(The Root) —
“I read something about a woman who was dating a guy for six months and he didn’t introduce her when they ran into people. It got me thinking — does it matter if your boyfriend introduces you like ‘This is Gina’ instead of saying, ‘This is my girlfriend, Gina’? Does saying ‘girlfriend’ first mean anything more than just saying the name?” –C.W.
I’ll probably tick off a lot of people and upset a lot of “relationships” by saying this, but yes, it means something more. It changes the way you are treated and perceived; a title or lack thereof is one indicator about the seriousness of the relationship.
Over the weekend, I attended a birthday celebration for a friend of my parents. It was a grand event with lots of people they didn’t know. We all had the honoree in common, so it made it easy to mingle. Without fail, everyone we met introduced themselves and whoever they were with as, “my wife, Gina,” “my husband, Martin” or “my daughter Ashley.”
There’s a reason for that. Not only does it establish the relationship, but it also gives a cue as to how you should respectfully proceed in engaging each of the parties.
“This is Gina” tells the person that you’re being introduced by nothing but your name. Gina could be a co-worker or a random woman he just met, and she could be fair game to approach about a date. It’s unclear and can make for awkward situations.
“My wife, so-and-so, or “my girlfriend” — that is, claiming someone — lets the person you’re speaking to know that there is a relationship in place and what kind. The title used denotes the importance of the relationship. Titles are also subtle signals that say, “Hands off. She’s taken. Do not approach.”