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The Swedish words with no English equivalent that perfectly describe modern relationships

Are you room mates, friends with benefits, or a booty call?

Sarah Young
Tuesday 25 October 2016 16:48 BST
The young couple were one school year apart
The young couple were one school year apart (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Swedes have come up with a list of new and useful words to describe how relationship statuses work nowadays.

Modern dating is a minefield at the best of times, and it seems to only be getting more complex. Are you someone's room mate, friends with benefits or a booty call? The English language just doesn’t have the scope required to accommodate such variable romantic situations.

Referring to someone as your girlfriend or boyfriend after 12 solid years of “going out” seems infantile but calling them your partner would feel equally as unfitting. Luckily, the Swedes have got it all figured out.

If you’re fully committed to someone and have moved far beyond “seeing each other” for a few months but don’t live together you can now refer to them as ‘särbo’.

“Sambo” is one for those who hate the idea of “unwed cohabitation” which fuses amman, meaning together, and boende, meaning accommodation together. Saying “sambo” explains that you’re at a greater stage in your relationship and that you live together but aren’t married.

Interestingly, this term has been around since the 1800s when women would live with men without marrying them as a loophole to greater financial security.

If, like a huge majority of people in their 20s and 30s, you live at home with your parents you can avoid conversations about why you’re still shacked up with your mum by using the term “mambo” which is used to describe a parent that you live with.

Lastly, the Swedes have come up with a term for that truly intimate relationship the English so eloquently describe as co-tenants.

Calling the person you share your entire life with platonically as a "roomie" seems to cheapen the relationship. Instead, refer to them as your “kombo”; a combination of kompis, meaning friend, and mambo, a parent that you live with.

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