Queer Corner: Datemate

Datemate. It’s an alternative to saying “boyfriend” or “girlfriend,” and here are three reasons why you should start using it, even if you or the person you’re dating don’t identify as LGBTQ.

I’ve never found the term boyfriend or girlfriend appealing. It sounds like you’re dating a kid in elementary school. Of course, this is fine for actual kids I suppose, but come on – we’re adults, whether we like it or not. It’s like that sassy phrase, “I don’t date boys, I date men.” That’s what I’m saying, it just sounds so … kiddie. It’s awkward to use “partner” when it’s just dating. Same with “significant other.” But really, we are in college (or beyond) after all; why are we still referring to this great person in our lives as a kid? This brings us to Reason one of why you should start using “datemate”: it avoids infantilizing this person you get along with so well. “Boy/girlfriend” also has the word “friend” in it. Isn’t dating actually the definition of being more than friends? “Datemate” clarifies the relationship. After all, it literally has the word “date” in it. You really can’t get much clearer than that. Another reason I think this aspect is so important, is that it can apply to both queer and heterosexual relationships. I’m giving it to you through the Queer Corner lens, but that by no means suggests it’s only for queer people. 

Of course, “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” limit the gender of the person you’re dating. Let’s say I’m in a relationship with someone who doesn’t use “guy” or “girl” to describe themselves, but rather “genderqueer.” Based on that term alone, boyfriend and girlfriend don’t even apply. They leave no room for the many options of gender identities, and you’re stuck awkwardly describing “that person you’re seeing.” Reason two: “datemate” avoids this altogether, only suggesting your relationship with person rather than their (possibly not public) gender. I can see this term being a great thing within the LGBTQ community, even among people who are very open about their own gender and the gender of their partner. There are, unfortunately, some situations where being so open about the non-hetero gender of the person you’re dating may be dangerous or lead to arguments. Using “datemate” can conceal this a little, though I wouldn’t recommend it as the main strategy for hiding your datemate’s gender. 

Reason three: it rhymes and sounds super cute. Really though! It rolls off the tongue much easier than “boyfriend,” which is  just a boring word. Datemate is so much more bouncy and fun. It may seem arbitrary to some, but having a fun word to describe what should be a fun experience in life just seems right! That might not be the reason that convinces people to use this term, but it is still a reason. 

In the end, “datemate” can be used by both heterosexual and queer couples; it shows more respect for the adult you’re dating and doesn’t sacrifice anything in the relationship. I suggested this word to my own datemate and he thought it was amusing, liked it, and agreed we could use that term. So try asking the person you’re dating, they might also like being your “datemate.”