Terms of Endearment (The Annoying Kind)



An incident I witnessed and sort of took part in at a home decor store inspired this post. It went a little something like this…

Girlfriend: Baby, do you like this painting?

Boyfriend: Uh-huh.

Girlfriend: Baby, what about this one?

Girlfriend: Do you like this painting baby?

Girlfriend: Baby, what do you think about this painting baby?

Boyfriend: I like it.

Girlfriend: Baby, really baby?

Me: YES! Baby likes it!

To be completely honest, I didn’t mean to say it out loud. But I did. Then I smiled and walked away. I wasn’t sure what the appropriate course of action was and I’ve found a smile and quick get-away usually covers all my social awkwardness. I didn’t mean to be rude, well I meant to be a little rude, but this girl was driving me mental with all the “baby” shiz. I mean, I don’t know if maybe she doesn’t realize it but, that guy was not a baby. And if she thought she was dating an actual baby then I have to question her sanity/ethics.

More likely, she was just caught in the trap of cute pet names. Almost every couple has them although not every couple is this annoying. Believe it or not, I myself have been called pet names in the past. And you know what I think? I don’t really care for them. Well, to be more specific, I don’t care for most of them. So I decided to make a list of acceptable and unacceptable pet names. That way, it makes it really easy for anyone who wants to call me something sweet to know what I like and what may get them punched in the gut/broken-up with.

Acceptable pet names

Sweetheart. Simple, sweet, and because of it’s length, you are less likely to overuse it. I will also accept sweets or sweetness. But not sweetie. Never sweetie.

Darling. Elegant and classic. Again, it’s not typically overused.

First initial. I once dated a guy who always called me by my first initial. I loved it. I really did. It was something no one else called me so it seemed like such an intimate pet name.

Unacceptable pet names

Dollface. Dont’ you dare. Don’t you even dare. I am not a doll. I mean, am I the only one who feels like this is a super condescending thing to say to a woman? We are *probably* not in a speakeasy and this is not the 1920’s. I am not a mobsters girlfriend although, I can jitterbug like crazy. Anyway, don’t call me dollface. Or doll. For real.

Love. My grandmother (not Grammy, the other one) calls everyone “love” so, if you call me “love”, I automatically think of my grandmother and that is probably not the intended effect. BUT- if you have a sexy accent then it’s no problem at all. Also, if you call me “lover” I’m probably ok with that because it’s cheeky enough not to be annoying.

Babe. OVERUSED. People call their significant others this like, every other sentence. Ick.

Baby. My life is not a Justin Bieber song. And I will NOT appreciate you trying to make it one. This is grounds for immediate dismissal as boyfriend. Also, even though I sometimes cry for no reason, I’m not *actually* a baby so don’t call me one.

Princess. You call me this and  I will physically fight you.

I don’t know. Is it just me? I know that all of these are intended terms of endearment but….they just come off so patronizing and annoying. Really, really annoying. Even the acceptable pet names are super annoying when they are overused. What do you guys think? Yay or Nay?

41 thoughts on “Terms of Endearment (The Annoying Kind)

  1. Terms of Endearment (The Annoying Kind) | Dream | Read | Travel. says:

    […] Terms of Endearment (The Annoying Kind). […]

  2. Sarah says:

    I am a new reader to your site after a friend of mine recommeded me to it. You are hilarious. Ok so I dont know if you will see this because this is a post from so long ago but I have to say, I agree with you on all of this.

    YET, my boyfriend of 6 plus years, insists on freaking calling me Princess any chance he gets. I tell him, “I am no princess, I am a tomboy. Princesses, dont do the things that I do.”
    But he still calls me it. His reason?

    Its because my name (Sarah) means Princess in hebrew. So I guess I understand why he calls me it. BUT it doesnt mean I like it. At all….

  3. Jaycee says:

    “Babe” and “baby” are the most overused pet names EVER. Couples that end every sentence with “babe” are incredibly annoying.
    My family is from Indonesia, and my aunt and uncle call each other “yang” short for “sayang” which is Indonesian for “love.” I’d actually like being called “love,” but I especially like “sayang.”

  4. reocochran says:

    I do think the tone can help or not at times when pet names are used or the context. Like when my Grandma would ask, “Be a dear and get me…” was sweet. But when a man I am dating says, “Yes, dear,” there is definitely a tone of annoyance. Or maybe I am hear it?

  5. val says:

    I’ve dated a guy off and on for a few years now, and he either calls me “girl”, or “doll”, never by my given name; and I’ve told him numerous times to stop it, but he persists. I think it’s objectifying, and he can’t bring himself to call me by my given name because that might indicate I actually mean something to him. He claims that they are terms of endearment that he’s always used in a relationship, but I’ve actually heard his ex’s name spoken more often than my own. What say you guys, what’s your take on this?

    1. lacie says:

      Me too! A guy I like has taken to calling me girl. Its Hey girl! Nice to talk to you girl…etc… I don’t know. He’s shy and all but I feel it’s a little disrespectful. I don’t think he means it that way, I just hadn’t figured out how to explain it to him without hurting him. In your case though, I would demand he figure out something else.

  6. xXspidergirlXx says:

    Bleeeuuuurrrrgggghhhh… I absolutely hate being called “love” by anyone, probably because I live in Wales, where if a random stranger bumps into you, they say “sorry, love” instead of just a simple apology. I just don’t like pet names in general, they always seem too sappy and gross. I don’t mind name-shortenings or first initials sometimes, though. And I have a couple of real-life friends who call me spidergirl.

    1. girlonthecontrary says:

      Haha! My Grandma is Welsh and she always says “love”, which is probably why I don’t want anyone I’m romantically interested in to call me that. :)

  7. acleansurface says:

    After I read the quoted conversation, I objected to the fact that Girlfriend dragged her boyfriend shopping when he clearly wasn’t interested and then peppered him with repetitive requests for opinions about things. Now THAT is annoying, if you ask me.

  8. Kierranne says:

    I LOVE this post, I just have to say. I’m in highschool, and I’ve only dated one guy, but he calls me ‘sweetheart’, and I love that. And, why yes, I do frequently want to throw up when I hear other couples using pet names like ‘baby’ and ‘dollface’ (was surprised to hear that one, but also very annoyed) and ‘sexy’, which unfortunately, has become a common pet name among some couples I know but wish that I didn’t. :P
    So thank you SO much for this post- now I know I’m not the only insane one who wishes death to those who are annoying in this manner. Well, I probably am not that bad….. I think.. :D

    1. girlonthecontrary says:

      I’m so glad you agree!!! Sweetheart is nice but if your boyfriend starts calling you “sexy” as if it’s your name, you might want to have a talk with him. :)

  9. suchmeagerinsight says:

    I quite enjoyed your commentary on pet names and agree with just about everything. Babe and baby are my least favorite (I always think of the movie Hot Rod when I hear those). I also dislike honey, possibly because I generally hear that from waitresses who take one look at me and think I should be ordering off the kids’ menu. In general, I definitely prefer personalization when anyone is addressing me. I’ve always felt that my name has great meaning to me, and I don’t wish anyone to trivialize it with something they call their cat. Unfortunately, I am very picky about names. I wouldn’t be surprised it that isn’t another reason why I, too, am quite decidedly single. :D

  10. Ashley Nicole Summers says:

    This is hilarious. I remember the very first time my ex started using his pet name for me, “mami.” The first thing I did was look it up on urban dictionary. It means “hot ass Latina.” I was instantly disturbed 1) because I am not a hot ass Latina – more of a pale ass Irish girl – and 2) I’m not on board with the whole calling of the significant other a parental nickname – I’m not your Mommy, you’re not my Daddy and let’s keep it that way. For whatever reason, I couldn’t just tell him that I hated it. Even worse, it started to become endearing to me. Alas, the nickname should have been my first cue to run far and fast and never look back.

    Pet names should be individual and based on personal experience. Things like hun and sweet(insert 2nd word here) are too generic. And, in general, if you can call your little brother one of these names, you shouldn’t also call your boyfriend/fiance/husband by it.

    1. girlonthecontrary says:

      I like the “if you call your brother that, don’t call your boyfriend that” rule. It’s brilliant! Thanks for reading!!

    2. Jenn says:

      Ashley, I’m assuming your ex was Hispanic/Latino? “Mami” and “Papi” is more of a CULTURAL THING. It has nothing to do with being condescending or sexist or some sort of red flag in a relationship. So many non-Latinos seem confused by this pet name especially in intercultural relationships. Maybe I can shed some light on this…

      While it literally means Mom and Dad and yes that’s what you call your parents, it also means Honey or Sweetheart and can be used not only amongst couples but also for your children or even amongst friends or strangers. Think of it as how “Love” is used in the UK. Couples call each other “love” but also call their kids “love” and even strangers on the street are called “love”, such as if you bump into someone you could say “Sorry, love”. That’s exactly what Mami and Papi mean, except it is also used for your Mother and Father. Mami/Papi is the Hispanic version of “Love”.

      I’m half Hispanic and half White/Caucasian and born and raised in South Florida. Often times I’m called “Mami” by female and male friends especially with Cuban heritage. My dentist who is a Cuban woman and very professional calls me “mami”.

      Also a lot of parents call they’re kids mami or papi. Like a mom or dad will tell her/his daughter at the playground: “Mami, stop putting sand down your shirt!” This is the Spanish language for you – one word can have so many different uses.

      The types of people who use the Mami/Papi (in the non-parental way) the most are Caribbean Latinos (Cubans / Puerto Ricans / Dominicans) and I think it’s due to African slave influences in their culture. Some Mexicans (which are technically North Americans) use mami/papi as well. But it’s more rarely used by Central American hispanics and South American hispanics (with the exception of Colombians who often use the term). In fact, Colombian actress Sofia Vergara (of ABC’S Modern Family) often calls her son, “Papi”. Cuban rapper Pitbull calls almost every female from his daughters to his friends to whatever hoochie he’s dating at the moment “Mami”.

      So if your ex-boyfriend turned out to be a d-bag, it has nothing to do with him calling you “mami”. That’s just like saying sweetheart or honey. He was a d-bag because he was a d-bag but not because of some cultural pet name.

  11. Paladin says:

    My petname for my Wife is J – her first initial. I’m the only one that calls her that and I can’t even remember back far enough to recall when I first started doing it. Just seemed natural.

    The least favorite petname I’ve ever heard come out of someone’s mouth came from a guy I used to work with. He called his wife “Mother”. And no… she wasn’t actually his mother, but it was creepy all the same. :)

    Cool blog, fellow Texan.

  12. teo says:

    Long time ago I’ve read an article saying, that using long and complex pet names, like in some Arabic literature, will “give your relationship that special spark” or something. So next time you could try stuff like: “the color of my world”, “the apple of my eye”, “the sweetest of all flowers”, “the queen of my heart”, “the light of my eyes”, etc. You can let your creativity go wild here ;)

  13. Pkitass says:

    I agree with you.
    My favorite nicknames are the following:
    Fea which means ugly but he didn’t mean it that way.
    Pecas which means freckles or sin
    Pork Chop this nickname use to make mad but now I think it’s cute.

  14. The Good Greatsby says:

    My wife and I never use pet names unless we’re purposely trying to annoy people. “Babe. Hey, babe. You ready to order, babe? Babe. You ready for the waitress to take our order, babe? Babe. Hey, babe.”

  15. xmichra says:

    With Mark and I the refrence is usually ‘Hun’, or just our names. lol…. we are freaking romance accrobats over here. sometimes I will call him markaroni. But I can hardly think of a good reason why. lol…

    The kids have plenty of nickt names though. Kira usually gets called bean , angel-pie or in rare instance by her father; chicken poo (which i suppose is common, sickening and lastly gross to those who arent in the know) and Isabella gets called Boo, sugar-pie or Booker-T (which is slightly better but the booker-t throws people). Actually Isabella has a plethora of nick names: boog, boogy, booger-lou, booger, badigans, Bells, Bella and B. They all seem to fit, and she responds so … that’s good!

    1. girlonthecontrary says:

      I like Markaroni. Also, kids pet names are free for all, I only object to couple pet names. I call kids all kinds of crazy pet names. Which is probably why I don’t like them as an adult- they make me feel as if someone is talking to me like I’m a child.

  16. marinasleeps says:

    Ha ha loved your take on this. I think in that situation … yeah baby was a bit overdone!
    I however do use Babe and so does my hubby… its how we know we aren’t mad at each other. If he starts calling me Marina I know he is annoyed by something.
    He calls me Babe or Mama…
    and I call Babe or Patton ( you had to have a read a past blog)… but don;t worry we dont sound like that.
    God no! I wanted to slap myself after suffering that experience with you.

    1. girlonthecontrary says:

      I can forgive you because I know you would never overuse “babe”. But if you did, we might have to have a very serious discussion.

  17. cooper says:

    Babycakes? Nah that probably won’t fly…
    Dreamboat? A bit outdated..
    Sweetcheeks? Yeah, I’m not going to go there…
    Light of my life? ::::gag:::::
    You fine thang: i don’t see that being a popular one in texas
    Moist Muffin: surely a black eye would follow that phrase
    Coffeemate? Sounds like someone who still lives with their mother…
    Sugarplum dumpling; ‘dumpling’ in and of itself conjures pillsbury dough-boy images. not a good thing

    one last thought, ‘baby’ was probably wishing he had a 20 pound claw hammer nearby…

    1. girlonthecontrary says:

      Babycakes. My brain might explode into gooey bits of skull and rage.
      Dreamboat. Actually….I like that a lot. I frequently refer to people as “dreamboat” but I’ve never called a boyfriend that. Still, I love a throwback.
      Sweetcheeks. Only if it’s a girl calling a guy that. I find men are much less touchy about objectification.
      Light of my life. I second your gag. Motion to gag passes.
      You Fine Thang. No words….just sadly shaking my head.
      Moist Muffin. I’m going to need to gag again and then I can proceed to becoming physically violent.
      Coffeemate. I can’t imagine this being said in any kind of romantic context.
      Sugarplum Dumpling. Just makes me want some type of baked good.

  18. bearyweather says:

    Sweetheart reminds me of the old tv Bewitched series … I never felt they said it with meaning, so I did not like it…. it seemed cumbersome – too long a name when there is no passion behind it.

    What about “honey”?

    Curious …. what pet names are okay for you to use for the man you are dating (when you are dating)?

    1. girlonthecontrary says:

      I don’t mind ‘honey” so much, but that’s another one that can very easily be overused, so I would say it was acceptable in moderation.

      As for me, I don’t really use pet names so much. Occasionally, I might say “Thanks sweetheart.” (Although, I promise I use it with loads more emotion than that heartless witch Samantha) or, if I’m feeling silly, “Hey pumpkin!” I had a boyfriend I used to call “mishka” which supposedly means teddy bear in Russian, but I don’t speak Russian and so can’t say for certain. I don’t really use pet names that much though….wich maybe partly to blame for my single status. Huh.

  19. twentysomethingblogging says:

    Please refer to http://twentysomethingblogging.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/something-like-that/
    to find out why my boyfriend calls me Pork Chop. I may or may not totally love that he calls me that. (Totally love it)
    He also calls me the first initial of my name, but so do most of the people I know. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was called by my full name and not a nickname…I feel like names that start with ‘T’ have a significantly better chance of being turned into nicknames.

    My ex used to call me Babe incessantly…and now my boyfriend and I call each other that as a joke, in a ridiculous, whiny, Jersey Shore-esque voice. It cracks us up.

    1. girlonthecontrary says:

      Dude. I LOVE that your boyfriend calls you pork-chop. See, it’s the private little jokes that make it special. Although, I knew a girl whose boyfriend called her Jaba the Hut and she thought it was cute but I have to say, I found it pretty insulting.

  20. aka gringita says:

    I must confess: I call my nieces “Love.” (To be fair though, they really are the little loves of my life. And it’s NOT used as a “datey” term of endearment in their case.)

    I have an aunt and uncle who call each other “Schweetie” all the time. Yes, that’s how they say it, And in a babytalk voice. I love how in love they are after all these years, but the babytalk-petname combo just makes me want to vomit.

    1. girlonthecontrary says:

      No worries, I can get behind calling family “love”. But when it comes to significant others….ummm….no.

      Also, babytalk-petname combos make me want scream/act violently. Luckily for people who do that, I’m able to channel my rage/violence into merciless ridicule which I’m sure they prefer.

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