You Lost Me at Sweetheart

A few months back I was chatting with a man on an online dating site.  The conversation was light and we seemed to hit it off fairly well.  Then he did one thing that threw up all kinds of red flags and that was the end of my interest in this man.  So, what did he do that turned me away so quickly?

He called me Sweetheart!

Some women may not think twice about a comment through a dating site that starts with or ends with “sweetheart,” but to me, it said a LOT! Here is my take on it.

Oxford Dictionaries defines sweetheart as “a term of endearment or affection,” “someone with whom someone is having a romantic or sexual relationship,” or “a particularly lovable or pleasing thing.”

That being said, one would think being called sweetheart is a good thing.  Well, it is in the right context.  So, let’s dissect this from an online dating perspective.

Two Strangers Meet

Online dating basically puts two complete strangers together in the same digital space for conversation so they can evaluate each other to see whether or not they would like to meet face-to-face.  All conversation that takes place prior to meeting is an evaluation and each party is sizing up the other.

The reason those specific things are kept private on dating sites is to protect the members of the site.  In essence, there is a digital “wall” that separates the parties unless they take their conversation onto another platform or to another level.

Being that when people converse through these websites they are virtually strangers, when a party breaks the “stranger” barrier with unwanted terms of affection it is just plain creepy.  Both parties do not know the other’s relationship histories, wants, and needs yet.

My Take

To explain my take on this man calling me sweetheart, I will look at all three definitions.

A Term of Endearment or Affection

Okay, so if I am communicating with someone online we are strangers, plain and simple. Unless I expressly give you permission to call me an affectionate term, it is UNWANTED. As a matter of fact, based on my history in male-dominated industries in corporate America, this term is downright condescending to me.  In the corporate world it usually signified one of the following: the man did not respect the woman, the man had a problem with the woman being in a leadership position, the man was trying to keep the woman in a lower position in the company by devaluing her (Try calling a man sweetheart and see what happens!), the man was trying to exhibit control or authority, or the man is a misogynist.  These reasons alone should deter any decent man from calling a complete stranger sweetheart!

Someone with Whom Someone is Having a Romantic or Sexual Relationship

Based on this definition, it is clear I am NOT your sweetheart since we have never met. How assumptive of a man to think he has any right to call a stranger sweetheart.  Now, this particular man said he used the term because he did not know my name.  So, ask! Or don’t use ANY term of endearment.  Last I checked this is not rocket science.  Being respectful should be common sense when you are trying to make a good impression. Terms of endearment should be agreed upon, and really signifying endearment, not thrown around loosely like they mean nothing.  If you are calling her sweetheart, chances are you are also calling many other women sweetheart, and that is NOT okay no matter how you want to justify it.

A Particularly Lovable or Pleasing Thing

First, notice the word “thing.” This is exactly how the word sweetheart comes across when it is used by a stranger to a woman.  It comes across as if he is claiming possession of her as his thing.  It is kind of like a catcall, and NO ONE likes them (no they do NOT make us feel good and we do NOT appreciate them). It is demeaning.  If it is said in front of other men, it shows insecurity because you are trying to “claim” the woman.  That is just plain wrong. NO WOMAN is a man’s possession.  Ever.


Think twice before you use this term, or any other term of endearment, to someone who may not see you as having earned that status (yes, it is earned).

So when I did not reply to this man after he called me sweetheart in two replies in a row, he wrote me to ask what happened and asked if he scared me away.  My reply: “You lost me at sweetheart.”