The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College

The Sexual Intellectual: Dating Nomenclature

If there’s anything about English that fails me (besides its skimpy range of emotional terms and having the worst names for genitals in the history of language), it’s the lack of an appropriate way to designate people that you are dating. This phrase in and of itself comprises several shades of significance: “dating.” I am determined to discover all possible options and, if possible, develop a system which people can use to accurately describe one’s relationship to another person/persons.


Friend: Awesome person whose company you enjoy.

Friend With Benefits: The above, plus sexy times. Can be shortened to “friend” with correct use of emphasis or “FWB” if using text.

Lover: Overly romanticized way of describing someone with whom you have sex. Best used for comedy or to lighten the load of commitment by addressing the person you have sex with as “lover.”

Boy/Girl + friend: Socially sanctioned relationship, validated by Facebook and/or verbal agreement between individuals deciding to use these titles and apply them to one another. May or may not include sex, may or may not be monogamous. Largely used monogamously. Otherwise used to avoid explanation of the unique status of your “relationship.”

Boy/Girl + fruit: Adorable name someone I follow on Tumblr uses to refer to their significant other. Kind of perverts the common usage of the above. Largely suspected to be non-monogamous and juicy

Beaux: Dated expression used to refer to one’s male object of affection. Sounds French. Would look it up on the OED online, but I have no subscription to a respectable online dictionary here at home so fuck it.

Paramour: Also probably French. Also the name of a band whose name alone makes me apathetic about today’s pop music. Use this to refer to your number 1 person in the romantic scheme of your life if you don’t have an associated aversion to the band.

Shorty: A great way to refer to the female object of your desire and/or affection if you like to piss off a vertically challenged individual.

Husband/Wife: Slave (just joking, people can be happily married for no more than 3 years).

Fiance: Future slave or a person in the act of perpetually dodging marriage, having already given a faint nod in the direction of society’s demands.

Harem/Stable: Slightly misogynistic way of referring to a group of females who are sexually connected to you but not to each other. Can be gender-flipped for purposes of greater equality. Regardless of gender, these words are best used by people not yourself for purposes of comedy, because if you say it that’s some real cocky shit.

Tribe/Constellation/Polygon: Used to refer to one’s group of emotionally and (not necessarily, but probably) sexually connected partners. Lends a feeling of closeness and unity to a largely independent group of people.

Significant Other: The phrase that immediately makes everyone else in your life insignificant compared to the one that’s getting you laid, which is fair enough, but not entirely tactful.


Talking: The preliminary phase of “dating.” If you’re talking, then you’re getting zero action, but the potential for romance is in the air. Restricted to brief encounters to mention possibilities of a date in the future or, what?s more likely, an endless stretch of flirty text messages leading up to a hot and heavy date in a broom closet.

Dating: One would assume that this means you take the person you like out on dates, but no; most people of our generation don’t go out on dates, we stay in and fool around on the internet, occasionally stopping to fool around with each other. Have narrowed down this span of usage from the second date to right before engagement/restraining order period of the relationship.

Courting: Archaic term for dating, but it’s more like talking since you’re not getting much more action than a goodnight smooch before the long, lonely sleepless, sexless night after a date.

Seeing: The ultimate in vague dating language technology. My personal favorite to use when explaining anyone in my romantic life to my parents.

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