In the brief period of my stay here in Sweden, I have encountered some words that are so perfect, that I want to buy them coffee, ask them out on a date, and maybe ask them to marry me. Each of these words captures a unique relationship dynamic more precisely than “roomies” or “partners” and it shows how the language can catch up with the modern social practices, which are constantly changing. When it comes to being politically correct and to the point, no-one does it like the Swedes.
It seems that, to my knowledge, these do not exist in other languages. I believe it would make everyone’s lives easier if we all were to use them. My solution is, therefore, to spread my favorite and most useful Swedish words that decribe relationships to the rest of the world, so that the relationship status “it’s complicated” vanishes forever. It is not complicated, it is just not in Swedish!
Here they go:
It comes from the word “sammanboende,” or “living together”. What to call that person who you’re not married to, but have a long-term, committed relationship with (without waisting this much breath)? SAMBO! Easy as ABC.
In Sweden, it’s totally normal to live together with your partner before marriage; some people never even marry, because you can register your partner in legal documents as “sambo”, which basically has (almost) the same power. If your partner is from abroad, also, they can get a sambo Visa and come to stay in Sweden, with you! MAGIC.
Then, there are the variations of sambo, to be even more presise:
- Särbo – a partner you don’t live with (sär=apart)
- Kombo – a friend you live with
- Mambo – a parent you live with.
And then there are some less-used:
- Hobo – relationship where you financially support the other (more and more common nowadays)
- Limbo – relationship that is going nowhere but the partners are too bored, scared or lazy to leave (in my opinion, this you should “call it quits”)
- Rambo – volatile relationship where most of the time voices are raised and there are lot’s of fights (also “call it quits” 😉 ).
Plus: notice how NONE of these words have a gender attached to them, because, well, it is nobody’s bussiness. See? I told you Sweden is cool!!
P.S. If you are afraid of commitment and hate labels this might be even worse for you, so maybe keep defining your relationship status in English, where most of these words describe dance steps.
‘Till the next time!
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Image by: Simon Law | Keep it simple (CC BY SA)