I hate pet names. First, I’m generally a grouch about sappy things. Second, pet names are often interchangeable with names we call little kids, like “sweetie,” “honey,” or the seasonally apropros “pumpkin,” which feels a bit bizarre. Why are we calling our supposed equal the words we coo at chubby-cheeked babies? It’s just not my jam. However, I’ll admit that the first time a partner calls me a term of endearment, I get the warm fuzzies. If you’re wondering, “When should I call my girlfriend babe?” you are for sure overthinking it, the same way I am overthinking the politics behind pet names. (It’s not like you are wondering if you should call her the c-word, after all.)
You can call your partner whatever name you want to, but pet names usually connote a decently serious or established relationship. Weirdly, I’ve referred to people I’ve dated more casually as “Older Dude” or “Jon Snow” to distance myself, while pet names and terms of endearment like “babe” definitely don’t get said before a relationship talk is had. As with anything that can be placed on a relationship timeline, there is no right or wrong time to start using pet names. I can’t tell you that three months is too late, or that two weeks is too soon, but I can tell you these seven things to think about before you start with the “babe, babe, babe… pass me the remote?”
1. Are You In An Actual Relationship?
Seriously, it can be hard to tell these days. Between cuffing season and commitment-phobia, it’s definitely a good idea to confirm that you are in an exclusive relaysh before throwing “baby” out there. I feel like this isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if you are worried enough about using a pet name that you are reading this article, maybe confirm that you’re in a relationship before letting the mushy-gushy words fly. Self-preservation is a thing.
2. Why Do You Want To Call Them “Babe”?
Are you looking into your partner’s eyes, listening to them describe how worried they are about North Korea nuking the West coast into oblivion, and suddenly get the urge to say something nice? I feel like it’s appropriate to trust your gut, extend your hand, and say, “Hey, babe… it’s going to be OK.” This isn’t patronizing; it’s really f*cking cute. If they just failed at parallel parking in an epic way and you are suddenly tempted to say, “Oh, sweetie, nice going…” maybe that’s not the right vibe for a first nickname. But again, to each his or her own — it’s just a word.
3. Have They Used Pet Names With You?
Yes? Then what are you waiting for? Calling them “hon” will probably make their day. Make it rainnnnn.
4. Are They The Grouchy Type (Like Me)?
If your partner is like me, and has a penchant for being a grumpy curmudgeon, maybe calling them “honey” isn’t the greatest move. Again, I don’t know you or your bae, but I feel like if you are Googling when you should call someone a pet name versus following your gut and saying “babe” when the time is right, maybe you just have a feeling that your partner won’t be down with the whole cutesy thing.
5. Do You Want Them To Call You “Babe”?
If the answer is “yes,” again, I encourage you to drop pet name hints on your “boo” like you’re Oprah: “You get a babe! You get a babe!” (Hopefully you’re dropping them all on one person.) This way, if your partner is nervous about getting all intimate via terms of endearment with you, they’ll know that kind of speak is kosher.
6. Are You Dating?
Again, just double checking here. On a first date, saying “babe” or “honey” can come across as a little much, and a little patronizing. Use your big old brain and save the pet names for once you’ve made it offish. That’s when they become sweet.
7. Do You Want To Call Them “Babe”?
Yes? Great. That’s it. Then do it, because you only live once. Cheesiness aside, life is damn short and if you are simply nervous about using a pet name with boo, do what all nervous people in relationships do and make the move and see how it goes. If your partner is anti, you’ll know immediately. One shot can’t hurt. You can always pull a whole, “Oh, sorry, that was a weird slip” excuse afterwards.
All in all, while I’m flattered you read this article, I’d remind that your gut is your best advisor when it comes to making decisions in your own personal relationships. Only you know what feels right, and it’s OK to trust your gut and sometimes be wrong. That’s called learning and it’s a very valuable thing. At the end of the day, a pet name is just a word, as long as you aren’t weighing calling your partner “sweet lips” or “apple bottom” (which actually could be hilarious), then go for it, babe.
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