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A boyfriend no defense from getting hit on

By Audrey Irvine, CNN
A woman doesn't need a ring to be committed to her boyfriend, says Audrey Irvine.
A woman doesn't need a ring to be committed to her boyfriend, says Audrey Irvine.
  • Having a boyfriend is no longer a protection from men on the hunt, columnist says
  • Guy hits on writer, says boyfriend doesn't matter
  • He says, "I just want to ... really broaden your mind to the possibilities"
  • Writer blames Beyoncé and song "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)"

Editor's note: Audrey Irvine is a senior assignment manager for CNN. Her experiences in the dating world inspire her "Relationship Rant" column. Check back every week for her take on dating and relationships.

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- When did the term "boyfriend" become obsolete? I must have somehow missed the memo.

One day, I was at the mall running errands when I heard a persistent "excuse me" that got louder and closer the faster I walked. I slowed down, realizing this guy was speaking to me.

We make eye contact, and he says, "Did you know you are beautiful?" I never know how to answer that; it always feels like a trap. If I say "yes," I'm arrogant. If I say "no," then I seem like I'm being coy, begging for compliments. I simply reply, "Thanks."

"Mr. Excuse Me" continues walking with me, then after a couple of more questions asks if he could have my phone number. Hesitantly I reply, "I have a boyfriend."

His response throws me for a loop. This man counters with, "Oh that's fine. I just want to get to know you and really broaden your mind to the possibilities."

What? Are you serious? Where in this scenario of me, the boyfriend and you would the broadening of my mind occur? I'm sure my boyfriend would love to know that in addition to the overpriced moisturizer and unnecessary fall lip gloss, I managed to pick up a potential male friend who wants to broaden my mind.

It isn't enough these days to say you have a boyfriend. The term has become almost as laughable as admitting that you use a Walkman instead of an iPod. Let's see whom can we blame for this?

I blame Beyoncé. That's right, Beyoncé.

What started out as a nice dance song to shake your butt this summer has managed to erode away that beautiful stage after dating and before marriage -- the boyfriend.

"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" has become a pop culture phenomenon. It has been mimicked in hundreds of incarnations on YouTube, even recently in an episode of "Glee." But somehow our obsession with the "put a ring on it" mentality has made the concept of boyfriend and girlfriend one that no longer warrants respect.

The catchy line, "If you like it, then you should have put a ring on it" has become a sword for some women -- a weapon that they wield at men challenging their relationship. I guess no ring means the relationship is no longer valid. "Mr. Excuse Me" probably figured no ring equals no real relationship.

After all, why would anyone consider a boyfriend a commitment, right? Consider according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2008, 95.9 million people 18 and older are unmarried.

Even more staggering, 53 percent of those unmarried Americans are women. With those numbers, it's a wonder anyone would think that a committed relationship would have any validity. Many people simply think that a boyfriend is an audition for a commitment.

I know equally as many married couples and unmarried yet committed couples. The irony is that the couples I know who are sans the piece of paper tend to be more open, honest and less dysfunctional. Don't get me wrong. I have absolutely nothing against marriage. I have a problem with people who have no respect for commitment regardless of the piece of paper.

For fall, let's hope that Beyoncé will come out with an anthem that will work for those of us who may not have the ring but cherish any commitment. If you can dance to it, that's even better.