Home Parents How can I name my partner without being disrespectful?

How can I name my partner without being disrespectful?

by ines.wurbs@icloud.com

Many people who are newly in love wonder what to name their partner. You are probably not satisfied with the first name. So, here are a few basic rules on how to choose the right pet name.

We can call our partner by his first name, or we can choose nicknames from different areas. Animals, symbols, or valuables. However, swear words can also come from these areas. So that you don’t unintentionally offend your partner, I recommend the following:

Choose a loving expression

A pet name should express intimacy above all. It’s an insider between lovers. That’s what they call themselves and no one else.

It is important to choose a word that is also respectful and does not devalue the other in any way. You may mean it nicely, but it may still not be okay for your partner. 

So rule out derogatory terms, even when you talk to your friends about your partner.  

Ask your partner for their consent

Work it out with your partner when you find a pet name you like. Just ask if that’s okay with him or her. And maybe also clarify in which situations it is okay for him or her. Some people only want to use pet names when they are in intimate togetherness and not among others.

But don’t put your partner under pressure. Also, don’t be offended if he/she doesn’t want it or only if there are two of you. That is also perfectly okay and does not detract from your love.

Avoid excessive trivialization

When choosing the nickname, you should avoid trivializing the nickname even further. Honey or bunny and not honey-bunny. Many people feel rather devalued by extreme trivialization. And that goes against the intent of pet names. 

How to name your partner in contacts?

The same recommendations for personal use do not apply to storing data in a mobile phone. This is purely a matter of personal preference. However, it is advisable to save the correct name and the nickname only as a first name or suffix. In any case, the saving nickname should be chosen so that you and your partner are not embarrassed when the mobile phone is on the table and others can see who is calling. Certain expressions, such as “baby-bear”, would certainly make others laugh.

An advantage of having a pet name for your partner on the phone is that if the phone is lost, an honest finder (and if you don’t have a lock on it) may be much clearer to which number he/she should call to retrieve the phone to return to the owner. If “Honey” is on the call list, it is clear that this is your partner, and you will be helped there who owns the cell phone.

Be aware

There is a risk that you will also offend your partner if you register him/her with the real name instead of the pet name.

What are nicknames?

Pet names are designations, in this case for the partner, to “caress” him or her, as the term pet name already tells us. Pet names create a sense of intimacy and exclusivity. They are usually chosen in such a way that they are reserved for the lovers themselves. Nobody else calls this person that name, only they call themselves in that way. It shows each other’s bond, and also lets others see that they are lovers.

Abbreviate the first name

Most first names can be abbreviated in some form. This is especially useful in public. It is important to abbreviate the first name and not the surname. The family name is usually left to friends as a nickname. It’s too impersonal for a partner.

Here are some examples: 

For Michael/ Michaela —> Mikel

For Andrew/Andrea—> Andy

Animals offer many opportunities

All animals we perceive as cuddly or small, even if they would be too dangerous, are suitable. So rabbit, bear, cat, little mouse, beetle, …

Avoid choosing animals that have a characteristic that we consider “disparaging”. Like: snails, for example, with which we associate being slow or even slimy. You certainly wouldn’t call your partner an eel or a salamander.

Symbols and expressions of love

All symbols of love are also suitable for nicknames. 

So: heart → little heart

Sweet —> Sweetheart

Love → Darling, love of my life


Some terms have a negative connotation. For example, babe or baby. Better think about the meaning before to be on the safe side.

Valuable and rare

Everything that we consider rare and valuable is also suitable as a pet name. 

Such as sweetheart, asterisk, or eyesight. My blue eye or angel, for example, is not heard that often.

Properties don’t work that well

Adjectives, i.e. words that describe your partner as he or she is, are usually not very suitable. Descriptive words are easily taken as an attack and can offend your partner, especially over time. Here are a few negative examples: little stinky, lazy-bear, sleepy … Even if the expressions are trivial, they are rather disrespectful and judgmental.

Even with words that can also be interpreted positively, this can change at some point. For example, nozzle, elf, dwarf. 

Conclusion about sweet nicknames

Theoretically, you can choose any word that you feel is appropriate. You should just test it out privately on your partner before and discuss it with him or her. As a rule, of course, we always try to use words that flatter the other person. But it’s still important to be careful and considerate. Especially at the beginning of a relationship, the partners usually don’t know each other that well. Some partners also do not want to admit that the chosen nickname does not appeal to them so as not to scare or unsettle the new love or simply to do him/her a favor.

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