Do You Have A Boyfriend, Or A Partner? There Is A Difference Between Them.

**Disclaimer – No offence is to be caused from this article. I am using a man as the main example, however, it also applies to women etc. in same-sex relationships**

The word boyfriend; Is it just me or when you say that word, does it remind you of being a teenager again? However, when you think of the word partner, does it makes you think of a strong and committed relationship? Funny that… How one word that means a similar thing displays different images in our heads.




In our mid-twenties, we are bound to fall into more serious relationships. We are now more sure of ourselves and our futures, and with this territory comes the factoring in finding someone special. You get to the point where you want to find someone to spend the rest of your life with, instead of having a simple teenage crush.


At the same time, not everyone we date in our mid-twenties is our soulmate, and many of us will still have to experience rebound relationships to later on find the one right for us. However, in general, the mid-to-late twenties shows a dating shift; we are closer to finding the one, and anything we take seriously will, for lack of a better word, be taken seriously. This would define the start of an adult relationship.


When we find ourselves in an adult relationship, confusion may begin to exist and a ‘define the relationship’ talk with our significant other will have to come to light. One of the main questions asked in a relationship is “what are we?”


The terms ‘boyfriend‘ and ‘girlfriend‘ are age-old and synonymous with a committed relationship. What terms exist for couples that want to show the ‘adultness‘ of their relationship though? This is where the term ‘partner‘ comes in, which is short for life partner. The term ‘partner‘ carries a bond with a relevant non-gendered reading, but also its own degree of seriousness and initiative.


The term ‘partner‘ is somewhat political, but also personal. Part of this comes from the fact that society insists on a relationship hierarchy wherein people who are legally single are not taken as seriously as those who are legally married. This is ironic, given how casually we treat divorce.


There is nothing wrong with having a girlfriend or boyfriend in your mid-twenties but there is something reminiscent of adolescence lingering in those terms. Almost like a reminder of casualness. (Not causing any offence to serious boyfriend / girlfriend couples)


The Differences Between a Partner and a Boyfriend:


We all know that love is selfless. It endures the hardest battles and it faces the toughest of sacrifices, but it is all worth it in the end. Love is a partnership, an adventure all in its own. A bond between two people who are conscious of it and are willing to maintain its strength. Below are a few reasons why a partner is an upgraded version of a boyfriend:

1) A Partner Takes Initiative:

You can probably already feel the weight of the term ‘partner.’ It sounds official and that is what we want. Example – company parties often address invitations as “spouses and partners welcome” rather than “spouses and boyfriends / girlfriends welcome.”

While it may be hard for some men to even become someone’s boyfriend, the partner label takes that initiative step further. If he insists on calling you his partner, it is an early sign that you could be in for a life-long relationship. It is easy to be someone’s boyfriend; we have had boyfriends and girlfriends since primary and secondary school. But, a partner is a new love phased into adulthood.

2) A Partner Will Keep You Comfortable in Any Situation:

No matter what state you are in, if you have a partner, uncomfortable situations will be a no-sweat situation as partners are comfortable with one another. It does not matter if you have woken up with a messy Afro or are meeting his parents for the first time, he will keep the situation calm.

Any part of him is an extension of you, and you will love every part of one another. Partners are also past that boyfriend / girlfriend stage of impressing one another. They feel comfortable acting how they normally do, which is what makes a partner so great.

3) A Partner is Reliable:

No matter how low you are feeling, whether it was from a bad day at work to your mental health, you can always rely on your partner to pick up the phone and listen.

Boyfriends let texts and calls linger because they are not in the mood to chat, whereas, partners place you as their number one priority and will get back to you within a reasonable time if they are busy or as quickly as they can. if a partner is too busy to talk, he will be direct about it and let you know, however, if it is an emergency, he will be there right away.

The bottom line: He will be reliable and be there for you. If you are upset and he is not the best at showing his emotions, he will help you problem-solve and get past the current crisis.

4) A Partner is Supportive in Times of Need:

Boyfriends can get petty and jealous when their girlfriends go to others for support, however, partners are supportive of your education and career. Traditional gender roles of men being the strong ones in a relationship or the ones that ‘wear the trousers‘ are long gone! Partners are mature and past that phase. They understand that you are now one unit. You want him to succeed and he wants you to succeed.

It does not matter who gets to where they want to be first, since you are both mature, driven, confident and intelligent people, it is understood that both of you will get there, no matter how much time it takes. If your partner is jealous of your success, then he is probably not a keeper, as jealousy can lead to some pretty damaging things in a relationship. Never let anyone bring you or your success down. If you are always there cheering him on, then he should do the same for you. No excuses.

5) It Does Not Matter Who Said “I Love You” First:

All that matters is that you have both established this. Boyfriends like to play games. Partners are in it for the long ride, and are just as happy to say “I love you” as they are to hear the words come out of your mouth. Sometimes, hearing it out loud makes all the difference, so jeep open communication and express your affection regularly. Affection could be showed in many ways, such as complimenting them, purchasing them gifts or taking them out for the day. This makes those special moments even more intense and intimate.

6) Partners Discuss Issues:

Boyfriends and girlfriends ignore one another and fight, which leads to break-ups. Boyfriends also give up, whereas, partners rise to the challenge.

The good thing about partners is that they fight, which often leads to improvements in the relationship rather than going separate ways. Bringing up issues in a relationship can also mean that we are invested in the relationship. Fighting can be a sign of caring and wanting to improve current situations. We only indulge ourselves in front of people we care about and accept us and they accept us for who we are.

Overall, partners listen to each other, compromise, sacrifice and work towards improving the dynamics of their relationship.

7) He Is Not Just A Lover, But A Best Friend:

Your partner is not just a lover, but someone who protects you like a father, encourages and trusts you like a friend and guides you like an older brother. A man is always ready and willing to listen, learn from you, lean on you, but most of all, he is ready to be there for you at any given moment.

A boyfriend on the other hand does not have time for that. A boyfriend is wrapped up in his life, with his own questions about the universe and he is usually too busy finding his own two feet to be able to help you.

Remember; If he is a boyfriend, he will bail. If he is a man, he will endure.

8) The Future Is Not Definite, But Your Relationship Is:

A man knows when he has found the woman of his dreams. We all have slight expectations in our head of what we are looking for and what we expect in our partners. Respect, honest, a sense of humour and more. A man knows when a woman exceeds his expectations and when he finds her, he will not let her go, no matter how many times she may attempt to push him away. He will work hard to keep her, lend a listening ear and then that effort will soon be reciprocated.

A boyfriend on the other hand is uncertain. He has no clue where he sees himself in the future. All he knows is his plans for the weekend. He would not sacrifice a night out for you because he sees no point in it.


A label is not everything, but initiative definitely is. A partner has a stable ring to it. It indicates that you are with someone who wants to share their life with you. On the other hand, a boyfriend or girlfriend is someone who reminds you of your experimenting days back in secondary school. We must remember though that terminology does not always matter; however, there is something very grown-up and romantic about calling the love of your life, your partner. It shows respect, determination and equality to at least live a life together – even in the face of boredom, misunderstandings, adversity, insecurities and fears.


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