Opinion: It’s Time To Retire “Baby” As A Pet Name

I’m a sucker for a cute pet name and I like that my guy designates special names for me and only me. Even so, I always cringe when people use the word “baby” to refer to their significant others. Like, why do we use this word? There are millions of words in the English language and so many people settle on this one? Here’s why it’s so awful:

  1. It’s overused. People use “baby” as a pet name in excess because they think it’s cute and flirty. It’s not. Honestly, it doesn’t even feel special anymore. It’s used in every song lyric, every love scene, and every pop song. It’s used so much that it is almost a one-size-fits-all type of a word. I think that it bothers me so much because it’s so generic.
  2. It’s probably been used a million times toward a million girls before you. Pet names are supposed to be intimate and endearing, but I bet that if a man uses it on one girl he’s probably used it on another girl at some point. I don’t know about you, but I want my guy to set me apart from every other woman he’s ever dated on every level possible.
  3. Better terms of endearment exist in the English language. Whatever happened to words like darling, dear, honey or sweetheart? These terms ooze romance and feel so much more thoughtful, adorable, loving and classic. “Baby” just seems so common and commercial and I think we need to get a bit more creative.
  4. Think about the meaning—it’s weird. A baby is an infant who can’t really do anything for itself, relies on others to feed it, clothe it and help it survive. Now think about the word “honey.” Honey is a tasty, wonderfully fragrant natural sweetener. I know I’m thinking about this a bit too much, but you know what I mean. Yeah, babies are cute, but they’re also loud and defenseless! Honey is smooth, flavorful, tasty and sultry. That’s what I want to be!
  5. It’s too delicate. I don’t like to be perceived as delicate, docile, or meek. I’d like to think I’m a strong, independent and sexy woman, so I prefer to be called a name that reflects that fact rather than one that infantilizes me.
  6. Even “babe” is such a better alternative. So if you’re not convinced that it’s time to retire “baby” by now, maybe consider using “babe” instead. In my opinion, the latter is much more low-stakes, less cheesy, and feels a little more grown up even though it’s still common.
  7. Names rooted in a memory are much cuter anyway. I absolutely love pet names rooted in a joke, shared moment, or memory because they can take you back to a special place between you and your partner. For example, my boyfriend and I have special pet names for each other that are connected to a really hilarious memory that makes us cry laughing every time we talk about it. It’s like we own those pet names and they bring us closer whenever we use them.
  8. Okay, at least it’s not “princess.” I had an ex-boyfriend who tried to incorporate this one into his repertoire of pet names for me. The first time he sent me what he thought was a sexy text saying, “I can’t wait to see you, princess,” I nearly vomited from the cheesiness, I told him to never call me that ever again and I shut it down immediately. Plus, if I’m a princess, where’s my tiara, my crown jewels, and when can I pick out my kingdom?
  9. We should be using the grandparent model. Sometimes nicknames and pet names are less meaningful because they operate like identifiers rather than special names for someone. For example, “baby” has the same effect as “mom” or “dad” because it can simply identify the person you’re talking about without being special. This can change by using the grandparent model. You know how people give grandparents super cool names like “Nana” or “Pops” as a way to show respect and deference to that person and to distinguish them from the parents to the grandchild? I think that this can work for pet names too. Instead of defaulting to “baby,” give your significant other a name that reflects the amount of respect and deference you have for that person. Distinguish them from every other person you’ve ever dated. You can’t go wrong.
Marie is an ambitious millennial woman, leading a corporate life by day and doing her best to live, laugh and love.