My Boyfriend Is Great But He Talks Baby Talk. What’s That All About?

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I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a couple of months. I’m 50, he is 60. We both have Ph.D’s. We met from an online dating service. Initially I wasn’t sure I had any chemistry but decided to give the guy a shot. He is smart, funny, and had been thoughtful, giving me gifts, writing me notes, etc. Texts a lot, makes time for me on weekends and once during the week. About a few weeks in we were sitting on the bed watching TV, talking. He started talking baby talk to me. It was a high pitched, mushing words together, weird baby talk. I was shocked. He kept at it and I was completely turned off.

Since I had been so into him at the time it was not that I was looking for a reason to break things off. It just took me by complete surprise. He’s done it many times, only when we are alone, never in public…so far. It’s usually in the evening, maybe when he is more relaxed, I don’t know. But it’s definitely a turn off. After the third time I said to him in the nicest way possible, “Did you know you talk baby talk?” I just was not sure what to say to him! He said something like he didn’t realize it. I asked him if anyone else in his past had commented on it and he said no. (Hmmm, why am I so lucky to get this, I thought?). But he couldn’t have just started doing this with me. The fourth time I said it again and he tried to say that he was “just relaxed”.

Several things happened over the following 6 weeks that has made me wonder if he is really the one for me. Some passive aggressive behavior, some pouting when he doesn’t get his way. Some really immature behavior. He actually had an alcoholic parent and has some of those characteristics from growing up in that family. His brother is similarly emotionally stunted…Although I would not have said my boyfriend is emotionally stunted, I’m beginning to think that he is. Why does he do this? Is this common? I have heard adult women do this and it is creepy then, too. But this is a huge turn off and I feel like running home when he does it. Not sure why I haven’t….I have not yet said I don’t want him to do it. I’ve been thinking about how to approach him with this, or hoping it was just going to be a one or two time thing, but it looks like this is a part of his communication style. There is nothing else surrounding the baby talk…like he isn’t trying to ask for sex, or anything like that. I am just baffled by this and have never heard a grown man do this. Your thoughts????

Rae

My thoughts? You certainly asked the weirdest question of the month. So there’s that.

But since I’m here to help solve your dating problems, let’s tease this out and dissect your baby-talking guy from a few different angles, okay?

One thing’s for sure: you don’t want to bottle this up and build up resentment.

First of all, baby talk, in and of itself, should not be the reason to break up. I will concede that it’s unusual. I will concede that it’s annoying. But if he’s smart, funny, thoughtful, relationship-oriented, financially stable, and good in bed, then it would be hard to say, with a straight face, that you should dump him when he brings out the high-pitched voice a couple of times a month.

As such, baby talk — especially done privately — is no different than any other annoying quality that one might encounter in a partner. I pick the skin on the bottom of my feet when I read in bed. Disgusting, right? My wife hasn’t dumped me yet. My wife eats Oreos in front of the sink before brushing her teeth. Kinda peculiar, huh? And yet I predict we will make it to our next anniversary.

To be clear — I’m not defending the baby talk itself — I’m only trying to put this odd, but benign, action in its proper place. There are far greater sins in a relationship to consider, and there are always valid reasons to break up with someone — you just have to unpack them and separate them from the baby talk itself. The immaturity, the passive-aggressiveness you cited above — maybe the baby talk relates to it, maybe it doesn’t. But that’s why you date for 2+ years before you get married. You get to see a man, in full, without your love blinders on. Down the road, you can decide for yourself if his behavior is acceptable or unacceptable. To me, odd personal habits are usually acceptable, because they don’t involve how he treats you. Once he treats you poorly, or communication isn’t working for you, that’s another story.

You certainly asked the weirdest question of the month. So there’s that.

One thing’s for sure: you don’t want to bottle this up and build up resentment. You have to say something in a gentle way — because, chances are, no one has ever told him the truth about how grating this habit is. Let him know that you care about him, you’re enjoying yourself, and yet you find yourself getting unintentionally annoyed with him. Not because he’s a bad guy, but because baby talk is such a departure from how you normally communicate and because you’ve never met anyone else who does anything like that in your 50 years. You’re pleased that he feels relaxed around you, but you just want to understand this behavior more.

Come from a place of understanding and curiosity, rather than lecturing, and, at the very least, he’ll know how you feel about his unique vocal stylings.

Whether it stops — and whether it’s dealbreaker material – only one of those is within your control. Please come back and let us know what happens.

Everyone else, please weigh in on the baby-talker and let me know what the most unusual/annoying trait you’ve ever had in a partner.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    DeeGee

    The first thing I thought of when I read this story, was the episode of CSI (S5E15 “King baby”) where the grown fat man was found dead in the hidden nursery room in diapers and a bib…
    Hopefully that extreme ending isn’t the result of a man baby-talking…

    Personally, I think that speaking high-voiced-really-trying-to-sound-like-a-baby-talking should be left to Howie Mandel and his “Bobbie” baby jokes (if you haven’t seen them, then google it, it’s hilarious).   If you aren’t doing stand-up, then don’t do it.

    Although I don’t typically or often speak in baby talk style words, on some occasions I have as a joke with a couple of girlfriends used words like “boy fwend” or “girl fwend”, but only quietly in my real voice as a silly endearment, and they liked it and thought it was funny, and would then sometimes do the same.

  2. 22
    Bernice K.

    Oh my God.   I had this date, a man I have known for years and we had been spending time together, etc.    Well, we had a date and were just kind of going in the direction of kissing, just kissing and he started to talk baby talk.   A high pitched, whiny, country baby voice.   That killed it for me.

    I pulled away, and could not even touch him.   Told him I had a fever, pretended to have a fever and asked him to go home.

    Next day, I told him that we were very different and that I wished him well.

    Oh my God, that voice is still haunting me.

  3. 23
    Petien

    I despise baby talk, especially since I work with someone who does this quite a bit. Today, for instance this guy said he was going home early because he has “a bit of a tummy ache”; he speaks of  “kitties and puppies” (using the  saccharine tone you might expect), etc. If you’re over the age of 10 and talking like this, there’s no excuse.   My theory is that he avoids responsibility and adulthood through this and similar quirks. “If I sound  like a moron, no one will expect  anything difficult of me.” Maybe his parents rewarded this sort of thing. Too bad for him…

  4. 24
    Laissa

    I dated a man for four months. As soon as we were intimate, the baby talk started….really, really weird. Picture a 5 year-old… I would go to the washroom after intimacy and hear, “Are you coming back? Are you coming back? Coming back? Are you coming back?”

    Over and over and over. I answered yes. The next time I answered no. The next time I didn’t answer…. I tried a few tactics but it continued. Eventually I said something like, “This may work with other women but it’s not going to do it for me”. He wasn’t mad but said, “What did you mean by that? You were upset”.

    The baby talk continued after that…. and always along this same line of “Are you coming back?”

    Long story short, in the end, I found out he was dating other women and when I asked   if he’d slept with other women since we started being intimate (in a non-jealous way but wanting to know where our relationship was and if we were on the same page), he lied. I caught him in the lie a week later and when I did, he lied ABOUT lying. When I caught him in that lie (on the spot), he wasn’t apologetic or remorseful. It was totally inconsequential to him…lying was fine.

    I ended it but ultimately, I think he was just an emotionally immature man whose fear of intimacy was matched only by his fear of being left. Many women had left him before (uh….maybe he lied to them, too?) and I suspect there might’ve been mommy issues there. Who knows? He also had some issues with ED and sexual release, which I’ve heard can be an indication of a fear of intimacy. Certainly some insecurity there.

    The baby talk was very weird, persistent, and I think indicative of bigger issues. For a man who was almost 37, I think it was a red flag.

    I think baby talk used as actual conversation by men or women is a red flag. It’s creepy for sure and I can’t believe any emotionally mature adult would respond positively to it or like it.

    My two cents. 🙂

  5. 25
    Jane

    If I was cold or ill my ex would say things like “Oh your poor lickle tootsies are cold”   I’d reply “I don’t have “tootsies”, I have feet.   I’m not five.” He would then act all offended and say that if I didn’t like it, he wouldn’t show me affection at all then.   It was total borderline black and white reasoning.   I couldn’t feel sexual towards a guy who was unwilling to talk to me like an adult.   I felt patronised and uncomfortable.   He was a total narcissist in many ways, passive aggressive, sulky, untruthful and he did the whole idealise, devalue and discard thing followed by the hoovering me back into the relationship that narcissists do.   If someone talks to you as if you’re a child, they’re implying superiority.

  6. 26
    Ripley Jones

    Baby talk is fun…if you’re into age play. Some people are into it; I am not. Nothing will turn me off faster. My bf does this “baby talk” thing almost everyday. I’ve noticed it happens when there’s something he feels he wants to say, but doesn’t seem to know how to approach it. I can’t tell you how much of a turn off it is for me. We’re “grown-ups” now. I feel (and based on what I’ve seen), growing up, he was enmeshed with and over-nurtured by his mom. He also uses it to imply when he’s joking, but sometimes he’s not joking, so it becomes kind of a mind f*ck. We can still joke around and have fun without “baby talk”, in my opinion. He and I are both clever/witty people. I suggested the “baby talk” stop because it’s difficult for me to differentiate joking from not joking when he does it, but I hurt his feelings because at the time, we were having a discussion which was beginning to escalate. He displays similar characteristics of OP’s guy; passive-aggressive behavior, alcoholism in his family and pouting. I’m in therapy for my childhood issues and because of that, I clearly see where his behavior is coming from. I understand it and have more empathy for him, but he is emotionally stunted. He’s admitted he needs therapy for his issues, but has yet to pursue it. I know it’s not up to me to push him or change him, but I have to figure out if I can accept him if he has no desire to deal with his issues and get emotionally healthier.

    I’d just like to add, it was suggested OP confront the guy about this and mention “no one else I’ve known has done this”, I suggest not saying that. Nothing could be more isolating than that sentence. There are other ways to convey if a behavior isn’t normal/healthy. It also implies one is making comparisons. Yes, comparisons are perfectly normal in relationships and necessary in life, but you never want your SO/wife/husband to know they’re being compared to others. While we aren’t responsible for other’s emotions, we should always exercise tact with people we care about.

  7. 27
    Vitta

    I am 32 and my boyfriend is 52 and he has his moments when he talks baby talk and it also turns me off!! I get freaked out! I always ask him about his past and his relationship between his mother and father but he never wants to talk about it.   I am a registered nurse and I know and feel that something probably happened in his past that causes him to do that! My boyfriend also pouts when he doesnt get his way and he makes every conversation or issue about him.   I have told him 100s of times to please stop but he just tells me to “relaxy” its fun! It makes my skin crawl!   I am ready to leave him, it makes me not want to talk to him at all its so annoying.   You should really talk to him about it and tell him how you feel, and just go from there! Only you know what you like and what you want.   I know I dont want a child for a man regardless if everything else is great!

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  9. 28
    Ang

    My ex 50 year old boyfriend talked this way too. Mainly in the mornings, evenings and when he was sick. I did bring it up to him if he realized that he was doing it and he honestly wasn’t aware. He would say that he is just happy and relaxed and that’s how he talks sometimes. We dated for a year and half. It was seriously cringe worthy and a deal breaker for me. Maybe has to do with him needing constant recognition, nurturing, attention and mothering. I’m a 40 year old mother whose teenager doesn’t require as much as he seeks from me.

  10. 29
    Anna L Schaefer

    I have this experience too. I adore this guy and who he is when he’s actually embodying his masculine self. but he has this infant version, that he regresses into on a daily basis (around 4pm, after he gets home from work) that is so disturbing and actually creepy. not to mention an TREMENDOUS turn off. I feel like I want to snap fingers or beg him to snap out of it. I thought it was just me.

    1. 29.1
      Laura

      Hey, Anna

      I set a notification so I’d see comments posted here. I mention that because it’s been a few years since I scoured the Interet and this was the *only* article I could find relating to my question about this.

      With a few years hindsight…

      Run, don’t walk, run from this guy. If you have mutual friends then I’d consider a cordial relationship but otherwise get away from him.

      Why?

      -He lacks boundaries

      -He’ll regress when you need him

      -He’s selfish (even if he’s super nice and it’s completely unintentional)

      -It’s freakin creepy. Can you think of any other behavior as creepy that wouldn’t have you running?

      Either he doesn’t know he does it which is really disturbing or he does and then what’s he doing about it? Probably nothing.

      I was diagnosed with PTSD. I’ve had my share of weird behaviors over the years but ya know, I try to deal with it as it comes up and when it’s come out in a relationship I’m embarrassed, work to resolve it and have apologized or acknowledged my behavior.

      There’s nothing wrong with imperfection or someone struggling through some stuff but how they deal with it is telling. This guy has no mature coping mechanisms.

      I tried to be friends with my guy but time just showed what a selfish brat he was. Nothing is ever his fault. This is what you get when you have an adult that can’t/won’t deal with their stuff. It was like being with a drug addict who was refusing to acknowledge their addiction.

      They’re doing a lot in their daily life to hide this from others and they regress with us because they want to make us responsible for them.

      Think about the natural role of infants. They are completely dependent. When they regress like this on a regular basis, they’re telling us they expect us to do everything for them.

      Good luck!

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