Strangers using familiar pet names with you?

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Strangers using familiar pet names with you?

Owl Identified Owl Identified
A woman about ten years older than me called me "sweetheart" today and for a brief moment, I considered punching her in the face. It got me talking to a friend about 1) whether or not I could have taken her in a fight and 2) how familiar address with unfamiliar people varies geographically. (Think the English equivalent of informal v. formal in romance languages.)

Where I live (New York), it's not common for strangers to call you honey, baby, mami or any of that in day to day conversation unless they're cat-calling/sexually harassing you or are significantly older than you (a few decades). In both cases, it can be a source of social tension. Yes, even when a sweet old lady calls me "honey" I can become (quietly) annoyed. Obviously it's different with people you know, but when strangers do it, it's generally perceived as condescending and confrontational.

There are exceptions, of course, and I recognize this. An example that comes to mind is informal address between women (strangers) that have bonded some way in a moment. Let's say you see a mother whose baby spits up on her shirt and you offer her a tissue, she might reply "Thank you, mami!" It's a way of showing commonality; it's kind of like saying "I see you, there." But, if it's just a woman ringing up your gum or something, it's definitely unwelcome around these parts. If she isn't at least a few decades older than you, it may outright seem like a verbal provocation.

I understand that this is different depending on where you live in the States (or in other parts of the world) so I'm curious to see how this practice plays out for all of you. Please feel free to add your specifics in the comments, including where you live. If you live in NY and have stuff to add or you take issue with my read of this phenomenon, I welcome those comments especially!
Answers (public voting - your screen name will appear in the results):
I am a woman and...
Owl Identified , eggiweg , Rin (aka Nire) , smashthepatriarchy , Beck , DeliciousSurprise , (k)InkyIvy , LusciousLollypop , Chilipepper , ap-the-aper , Ansley , TheSinDoll , Rossie , Gracie , Sunshineamine , TitsMcScandal , JessCee , PeaceToTheMiddleEast , OroNomi , K101 , voenne , - Kira - , SexyRayne , Sammi , SJ88 , Ms. Spice , Ryuson , MissCandyland , Sohotdinosaur , Ghost , ScarletFox , MamaDivine , Iron Man , underHim , Woman China , unfulfilled , Zulutime , corsetsaurus rex , blacklodge , TameTemptress , AmberM , petname , bayosgirl , darthkitt3n , asoutherngirl , clp , Ice1 , Kithara , NoneNone , Bex1331 , ksparkles16 , SkylarrStarr , Ivy Wilde , Dirminxia
54
I am a man and...
Sir , Tagmstr , El-Jaro , BlooJay , DiamondKoala , Lummox , AJvil , slynch , jeangel246 , Undead , dv8
11
I identify with another sex/gender identity and...
Chirple , Iron Man , cryinglightning86 , Willowe
4
I use pet names with strangers in my daily interactions.
TheSinDoll , PeaceToTheMiddleEast , SexyRayne , Ms. Spice
4
I do not use pet names with strangers in daily interactions.
Owl Identified , eggiweg , Rin (aka Nire) , Sir , smashthepatriarchy , Beck , DeliciousSurprise , ap-the-aper , Ansley , Tagmstr , Rossie , Sunshineamine , JessCee , El-Jaro , OroNomi , K101 , voenne , - Kira - , Sammi , Ms. Spice , Ryuson , BlooJay , DiamondKoala , Sohotdinosaur , Ghost , ScarletFox , Lummox , AJvil , MamaDivine , Chirple , Iron Man , Woman China , unfulfilled , slynch , Stagger13 , Zulutime , corsetsaurus rex , TameTemptress , jeangel246 , AmberM , petname , Undead , bayosgirl , darthkitt3n , clp , dv8 , Jessie<3 , Kithara , NoneNone , Bex1331 , ksparkles16 , Willowe , Dirminxia
53
I think it is condescending or otherwise confrontational.
Owl Identified , eggiweg , Sir , smashthepatriarchy , DeliciousSurprise , JessCee , voenne , - Kira - , Ghost , ScarletFox , MamaDivine , Chirple , Iron Man , Woman China , slynch , Zulutime , darthkitt3n , asoutherngirl , dv8 , Kithara , Bex1331 , Willowe , Anne
23
I think it is pleasant or otherwise socially acceptable.
LusciousLollypop , Chilipepper , ap-the-aper , Taylor , TheSinDoll , Gracie , TitsMcScandal , PeaceToTheMiddleEast , OroNomi , K101 , SexyRayne , Ms. Spice , MissCandyland , DiamondKoala , Sohotdinosaur , Zulutime , blacklodge , jeangel246 , AmberM , Raym , clp , Ice1 , Ivy Wilde
23
I have other thoughts, let me explain...
Rin (aka Nire) , Sir , Beck , (k)InkyIvy , Ansley , TheSinDoll , voenne , Ryuson , MamaDivine , corsetsaurus rex , petname , cryinglightning86 , SkylarrStarr
13
Total votes: 185 (73 voters)
Poll is closed
03/02/2012
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Sir Sir
I'm a man and I'm originally from New York. The only names I use with strangers are "asshole," "fuck face," and "shit head." Not many others come to mind. These are usually used on the road.
03/02/2012
Owl Identified Owl Identified
Quote:
Originally posted by Sir
I'm a man and I'm originally from New York. The only names I use with strangers are "asshole," "fuck face," and "shit head." Not many others come to mind. These are usually used on the road.
Hahaha, you clearly forgot "motherfucker" and "son of a bitch" unless you have elevated yourself above the slurs of New York road rage since your move. Granted, these slurs are somewhat universal, but you'll never heard more "fucks" per capita anywhere else in the great ol' U S of A than you do in New York! At least, in the greater metropolitan area.

PS. I knew there was a reason why I liked you so much, besides your devilish good looks.
03/02/2012
Rin (aka Nire) Rin (aka Nire)
It really depends for me. I don't generally like strangers to address me as anything but "miss" (or my name if I'm at work with my tag on), but I do allow exceptions - "shorty" doesn't bug me, for example, or "sweetie" if it's one of our regular customers. I had a guy call me "mommy" once, though, and that was really weird and bothered me a lot. Generally, it's not common for random pet names to be thrown around in Philly, so I don't come across this too often.

I'll sometimes call children "honey," "kiddo," or "sweetie," but usually not adults unless I'm just being playful or sarcastic with a friend. I will sometimes call teenagers "kiddo" if they're being obnoxious.
03/02/2012
Owl Identified Owl Identified
Quote:
Originally posted by Rin (aka Nire)
It really depends for me. I don't generally like strangers to address me as anything but "miss" (or my name if I'm at work with my tag on), but I do allow exceptions - "shorty" doesn't bug me, for example, or ...
"Mami" is common here, and I guess depending on the context it can be cute if a guy uses it. But, if it's just a guy shouting at you or whatever, it's not cute to me. If you're approaching me with a question or something, you shouldn't kick things off with that form of address. "Shorty" irritates me, as does "boo" or anything else you would call a significant other or child. Like, no, I don't know you and we are not dating. And no, I am most certainly not a child. That's just me, though. Obviously, as a woman you develop a pretty high tolerance to cat calling, but you never like it. It just pisses you off less over time and blends into the background.

I totally forgot about little kids, though. I definitely do call little kids "honey" or "sweetheart" all the time. Actually, I've had trouble before when I'd leave a job (working with kid) and accidentally use similar tones/addresses with adults. Yikes. I'd hate me, too, hah.
03/02/2012
DeliciousSurprise DeliciousSurprise
Unless you know me, I'm not your honey. I'm not your sweetie. I'm not your darling, sugar, mamí, or babygirl. At best, you'll get a verbal smack for calling me such. At best.
03/02/2012
Owl Identified Owl Identified
Quote:
Originally posted by DeliciousSurprise
Unless you know me, I'm not your honey. I'm not your sweetie. I'm not your darling, sugar, mamí, or babygirl. At best, you'll get a verbal smack for calling me such. At best.
Realness. I'm impressed that you know how to put the accent on the letter i like that with a key command, lol, I have no idea how.

It's weird because it bothers me more to hear it from a woman, I think. Like, I expect it from men because men cat-call and sexually harass you all the time. It still sucks, but it's predictable. From a woman, I expect more. I expect that she has had the same done to her, and she would know how it feels to be reduced to some cutesy, patronizing address by a stranger.
03/02/2012
(k)InkyIvy (k)InkyIvy
It depends. With some people, pet names like that are alright. But there is a limit. My dad calls me sweetheart. A stranger cannot. Just an example.
03/02/2012
Rin (aka Nire) Rin (aka Nire)
Quote:
Originally posted by Owl Identified
"Mami" is common here, and I guess depending on the context it can be cute if a guy uses it. But, if it's just a guy shouting at you or whatever, it's not cute to me. If you're approaching me with a question or something, you ...
"Shorty" doesn't bug me simply because it's true. I'm 5'2" - somewhat small for a woman in my area, while a lot of guys here are at least 6'. I never really grew to associate the name with girlfriends or anything like that. I've never been called "boo," but that would probably bother me.
03/02/2012
Chilipepper Chilipepper
I don't see any problem with "stranger endearments" (I've been called 'love', 'sweetie', 'darling', and 'dear' by both men and women, usually in a retail situation; and I've used 'hon' sometimes), but that's probably because I've been raised in the middle-Midwest and South. There's nothing to take offense at because the users are being sweet and friendly, it's part of the culture.
03/02/2012
ap-the-aper ap-the-aper
I don't use pet names with strangers, but I don't care if other people use them for me. It all has to do with tone for me. If I felt the need to hit someone every time I got called "honey", I'd never be able to go out to eat around here
03/02/2012
Taylor Taylor
I don't have a problem with it at all, it's pretty common here in Kansas though. I occasionally will call someone sweetie, but it's usually a child. I just figure people are trying to be nice when they say things like that. If it's not done in a condicending way, I don't really get why it would be bothersome.
03/02/2012
TheSinDoll TheSinDoll
I'm from Alabama. Y'all have probably noticed around the forums or on my page, I call people Hun, Sweetie, Sugar, and lots of other things.

I've said 'yes Sir/Ma'am' and 'no Sir/Ma'am' before I was kinky and long after it was cool.

I mean no disrespect by it. It's just how I am.
If you rang my doorbell I'd tell you to come on in and have a seat and get you something to drink (and probably try to feed you until you ate something).

To me, it's not looking down on anyone, it's a nice thing that I do with almost everyone I know. If it offends you, you tell me, message me directly, and I'll stop.

We all come from different places and have different perspectives on things such as what is respectable and what isn't. I'm here to review sex toys and learn, not bitch and complain. If you're here, one would assume you have an open mind and are able to assess the relative importance of an issue.

If anyone's got a problem with something I do, hell, I'm laid back about it. Send me a message and I'll find something worse to call you.

03/02/2012
Tagmstr Tagmstr
Quote:
Originally posted by Sir
I'm a man and I'm originally from New York. The only names I use with strangers are "asshole," "fuck face," and "shit head." Not many others come to mind. These are usually used on the road.
Same with me!
03/02/2012
Sunshineamine Sunshineamine
I don't normally pet name anyone, except for my man and my closest and dearest friends and family. It would be awkward.
03/02/2012
JessCee JessCee
Quote:
Originally posted by Sir
I'm a man and I'm originally from New York. The only names I use with strangers are "asshole," "fuck face," and "shit head." Not many others come to mind. These are usually used on the road.
03/02/2012
Gracie Gracie
I use familar expressions with people younger than me mostly. I dont do it all the time though, just when it seems appropriate. I dont mind being called these names either. It seems warm and friendly to me, unless there are unwelcomed sexual overtones which there usally aren't.
03/02/2012
TitsMcScandal TitsMcScandal
I am female, from chicago, and don't have any problem with it. I used to do it often in high school. I don't know why actually. Then I moved to the South where 'Sir' 'Miss' and 'Ma'am' became my daily vernacular.

Now it does happen occasionally. Where I work it sometimes is the easiest way to acknowledge people. I've never had someone say something negatively about it though.
03/02/2012
Rossie Rossie
I'm fine with people (usually older ladies) calling me hon or sweetie, I know it's just their way of addressing people kindly. I, on the other hand, am not comfortable using those words on anyone at all.
03/02/2012
Owl Identified Owl Identified
Quote:
Originally posted by Chilipepper
I don't see any problem with "stranger endearments" (I've been called 'love', 'sweetie', 'darling', and 'dear' by both men and women, usually in a retail situation; and I've used 'hon' ...
Right. I kind of assumed that it's different outside of the Northeast, and that's sort of what I was curious about. I know southerners that quickly learned to curtail their petnaming tendencies when they moved north, and I have had friends/family move south that had to adjust to all the terms of endearment. It's hard for me to imagine why you would call perfect strangers by such intimate titles; it's very presumptuous to me. But, it's different everywhere you go. I kind of wanted to get a cross section here of what the varying opinions are on this.
03/02/2012
PeaceToTheMiddleEast PeaceToTheMiddleEast
I call everyone hun, or sweetie. The only one that should be calling me babe is my man or me calling him babe. I know some people who don't like it so if they say something I will try my best not too. I am sorry if I was brought up proper and to call people Sir, Miss, Mam I am sure you get the point.
03/02/2012
Owl Identified Owl Identified
Quote:
Originally posted by TitsMcScandal
I am female, from chicago, and don't have any problem with it. I used to do it often in high school. I don't know why actually. Then I moved to the South where 'Sir' 'Miss' and 'Ma'am' became my daily ...
I will often use sir, ma'am, or miss to get a stranger's attention if "excuse me" doesn't work. I know that those are used more predominantly in the south, but I wish it were more widespread. To me, it seems like the most polite and respectful way to address someone whose name you don't know. If you don't know my name, you certainly don't know me well enough to call me a pet name. That's how I was raised, but again, it's definitely regional.
03/02/2012
El-Jaro El-Jaro
I only have this reaction when someone calls me "junior".

If it's "sweety", "babe", or anything like that, I take it in stride. It's also one of my things I do when I'm talking to someone I'm smitten with and they're friendly with me, "You look good in that outfit, cutie".

I wouldn't use it with a person I didn't know.
03/02/2012
Owl Identified Owl Identified
Quote:
Originally posted by Sunshineamine
I don't normally pet name anyone, except for my man and my closest and dearest friends and family. It would be awkward.
I feel the same way. It feels really, really presumptuous to call a stranger a pet name. The are few exceptions for me. I do use terms of endearment very liberally with friends and family, though.
03/02/2012
Chilipepper Chilipepper
Quote:
Originally posted by Owl Identified
Right. I kind of assumed that it's different outside of the Northeast, and that's sort of what I was curious about. I know southerners that quickly learned to curtail their petnaming tendencies when they moved north, and I have had ...
Oh, yes, the regional difference is very prominent in comparing the use and interpretation of endearments. My best friend (lives in Boston) says that the Northeast is more private and even more cutthroat than the South. She said one of the things I had to learn if I ever moved up North was to understand that friendliness is not a virtue, and will mark you as a victim (or at least someone to be taken advantage of). Sort of stuns me, but I do understand that's just the way the culture is.
03/02/2012
K101 K101
Wow! I've actually never heard of anyone being actually upset over something like that. It's never bothered me. I'm from the south so it's pretty common for people to refer to others as honey or sweetie. I don't hear it everyday, but it's a comforting kind of thing here. It's not rude, it's just a way that a lot of women refer to kids and other women. They do it as being nice though. I don't mind at all and when a lady calls me honey I smile at her. Men do it too and it's totally different. There are a couple of much older males who I'm around a lot and even friends with and they'll often call the girls my age sweetheart and it can make me very nervous if they're the type who is being perverted toward me and then says it. I don't like that, but mostly it's just a kind way to talk to someone here.
03/02/2012
Owl Identified Owl Identified
Quote:
Originally posted by Chilipepper
Oh, yes, the regional difference is very prominent in comparing the use and interpretation of endearments. My best friend (lives in Boston) says that the Northeast is more private and even more cutthroat than the South. She said one of the things I ...
This is pretty true in my opinion, but it's not without reason that we are this way. I think for people in the Northeast, or at least those from cities or metropolitan areas, friendliness without precedent is suspicious. I attribute it (at least in part) to the fact that areas like the metro NYC, DC, Boston, etc are extremely competitive industrial centers. I think the culture has grown out of that. There are more people than opportunities in a place like New York, and if you're too soft then you'll get left behind. That doesn't mean you have to be ruthless, but it does mean that you stop letting yourself get upset over every homeless person you see. You absolutely are a target if you care too much. Besides that, if you care too much you won't survive because there's just too much heartbreaking shit everywhere.

There's no reason in (for example) a city of 8 million to assume that everyone is your friend. Logic dictates that statistically, a large number of those people are in some way threats to you. Because you don't know which people are threats, you have to regard all people as potential threats. Again, I don't think that means you have to be ruthless. I just think it makes you more private and more skeptical of others. I disagree when people say New Yorkers are rude or cold. I think New Yorkers are some of the warmest, most vibrant, most passionate people in this country. But, you earn trust from a New Yorkers, it's not just a given. I don't know much about Boston, but from what I do know it seems similar.

I guess that's a big part of why terms of endearment from strangers are so confrontational to me. It's an intimate address coming from someone who has not earned my trust, nor the right to regard me in an intimate way. When someone assumes that right, it comes off as presumptuous and condescending, but also threatening because they aren't respecting what I see as self-evident social boundaries. It's like if you sit down on a train and there are six seats open, but a person gets on and chooses the seat directly next to you. That sets off red flags. Someone calling me "honey" may not set off the same red flags, but it does rub me the wrong way.
03/02/2012
voenne voenne
I live in California and this happens to me pretty much every single day. It really irks me about 95% of the time, but I always just let it go. I find it extremely condescending coming from a stranger -- especially from someone less than a few decades older, like you've stated. And ESPECIALLY a few years older (I mean, what the heck? I feel like I'm being treated like a 5 year old). I find it way too personal for comfort coming from someone I've never met before, and knows nothing about me.
03/02/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
I live in New Orleans and that's pretty common here. I hate it. If you don't know me, don't call me "sugar," "baby," "sweetheart," or any other endearment.

It's like if you sit down on a train and there are six seats open, but a person gets on and chooses the seat directly next to you. That sets off red flags.

OMG. I freaking HATE that.
03/02/2012
SexyRayne SexyRayne
I call people Hun, and other names like that quite often. I was just raised in a small town where it is not thought of as unacceptable to do. I have never meant to offend anyone and I cant really stop because I've done it my whole life.
03/02/2012
Total posts: 67
Unique posters: 46