What’s in a Name?
I use to date a guy that called me Stupid. It wasn’t in reference to what I was doing or thinking. It was in reference to who I was, like a pet name. Instead of calling me Lisa, he’d frequently just call me “Stupid”. Although it bothered me and I’d call him on it, I let him do it for longer than I should have, because the bottom line is it wasn’t appropriate the first time he did it, let alone the 101st time.
A couple of nights ago I heard my four year old calling his Dad “Silly”. Same thing, he wasn’t saying daddy was being silly. He was naming him Silly. I cringed. “Baby, that’s not nice. Don’t call Daddy Silly. That might make him feel bad.” I corrected him and even as the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized I was calling him, “Baby” as if that was his name.
Recently I was working with a couple where he referred to her as “Ditter”. It was a pet name she said he used in place of calling her ditsy. He thought he was being cute. She thought it was condescending and it was. Respect is nebulous. It’s hard to define. However, it’s easy to feel the essence of being disrespected.
What’s in a name? A lot. My parents have been married about 65 years. My mother refers to my Dad as “Love” like it’s his name. I can count the number of times I’ve heard her call him Norman on one hand in the last five years. He calls her “Darling”. When he’s talking to someone else and refers to my mother it’s, “that beautiful woman of mine.” Is there any wonder to the fact that they’ve been together almost 65 years? I don’t think so. Sure, it might be more complex than pet names, but those names say a lot about how they relate to each other and what they feel for one another.
Several weeks ago I had a session with a client who is navigating the shark infested waters of a messy divorce. He routinely referred to his Ex as “The Bitch” . He was gentleman enough not to do it to her face, but behind her back that was her name. I asked him to become aware of that. He agreed that he would make a charitable contribution of $5 every time he did it. Within a week I got an email with a sizable contribution receipt to Kiva.org and a note that said, “Point taken.”
Two weeks later in our session he said, “Things seems to be going more smoothly. I don’t know why. I don’t know what changed.”
Lisa Hayes is an LOA Relationship Coach and Author of How to Escape from Relationship Hell and the Passion Plan. She is also co-founder of Good Vibe Coaching Academy, specializing in LOA Coach training.