TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: “To Use or Not to Use”

Boo, Sweetie, Sweetheart, honey and my personal favorite, Luv are commonly used terms of endearment weaved through daily conversation or added to a “Thank you”.  In Baltimore there is a whole “Hon” culture, celebrated with a Hon Parade during the affectionately named “HONfest”.  There is even a Café Hon, where you will hear “Hon” all day long. 

However, before you decide to use a term of endearment in your everyday vernacular, maybe you should take a moment to make sure your well-intentioned words are not offensive to people inside your inner circle. Although, you will not often hear me use a term of endearment during a normal conversation, I am known to say, “Thanks Luv!” when someone has provided me with a kind gesture. Until recently, I thought nothing of what I was saying, but a dear friend informed me that she would rather be called by her given name.  Of course, I apologized and said that I would honor her request.  But this left me with the desire to dive deeper and ask others in my village/inner circle how they felt. Specifically, I wanted to know if my terms of endearment offended them or if they found such terms offensive in general.  Surprisingly, I received a very mixed response… Don’t worry, you will be able to give me your opinion at the end of this article as well.  Most of my friends said that context was everything and hearing me say “Thanks Luv!” was my signature.  However, I did have a few ladies explain that they don’t have a problem with the words themselves, but rather their use by people in their own age group. In this context, the sweet words are perceived as condescending.  This led me to dive even deeper.

I have an eclectic group of friends of different races, back grounds, and cultures so I started to consider the locations of their hometowns.  Although, I now live in the Charlotte area, most of my friends are from other states. In fact, I was able to separate them by where they spent most of their formative years (age 6-18 years of age) – Above the Mason Dixon Line or Below the Mason Dixon Line.

The group of friends that found terms of endearment offensive were those that grew up in the North, above the Mason-Dixon Line.  

We are living in a time when you want to be aware of preferred pronouns, sexual identities, and diverse family structures.  While we are encouraging people to have tough conversations to understand each other, are we also making it harder to communicate?  People must feel safe in order to ask honest questions for clarity and offer a different perspective.

I will always do my best to respect others, especially those who are close to me, but isn’t context and intent most important? My sisters can tell you that I am not a fan of females calling each other “Biiitttch.” However, I do understand that some casually use the term, and I find subtle ways to inform those women, when necessary, that I don’t prefer it. 

Just think, if a waitress who is a mother and wife working her shift states, “Sweetie, is there anything else I can get you.” Do you really get offended or do you consider her intent?  Seems obvious to me that she is just politely asking you if there is anything she can do to be of service.  Am I wrong? Before we can successfully communicate and understand each other, we must consider a person’s intent and remember that we all come from different backgrounds.  This subject completely fascinates me, and I have been invited to discussing this topic in the future during a broadcast of High Definition Radio on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/watch/Higher-Definition-Radio with Tia Gist. Please follow High Definition Radio on Facebook to receive a notification. Let’s have a conversation, please share your thoughts and be sure to follow Ribbons Polish on Instagram to participate in the poll available on our IG stories.

Creatively Yours,



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