I’ve had this topic written down in my notebook (yes, you read that right) for months now, but haven’t committed to it until this very moment. I haven’t been able to find the words to put it out there into the big, huge, never ending blogosphere. What if I’m the only one who feels this way? Will people think I’m weird? Will they judge me? Worse…will they unfollow?
I’m just going to be a grown up and say it. I hate the word…boyfriend. Honestly, even typing that gave me goosebumps.
This feeling has ailed me ever since my sophomore year of high school, when I officially had my first…boyfriend. (Doing this post feels like some strange bit of torture or immersion therapy, but I will persevere. ) I have no qualms about other people using it. I hardly even flinch. However, any time my brain tells my mouth to start forming that horrible, dreaded word, the voice inside my head whimpers a little and the rest of me shudders.
For some reason, I associate the word with a catty, popular, high school cheerleader. (For the record, I had a great high school experience.) I just picture the word being used in multiple teenage movies where said catty girls use their beefed up boyfriends as revenge tools and for bragging rights. Those moments always made me want to sit those characters down and tell them not to be defined by the letterman jacket they were dating. “Be strong! Stop crying, you knew he was cheating on you with your best friend!” I’d shout at the TV. Internally, of course. You know what sounds catty? The fact that I’m using this preconceived teenage movie stigma as a reason to swear off a living, breathing, functioning and totally socially acceptable word.
Not that the above reason isn’t legitimate, but I wish I had a better idea of why I hate the word. No, that is not open season for all of you armchair psychiatrists out there, though I see you chomping at the bit. The best guess I have here is my mom. I blame her for my inability to be on time, my lack of strength in cold weather, and my distinct hatred for the b-word. I hadn’t realized it until about eight years ago, when she introduced someone I had been dating for a year at that point as my “friend,” sans boy, to a few people. Just like that, a lightbulb went off and Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone” became my victory anthem. The same voice that whimpers when I’m forced to say the word was singing along.
Like all theories, the idea of blaming my mom required a bit of research and proof. So, I crafted my version of a scientific experiment and asked her why she hated it, via text. She told me she hates the word because it sounds young. She went on to say my sister also hates the word, quoting that she thinks it “sounds stupid and young.” My research subjects were ladies of few words this evening, which has never happened in the history of their lives. To get a male perspective, I told her to ask my dad for his opinion on the word. His response was a little more technical. He said it’s not weird for someone in high school or college to use the word, but if you’re older than your mid twenties, using that word is kind of odd. It seems my family believes the word sounds young, which could explain my teenage movie notion.
A very large part of me wishes I didn’t hate the word. I’m not one to lose sleep over letting go of a silly internal struggle. Introductions would be much easier since I would no longer fumble and say, “This is my…uh, this is Brian.” One would think that after happily introducing the same person for over five years, one would be able to say the word effortlessly. One would be wrong in the case of this girl. Traveling halfway across the world with the guy was easier than saying the b-word. I’m sure you didn’t notice but I referenced him as my boyfriend in two of my more recent posts (proof can be found here and here). Right after he read the first one, I got a text that read, “Hey! You called me the b-word!” Just like that, too. The b-word. Accomplishments should be celebrated, both big and small, so I will take this as a virtual pat on the back.
And a quick note to all of you chomping at the bit armchair psychiatrists, things are great! We’ve been dating for five years; I just hate the b-word. It’s not a reflection on my relationship with him or a reflection of my relationship with my dad. That one is pretty great, too.
So, what’s the verdict? Am I alone in this feeling? Have you irrationally sworn off any words in your day?
As an aside, I’m pretty sure I only survived the struggle that was writing this post because I listened to You Are Not Alone on repeat. Preach, MJ.