Something subtle shifted inside me recently.

This subtle shift manifested in an external change that caught more than just me off guard. Evidently I’ve become comfortable enough in my young relationship to use a sort of shorthand. Among friends, I’ve begun referring to “the man I’ve been seeing” as simply “my boyfriend.”

A sharp girlfriend was quick to point out this slip over a glass of wine recently. I shrugged and admitted that I’m comfortable and enjoying it.

And then I had to think about it for awhile. Perhaps I hadn’t really wrapped my head around what two people in an exclusive relationship might call each other.

After I’d thought about it for awhile, I realized that this is what I’d wanted. All those first dates — meeting complete strangers through a computer screen — were about getting to where I am at this moment:  I have a boyfriend. I am in a relationship. I don’t know where this is going, but I’m enjoying getting and giving attention, being romantic, holding hands, kissing. I am happy.

Perhaps it sounds strange that I’d agreed to be exclusive awhile back and hadn’t yet thought of “the man I’ve been seeing” as “my boyfriend.” Perhaps it’s because I don’t particularly like to be called a “girlfriend” (except by my girlfriends), or perhaps it’s just taken me awhile to wrap my head around the concept of a new, positive relationship that may have some potential, or perhaps I’ve just had a lagging mental indicator based on my absolute conviction to take things slowly. At any rate, my brain finally appears to be catching up.

I have a boyfriend. And there is a smile on my face.

(And there is a part of me that is terrified to hit “publish” on the off-chance that saying so just might jinx it…)

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