Ask Lisa: My Boyfriend Won’t Call Me By My Name

I hope you will be able to help me with my problem which although it may seem trivial, it bothers me very much and always has.

I have been with my partner for a number of years and he is yet to call me by my name when speaking with or talking to me.  I use his name all the time but he cannot or will not call me by mine.  I have told him numerous times over the years that it bothers me….really bothers me that he will not call me by name.

At first during the early part of our relationship he called me, “darling” but now….nothing.  If he wants to say something or get my attention he will just say, for example, “Can you come here?”  “Get that for me will you.”   “Hey!…. where is my…..?”

I have told him that it is something that means a lot to me to be addressed by my name.  I have even told him that were I to die today then the he that would be my only wish and regret.  But still…nothing.  If  I try to be emphatic about it, he counters with the following, “The more you nag me then I won’t do it.”   I believe he loves me in his own way.  But whether he can’t or stubbornly won’t call me by name I can’t determine.

Do you have any advice for me?  I just want to feel valued and needed as a person and a lover.

Lisa’s thoughts…

Well this is not something I’ve heard and it’s certainly not trivial!  Not only does he refuse to address you by your name but you’ve communicated to him how much this bothers you – and he still won’t.  I have to wonder what about calling you by your name is uncomfortable for him.  Perhaps it feels too intimate – or perhaps he feels he keeps control of you by refusing to grant this basic human request.  I am curious about his back story and why it would be so important to refuse this.  Whatever the reason the end result is the same for you and I can only imagine it doesn’t feel good.

You have a right to be addressed by your name and I also can’t help but wonder what in you has allowed this dynamic to continue as long as it has.  I wonder about your relationship history and how you’ve been treated.  Is there a part of YOU that believes you don’t deserve in this way.  If you were clearer that you DO deserve this, I suspect you would be more effective at setting firm boundaries in this situation.  At what point do you say, “I’ve asked this of you, I’ve told you how it makes me feel that you continue to ignore my requests and now I must demand it.”  But if you do this you also must be ready for him to still refuse…leaving you with a choice.  Is this relationship one that leaves you feeling good about yourself?  If not, why are you there?  Set your boundaries firmly on this one.

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