Honorifics: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Honorifics: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

First, let’s talk about what an honorific IS:

hon·or·if·ic, noun: a title or word implying or expressing high status, politeness, or respect.

Ma’am is an honorific, or mister.

As is Lady, Sir, Domina, Dom, Goddess, Lord, Mistress, Master etc.

In general an honorific is a GOOD thing.

However, honorifics can get you in trouble as well, and ruin your chances of connecting with others.

Ouch!

When is an honorific a BAD thing?

When you use the wrong one.

Or, one at all, when it’s not desired or necessary.

So, how do you know when NOT to use an honorific, or a specific honorific?

Easy.

Ask.

In person, that might look like this:

“Hello, I’m so-and-so. How do you prefer to be addressed?”

Online, it can be that simple, or if you’re trying to spark interest, a bit more complex like this:

Good morning UserName,
[Message body here.]
Is there a name or title besides UserName you prefer?

(Respect. Asking after titles or preferred names, rather than making an assumption, treating the receiver as a valuable human with a right to be unique.)

Have a fantabulous day!
[Your UserName or preferred name signature]

See? Easy. Let them tell you how to interact with them.

(Note: That message template and ideas on how to use it to make meaningful contact is a part of Dating Kinky, The Book: https://datingkinky.com/dating-kinky-the-book/ )

And the UGLY:

Well, it’s like someone calling you “Bob” when your name is “Tom,” or “Christina,” when you prefer to go by “Christie.”

Hearing or reading the correct name or honorific just FEELS right.

For some, “Ma’am” is their mother (or grandmother!). Sir is reserved for people in the military.

And perhaps if you use the word “Mistress,” they may feel a need to correct your assumption that they dominate for pay (not all people use the word this way, but some do), or if you use the word “Lord,” that they didn’t work to earn their title.

In fact, when people write to me with a title I don’t use, I write back:

Please don’t call me __. I don’t own you, so I prefer not to be titled by you. Please call me Nookie, or Miss Nookie if you must use an honorific.
Thank you.

I don’t get upset, I simply inform them of a way they can immediately do right by me in messaging.

And it’s true that some people will get upset if you don’t use an honorific immediately.

And that’s kind of sucky.

(Well, unless they put that in their profile, or part of the rules of the event you’re attending, and you ignored that…)

Better to be respectful and ask, though, in any case, for one more good reason:

Many people react to being titled by a stranger or given the wrong title very poorly, because it’s pressing assumptions onto them about behavior and dynamics that don’t exist, yet (and maybe never will).

For example, ever been the youngest in a group of friends, and called “kiddo?”

Simply using that word, they were making very clear how they thought of you—as the young one, the kid, different from them.

And maybe you were OK with it.

Or maybe you weren’t.

And both are valid.

However, it’s always better to ask and be asked.

smiles

What are your thoughts?

Do you prefer to be titled by strangers? If so, do you make that clear in your profile, or by making your title part of your username?

On the other side, what titles do you dislike?

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