The first time I met one of my exes he told me straight up my pet name would be Iyene. He didn’t lie, he preferred my Ibibio name to Mercy, well everyone did including myself. He thought Mercy was too plain and popular, I agreed too. What I didn’t count on was him using it as a weapon of war.

Each time we had an issue which was a lot, he would call me Mercy and I would be feeling somehow. You see, I hadn’t realised it but this guy who was a Manipulator in Chief had succeeded in making me hate my own name.

I think once or twice, I told him “Don’t call me that” my own name oh. And trust that guy nau, he milked the situation.

One day, I received a rhema from my spirit man,  “Mercy is your name. Mercy may be popular and not very fly but it is your name, and with it is all the beauty, memories and love your mum felt when you were born. It is your name.”

I gained freedom, he would say, Mercy, as if it were condescending and I would reply, yes darl, that’s me. He graduated to “Madam” another name I/we thought I didn’t like but dammit, I didn’t care anymore.

In every other partnership moving forward, as long as you don’t call me shit, thief or cheat, I’m good. Better if you call me my name. Mercy, Iyeneabasi, Etim, I will answer, even in a romantic relationship because you see my name is sweeter than any pet name plus I have dated someone who kept calling me the name of his ex. How would I know he wasn’t over her if he was calling me “baby”?

But the former is not peculiar to me, Friends agree that pet names emphasize intimacy to a point that most couples experience shock waves and instantly feel insecure when a partner actually calls them by their actual name.

What is in a Pet Name?

Is there any science/psychology behind using pet names? Is it a mark of a healthy relationship? Are couples who give each other names, ranging from “Candy to Amadioha” more likely to stay together? And in our digital age, are these nicknames any more important?

Many people aver that these names is to show the person is special but aren’t they cases where the name becomes so ingrained in the relationship that it loses it essence. “Baby, I want to end this relationship, Honey, you are Madt! “

Or when the wo/man has 6 other wo/men s/he calls BAE. Isn’t him calling your name better? Because truth be told, your parents are 40 years in marriage and inseparable yet, they call each other by your name, Papa Okpolo, etc.

By all means, call your partners pet names if you like, if they love it and it adds value to your bond but they should be respectful.

The part of pet names that scare me is when it accidentally drops out of your mouth in front of their parents. Trust me there is no explaining away for something like “BeastDick, or Pussy of Laive”

What is a pet name to you?

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