The problem: I’m 60-plus years old. I’m just too old to have a “girlfriend.” It sounds so juvenile. What do we older folks call that person? “Significant other” and/or “partner” are horrendous terms. Is there something more appropriate for me?

Low road: You probably want to avoid “Old Paint.” 

High road: The good news is that the ranks of long-term unmarrieds is growing quickly (including yours truly), so there’s certainly less pressure for you to sweat over this.

I agree that “significant other” sounds academic and “partner” sounds all business, but they work in a pinch. It’s also true that “girlfriend/boyfriend” is difficult to spit out when you’ve already owned a series of AARP tote bags.

One idea: Try good-natured humor. “Please meet Lois, Keeper of my Crap,” or “Do you know Joe, the Sleep Number 35 to my Sleep Number 55?”

The best approach, though, is the simplest. Introduce your honey/squeeze/love interest by his or her first name: “Have you met Harry/Sally?” To minimize confusion, do this while standing close or, better, while holding hands. 

Send questions about life’s little quandaries to Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at