A Rose By Any Other Name
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
Romeo and Juliette were troubled by the surnames of their feuding families: Montague and Capulet. Shakespeare’s quote illuminated that no matter what the lovers were called, their essence would be the same.
Shakespeare had a way with words. We all know this lovely quote. Yet does it really matter if we call a rose by any other name? I am doing a little experiment of my own.
After reading the book The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, I decided to add more endearing names to my speech, love notes, and texts sent to my husband. Although I was sure that his favorite “love language” would be physical touch, to my surprise it was words of affirmation that he craved. So, I added things like “My Love,” “Honey,” and even “Babe,” to my communication. It seemed to warm his heart for a while. At least until it became kind of rote: “Hey Baby, will you fix my computer for me?” or “Sweetheart, would you mind getting me a glass of water?” Sounds innocuous enough, yet after a while it just didn’t seem so special. We were both doing it a lot. Nothing wrong with that right?
Then last night he called while I was on the other line; I was in a sort of business-mode, and I said something like “Thank you for calling, Stephen.” He said, “Nice talking to you, Meredith.” You are not going to believe this, but it was so nice…romantic…even sexy. Let me tell you why.
I remembered something that he told me a while back. While at work, where he interacts with the public, he hears everyone calling everyone “Babe!” I guess “Babe” gets bantered around a lot. Any time too much of a good thing becomes overused, it begins to lose it shiny brightness. If everyone is “Babe,” then perhaps we are not so special. Also, is “Babe, Honey or Sweetheart” really a positive affirmation? Could an affirmation be more specific rather than generic? Is it better to say: “You are so handsome, Babe,” or does “You are so handsome, Stephen?” appeal to you more?
Soon I began to notice all the family members I call cute nicknames, even my cats. Anisette became “Pretty Kitty,” and Sambuca became “Sammy,” and my granddaughter was still being called “Little One,” even though she is now taller than I am. Come to think of it, I had names for many people that I love that seemed charming yet not exactly accurate.
I suspect that people have a favorite word. That favorite word is their name! With the right tone and level of respect and love, being called your real name can be a very sweet sound. It can be an affirmation in itself. A recognition of the real you, the authentic you, the one and only you!
So, I have decided to do an experiment. I want to see how people react when I call them by their true name. I want to be mindful. I want to see how I feel when giving them full recognition. I have already noticed that I feel more adult when using real names. I think it creates an intimacy that we often avoid. It has been said that intimacy means into-me-see. We may be using cute names, silly names, or generic endearments to unconsciously create separation. Just a thought. Yet when receiving a Hallmark card, don’t we want it to be addressed to us…specifically?
I’m sure there is a time and place for sweet endearments. We definitely wouldn’t want to give them up! But I am also aware that overuse can lessen effectiveness. I am intrigued by the thought that calling people lovingly by their real name is a powerful expression of love. Let’s see how the experiment goes. Care to join me Sweetheart?
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