The earliest memory I have of Facebook, the social-networking phenomenon, was its innovative relationship status of “It’s complicated”. What did it mean exactly, I used to wonder. Is it committed? No. Is it available? Not really.
Despite the seeming ambiguity, it perfectly described the relationship status of thousands of folks in the current generation. As this transition happened quite rapidly within our friend’s circles, it was bound to happen that someone or the other was not fully in tune with the times.
“Hey, what did you guys do this weekend? Me and Tina went to Kaup beach and it was awesome!”
“Cool! Well, not everybody has a girlfriend like you, man”
“What are you talking about? Tina is not my girlfriend!”
Such conversations alway end in long embarrassing blocks of silence with nobody looking at each other directly. In fact, this guy and Tina have been seeing each other for the past 15 years!
Well, since the terms “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” have been relegated to the late eighteenth century, people have been looking for better terms to describe their complicated-relationship-counterparts.
Sometime during late 2005, the word partner was quite common. “I have phoned my partner that I’ll be late for dinner, so it’s fine”, sounded perfectly fine, then. However the term was felt to be too generic. There are business partners, dancing partner, partners-in-crime etc.
The term went quickly out of fashion due to too many unrelated connotations (nothing to do with 2007 Bollywood film of the same name, however :)). Towards early 2009, the word Significant Other or SO, in short, became more common. This seemed to be a quite satisfactory alternative as it covers any kind of relationship.
So, I guess that’s where we are at now. So don’t be surprised when you ask a couple “How are you guys doing?” and get the answer “We are SO-SO” :)