Titles: Are You the “Girlfriend”, “Jumpoff” or “Wifey”? Does it Matter?
Whenever I think about the part that titles play in a relationship, I think of the interaction between a friend of mine and the man who would become her boyfriend in an emotional drama-filled five year relationship. When we all first met, he and his crew would commonly refer to women as “Beyotches” and “hoes” and carry on vulgar conversations filled with degrading comments about the female gender. I must admit that I respected the rawness of their tone; there was something honest and unapologetic about the way they conducted themselves. After years of effortless lines and hollow game spit by men who thought the way to a woman’s heart was through fluffy empty conversation, a little raw honesty was refreshing for me.
That ever-so-fresh feeling faded fast when my friend’s soon-to-be boyfriend thought he could call me up and greet me with a “Wassup, Beyotch!” You know I called him on it quickly, right? The best part about it was he respected my wishes and dropped the drama, simply because I communicated that it was unacceptable to me.
You see, even if every TV network besides BET thinks it’s ok for both women and men alike to throw around the word for a female dog as a term of endearment, I’m still not nearly receptive of being referred to as a creature that will gladly consume it’s own fecal matter. My friend on the other hand still thought it was so Hot the way that this group demeaned females, “Them ni**as don’t give a….they so crazy,” she’d swoon and I swear I could see blue birds flapping around her big ratchet head. It was Hot right up until the two made it official. Boyfriend tried to call ole’ girl a Itchbay then and the script flipped. “You can’t call your girlfriend a Itchbay. That’s disrespectful.” Because he clearly respected you before you were his girlfriend when your conversations had more Beyotches in them then a canine kennel. Right…
Whether your man refers to you as his girlfriend, jump-off or wifey, titles are what you make them, but that doesn’t make them any less important. Titles are the reason you don’t refer to your local convenience store cashier as “doctor”, and whether you want to believe it or not, your title somewhat defines your role.
At their best, titles put into play a set of specific rules and responsibilities. Men especially know this and it’s the reason why most of them are so hesitant to label their relationships. Do you know how many women have come to me justifying why the man that they are crazy about doesn’t want to actually make her his “girlfriend”? It’s not because he’s uncomfortable with titles. It’s not because you and he know what the situation is, so it doesn’t matter what it’s called. It’s because by acknowledging he is “your man” he has to accept limits and regulations that he doesn’t want to abide by.
Basically, not being your “boyfriend” ensures that when you catch him with his other she-who-shall-not-be-named, he has an excuse: “Me and you weren’t officially together anyway.” Make no mistake, if you are giving a man boyfriend privileges, he should also be getting his fair share of boyfriend responsibilities, one of which is referring to you as his significant other. Maybe he doesn’t have to announce it on a billboard in Times Square, but if the cat catches his tongue when he introduces you to family and/or friends, then you need to stop allowing his tongue to chase your cat.