Honey is a term of endearment that dates all the way back to the 14th century.
While pet names like “sugar” and “baby” are more recent and date back to just the late 19th century, lovers have long been comparing each other to the gooey sweetener.
And yet, even though this loving nickname has been around for so long, we still sit around wondering how best to respond when someone calls us “honey.”
Well, if the last five and bit centuries of using this term have taught us anything, it’s that “honey” is either used as a term of extreme affection or extreme hostility.
Someone calling you honey means they either really like you or really don’t. It’s usually easy to tell which is the case from the context in which it is said.
Here is a comprehensive guide for how to respond to this trusty term of endearment, with responses tailored to how it is meant and who is saying it.
25 ways to respond when someone calls you “honey”
- Aw, stop, you’re the sweet one.
- I might be your honey, but I’m not as sweet as you ☺
- Hey babe.
- Aw, I like how it sounds when you say that.
- Feel free to call me that anytime you want.
- Oh, I’ll be your honey any day.
- Thanks, sugar.
- I like it when you get affectionate.
- I’ve heard honey pairs well with cheese, so I guess that means we’re perfect for each other.
- I bet you say that to all the girls.
- I’m not your honey. Try again.
- Sorry, I’d prefer if you used my name when you talk to me.
- That feels a little inappropriate for the workplace. Please call me by my name.
- I’m really not interested in using pet names with each other. Could you please just call me by my name.
- That’s [Insert title and surname] to you, actually.
- What makes you think you can call me that?
- I don’t know you; please don’t call me honey.
- Does that ever work?
- Okay, sport. Calm down.
- Don’t be catty with me.
- Are you really doing this right now?
- Look, girl. Here’s the thing.
- I prefer [insert name], thanks.
- [Just stare!]
- Okay, whatever, sweetie.
How to respond when a crush calls you honey
While there are myriad situations in which people call each other honey, the most common (and most fun) is when someone you like uses it to refer to you affectionately.
So, if someone you’ve been talking to and crushing on calls you honey, it’s understandable that you might have butterflies in your stomach and need to think twice about how to respond.
Here are a few suggestions for how you might go about it.
1. Aw, stop, you’re the sweet one.
Using honey as a term of endearment obviously has its origins in the fact that honey is sweet, thick, and delicious.
When we want someone to know that we care about them, we will of course use words that recall a pleasant experience.
If your crush calls you “honey” and you want to respond with something clever that still conveys affection, why not tell them that they are in fact the sweet one?
A: You are such a honey.
B: Aw, stop, you’re the sweet one.
2. I might be your honey, but I’m not as sweet as you ☺
This response to being called honey by someone you like takes a similar approach as the last one. The point is essentially that you are calling the person you like sweet for calling you “honey.”
This is a great way to respond to someone calling you “honey” as a pet name.
A: Hey honey!
B: I might be your honey, but I’m not as sweet as you ☺
3. Hey babe.
One of the most common situations in which people use “honey” as a term of endearment is as part of a greeting. The same is often true when a guy calls you “baby.”
So, if your crush greets you by calling you “honey,” you can return the greeting and use a different term of endearment. “Babe” is as good as any, but you might also use “dear” or “darling.”
A: Hey honey!
B: Hey babe.
4. Aw, I like how it sounds when you say that.
If your crush calls you “honey” for the first time and you want to encourage them to keep calling you that, tell them that you like the sound of it.
When someone calls you a pet name or term of endearment for the first time, they will often be a bit nervous to see how you react. If you can show them that you appreciate their openness and willingness to show affection, they will be sure to use that term more in the future.
A: Hey my honey.
B: Aw, I like how that sounds when you say it.
5. Feel free to call me that anytime you want.
Another way to indicate that you like a nickname, pet name, term of endearment, or affectionate name that someone is calling you is to tell them they should feel free to use that term whenever they like.
This is a funny, flirty way to show that whatever amount of interest they are showing by using that term, you would like to reciprocate.
The psychology of the five love languages shows that some people need words of affirmation more than others. If you are one of these people, encourage your crush to say nice, loving things to you so that you can have your emotional needs met.
A: So, honey, will you tell me about your day?
B: Yes, I will. Feel free to call me that anytime you want, by the way.
6. Oh, I’ll be your honey any day.
This is a cute response if someone you like comes right out and asks you whether it is okay for them to call you “honey.”
Regardless of what compliment the person you like gives you, whether it’s a funny line like “What’s cooking, good looking?” or something more serious, like a guy saying he appreciates you, if you want them to keep saying it, you have to respond with something encouraging.
Making clear to a guy that you want him to keep calling you honey––or any other term of endearment––is the only way to make him feel secure doing so.
A: Would you mind if I started calling you “honey”?
B: Oh, I’ll be your honey any day.
7. Thanks, sugar.
Often when someone likes you, they will begin to call you honey in a mildly jokey way. You can keep the banter (and the sweet name calling) going by referring to them by another, similar term of affection.
So, if someone calls you honey in a funny way, why not call them sugar using the same tone.
Eventually the jokey, funny tone may fade away, and you’ll be left with a great rapport and the ability to feel comfortable calling your significant other sweet, affectionate nicknames that come wrapped in a personal history.
A: You’re looking great honey.
B: Well gee, thanks sugar.
8. I like it when you get affectionate.
While establishing a funny rapport is all well and good, it is also nice to be able to express yourself sincerely to the person you like.
So, if someone calls you honey as a genuine way to express that they like you, you can tell them that you like this affectionate side of them.
As ever, encouraging their behavior will likely increase how often they use doting nicknames in the future.
Alternatively, you could also just respond “Aww” to show that you are moved. However, people will struggle to respond to “Aww” more than they will to a direct and clear expression of care.
A: Hey there my honey, I’ve been thinking about you all day.
B: I like it when you get affectionate.
9. I’ve heard honey pairs well with cheese, so I guess that means we’re perfect for each other.
Right. Let’s just get this out of the way: calling someone “honey” is a little cheesy. In fact, most ways of expressing affection for someone are a little cheesy.
But that doesn’t mean we should stay away from them, nor does it mean that you should stay away from people who use cheesy lines on you.
After all, there are far worse situations than sitting around wondering how to respond to a pickup line from someone you like.
However, if you’re someone who likes to call things as they are, you can respond to being called honey by ribbing your crush about their cheesy line.
A: You are looking fine tonight, honey.
B: I’ve heard honey pairs well with cheese, so I guess that means we’re perfect for each other.
10. I bet you call all the girls that.
If you and your crush are just getting to know each other and you aren’t quite ready to use any of the bolder responses listed above, you could respond to being called “honey” by making a joke.
This deflects the compliment while keeping the conversation going. It also introduces a light-hearted tone to the nature of your chats.
Once you make a joke, your crush will know that you are the kind of person who is up for having a laugh.
Saying, “I bet you call all the girls that” both shows that you are funny and tests your crush’s interest in you. If they are genuinely interested in pursuing something serious, they will make it clear to you that, they do not say that to all the girls.
While this might sound like a gendered response, it would be quite funny if used by a man––whether you are speaking to a man or woman!
A: Hey there honey!
B: I bet you call all the girls that.
How to respond when someone you aren’t interested in calls you “honey”
While there is almost nothing better than being called a sweet term of endearment by someone you’re interested in, there is almost nothing worse than being called one by someone you aren’t interested in.
If someone you know casually and platonically is getting a little too comfortable using affectionate language to refer to you, respond in much the same way as you would respond to “I love you” if you don’t feel the same.
11. I’m not your honey. Try again.
When someone’s conduct is clearly inappropriate, there is nothing wrong with being a little short with them. For instance, if someone calls you “honey” even though you have shown absolutely no romantic interest in them, they are being presumptuous, and it is totally fine to firmly put them in their place.
While you should never be rude, there is definitely room for clearly stating that you are not comfortable being referred to as “honey.”
A: Hey honey, would you pass me my drink?
B: I’m not your honey. Try again.
12. Sorry, I’d prefer if you used my name when you talk to me.
Many of us prefer out name to any kind of nickname. This is often especially the case when the person calling us that nickname is not someone we feel comfortable with, and when the nickname carries intimate implications.
Be as straightforward as possible to achieve the desired result. If you want someone to call you by your name, ask them to call you by your name (and no, not in that way)!
A: Oh honey, you missed a great work drinks last weekend!
B: Sorry, I’d prefer if you used my name when you talk to me.
13. That feels a little inappropriate for the workplace. Please call me by my name.
The most awkward context of all to be called “honey” in is in your workplace by someone you don’t like.
Fortunately, this awkward situation has an easy solution.
In 2022, it is widely understood that calling someone “honey” at work is no longer appropriate.
So, if someone calls you honey, just call them out on it bluntly, by telling them the term their using is not appropriate for your relationship or the setting you find yourselves in.
If a colleague makes inappropriate comments in the workplace, you can also report it to HR.
A: Honey, could you fax this for me?
B: That feels a little inappropriate for the workplace. Please call me by my name.
14. I’m really not interested in using pet names with each other. Could you please just call me by my name.
Whatever the situation you find yourself in, if someone calls you “honey” and it makes your skin crawl, put an end to it.
First, express that you are not comfortable with the term they are using to refer to you. Then, ask them to call you by your name.
A: Oh hi, honey!
B: I’m really not interested in using pet names with each other. Could you please just call me by my name.
How to respond when a stranger calls you “honey” in an inappropriate way
Plenty of cultures have traditions of referring affectionately even to people they do not know. In many parts of England, it is common for people to call relative strangers “love” or “pet,” not as an expression of amorous love, but as a way of indicating neighborly care.
However, the line can get blurry when it comes to terms of endearment like “honey.”
It may be one thing for a sweet, older, female shop clerk to say, “Thanks, love,” when you wish her a good day, but quite another for an older male gas station attendant to wink at a young customer and say, “have a good day, love.”
If you aren’t sure whether you feel comfortable with something, consider the context. If you want to call the stranger you’re talking you out, feel free to do so.
People often use terms like “honey” as part of cat calls, which are never okay. Here are a few ways to handle being called “honey” by a stranger when you’re not into it.
15. That’s [Insert title and surname] to you, actually.
This is an assertive response to being called “honey” by someone you don’t know.
Don’t hold back when it comes to telling people how to treat you. The clearer you are, the less time you’ll have to spend feeling hard done by.
A: Well, honey, what are you up to tonight.
B: That’s Dr. Roberts to you, actually.
16. What makes you think you can call me that?
A bold way to call a stranger out for referring to you in a way you do not feel comfortable with is to ask them what it is that makes them feel that they are in a position to call you such an intimate nickname.
A: Well honey, how’s your day been?
B: What makes you think you can call me that?
17. I don’t know you; please don’t call me honey.
While you might be nervous to respond to a crush calling you “honey” because you care what they think about you, there is no need to feel self-conscious about how your words come across to a stranger who is inappropriately calling you by a term of endearment.
Simple say, “I don’t know you,” to make clear that you are not comfortable with the level of intimacy they are trying to assert. Then, politely ask them not to call you “honey.”
A: Heya my honey, lookin’ fine!
B: I don’t know you; please don’t call me honey.
18. Does that ever work?
A good way to call people on their bullshit is to ask them whether calling random people “honey” works for them.
Presumably, most people don’t appreciate being approached and flirted with by somewhat creepy strangers.
They’ll get the gist and––let’s be honest––they’ll probably feel a bit embarrassed.
A: Oy! Wanna be my honey?
B: Does that ever work?
How to respond when someone calls you “honey” passive aggressively
Most unfortunately, this once pure expression of affection has been co-opted by drama.
You’ll hardly hear a catty comment made on reality TV shows without it being followed by “honey,” or even worse, “hon.”
So, while honey is still used sincerely by some, it gets a lot of airtime when used as an insult.
Here’s how to respond if someone is calling you “honey” in a passive aggressive manner.
19. Okay, sport. Calm down.
If someone calls you “honey” and doesn’t mean that you’re sweet and lovely, but is rather condescending to you, you can fire back an equally patronizing nickname.
Calling someone “sport” certainly gets across the point that you don’t see them as someone worth engaging in a serious conversation with.
A: Oh, please honey, you’re not even worth my time.
B: Okay, sport. Calm down.
20. Don’t be catty with me.
While it can be tempting to respond to passive aggressive name calling with more passive aggressive name calling, try to resist if you can.
Instead, call the person you’re speaking to out on their catty behavior.
Simply saying, “don’t be catty with me,” sends the message that you have no patience for immaturity.
A: Nice top, honey.
B: Don’t be catty with me.
21. Are you really doing this right now?
Another way to call someone out on their immature behavior is to ask them whether they’re really doing what you think they’re doing.
The aim of this question is to cause them to reflect on their less than respectful conduct and hopefully to make them feel a little embarrassed for not being able to confront the situation head-on and address you like an adult.
A: You’re so fake, honey.
B: Are you really doing this right now?
23. Look, girl. Here’s the thing.
If someone is talking to you in a passive aggressive way, there’s nothing wrong with asserting yourself and laying down the law.
Say exactly what you’re feeling and don’t hold back. Saying “Here’s the thing,” is a great way to begin a no-holds-barred takedown.
A: Oh, honey, you’re being so dumb right now.
B: Look, girl. Here’s the thing.
24. I prefer [insert name], thanks.
If someone insists on calling you honey and you don’t feel that it comes from a place of care, simply tell them that you would appreciate it if they called you by your name.
A: Oh, you’re just so wrong, honey.
B: I prefer Jane, thanks.
25. [Just stare!]
If someone is really hitting below the belt, the best response is often no response at all. All you need to do is look at them with a disappointed expression and then let it go.
They’ll hear your message of disapproval loud and clear and will hopefully feel ashamed of their immature conduct.
A: Ugh, that’s just so basic, honey.
B: [Stares at A]
Okay, whatever, sweetie.
If you have no time to get caught up in a petty exchange, drop a line that expresses your frustration and exit the situation.
Using a passive aggressive “sweetie” to respond to a passive aggressive “honey” is perfectly reciprocal.
A: You’re wrong, honey.
B: Okay, whatever, sweetie.
Hey, it’s me, Steven. Dating and relationships have always fascinated me. On Dategosu, you will find my best tips to make sure your next date is a great success!