There is an advice column on Slate.com known as “Dear Prudence” where people can obviously write in for advice. Well, a newly married woman has written in wanting to know if it’s OK that her Southern-born husband frequently calls other women sweetheart or sweetie – whether it be friends, co-workers or waitresses.
The wife if bothered by the use of this term of endearment used on other women, especially because he hasn’t even come up with a different pet name for her.
The man claims that term is ingrained in him and he just can’t break the habit.
I do think that it is very hard to stop saying things that are part of your culture’s vernacular. I say a heck of a lot of sweeties and babies myself. I also say a lot of “might coulds” and “might woulds.” When I help at the elementary school, every child is sweetie, honey or baby.
When my brother was in the ICU at Emory several years ago, all the nurses used the same Southern honey and sweetie. We wondered what Yankee nurses would say to patients.
I would be bothered if in a workplace a man called me sweetie or honey. That’s very “9 to 5” Dabney Coleman-style.
Teaching at the university I do see colloquialisms in the students’ writing. If I see some odd phrasing that I think it a regional term, I always make a point to ask the student about it and make sure they know they are using it.
So what do you think Dear Prudence advised the wife about her husband using the term sweetie for other women? What would you advise the wife? Does your husband call other women sweetie or sweetheart? Does it bother you? Does anyone call you that at work?