Wednesday, May 16, 2018

There is always something to learn about love and relationships and here is my latest lesson: There is a difference between a boyfriend and a partner. There is not a difference between a partner and a fiancé or husband.

A month or two ago, I was out to dinner with Rahul, my friend Andrea and her now-fiancé, Anthony, who mentioned that our two relationships were beyond boyfriend/girlfriend. We're companions. We're partners. "We're basically married," he had said, even though we aren't.

Another friend of mine who has been in a relationship for many years doesn't refer to her significant other as her "boyfriend." She regularly says "partner." We talked about it once and she explained it very simply: "He's more than my boyfriend. We make decisions together. We're partners."

I don't really view Rahul as my boyfriend anymore. I see him as my partner, the person who is going to be right next to me through it all.

With a partner, there's a deeper sense of security and commitment. There's the feeling of really being in it together, for the long haul, thick and thin. At some point, a relationship hits a level of depth that it's easy and comfortable and doubtless.

I do believe that there is a difference between a boyfriend and a partner. But what I'm realizing, and reminding myself, is that there isn't really a difference between a partner and a fiancé or husband.

A crazy amount of people that I know have gotten engaged in the last two months. So many people. I feel like a new engagement post pops up on my feed at least once a week. And of course seeing that will plant a tiny seed in my brain. Yes, it makes me think about marriage more often than I usually do, no matter how much I don't want to let it affect me.

I found myself falling into a mindset that my relationship was weaker than others' because we weren't engaged.

I do want to get married one day. I do want the classic down-on-one-knee proposal, a wedding, and a marriage. Still, I know that to a certain extent, it's a label. Husband. Wife. A couple can be together for decades without getting married and still have a flourishing, healthy relationship, perhaps even more so than a decades-long marriage. A wedding band isn't a sign of superiority.

My relationship isn't weaker simply because we aren't engaged. Looking at the big picture, that is not what matters most. What matters is respect, trust, love, dedication, effort. We have those things. We're committed to each other, regardless of whether there's a ring to emphasize that.

Hell, we've been together for more than seven years, which is longer than all of the married people I know. That has to count for something.

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