In Romeo and also Juliet, Shakespeare asks, “What’s in a name”? The answer transforms out come be—quite a lot. We all understand the power of names and labels. They deserve to raise us up or tear united state down. They can be descriptive, reactionary, or also predictive. Part labels come easily; others are more complex and require much more explanation.
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Tony Kushner’s play, Angels in America, contains a conversation in between a nurse and also a male who has concerned visit another, obviously really sick, man in the hospital. The nurse, make the efforts to assess the relationship between the two males says come the visitor,
“Are friend his…uh?”
To i beg your pardon the visitant replies, “Yes, i’m his uh.”
The surname or brand we use to explain a sex-related or romantic link to another person matters. Each brand carries a collection of expectations and also assumptions; many bring baggage. This is my… what? Hook up? Lover? Girlfriend? Boyfriend? Partner? Spouse? Husband? Wife? Pookie? Boo? Sex buddy? infant Mama?
As a sexuality educator, I have actually put a most thought right into the wording i use once talking through students around sexual and also romantic connections and relationships, specifically those that space not however established. I want to be sure to usage language that is inclusive, that identifies critical aspect of the connection, and that offers my student a chance to think deliberately around what together a connection means.
The word I select to usage in my classes is “sweetheart”. It’s my go-to term once talking about a partnership or potential partnership that involves a romantic or sex-related connection. This seemingly an easy label is actually quite multifaceted, and creates a variety of teachable moments because that my students when I usage it.
Sweetheart is a term no bound through age. Think of asking “Do you have a sweetheart?” come a 5-year-old, or a 16-year-old, or a 60-year-old? It doesn’t mean specifically the very same thing in those 3 instances, however the word can be an proper description of any of them. Our capability to have sexual and romantic feel for an additional person is not bound through age. Yes, we recognize those feelings and their complexity more fully as we grow, but they are a part of being human at every age.
Sweetheart is a term no bound by gender. Too frequently our default language for talking about romantic or sexual relationships is heterosexist. Us ask girls if they have a boyfriend and also vice-versa. However in an inclusive classroom whereby lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender relationships room as valid and also equal together heterosexual ones, a non-gendered term demonstrates this. For those who might be questioning their own sexual orientation (and this is common especially for teenagers no issue what sex-related orientation lock may ultimately use to recognize themselves) the ax “sweetheart” enables them the room to watch inside and also explore what their very own feelings are telling them about who that might be.
Sweetheart does not necessarily imply sexual activity, however it can. What it does seem to imply, though, is part level that intimacy, connection, and positive feel towards one more person. A sweetheart is someone you value in part way, and someone you want to be nice to. That deserve to be expressed in any number of age-appropriate and healthy ways, consisting of non-sexual physics contact. When linked to sexual task (i.e. “When you have actually a sweetheart you choose to become sexually active with…) the ax can assist to connect passion and also lust with something more. A sweetheart isn’t someone girlfriend use and throw away. It isn’t someone who feelings and desires friend disregard.
And the brings up another teachable moment. Sweetheart isn’t a an excellent term to explain a hook-up (a casual sexual encounter), or a sexual encounter that takes place because of the influence of coercion, peer pressure, alcohol or drugs. Seeing that difference and also insisting that civilization (of any kind of age) own and also name your encounters because that what they actually space is necessary to developing and maintaining healthy and balanced sexuality.
So, the next time you are talking v someone around a romantic or sexual connection, try using the word “sweetheart” and see what happens.
Al Vernacchio, M.S. Ed.
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is the Upper school Sexuality Educator and an English teacher in ~ Friends" central School in Wynnewood, PA.
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