the meaning of "my partner"

I’ve been getting this a lot lately so I just wanted to clarify with you western folks.

Whenever I use the words my partner, as in ‘I’ll get my partner to contact you’, ‘my partner will be bring it over’, I often get an awkward look till eventually someone asked me, ‘are you gay?’

Of course, I was just refering to my business partner. Does the word ‘partner’ refer to a gay partner now that homosexuality is becoming more acceptable?


I suppose I should switch to using ‘my contact’ instead.

That’s strange. Partner can mean your significant other, but in the context of business it should be clear. I think my contact sounds stranger. Maybe just add “business partner” sometimes to keep it clear.

I’m partial to referring to my “associate”

All depends on context in my eyes. If used in a professional/business situation, I’d assume business partner. If used in a personal situation like “Can I borrow your lawnmower?” followed by “Sure, my partner will bring it over” I’d guess life partner. Of course if I were borrowing your lawnmower, I’d probably know you well enough to know if you are gay or not.

I agree with nurb here, business relation should be taken as standard. They should only ask the other if you’re dealing with them on a personal level.

Also, a lot depends on peoples expectations. Do you not look like a “stereotypical” business owner (as if there is one)? Are you female, maybe the person you’re talking to wouldn’t expect you to be in the position you’re in based on their own stereotypes/experiences?

In a professional context there shouldn’t be any question of what that means. Maybe if you guys were after hours talking about things that merged personal life like “I have to postpone the conference call because my partner is in the hospital”, that could go either way.

Just be careful though, you may have gained some insight on this persons inner workings. Granted it shouldn’t really matter in a purely business sense but it can let you know who you’re potentially dealing with a little better.

In any kind of work context there should be no confusion, but just to be sure, use “business partner.” And don’t do business with anyone who would flat out ask “are you gay?”. Talk about inappropriate questions…

Actually the conversation went like this

Me: I’ll get my guy to contact you, I won’t be around then.
Client: YOU HAVE A GUY?!
Me: Uh, my partner.
Client: Oh, so you’re…
Me: No, my business partner.



And no, I believe I don’t look like that type of guy.
(Not that there’s anything wrong with that)

Could be that just is one of those overly boisterous types of guys and that’s just his personality. I know a couple of “almost archie bunker” types. Very possible nothing’s meant by it, see if that’s how he talks about everything (ie curses freely, etc…) If he normally seems like a regular reserved professional and then this just came up, big warning sign. If he seems like this all the time, it’s still sucky, but it may not have a bad intention. He could just be one of those types of button pushing, “saying things to get a reaction” and stand out types.

I’ll get my guy to contact you, I won’t be around then.

The English word “my”, a pronoun, is defined as: of or belonging to me

But regardless of the literal translation, I have never been partial to using “my” when referring to another human being who is an employee or business associate. Used in the vernacular* of “American” English, it may (not will) impart a disrespectful sense of ownership when used in this manner; the words “slave”, and “possession” come to mind.

That said, there may be a cultural implication between Japan and the United States that I am unaware of.

  • vernacular / n. 1 language or dialect of a particular country 2 language of a particular class or group 3 common speech

I’ll get my guy to contact you, I won’t be around then.

You could have said “I’ll have my people contact you” and you would have sounded like a slightly douchey ad exec or lawyer. Saying “my guy” implies you have a manservant who follows you around wearing a monkey butler suit with a little red tassled cap. Just kidding. Context is everything in language. Although it’s not the way a native American English speaker would typically phrase it, I think what you said was fine and wouldn’t have been misunderstood by anyone I know.

partner… funny term now days…

Marriage is a business relationship… you know when you get a divorce from your significant other the judge will say you entered a business relationship as he determines who gets the house or the 1.2 kids…

I always wondered why our gay brothers don’t just enter into a business relationship and take stock. Leave God out of it as many believe marriage is a dead institution anyway and a license to have children. (excuse me if your happily married)

The term partner … has lost is business edge in the mid 90’s as a term describing ones business partner referencing or coinciding with the term ‘buddy pass’ that reefers to the free ticket your mom gives you for flying free on united.

partner = lover or significant other

My lover will have your back if you don’t pay up in 30 days.

Gad zooks…try living in a very open city like Vancouver. I have resorted to using the term “Business Partner” in all context…well…unless I am trying to make someone uncomfortable.

After getting the hairy eyeball whenever I would say “partner” I had to make the switch to “business partner”

Now, to add a little humor to the whole thing…my business has 4 partners…and they’re all men. Throw that in the mix…

me: “I’m meeting Bruce, one of my partners, for lunch.”
them: “Bruce?”
me: “Ya, he’s my partner”
them: “You have more than one partner” (eyeball is gets hairier and hairier as the conversation goes on)
me: Ya, we don’t see each other too often because we’re busy doing our own thing, but we try and hook up once a week as a group"