My wife has developed an annoying habit. She calls me honey. It sounds like a term of endearment, but for some reason it makes me cringe. It’s never “Honey, let’s have sex.” It’s always a variation of “Honey, why did you do that?” or “Honey, can you please take care of that already?” What can I do? It feels weird to ask her to stop. —L.R., New Orleans, Louisiana
And yet you must. The most intimate way to address your partner is by his or her first name, but many couples do so only when they’re having a fight or after they’ve broken up. In their book Stop Calling Him Honey...and Start Having Sex!, Maggie Arana and Julienne Davis argue that the use of “honey,” “sweetie” and other nicknames is the “first step down the slippery slope toward a bland or nonexistent sex life.” That’s because a vital part of sexual attraction is viewing your partner as a separate, independent entity, not half of a whole, and the most important way to acknowledge a person as an individual is to use his or her name. (Repeat a customer service rep’s name on the phone and see how much more you get done.) Using pet names for a grown man desexualizes him, say Arana and Davis, turning him into a cuddly teddy bear. Where’s the harm? “ ‘Honey’ will bring you a warm cup of cocoa,” they point out, “but ‘honey’ is not going to fuck you.” Couples who hope to avoid turning into roommates must also banish baby talk and stop calling each other Mommy and Daddy.
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