Dear Abby: I told boyfriend not to call me ‘sweet baby,’ and he does it anyway

His continuous use of the pet name is wrecking the otherwise great relationship.

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DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I are middle-aged. We have been together for 2 1/2 years. I love him, and I’m grateful for such a wonderful man at this point in my life. My problem is, he calls me “Sweet Baby” every single time he addresses me. (“Sweet Baby, what do you need help with?” “Sweet Baby, I am on my way.” “What did you say, Sweet Baby?”) Even when it comes to trying to be affectionate, he’ll say, “You’re my sweet baby, aren’t you?” He asks this over and over and over, and then says, “You’re my sweet baby.”

Abby, I could probably take it occasionally, but his continuous use of it now makes me cringe. I hate it! I have told him how much I’d prefer for him to use my name, but he won’t. He continues with the “Sweet Baby” in texts, calls, in person — constantly. I’m starting to wonder if he’s doing it deliberately.

He, in turn, likes being called “Big Daddy,” but I won’t do it. He’s not my daddy, and I don’t care for pet names.

How can one little thing like that be so annoying, to the point that I’m beginning to avoid him and visit him less? It breaks my heart because we can have such a good time together, but he is ruining it. I’m trying not to end a wonderful relationship. I feel that by ignoring my request, he is being rude. Your advice? — CRINGING IN THE SOUTH

DEAR CRINGING: Your boyfriend may be following a script he has written in his head. Has it occurred to you that “Sweet Baby” may be what he has called ALL the women in his life — which would make it less a term of endearment than rote recitation?

After two years of this, you should have made clear to him that “Sweet Baby” is not only not having the desired effect, but it’s making you cringe. While you are at it, tell him plainly that you have an aversion to pet names like “Big Daddy” because one daddy was enough for you, and you neither want nor need another one.

If you can’t communicate what you really feel, then indeed this romance isn’t going to last, so you might as well speak up.

DEAR ABBY: My 14-year-old son and I recently went to visit family a few hours away. We stayed at my mother’s home. My mother overheard him talking to his male friend about engaging in sexual activity with him. He thought everyone was asleep when she overheard the conversation.

I never suspected that my son might be gay or bi. She told me in private the next day. Should I say something to him about what she heard? I don’t want to embarrass him, and my mother doesn’t want him knowing what she heard. Should I keep quiet? — CAUGHT BY SURPRISE IN TEXAS

DEAR CAUGHT: Your mother may have misinterpreted what she heard. Your son is at an age when he is trying to figure out who he is. I don’t think it would be constructive to talk to him about what she told you, so bide your time. Let him know you love him and are always available to listen and talk with him about anything that might concern him. But the topic of his sexual orientation should be raised by him, not you.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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