What condiments are to food, terms of endearment are to conversations. A conversation without the usage of dear, sweety, darling or some other word is incredibly rare. It is out of love, and affection that such terms are used and when compared to how aunties like to greet us (a wet kiss on either cheek), being called dear or honey seems much better.

However, for some people and conversations, such terms of endearment are inappropriate and unnecessary.

I remember a conversation with a tweep. This was online I didn’t know her during the time of the conversation. We had been following each other only for a few days. The conversation was about gender discrimination, if I remember correctly. During this conversation, she called me dear. I asked her if she would have kept quiet if someone, especially of the opposite sex, called her dear. She said she wouldn’t be comfortable with it and apologized saying she thought I was a girl. I told her I was female, but not one comfortable with being called ‘dear,’ especially by strangers.

When a guy calls a girl dear, she can complain about it, if she’s not comfortable with it. She can tell him to treat her with respect. Most of the popular phrases used by feminists can be used against the male who said dear. However, the situation is slightly different for females who are called dear by other females.

Telling someone not to call you dear seems rude. Society would rather us feel uncomfortable than be (rudely) honest. So we pretend the words don’t bother us and we hope the other person just stops calling us dear. But at some point, we decide we’ve had enough and we address the issue. And then we are told it’s so trivial, it’s not even a problem. And of course, the classic, ‘you should be flattered that someone’s calling you dear.’ How a person you barely know using terms of endearment on you is flattering is beyond me.

It seems like such a harmless thing, to call someone dear. It even seems too trivial to speak or complain about. And yet, terms of endearment feel sticky to some people. They sound disgusting, ridiculous and unnecessary.

Being called dear is like having your hand held by someone you don’t want to make prolonged physical contact with. To be honest, I often cross my arms in front of me or hold on to my wallet and phone so that no one can reach out for my hand.

Some girls love holding hands. They may be comfortable with the gesture, but there are enough and more people who aren’t. And such people seem to be completely unaware of how uncomfortable their handholding is making the other.

Words like dear, darling and honey feel like a sweaty hand that keeps touching you. It feels like slime on your body. This isn’t an overreaction. I shudder when some people call me dear. It’s not something you should call someone you barely know. This isn’t because you might be disrespecting the person, but because you are respecting their wishes and what they are comfortable with.

Coming from a close friend or family member, terms of endearment are somewhat tolerable. However, coming from someone who you don’t even know and someone you don’t talk much with, terms of endearment make you feel sick.

The next time you call someone dear, darling or honey, pause for a second. Ask yourself if they would want to be called any terms of endearment or if it would make them uncomfortable. If they aren’t a fan of terms of endearment, be considerate and save them for someone else.