What's in a name?

The names in this article have been changed to protect the innocent, but the story is otherwise true.

Sometimes what a man chooses to call you, or what he chooses to be called, can be a big clue as to whether or not he is that kind of man that can take you in hand.

From the time I was born my mother stated quite clearly, on regular occasions, that she named me Stephanie, and that was the name I was to answer to. She did not approve of nicknames in any way, shape or form. She would say that if she had wanted me to be called Stephy, she would have named me that. She named me Stephanie. That was my name, and that is what everyone called me.

Then I met him at college. We where in the same circle of friends and our friends called him Jon. We knew of each other for about a year before we started dating. Shortly after we became a couple, he told me that he wanted me to call him Jonathan. That did not make sense to me because everyone we knew called him Jon. I thought that since I was his girlfriend I should call him Jon also. He explained that it was because I was his girlfriend that he wanted me to call him Jonathan.

Shortly after that strangely dominating conversation, he took me to meet his parents. As we walked in the door of his parents house, him mom called from the next room, "Johnny, is that you?" Holy cow, by now I was feeling really strange about this name thing. His mom called him Johnny, and he expected me to call him Jonathan. So he introduced me to his mom, as his friend, Steph. I bit my lip and went by the name Steph for the day. This was not my usually reaction. As I had been trained by my mother, I usually corrected any shorting of my name right away.

So as the day went on, I called him Jonathan, he called me Steph. I began to wonder what was wrong with me. Believe me his parents noticed that I was the only one in the house addressing their son by the longest most formal form of his name. What they did not know is that every time they said Johnny or Steph something burned deep down inside me. I cannot explain it, other then I was beginning to understand what is meant to be taken in hand.

In the car on the way back to my dorm, I tried to explain the little thing about my name being Stephanie, and me needing to be called by that name. He was unmoved. I knew that his meeting my mother was going to be interesting.

Good Girl

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Defining the Self

Like many women, my wife has two names. I love her first name. She does not. So, she goes by her middle name.

I have not, nor do I ever intend to, call her by any name other than that she wishes to use. In fact, until I read this piece, I had not thought about my wife's two names in years.

So long as she does not demean her person, a woman should be allowed to define herself. Without good cause, there are simply some areas of a woman's life into which a man does not intrude uninvited. Her name, her purse, and her knickers are three of those.

Beyond the above, I would suggest that the man is trying to get the respect his parents never gave him. He is still struggling to define himself.

Anyone who has raised a daughter or two knows there are times when girls want to be known by some name other than the ones their parents gave them. We found it helpful to play along until they liked their old name again.

Re: Noone

It always makes me laugh when controlling men start listing things they would not try to control. I hope my story shows that my now husband of 11 years was able to stick a hot poker where it was needed. When I respected him in this way, his parent thought I was wife material.

Defining the Self: More than a Pet Name

Remember that I prefaced the remarks in question by noting "without good cause" and qualified the list by including "intrude uninvited." While you are quite free to disagree, please also remember that I have been married to a very bright woman for over forty years. I really am not making this up as I go along.

At the same time, I am quite aware that the younger generation is unwilling to learn from the older. Given the passing of years, this manifest disinclination is one of the things that make for so many curious diversions in that passing parade we call life.

Do you personally dislike the name?

I couldn't tell from Good Girl's original post how she actually felt about her given name. Same question about nicknames. Yes, she'd been trained a certain way, but does she, herself, like it? I couldn't tell, and that's what would determine how I'd feel if someone insisted on calling me one way or the other. If I absolutely abhorred the name Steph and he insisted on calling me that, I'd likely find it rude and annoying. If, on the other hand, it was more of a rebellion against my upbringing, I might see it differently. I don't know why a man would insist on calling me something he knew I disliked. That would seem like control just for the sake of controlling, which isn't my thing.

Nail on the head.

I do like it. It is a form of rebellion and a pet name. It is a kind of a breaking from my parents, and cleaving to my man kind of thing. I was defending my name with him, only because I knew my mother was not going to like it. However, this man did not need my help standing up to my mother. He does what he wants to do in front of her, and she flops like a fish out of water. (Not disrespectfully mind you.) It is fun to watch her not know how to act when she is not in charge. After the first time she met him, she tried to forbid me to see him. One year later, my dad was making her plan and pay for our wedding. One of my dad's finer moment.

Your father made your MOTHER pay for the wedding?!

It sounds to me as though Jonathan was deliberately trying to upset your mother...when perhaps he should have been telling his OWN Mater to use his full name. And I don't see how your father could MAKE your mother pay for your wedding anyway...isn't a traditional male supposed to foot the bills?

I agree

with the last comment. It's much easier to upset and be firm with someone else's mother. I'd have had more respect if Jonathon had dealt with his own mother. Even more impressed if he handled his mother with enough tact, diplomacy and care to get what he wanted without upsetting her! I have seen it done and it is amazing to watch and a joy to know it is possible. I have asked D to make sure to teach these skills to our son, so in later years I will be afforded that respect from him.


His mother, her mother?

Who cares? It's working for Good Girl & Johnathan! Truthfully, it sounds to me like they needed to establish some ground rules with her (her mother), being the extreme feminist she seems to be. I can totally see why he felt the need to stand up to her.

As for Noone's comment on the younger generation not being willing to listen & learn from older generations, that's a generalization. I could sit for hours & listen to my elders & learn from them. I'd much rather learn from someone else's mistakes than my own! Don't lump us all into that category! Feed us! Some of us DO listen. You obviously have a great deal of knowledge to give. I enjoy reading yours & the other more experienced posters' views.


who cares?

I really never read in GG's comment that her mother was a feminist, as Dynomite says. A control freak perhaps, but no mention of feminism. As for who cares, isn't that why people post these articles anyway, for people to care enough to respond? That's half of what makes this site worth reading.

To the person who mentioned paying for weddings, if I remember correctly (can't put my hand on Emily Post's Manual at the moment, LOL) traditionally in the US, it's always been the bride's side who foots the bill.


Feminism & Caring

I guess I need to choose my words more carefully. It must not have read to some the way I intended it to sound. My comment on her mother being a feminist was in response to Good Girl's comment on how her mother didn't know how to act when she wasn't the one in control. It just appeared to me that she was the one who wore the pants in their household. Maybe feminist *isn't* the right word.

I also didn't *literally* mean nobody cares, of course! It's just that Good Girl *is* okay with her man shortening her name. So what does him standing up to his mother or even her mother really have to do with it? It's between them. It's their relationship. I didn't think he was intentionally just trying to upset her mother. Yes, Good Girl gets a kick out of it, but I took it as him trying to establish the dynamics of their relationship.

As quoted below, Good Girl says herself that he doesn't do it in a disrespectful way.

"He does what he wants to do in front of her, and she flops like a fish out of water. (Not disrespectfully mind you.)"

So anyways, Good Girl, great post. Sounds to me like you two are doing just fine, and I think your man deserves yours AND your mother's respect.

Best of Luck to you!


Let me explain

Upon further reflection, I feel that some are missing the point, here. I'll try to articulate my point better this time.

By standing up to her mother, Johnathan accomplishes two things. (1) He lets her mother know (respectfully, according to Good Girl) that while there was a time & place for her to be in control of her daughter, it's no longer her place. By standing up to her, he lets her know that he is now in charge of her daughter. This, I feel, is a must (given the controling nature of her mother) if he is truly going to be the one in charge. He needs to do this so there is no interference and/or power struggle between him & her mother regarding who is in control. (2) He lets Good Girl know that he is the one in control now, not her mother. He takes her in hand by shortening her name. This is effective for Good Girl, because shortening her name was unacceptable for her mother. It was engrained in her that she was never to let that happen. Sounds like control to me. This small act effectively shifts the power from her mother to Johnathan. This is hugely important. As stated by many taken in hand posters, you can't have two people in a power struggle to effectively manage a taken in hand relationship. This, I believe, includes any power struggle from someone outside the relationship.

I'm still unsure how him standing up to his mother would benefit them. I could see how it would if Good Girl simply didn't like them shortening her name & he stood up to them for that, but she stated that she does like it, and they are only following his lead. Why would he stand up to his mother & require her to use his full name? He's not taking his mother in hand. He's taking Good Girl in hand. That's the whole point. By requiring Good Girl to call him by his full name (and nobody else), it effectively defines their roles for her. As she stated before, he required her to call him by his full name because she is his girlfriend.

I hope this better explains my thoughts. I sometimes write a little too general & make a totally different point than I intend to.


Family dynamics

In his family his step dad is the head of the house. They are relaxed and playful. He really had no need to stand up to his parents over this issue. I am not sure he even cares what they call him. This was a game and they where all proud of me for playing along. A game that has become my 24/7 reality. A relationship that has freed me form my over barring mother in a gentle loving way.

In my family, my mother has always been dominating even when not necessary. As a child I learned to obey without reason, and that has always bothered me. I have always wanted to ask the question "why?" The way my dad let her have the reins was destructive to my brothers, even more then me. I remember one night my teenage brother pleaing with my dad to act like a man. My parents would say that they have a healthy marriage, if merely for the fact that they have stayed together so long.

Traditionally speaking, in the US, the father of the bride does pay for the wedding. My mother was so against this man (I still can not see why), she told me that my dad would not pay for my wedding. My man then went to his parents and asked them to host a modest ceremony at their house. He intended to pay for it himself. When we presented this plan to my parents, my dad was insulted by my mother's behavior. My dad gave my mother the family check book and told her she had better give me the wedding of my dreams.

A lesser man would have walked away from me at the mere prospect of having to deal with my mother for the rest of his life. My man has taken pride in making me his. The first step in the process was renaming me, and asking me to respect him. I do not like the idea of calling someone "sir", or "master". That is obvious to the wrong kind of person. In a simpler, subtler way, I call my husband by his full name. He calls me by a very short nickname. He usually answers the question "why?" and I know he is in charge because he deserves it. That makes me feel safe.

Renaming Can Be Important

I normaly agree with the posts of Noone. But not this time.

Often women prefer their "pet" names, given to them by their husband. And husbands may prefer to be called something respectful, like "Sir" for example.

Obviously, if a woman is offended by a name given to her, common decency necessitates not intentionally hurting her. But one's name can help define expectations in a relationship.

Noone's post is appropriate and sensitive and should apply to many couples whohave strong preferences one way or another. But for many others, special names chosen by the husband are a symbol of the type of relationship that the couple has, and so gain in meaning and importance.


Whipit said:

"I normaly agree with the posts of Noone. But not this time. "

Funnily enough I normally disagree with Noone's posts but not this time.

We toyed with the idea of me being called slave. It was interesting and fun at first but after a while I found it to be too impersonal and a bit degrading so I asked him not to. He, kindly, does not do that anymore.

I also changed my given name from the one my parents gave me. Only by a few letters but it was a distinct change. That was 22 years ago and I've since changed it by deed poll. My father now uses my chosen name and my mother does when she remembers but no one else calls me by my given name. Names are very personal and should be liked or it can leave one feeling quite uncomfortable about themselves.

Consent is assumed

Please be aware, Sully, that all interactions that I have with my wife—the finest, most beautiful, and most compassionate woman in the world—are completely consensual. Anything I say on this site assumes that everyone knows this.

But sometimes I think it might get a little boring if every post written by me has to include that caveat, n'est-ce pas? If I have written a few comments with a twinkle in my eye, I hope that has not misled anyone.

My wife enjoys doing things that she says she does not want to do. One aspect of her mind does not want to do something, but the main part of her mind—the part that gives consent—likes her to be forced to do it anyway. (Consensual non-consent.)

I may tease my wife by giving her a pet name that she is not immediately fond of. But this teasing leads to a tension that can build sexual excitement in our relationship. From passionate talking to whipping, to hugging, to loving and then to....

I know that my actions are consensual because my wife says that they are so, and because my wife's happiness in our marriage is very evident. My wife believes that all interactions between people, sexual or otherwise, should be premised on mutual and informed consent, so I doubt she'd be happy if my actions were not consensual!


pleased to hear it.

Well I'm very pleased to hear that your relationship with your wife is consenting. To be honest I can't recall anything you have written that would make me think otherwise.
Sometimes however posts can some across suggesting that taking one's wife in had need not be consensual and it is just the way it SHOULD be. When I read this I will always question it. To you it may be boring but to me it is a vital component of taken in hand and I would hate anyone reading this site to believe otherwise.

I agree with Whipit. Whateve

I agree with Whipit. Whatever works for you in your relationship, so long as it is ultimately consensual, I am all for it.

I am curious though... How did the meeting with your mother go?


Taking the husband.s last name

Although this discussion has focused on given names, I have always felt strongly about my wife taking my last name when we married. Fortunately for us, this was never an issue. My wife gladly and proudly changed her last name to mine. She loves signing her name as Mrs. ******. For us this is more than just a symbol. It is the recognition of two becoming one. Of course, simply because a wife takes her husband's last name is no guarantee a solid marriage, but it is also more than a romantic notion. Setting aside the practical matter of what to name the children, it is an important first step she takes in committing herself to her husband. I admit to being biased against the idea of a woman keeping her own last name. In my mind, it seems to demonstrate her need to remain independent. To many it may be nothing more than a symbol, but I say don't under estimate the power of symbols.


My husband calls me a variety of things, ranging from 'pussycat' through 'very naughty girl' to 'cantankerous old bitch' depending on the mood he is in (and the mood I'm in). However, he has never messed with my given name, Louise, and I wouldn't be at all happy if he did. A man on a DD site once addressed me as 'Lulu', and I was absolutely outraged. Even in the course of our worst rows, my husband never called me anything as insulting as that.

I normally call him Dave, but have a tendency to address him as David when he is telling me off, laying down the law about something, or spanking me. He has never asked me to do this, i just seem to feel an instinctive need to address his more formally at these times.



I got to thinking about this again in terms of where we are now. My husband does not even call me by my name at all. He uses the name "Steph" when talking about me to others or when introducing me. But when he wants to get my attention, he usually calls me "Hon". Which I think is kind of funny, because even that is a shortened version on Honey. I still almost always call him by his full name all the time.

How you address someone is important

Thank you for the lovely post you wrote, and having read it I think I understand what you are saying in it. It always irritates the life out of me when others address me in a manner I dislike. My mom always got upset with me when I would correct those who used a shorter version of my either my birth name or my now chosen name. However, it does not upset me so much when others use a shorter version of my name. If I understood your post right, it made your blood boil because it felt rude to you, just like when people tell me goodbye. I was taught a long time ago that you did not tell a friend you never wanted to see them again, and that is what goodbye has always meant to me and why it makes my blood boil.

Nomen est omen

Thank you Good Girl for this great article.
I never thought of this topic before, but after reading your words I started to pay attention on how me and my boyfriend refer to each other, and how I adressed my (non Taken In Hand) exes. All my exes had cute, sugar-coated (and now in retrospect slightly dumb and degrading) animal-nicknames.

But now, I almost always call my boyfriend by his full name, while he has a nickname for me. It's the name my family used to call me when I was a child, and the name I used to refer to myself since my full given name was to difficult for me to say at that time. He is the only person using this name, besides my Mum who still uses it sometimes when she's affectionate with me, and he also adresses me in this way when talking to other people.

Sometimes he also calls me his "treasure", something you say in German just as you would say "darling" or "honey" in English. I would dispise returning this afectionate nickname, because it speaks of ownership.

All of this reminds me of the Latin saying "Nomen est omen."