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Sunday, February 17, 2013

SL Letter of the Day: Baby Talk

Posted by on Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Originally published April 27, 2006:

I am a 19-year-old gay man in a relationship with a handsome, nice guy. Here's the problem: He has this obsession with, when we are getting close, talking and acting like a child—and I mean literally like a 5-year-old. I'm not sure he even knows he does it. I haven't brought it up, as it's pretty weird. I'm not into it, though, and it's hurting our relationship. What can I do?

Wants An Adult

My response after the jump...

Your boyfriend knows exactly what he's doing, WAA—he's been testing you. The first time he acted like a 5-year-old, you didn't say anything because it was pretty weird. And he's so handsome and nice. And you didn't want to make him feel bad. And you hoped it wouldn't happen again. But then he did it again. And you still didn't say anything. And then he did it again. And again and again and again. And you never objected. And the 5-year-old act is hurting your relationship, but your boyfriend doesn't know that. Instead he's thinking, hey, I hit the fucking jackpot—I met a guy who enjoys this 5-year-old role-play stuff just as much as I do.

If it's a deal breaker for you, WAA, you're going to have to say so. Try this: "I'm into you, I dig you, but the little-kid routine is a turnoff. Can you drop it?" Once he knows how you really feel, he gets to decide if being with you is worth the sacrifice.


Comments (37) RSS

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I had a baby-talky boyfriend, and it was a big part of my side of (mutually) ending that relationship. Sex is for grownups, kink is for grownups, if you want to have them with me you need to adult up.
I agree that it's probably not actual ageplay, people who slide into this as a habit greatly outnumber those with that kink. In this guy's case his other gf, who doesn't like sex, had encouraged him. I think it worked well for her, but I wish him luck getting laid regularly ever again.
(Of course, what to do with my *other* bf, who wants me to brat so he can spank, is a whole other question.)
Posted by Moggadeet on February 18, 2013 at 9:15 PM · Report this
Sandiai 36
@31. I see. I too dislike when adults talk down to children.
Posted by Sandiai on February 18, 2013 at 3:13 PM · Report this
@8, that's hilarious. I can't breathe.
Posted by lhbbcp on February 18, 2013 at 11:32 AM · Report this
delta@7, good point, but not taken far enough. Seems to me a couple should spend about 50% of the time having sex that both people find deeply satisfying, with 25% given to one person's special kinks and 25% to the other person's special kinks. (Roughly, obviously, and subject to negotiation if one person's kink involves more difficulty or hazards than the other person's kink.)

If there isn't a subset of sexual practices that you both find deeply satisfying and can agree to call "our normal sex" (where neither person feels they're doing the other a favor), then I don't think you're sexually compatible in the long run.
Posted by EricaP on February 18, 2013 at 9:29 AM · Report this
@22 Unless the letter writer is also unfamiliar with five year olds.
I'd say that's the most likely.

And I'd say that those who don't like it aren't really reacting to the child-sex aspect (which may or may not be present), but just to the thing itself. I don't like it when I see someone talking to her dog that way, either. We've all known people who get kittenish in certain circumstances, because at some point in their lives they were given the impression it was cute. It's an erroneous impression.
Posted by agony on February 18, 2013 at 9:08 AM · Report this
WAA never makes clear whether "when we're getting close" means sex or cuddling. If sex, yeah, I think Dan's right about this being a tacit fetish that's being tested out. But for cuddling, well, my wife and I do this all the time (and it sounds like 1, 4, 6, etc.)-- we talk to each other like we're each other's favorite teddy bear. Probably because, well, under what other circumstances was cuddling up in bed at night appropriate, except as a young child with a stuffed animal, prior to having an intimate partner? Key is here that it's not a turn-on for us, and very well may not have been for WAA's partner either.

That said I can imagine that for some people it wouldn't be fun and cozy, just weird, even in the situation I describe. If so, by all means, follow Dan's advice.
Posted by Liam3851 on February 18, 2013 at 5:33 AM · Report this
@28 yes I am familiar with those studies, and they are not what I am referring to. Exaggeration in the pronunciation of words for the purpose of teaching proper language skills I'm good with. I'm even ok with repeating basic consonance and vowel sounds to an infant/toddler with the goal of teaching them language.

It is speaking to them simplistically, nonsensically (Jabberwalky not included) and talking down to them I object to.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on February 18, 2013 at 12:44 AM · Report this
@29 As you said, there is a lot not mentioned in the letter. I just don't think it is so clear that the boyfriend is aberrant by any measure as you cringers are suggesting. Maybe they are both better off with other partners. Or the other person can modify their mannerisms to make it work or whatever. Is it that clear they SHOULD modify their mannerisms?

I'm not a baby talk guy my self and I might have "visceral disgust." too. Not sure.
Posted by cracked on February 18, 2013 at 12:38 AM · Report this
shurenka 29
"It is possible to have a literalist partner subtly browbeat all playfulness out of you, or jab by jab beat mannerisms out of you that make them feel threatened"

Lol wut? Make them feel threatened? How? I fall on the side of the cringers: I don't want to feel like the parent of my partner, even in nonsexual situations. I want an adult, too, who's mature and competent and fully articulate. Baby talk especially (which, I'm interested everyone has latched onto, given it's not specifically mentioned in the letter) is one of those annoyances which I don't think I could compromise, it seems just to provoke visceral disgust (to me).

I also think there's a big difference between acting immature or bratty or verbally stunted and being playful. I think most people who would wince at the former aren't curmudgeons who hate all fun.
Posted by shurenka on February 18, 2013 at 12:14 AM · Report this
Sandiai 28
Not much to do with the topic at hand, but... @26, Baby talk just may be the key to human evolution.…

I don't know. WAA's boyfriend just sounds insecure.

Posted by Sandiai on February 17, 2013 at 11:56 PM · Report this
DAN: given the viciousness of some of the responses here, I think you should re-examine your own thoughts about this to see if you have a knee jerk bias that may be impacting your response. I understand what you think you are seeing, but I'm not sure it is as clear from the information given as you think it is.

It is possible to have a literalist partner subtly browbeat all playfulness out of you, or jab by jab beat mannerisms out of you that make them feel threatened, just as people in our society are often threatened by mannerisms they think are "gay", whether done by gays or straights.
Posted by cracked on February 17, 2013 at 11:47 PM · Report this
Frankly it annoys me to hear adults talking to babies and children in "baby talk". Talk to them like they are babies, children and you will raise the simpleminded. At which point all you'll be able to do is have tea parties with them.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on February 17, 2013 at 11:36 PM · Report this
seandr 25
This and so many other undesirable behaviors can be easily extinguished using an electric collar with remote control shock administration.
Posted by seandr on February 17, 2013 at 10:20 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 24
@7: It's not sexual, nor is it required for complete satisfaction. It's a tic/mannerism.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 17, 2013 at 8:14 PM · Report this
I suppose we can at least draw the moral that not bringing something up because it's pretty weird isn't a strategy likely to meet with great long-term success.
Posted by vennominon on February 17, 2013 at 8:07 PM · Report this
Why are people discussing babytalk when the letter writer never said a thing about it. The letter writer said he starts acting and speaking like a five year old, but the comments seem to be about either how toddlers speak or how people speak to toddlers (the two to three year old range, roughly). There is a huge difference between a five year old's speech and a toddler's.

I'm actually kind of curious how the partner is acting like a five year old, but it's probably much more in a childlike enthusiasm and simplicity of language than the cutesy-wutesy or broken grammar that people seem to be discussing. Unless the letter writer is also unfamiliar with five year olds.
Posted by uncreative on February 17, 2013 at 7:53 PM · Report this
mr. herriman 21
Lol @14 :) no, I wasn't even born yet in the 60s but I see what you're saying. And it's really something I only catch myself doing once in a great while (see first post, where I said I know that I have done it before, not that this is something I "do") and not sexually. It stems from shyness, and as I am now acknowledging a third time, uh, yes, the offenders, regardless of frequency, already know it's annoying but occasionally need reminders, the same way that people who overuse the word "like" or smack their gum do. All I came here to do was to give the LWs boyfriend the benefit of the doubt that he has a child fetish or whatever. I think he's just shy about sex.
Posted by mr. herriman on February 17, 2013 at 7:26 PM · Report this
eclexia 20
Something about this letter and the comments reminded me of something.... And I found the something.

"You are not a LOLcat", written to "I, Anonymous" by somebody who was apparently friends-of-friends with a public baby-talker. This pretty much sums of the rage it inspires in some people:…
Posted by eclexia on February 17, 2013 at 7:25 PM · Report this
@16 Sometimes a letter genuinely touches a nerve, often because it reminds someone of an experience that they've had.

The 'disgust' response is rather primal and visceral, so someone who is feeling/thinking "YUCK" is prone to over-reacting in a comment thread.

Sometimes a person's comment is just trolling, being provocative deliberately, to get attention.

And sometimes someone likes playing the role of devil's advocate, or likes to point out contradictions or hypocrisy or just another angle on a situation, and those sorts of responses to a Letter Writer might seem nastier than they were intended, especially to someone who prefers to empathize and sympathize.

So, yeah--Letter Writers who are selected for SLLOTD should steel themselves for some harshness in the comment thread. They would be wise to sift the comments, seeking out what's helpful (some of which might not be particularly 'nice') and disregarding that which seems mean-spirited or trollish.
Posted by Functional Atheist on February 17, 2013 at 7:15 PM · Report this
rob! 18
[Feel free to re-imagine as daddy/twink.]
Posted by rob! on February 17, 2013 at 7:00 PM · Report this
rob! 17
Caspar Q. Milquetoast checks out of a hotel. Then he realizes he has left his umbrella behind. He goes back to the hotel room to get it, but the room has been rented already. Through the door he hears a man's voice saying, "Whose little sweetie are you?"

A woman giggles and says, "Your little sweetie!"

"Whose little hands are these?"

"Tee-hee! Your little hands."

"And whose little feet are these …and whose little ankles …and whose little knees?"

Feeling himself beginning to blush furiously, Caspar calls through the door, "When you get to the umbrella, it's MINE!"
Posted by rob! on February 17, 2013 at 6:58 PM · Report this
bedelia 16
It's distressing to me that people come here and share honest, sincere advice/anecdotes, bravely and generously offering up their personal stories, and then other commenters shit all over them. WHAT IS THE DEAL.
Posted by bedelia on February 17, 2013 at 6:49 PM · Report this
Each to the own, but for me this would be horrible. I don't like children, but even if I did, I very much doubt I would tolerate my partner speaking baby talk. Ick ick ick. Imaging if it was dark! Double the ick. Unless your significant other likes it I would advise people to knock it the hell off.
Posted by JJinAus on February 17, 2013 at 6:37 PM · Report this
@11 Sounds like you watched too many sitcoms in the sixties. This kind of thing used to be portrayed as "lovey dovey" and the way that people talked in intimate but not necessarily sexual situations. Picture Thurston and Honey Howell. And, yeah, it's unattractive and you need to knock it off.
Posted by agony on February 17, 2013 at 6:26 PM · Report this
Straight woman here, with straight boyfriend who did the baby talk when he was feeling loving.

His intention was not to flay the skin off my body and pour salt on the wounds, but that is what it felt like to me.

We came up with a shortcut way to communicate when it happened that was non-shaming and loving. I would look at him with all the love he wanted to see and I would say "kumquat." Sweetly and nicely.

And we would both laugh. It worked a charm.
Posted by bareboards on February 17, 2013 at 5:00 PM · Report this
lolorhone 12
@5: I think you're being too harsh. However, that shit was funny.
Posted by lolorhone on February 17, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
mr. herriman 11
my sister is one of those people who nervously titters and twirls her hair when she's talking, it's like talking to a four year old. i have no idea what she's like in a sexual situation as i've never been present for one, obvs, but her normal social interaction is anything but normal.

@9 i don't care what you think, because you're an asshole, but for the record, i was not talking personally about sexual situations, you moron, just general slips, usually when asking for favors or help. i have caught myself acting sheepish or bashful instead of just asserting myself, then i feel like a dork. "would you scratch my back?" the answer i would like to get on the occasions when i accidentally say something like this shyly/childishly is "only if you ask me like a grown up."

i'm saying for the vast majority of people who sometimes do this, it's not a fetish, it's not on purpose, and we all know it's annoying and would/should want to be called out in the moment and try to break/avoid the habit. so fuck you.
Posted by mr. herriman on February 17, 2013 at 3:56 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 10
I can imagine a woman doing this but not a guy.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on February 17, 2013 at 3:41 PM · Report this

EW. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. Just know that when you use your creepy baby voice with most people, it's an INSTANT buzz kill. You're being kindly *tolerated* by your loving partner. I'm worried about the partner who's turned on by this.
Posted by Confluence on February 17, 2013 at 3:27 PM · Report this
Gern Blanston 8
Somebody needs a timeout.
Posted by Gern Blanston on February 17, 2013 at 2:41 PM · Report this
2006 advice but way off base. Whatever happened to splitting 50/50 for kinks?

"It turns me off when you go 5-year-oldey, honey. I'm guessing it's a turn-on for you. I'm OK with that, but not my cup of tea and I was shy to say so. If you like me, you need to meet my needs to. At least half the time we fuck you're an adult. M'kay?"
Posted by delta35 on February 17, 2013 at 2:36 PM · Report this
mr. herriman 6
I think it's self-consciousness that drives this behavior, and that people are largely unaware that they're doing it, or at least it's unintentional. I've done it I'm sure, as have people I've been involved with. Bashfulness and childishness are often mistaken for the same thing. Maybe they kindof are the same thing in expression. I know that whenever I inadvertently use a baby voice it certainly isn't driven by any fetish, and I wish I would be called out because I know how irritating it is. I've had to say before, "ask me/say it again in your normal voice" and it was never met with shame or anger or "but I thought you LIKED it!!" but only ever "whoops, sorry, (repeats said thing in normal voice)." People do not necessarily know they're doing it. Bring it to his attention and he will most likely stop. Will take time, breaking habits always does, overcoming shyness always does. But he'll work on it. And if he doesn't, well, maybe it *is* what you're afraid of, and he's not the guy for you.
Posted by mr. herriman on February 17, 2013 at 2:35 PM · Report this
I propose that the rule should be: if you are in a relationship with a baby-talker, you need to DTMFA, ***unless*** you yourself are prone to randomly putting on a bad fake english accent. In that case, you motherfuckers deserve each other and owe it to the rest of the world to take each other off our hands.
Posted by beef rallard on February 17, 2013 at 1:59 PM · Report this
I also do this. I have no clue why and didn't realize it until my partner pointed it out. I feel like it's a remnant of being a child and feeling safe and comfortable. I have tried to stop doing it, but it's really hard. I just automatically switch into little kid mode. It doesn't happen in sexual situations, just when I'm feeling really comfortable and intimate. If my partner couldn't handle it and asked me to stop I had to take a little communication time-out and switch mental tracks. It definitely feels weird getting called out, but I understand that it's weird to be talking with a grown up 5 yr old. I really don't know how I would go about correcting it out of my personality or even if I should.
Posted by lindsapotamus on February 17, 2013 at 1:56 PM · Report this
tainte 3
goo goo ga ga gross
Posted by tainte on February 17, 2013 at 1:53 PM · Report this
How would you have reacted to someone who said what Dan suggests saying?
Posted by EricaP on February 17, 2013 at 12:48 PM · Report this
I'm not convinced you're right, Dan. This is something I do naturally when I'm with a partner, always have done, and I didn't really realise I was doing it for years. Considering the age of this guy there's a good chance he doesn't have anywhere near as much self-awareness about his behaviour as you're suggesting.
Posted by Cotswold on February 17, 2013 at 12:38 PM · Report this

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