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What is bae in dating?

Bae is a slang term used in dating and relationships that refers to your boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other. It comes from the acronym “B.A.E.” meaning “Before Anyone Else”. Calling someone bae shows that they are your main romantic partner and top priority. Bae became popular around the early 2010s and is still widely used today, especially among younger generations.

The origin and history of bae

The exact origins of the slang term bae are unclear, but it gained widespread popularity in 2014. Linguists trace its earliest usage back to as early as 2003 from hip hop and R&B lyrics. Bae comes from the acronym B.A.E. meaning “before anyone else”. The term bae was likely first used in the African American community and spread through social media sites like Twitter. By 2014, bae had become a widely recognized slang term across American pop culture for your romantic partner. It was even named the American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year in 2014.

The usage of bae highlights how modern slang is rapidly spread online. Although its exact beginnings are vague, bae went from a niche slang term to mainstream recognition in just a couple years. The term took off as people used it both ironically and sincerely on social media and in music. Bae gave people a quick and catchy nickname for romantic partners as relationship talk grew across social media.

How is bae used in modern dating culture?

In modern dating culture, bae is used as a term of endearment and affection for your main romantic partner. People often use bae casually in texts, social media, memes, and conversations to refer to their boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other. It signals that the person is special and your top priority. Some key ways bae is used include:

  • Affectionate nickname – “I love you bae!”
  • Captioning social media photos – “Bae goals!”
  • Greeting texts – “Hey bae, how’s your day?”
  • Referring to your #1 partner – “I can’t go out tonight, I’m seeing bae.”

Younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z seem especially fond of using bae rather than “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”. It offers a quick, informal way to refer to your main squeeze in modern dating communication. However, bae is versatile enough to be used both casually and also more sincerely between established couples. It is a popular nickname alternative along with “boo”, “baeboo”, and “babe.”

What does it mean to call someone bae?

Calling someone bae implies:

  • Exclusivity – They are your main #1 partner.
  • Priority – You put them before anyone else romantically.
  • Intimacy – You feel a close romantic bond.
  • Affection – You have deep care and love for them.

Bae signifies a serious romantic relationship status. It indicates they are your top choice and most important person when it comes to romance, intimacy, and dating. Bae is often reserved for established couples rather than new flings or talking stages. Using bae suggests commitment, closeness, and priorities within the relationship.

When and how often should you say bae?

There are no set rules for when and how often to use bae. Since it’s casual and informal, many people use it liberally when interacting with their partner. Common times when bae enters conversations include:

  • Texting – “Good morning bae!”
  • Social media posts – “Bae looking cute today!”
  • Phone calls – “Hey bae, I’ll be home in 20 minutes.”
  • In person – “I love you bae.”
  • Making plans – “Bae, are we still on for dinner tonight?”

Using bae during lighthearted interactions shows affection between partners. However, bae can also be used sincerely during deeper conversations about the relationship when you want to emphasize how much they mean to you.

How often you say bae depends on your personal preference. Some people use it in almost every conversation with their #1 partner. Others use it more sporadically just when they feel extra affectionate. There are no set rules, so use bae at your own comfort level within the relationship.

Who can you call bae?

Bae is reserved for serious romantic partners rather than casual flings. Appropriate relationship statuses to use bae include:

  • Boyfriend or girlfriend – Your main exclusive partner.
  • Husband or wife – Your spouse.
  • Fiancé or fiancée – Your engaged partner.
  • Long-term relationship – After establishing commitment.

Bae signifies a deeper connection beyond crush or talking stages. It implies intimacy, emotions, and commitments are involved. People generally do not use bae for:

  • Hookups
  • Situationships
  • Friends with benefits
  • First few dates
  • Talking stages
  • Crushes

Using bae too soon could give the wrong impression about the level of commitment and priority in a new relationship. Wait until establishing exclusivity before introducing bae into the dynamic.

Is bae used for all genders and sexual orientations?

Yes, bae is commonly used across genders and sexual orientations. It originated from African American culture that tends to have more flexible gender language. Bae provides a nice gender-neutral alternative to “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.”

Some examples of bae in LGBTQ relationships include:

  • A man referring to his boyfriend as bae
  • A woman referring to her girlfriend as bae
  • A non-binary person referring to their partner as bae

People of all sexual orientations use bae too. It signifies the top romantic partner in both heterosexual and same-sex couples. The flexibility and inclusiveness of bae makes it popular across millennials and Gen Z.

What are some alternatives for bae?

While bae is widely used, some people prefer other slang terms of endearment. Alternatives to call your romantic partner include:

  • Babe
  • Baby
  • Boo
  • Dear
  • Honey

More personalized options include calling your partner by a nickname or simply “love.” There are many options besides bae that express affection within relationships. However, bae remains one of the most popular modern relationship terms, especially among younger demographics.

How is bae different from boo or babe?

Bae, boo, and babe are often used interchangeably as slang terms of endearment for romantic partners. However, there are some subtle differences:

Term Meaning Connotation
Bae Before Anyone Else Prioritizing your #1 partner
Boo Shortened from “beau” Endearing, sometimes playful
Babe Affectionate form of “baby” Adoring, loving

Bae conveys making your partner your top priority while boo and babe are more general terms of endearment. However, these terms are often interchangeable based on personal preference.

What are some relationship milestones around saying bae?

Some common relationship milestones when bae starts being used include:

  • Becoming exclusive – Solidifying a monogamous relationship
  • First “I love you’s” – Sharing deep intimacy and emotions
  • Meeting family and friends – Integrating your lives
  • Moving in together – Taking a big commitment step
  • Long-term planning – Making far future plans together

These examples demonstrate bae signifies a serious, committed relationship. It often naturally develops alongside deepening intimacy, connections, and commitments over time between partners. People typically wait until after establishing exclusivity and intimacy before using bae.

Does using bae have any downsides?

Some potential downsides of using bae frequently include:

  • Overusing it can make it lose meaning
  • Might not suit some people’s tastes
  • Could be confusing in a casual relationship
  • May not translate well across generations
  • Can sound immature if used excessively

However, when used appropriately bae is a fun, catchy way to show affection. Just be mindful of using it at suitable times with an exclusive partner you have an established romantic bond with.


Bae is a widely used modern relationship slang term in dating culture. It signifies a special endearing nickname for your main romantic partner that implies intimacy, commitment, and prioritization of them. Bae became popular online around 2014 but its origins likely trace back earlier. It provides a gender-neutral way to refer to your #1 boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other across various generations and demographics. Using bae shows your partner they are your top priority before anyone else romantically. It’s a quick way to say “I love you” across modern forms of communication.