What to call a lady you are dating,especially secretly, even though you are married?

I think the word mistress can be used but it sounds as if it is an outdated word,which we use it in my own language, and it connotes a situation as if the married guy is richer than the girl and kind of fends for her. But I am here talking about a regular relationship that people love each other without material expectations.

And is there a guy version of it as well?

An another related question is that what is the difference between paramour and girlfriend.

Can you introduce your girlfriend or boyfriend as a paramour like :

  • let me introduce my paramour ...
  • 3
    If you are worried about outdated language, steer clear of paramour, at least in the U.S.
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 16:48
  • 4
    This isn't your question, but "How do you call a girl" means "How do you contact a girl," as with a telephone. You meant either "What do you call a girl..." or "How do you refer to a girl."
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 21:30
  • 2
    One last thing: Since we are discussing someone of marriageable age, consider the answers you were given here: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/46156/… before referring to her as a "girl."
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 21:33
  • 2
    You're welcome. Want one more little thing? Feedback, like information is not a countable noun. I am glad you found the feedback useful! I try to be helpful with my feedback. I hope you don't find this piece of feedback annoying. (The last sentence demonstrates how to distinguish between all of the feedback and a countable subset.) :-)
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 23:08
  • @Adam Thank you.I am happy you point out my grammar mistakes on my questions.
    – Mrt
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 0:10

4 Answers 4


British slang has lots of phrases for this, including 'fancy woman' and 'bit on the side', but I don't know if they'd be understood outside Britain.

'Paramour' is an archaic word. I wouldn't use it at all unless I was writing a fantasy novel. The same goes for 'concubine'.

'Mistress' doesn't have the connotations you describe to me, and is the word I would use if it wasn't already clear that the man was married. If it was, I would probably say 'girlfriend'.

A term that could be used for either gender is 'lover'.

  • 7
    +1 for "lover", which is probably the most common term in the US.
    – stangdon
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 17:17
  • 4
    In the U.S., bit on the side would be understood, although not used. Side action is similar and not uncommon in the U.S. (Q: Who was that redhead I saw John with yesterday? A: That's his side action.) Fancy woman is never used in the United States. Until reading this answer, I had always thought it meant slut/prostitute, when it came up in my BBC crime shows.
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 17:34

Mistress is precisely the word you're looking for and not archaic or obsolete. US English dictionaries: MW (4a), Wikipedia, TFD (1); British English dictionaries: Collins (1), Cambridge (2), Oxford (2). In English, it doesn't imply that the man is taking care of the woman financially or is significantly older, though it is a common choice (probably the most common) in this situation.

This is the best and most correct choice. It's not specific to a particular dialect, unambiguously defines the situation, and is acceptable in formal registers. However, it's worth noting a few things:

  • Mistress doesn't entail secrecy, but there is a connotation of it, and it is usually inferred. Most men wouldn't want their wives finding out that they're sleeping with another woman; this is understood.
  • While not outdated or obsolete, it's not a new word or usage, and it's formal. If you're hanging out with your bros and swapping dirt on who you're bangin', you might raise some eyebrows by saying you've got a mistress. Match your diction to the context.
  • Mistress is the typical title for a dominatrix, though that's a different definition of mistress. It's very unlikely that the two terms would end up being conflated in conversation, but it's not impossible in the the right context.

Other potential synonyms, and reasons they don't quite fit what you're after:

  • Lover - doesn't specify a gender or matrimonial state of any party (though it's definitely unusual to refer to one's spouse as one's lover, it's not incorrect). The right context will make the meaning you want understood: if you tell me you've taken a lover and I know that you're married, then I'll understand. However, lover on its own won't convey the necessary information.
  • Girlfriend - a woman the man is seeing and not married to, but this is most commonly used when the man isn't married. Again, context makes a difference; if you introduce her as your girlfriend to someone who knows you're married, this fits the bill. But if the listener doesn't know you're married, it won't.
  • Something involving [on the] side (e.g. side action) - slang, not gender specific (without something like woman), and doesn't entail that the man is married (though it does mean that he has some sort of other, primary relationship).
  • Paramour - archaic, not gender specific, and doesn't necessarily mean that the man is involved with another woman (married or not). It means that the couple's love is somehow illicit, but there may be other reasons for this than cheating on one's spouse. This does have the advantage of connoting secrecy much more strongly than mistress.

ELU has been asked for the equivalent term for a man sleeping with a married woman, and it seems there really isn't a direct match.


You don't say what country you are in, but here in North America you would say lover or possibly even girlfriend. However, this sort of thing is frowned upon in polite North American society. We aren't like the French when it comes to more than one partner. If you were to introduce this person, to avoid any discomfort you would simply introduce them as your friend.


Another currently popular term, at least on social media, is "side chick". However, this is extremely informal (often somewhat sexual); the top result when searching for the definition of this term is Urban Dictionary, so it may have limited use for you. It is also not generally used in the presence of said "chick", but I'm not sure what your use-case is.

  • Side chick sounds like a mash-up of "a bit on the side" and "chick". Me like! Is this slang, British English by chance?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 15:18

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