My Partner

This phrase presents something of a communication problem, especially with Kerry’s androgynous name. “My girlfriend” sounds relatively frivolous, failing to convey the fact of cohabitation and level of commitment. “My live-in lady,” as was suggested to me by one DC-area native, is inconsistent with other evident markers of socio-economic status, and therefore conveys irony and/or a lack of respect. I happen to like “my partner” because Kerry and I are… partners. We are a team. Our lives are a life together — a joint endeavor. It’s aggravating that the language has yet to offer terms that communicate this status other than spouse/husband/wife. So far, it’s hard to beat POSSLQ. Here is Wikipedia:

POSSLQ (pronounced /ˈpɒsəlkjuː/) is abbreviation (or acronym) for “Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters,” a term coined in the late 1970s by the United States Census Bureau as part of an effort to more accurately gauge the prevalence of cohabitation in American households.

After the 1980 Census, against all odds, the term gained currency in the wider culture for a time, with CBS commentator Charles Osgood memorably composing a verse which began

There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
If you would be my POSSLQ
You live with me and I with you,
And you will be my POSSLQ.
I’ll be your friend and so much more;
That’s what a POSSLQ is for.

Sadly, if you insist on talking about “my POSSLQ” it will sounds like you’re talking about a passel of possums and a pool cue, or something.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center