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If a Boyfriend or Girlfriend is a Romantic Interest, Why Does Romantic Mean Impractical…?!

It’s interesting that a boyfriend or girlfriend is defined as a boy or girl that you are romantically involved with, but one of the definitions of romantic is: impractical.

Noun:  A regular male companion with whom one has a romantic or sexual relationship.
Synonyms: friend – fellow – pal

Thanks online dictionary, now lets Wikipedia take a stab at this:

“A boyfriend is a regular male companion in a romantic and or sexual relationship, although normally not in long-term committed (e.g. marital) relationships, where other titles (e.g. husband, partner) are more commonly used. A boyfriend can also be called an admirer, beau, fiancé, suitor and soul mate.”

(Wow that last sentence really ran rampant didn’t it—went from admirer–or to some people…secret stalker… all the way to soul mate!)

“A guy friend is a male friend that is simply a friend and not a lover. The word guy friend is often used instead of the word boyfriend because using the word boyfriend suggests the relationship is romantic.”

(Why is “lover” the difference maker?)

“Partners in committed non-marital relationships are also sometimes described as a significant other or simply partner, especially if the individuals are cohabiting.

Boyfriend and partner mean different things to different people; the distinctions between the terms are subjective. How the term is used will ultimately be determined by personal preference.”

(Now a clarification. We’re getting somewhere. And then there is the Wikipedia “see also” section. Insert raised brow here…)

See also: Girlfriend-Courtship-Mistress-Domestic partnership-Engagement-Marriage-Wedding

Let’s go back to MISTRESS. That’s an unfortunate “see also” tag along.

“A mistress is a long-term female lover and companion who is not married to her partner; the term is used especially when her partner is married. The relationship generally is semi-permanent; and the couple does not live together openly. Also the relationship is usually, but not always, secret.
In modern times, however, the word “mistress” is used primarily to refer to the female lover of a man who is married to another woman; in the case of an unmarried man, it is usual to speak of a “girlfriend” or “partner.” Historically, a man “kept” a mistress. As the term implies, he was responsible for her debts and provided for her in much the same way as he did his wife, although not legally bound to do so.
A mistress is not a prostitute, the principal difference is that a mistress keeps herself exclusively reserved for one man, in much the same way as a wife, and there is not so much of a direct quid pro quo between the money and the sex act. There is usually an emotional and possibly social relationship between a man and his mistress. ”

Now for the ladies. Online dictionary have at it:

Noun:  girlfriend (any female friend) “Mary and her girlfriend organized the party”
girlfriend, girl, lady friend (a girl or young woman with whom a man is romantically involved) “his girlfriend kicked him out”

So if the bare bones definition of boy/girlfriend, is someone you’re romantically involved in, then I challenge you to think about how that word is actually defined as well.

Definition of romantic

  • (adjective) Of, relating to, or characteristic of romance.
  • Given to thoughts or feelings of romance. See Synonyms at sentimental.
  • Displaying, expressive of or conducive to love: a romantic atmosphere.
  • Imaginative but impractical; visionary: romantic notions.
  • Not based on fact; imaginary or fictitious: His memoirs were criticized as a romantic view of the past.
  • often Romantic Of or characteristic of romanticism in the arts.
  • (noun) A romantic person; often Romantic A follower of romanticism.

Romantic can refer to a type of person who you’re involved with in more than a friendship way, but it also refers to an imaginative, impractical behavior with responses not based in fact.
One word with two seemingly different meanings, but in the word’s double context, is it really that different at all?

A friend of my mine recently posted this on this Facebook and it caught my attention.

“If you’re always looking for true love, then when you’re in a relationship, you’ll always have that feeling of maybe there is someone better out there for you. I’m not looking for that…I just want something…real.” -Brian Z.


Another conversation I was recently apart of drew me back to a time last year when

I told a good friend of mine, “I don’t want to be someone’s girlfriend”.

I definitely had one of those, why did I just say that (??) moments immediately afterwards.

To which my conversation participant responded, “Well Maggie there are processes you go through before you get married.”

And I said, “Yeah, I definitely want to be married someday, but I don’t know if I’m so interested in the boyfriend/girlfriend step because what does that really mean in terms of dating?”

He shrugged. I shrugged. And now all these months later I’m thinking about it again.

Ever heard someone say they “fell” in love? Probably.

It was unexpected. Sudden. Didn’t see it until it was happening. But in a way the word is similar to romantic, because when in a different context it doesn’t sound as cute.
Recall a time that someone fell, like in actuality, and was in turn thrilled. My friend Brittany fell down the stairs the other day while we were on the phone, she didn’t like it. But, oh, of course it’s used metaphorically plenty regardless that the word means,

1. to drop or descend under the force of gravity
2. to come or drop down suddenly to a lower position
3. to become less or lower; become of a lower level, degree, amount, quality, value, number, etc
4. to withdraw support or allegiance

Yikes! If I’m to use the word in that definition, then “falling” in love, doesn’t sounds so great. It kind of sounds impractical…

Synonyms: admirer, beau, companion, confidant, date, escort, fiancé, flame*, follower, friend, intimate, partner, soul mate, steady, suitor, swain, sweetheart, young man

At this point, I’ve laid a foundation for what I mean to discuss, I hope I haven’t lost you in the mix… if you’re still here, keep reading. I love questions; asking them, answering them, and perusing the opportunity for variety.

A resolved question on yahoo answers  to the question of What defines a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship; went like this:

What defines a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship?
Is it a verbal agreement? After X number of dates? What are the standard justifications?

(Best Answer – Chosen by Voters ) Depends on the age level, really. In high school and fresh out, usually someone asks someone ‘out’, eg., will you be my boyfriend/girlfriend.
Otherwise, I think it’s based on exclusivity. If you’re not seeing anyone else, and you’re going out on dates and in general acting like someone’s significant other, and they’re acting the same, you’re dating. Usually it has to be clarified that you’re exclusive, though.

Resolved Question

Boyfriend (Ashlee Simpson song)

Boyfriend (Ashlee Simpson song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whats the definition of a Boyfriend??
What are you supposed to do with them?? How do you act with them??

(Best Answer – Chosen by Asker ) Have sex with them, exclusively.
Litmus test for a bf/gf relationship: Usually you have a boyfriend or girlfriend if that person wonders what happened if you don’t call them on the weekend and do something else.
How you act with them….umm…normally? Guys don’t like someone who is going to control and micromanage them. It is better to be more laid back and trusting than high strung and demanding. Keep in mind, you can’t keep a man by keeping a leash on them. It usually takes years for most women to discover this.

Also, not everything you two do together has to be ‘romantic’. Quality time together doesn’t always mean flowers and expensive dinners.

Other Answers

  • you should be really comfortable with your boyfriend just like you would be next to your best friend..
  • your boyfriend should be someone you can count on and trust more than anybody in the world
  • a boyfriend is someone you can call at any hour of the day to complain about whatever you have to complain about without him getting mad because it’s too late
  • a boyfriend would have just the right words to say to you to stop you from crying and instead put a smile on your face
  • a boyfriend should be somebody who won’t be ashamed to show you off to his friends..family..and the world =]
  • a boyfriend should be somebody who will have your back 100% of the time when no one else does
  • a boyfriend is somebody you can have fun with an act silly around with without being concern of what he might think of you.
  • being around your boyfriend you should act yourself..just like you would with your friends and family..
  • They’re all pieces of crap who just want sex. Not emotional attachment, commitment, OR GET MARRIED!
  • Isn’t that your own choice? Just do fun things together. Include him in important parts of your life and vice versa, take him to parties of your friends and relatives.You can choose to be really…sticky and never leave each other’s side. You can choose to be really loose and just kinda act like normal friends in public. The bottom line is, be happy together.
  • well me bein a guy i like my gf to show me im everything to her and thats about it. i love the small things she does for me. Cook me dinner, kiss me and wrap me up when i fall asleep on the couch ect. small things are a must. You dont have to go out buy expensive **** for a guy to love you. Go out have dinner enjoy it. Its the small stuff u do that makes a guy know u love him.
  • definition: A boyfriend is a male partner in a non-marital romantic relationship. what do you do with them: …how am I supposed to know? how do you act with them: nice, i guess

I spoke with a twenty-something year old economist, someone who by trade cares about order, the functional arrangement of parts, and statistics; he spoke in a refreshingly, borderline critical way.

Boyfriends and girlfriends are people who are for whatever amount of time, and in that moment, “with” someone. That’s’ what the wording suggests. But if I think about being with someone I could be with anyone. I could be with my co-worker, a relative, a stranger, being with someone simply…is not enough, it doesn’t describe it. It’s part of it. I prefer to go steady. And I recognize that it’s not a term used often anymore.

It is a preposition meaning:

-accompanied by; accompanying: I will go with you.
in some particular relation to (especially implying interaction, company, association, conjunction, or connection)

-characterized by or having: a person with initiative.
(of manner) using or showing: to work with diligence.
using; by means of: he killed her with an axe

-concerning or regarding
-used to indicate a time or distance by which something is away from -something else

-caused or prompted by; often used with a verb indicating a reciprocal action or relation

I want to go steady with someone.

It’s true it’s certainly not a phrase said or heard often. What do people think when they think about it?

Urban dictionary says,

1. going steady
What white kids in the 50’s called “dating”
Johnny gave me his pin at the dance … now I know we’re going steady!

2. going steady
This term is used when you have been dating someone for a considerable length of time and have developed a strong relationship with them.

A dating website forum had varying answers including,

  • If someone asks you to ´Go Steady´ – be sure to find out what they think it means! This phrase means quite different things to different people. Some people think it means to have each other as the “primary date” Be sure you understand completely what the other person expects, and to make your own expectations clear. A lot of fights happen because each person “assumed” the other would start acting a certain way.
  • Going Steady: Are You Serious? You need to find out if the person you are going steady with is serious and in it for love.
  • Going Steady: The first milestone in a relationship is when the partners agree to ‘go steady’ – to stop seeing other people. This is a commitment because it says you are no longer going to actively look for other alternatives … that you feel your current partner is worth working on seriously to see if things can work.
  • Going Steady: Don’t Get Caught Up. You may start going out with someone and be really happy. But don’t suddenly think that just because you are having a good time that you are suddenly going to fall in love and be together forever. What you read in stories and what happens in real life is totally different. There is no prince charming and you aren’t gonna one day be in a supermarket and drop an apple, bend down to pick it up and look up and see a guy that will fall in love with you (love at first sight) and you then get married and have kids and be together forever cz it just isn’t true………

Steady. (because clearly I love the dictionary…) It’s an adjective that means: Firmly fixed, supported, or balanced; not shaking or moving; free from change, variation, or interruption; uniform; continuous; constant, regular, or habitual
It’s a verb: Make or become steady: “I took a deep breath to steady my nerves”; “she’s the one steadying influence in his life”

Words have meanings, they have definitions.Those definitions when coupled with force, power, and the context we put behind them determines its meaning to you. The emphasis you chose to put behind every word you used in expression and thought shapes your behavior, feelings, emotions, responses, receptions. What means something to you may mean something completely different to me.

Which can be awful, and it can be beautiful. Because we get to pick. We are the decision makers. Do you want to make your own decisions though? Do you want to go along with assumed realities and mentalities?  Again, it’s your choice. They’re robust. They impact you personally, and all of use alike.

My earlier posting on words people can and can’t say, had a lot to do with the redemption of words, and their potential for restructuring. Stepping back it is impossible to look at the use of the terminology of “being boyfriend girlfriend” as: a potentially intimate and romantic relationship that desires to act out the behaviors of commitment, but is impractical in its implication of security.

(Definition of ACT as a verb: Take action; Synonyms for: perform – play – operate – behave – work – proceed)

I think it is possible to see it that way. I think most of us know that, but we want to be loved, and have others know we are loved. Especially in relationships. We want words. We want them assigned by us and to us. We let words define us. What we “let” and “want” are words we chose and have free choice over. Yet we sometimes let the opinion of others on certain words define us. Define us before we’re ready.

An article I came across discussing DTR (defining the relationship conversation) which brought forth some great points,

“The first few weeks (or even months) of any dating relationship can be filled with mixed emotions, and often these emotions can take us on the proverbial emotional roller coaster ride. Consider this: You’ve met someone and been out a couple of times. It’s great. Conversation is fabulous, and the chemistry is there. After a few weeks of fun and spontaneous romance, suddenly your emotions start to head downhill, getting the best of you. Do any of the following questions sound familiar? “I wonder how he/she is feeling about me.” “Where is this going?” “I think she has stronger feelings more for me than I do for her.” Perhaps the time has come to have the “talk.” The defining the relationship conversation.”

(This conversation can make or break people!)

“Because of our own insecurities, many of us start feeling uncertain about how things are going fairly early on in a relationship. This uncertainty leads us to a “need-to-know” state of mind — ”I need to know where this relationship is heading, and I need to know now.” While they have their place, “defining-the-relationship” conversations often occur too early in a relationship. Additionally, expressing how you are feeling to the person you are dating — and not knowing how he or she will respond — can be a frightening moment of truth.”

And I like what Steve Ward, CEO of Master Matchmakers, relationship expert, and host of VH1’s hit shows, Tough Love and Tough Love Couples says on this topic,

 “You can start by not calling it the define the relationship talk in the first place. That’s associating too much significance to a conversation. There is such a thing as establishing your boundaries and letting someone know the additional benefit to being with you. That’s a conversation worth having.”

And ask yourself why you want to define the relationship in the first place. Will the label of boyfriend/girlfriend bring you a real security? Are you looking for that? Do you have some point to prove? Does it make how you feel more valid? Or are you playing house in reality but equating it with something more? How romantic.

A relationship is a connection, and association, or involvement. There are many kinds that we have between people. Some are emotional, physical, sexual, blood, marriage and so on.  If given the opportunity, a relationship will define itself as two people getting to know each other. If you pay attention and use your observation skills, you will have all the information you need to make an intelligent and thoughtful decision about your relationship.

     The goal should be to create an atmosphere where both of you feel comfortable to share your thoughts, feelings, hopes and concerns about the relationship. (What good comes from pressuring for a label? A status update. Do you want someone to act like they care about you, or actually grow into a genuine state?)

       Is the timing right? I get if you just feel it. Some people do—I’m happy for them…yay. But sometimes if we’re honest, don’t you just want to have something to tell other people…sooner rather than later…? I’ve seen people get caught up in this, and crash and burn so quickly because they weren’t ready. It wasn’t really there yet. But you know how it goes when you have dated for a while: your friends are in your ear asking your status couple wise, curious to when you’ll change your FB (for what?!! So they can PRESS LIKE??) Its way to easy to fall victim to outside influences, to listen way too much to other people’s thoughts about what your relationship should be or look. When you should be listening to you own intuition without anxiety or pressure.

       I think it’s like this: Be direct. If you feel ready to stop dating other people, it’s okay to ask whomever you’re seeing if they feel the same. And discuss why. Discuss what it means. In that moment. And if you don’t—don’t give false hope. Be open and receptive to all perspectives. Might not get a simple “Yes” or “No.” but don’t assume complete rejection if he or she wants to move slow. If you have to give an ultimatum…how well do you know this person? How well do they know you…? And offer an opportunity to think things over. Being put on the spot is rarely fun… and plenty of conversations can make you feel that way. (Am I right?!) That being said, it’s not always a bad thing either. Time for reflection tends to always be good too though!

It takes time to learn things.

“No one is ever going to love you more than you love yourself. In other words, until you’re 100 percent into YOU, no one else will be. I mean, think about it. If you’re not connected to who you really are, how the heck are you going to connect with someone else?”

(Source here )

A big part of something real is understanding who the real you is. And loving that person. (You.)

A part of self-love is taking care of yourself. Some argue that if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others in a loving way. I agree. (and that means more than just the obvious things because some things people simply can’t do for various reasons.)

Not liking yourself very much can make you less attractive. (hahahahaha) I (definitely) agree. (self-absorbed narcissist don’t float everyone’s boat…)

A part of liking yourself would seem to involve recognizing your own good qualities. I agree.

I don’t want to fall in love because I want it to grow, I want it to be nurtured, involve effort, taking a chance, have roots; the same way growing a garden can be challenging, the best relationships can involve challenges as well. While I wouldn’t mind the trip or stumble per say, at first, now that my attention has been changed…what am I going to do next? Love should be way more serious than eating pavement.

I don’t want to find love, because I don’t want feel as though I have to be constantly looking for it, because sometimes you look too hard and you don’t see what’s really there. And anything that can be found, can be lost as well. I want to be open to it, and able to receive it.

I don’t want to place a desire for security in a word that can allude to something less.

What I do want is to be is married. One day. (And I’m not going to act like that day is tomorrow when it’s not.) I care more about the biblical than the legal, because that’s where my priorities stand. My faith will always supersede my legal obligations. (Obligations I do respect) I want to be a ying to a yang. I want to be united.

And the step I want to take before that is, I want to be a partner (One that is united or associated with another or others in an activity or a sphere of common interest) with someone who desires to be steady in their intentions and directions with me. (Yep. Sounds good to me)

In agreement with my friend Brian’s words, “….I want something real.”

REAL as in of or relating to fixed, permanent, or immovable things; not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory: genuine; of or relating to practical or everyday concerns or activities existing as a physical entity and having properties that deviate from an ideal, law, or standard; and having objective independent existence.

That reality I will not romanticize because it’s very significant and not supplementary.

Words are important. These are the ones I choose to use.

I Don’t Want to Be Someone Girlfriend/Boyfriend (Wait—who just said?! *looks around*)

Well in terms of girlfriend at least (!!) and those definitions, yes, I did just say that.


About maggie.

Maggie Barnes is a nonprofit and for profit business content specialist / social media consultant; and social sciences web writer interested in everything from psychology and sexuality, to technology, race, and economics. She is passionate about good communication and information accessibility.


2 thoughts on “If a Boyfriend or Girlfriend is a Romantic Interest, Why Does Romantic Mean Impractical…?!

  1. I love u n this!

    Posted by brittany salsberry | June 22, 2012, 5:01 am


  1. Pingback: What I Expect From my GUY!?! « The Chaotic Soul - August 11, 2012

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