The partner phenomena is something that doesn’t really occur in the US. Basically, if you refer to someone as your partner it means that you are in a gay/lesbian relationship. Here, partner can apply to any relationship, but the big question is when?
When does one move from boyfriend/girlfriend to partner? Is it when you live together but aren’t married? Is it when you’re not married but have kids with someone? Well then why not just tie the knot? From what I can tell it’s a stopover in between boyfriend/girlfriend and getting engaged and usually has a couple kids thrown in the mix, but I’m not precisely sure. Let’s just say that people do things in all different kinds of orders over here. As an example, my friend Nicola. Her ‘partner’ and her have been trying to have a baby. They tried even before they got engaged or talked about getting engaged. Now they’re engaged and the baby is due 4 months before the wedding. I don’t get it! Help me understand British people!
I have another case-in-point that fits this perfectly. Ed Miliband. This guy is the leader of the Labour party and has a ‘partner.’ They have two kids together and he continually reiterates that he is very close to his partner and that they both hold each other responsible, yet he’s not listed on his first child’s birth certificate for whatever reason. Strange? I think so. He says that you can have a perfectly stable family without being married (true), but then he also says that he’s not ready to be married (so then it’s not so stable?). The whole thing is rather confusing.
This is just another social standard that differs between the US and the UK. I think it would be unlikely for a US politician, especially one that will potentially be president, to get this to slide with the public. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. Come to think about it, maybe it’s this darn rhyme that is the cause of our pro-marriage outlook!
*Edit* Aha. Maybe this explains it! “Miliband replied: “My partner. Girlfriend sounds too temporary.” But how come 16 year olds don’t go around calling their boyfriends partners? I mean they’re totally going-to-be-together-for-ever right? See, I feel like there’s some requisite implicit amount of time you are with someone before they’re your ‘partner.’ Intrigue ensues.
**Edit** He’s getting married in May. He sensed my angst! Good chap.