First, an individual who I do not know well, but with whom I've had very frank and warm interactions, asked me if "your friend" would be able to make an event and stated that she would like to meet her. I know I've used the word "partner" with her. I've possibly used the word "girlfriend," and I've definitely made reference to us having shopped for our house together and so forth.
Then, I was talking to a coworker, who is not someone I'm necessarily close to, but someone with whom I definitely feel friendly and with whom it's typical that we discuss our weekends and so forth. I mentioned to her that Molly and I were going to be driving a truck of stuff from the midwest to Boston in January, and she said something like, "Wow, driving across those cold states in January -- you're a really good friend!"
The way I read it, the first person's comment seemed more like she just happened to come up with a word that wouldn't be the one preferred by me, or by most anyone in referring to one's significant other. It still struck me as a bit odd though, given that I'm sure she has a lot of friends in same-sex partnerships and/or unmarried partnerships, given the type of work she does and the types of organizations to which she belongs. I do think it's entirely possible that she's valuing of people as people and of legal equality, yet still holds some sort of view that we aren't a full-fledged relationship.
The second person's comment seemed to me to also be intended harmlessly, but had somewhat of an implication that she's learned from somewhere that same-sex couples aren't expected to be as dedicated to one another. She's always asked about Molly when we chat, and she's also someone who's very involved in diverse and progressive circles. Yet something struck me as strange that she stated that I was "a good friend" because I was helping my partner drive a truck of stuff in the middle of the winter. Would she think it would be unremarkable for me to just decide I'd rather not do it? For what it's worth, I also know her husband and they seem to have a really good relationship. I wouldn't think either of them would even consider it an option not to help each other out with a similar task. So has she somehow absorbed the idea that I'm "being a good friend" rather than doing what most reasonable people would consider is pretty much an expectation? Or is it more that she's absorbed the type of language disparity that the other person has, and she's in fact just intending to provide me with the feedback that I'm being appropriately faithful?