist to make your availability tastefully clear to astute listeners.
Boyfriend, dating, or seeing each other typically do announce a shared interest in some degree of intimacy. With a trick, your own needs matter rather than his. When another’s feelings increasingly occupy your imagination, however, you have entered the realm of romance wherein the possibility of “me” being a “we” takes shape.

The word “date” means different things to different people. Trouble arises when each side fails to communicate its expectations or when one side over-thinks the situation. For example, projecting a pleasant dinner into a happily-ever-after scenario is serious over-thinking bound for disappointment. After getting together a few times you can assume he’s interested in something, if only your conversation. Find out by revealing your own intentions. Just don’t be so vague that he has no idea what you’re talking about or so forceful that he feels he’s being taken prisoner.
Beau means you’re really serious but haven’t gotten around to moving in together. Private endearments and diminutive pet names like Honey Bunny or Mouse may sound silly but are normal elements of budding romance that foster regressive wishes which ultimately help enlarge your personality.
The usual terms for couples are unsatisfactory. Partner sounds like business, lover stresses sex, and significant other is insulting. Husband, spouse, and companion are all accurate and traditional. A rarely heard term due for resurrection refers to the beloved as is other half, though the self-effacing better half can’t be beat for graciousness.

No term is dearer than beloved, representing the singular one who tugs at your soul. Aristophanes recounts a myth wherein primordial man was round with four hands and feet, and two faces on a single head. Love was unknown because each creature was complete unto himself. After Zeus punished man’s excessive pride by cutting him in two, each half yearned for the other. When one half finds his other, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and intimacy.

The desire to melt in the beloved’s arms and become one rather than two is the very expression of this ancient need. This longing for wholeness and its pursuit is what we call love.

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