Dear Ty

Illustration: Christine Wang.
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Dear Di,

My partner and I were in the middle of some great sex last night, but in the heat of the moment they called me ‘daddy’. I immediately felt turned off, and don’t know how to address it. What does this name calling mean?

—Not Your Dad

Dear NYD,

Take a deep breath and relax — last night’s name calling doesn’t mean you have a kid on the way.

Calling your partner ‘daddy’ or ‘mommy’ between the sheets has become one of the hottest new trends in the world of sex, and it doesn’t mean your partner wants to fuck their dad (or their mom, for that matter) either.

We can trace this false line of thought back to one of the sex-obsessed founding fathers of the psychology discipline, Sigmund Freud. Freud theorized that most psychological development takes place during childhood, where one must cry, crawl and eventually walk through five psychosexual stages, each oriented around a unique pleasure area of the body.

For the phallic stage, which he theorized typically takes place from age three to six, sensitivity and the source of sexual pleasure become focused on the genitals and masturbation. According to the sex-crazen Freud, this leads to conflict between erotic attraction, resentment and jealousy.

The theory is too detailed and cringey for me to explain in full here, but in short Freud believed boys develop an Oedipus complex and girls develop an Electra complex as a result of this tension.

Just the origin of the name “Oedipus” provides a good summary of the idea Freud was aiming for — the name is derived from a man in Greek mythology who kills his father to marry his mother. The name “Electra” (later used to describe the complex by psychologist Carl Jung) comes from the name of a woman in Greek mythology who plots to kill her mother to avenge her father’s death.

Taken as a whole, Freud theorized the Oedipus complex forms when a young boy develops sexual desires for his mother. On the other hand, Freud used the Electra complex to describe what he believed was a young girl’s tendency to compete with and become jealous of her mother for her father’s attention and care.

These days, the vast majority in the world of psychology and psychiatry reject Freud’s theory of psychosexual development, but his dramatic and controversial ideas on sex are sticky in popular culture to say the least (see the popularity of the terms ‘MILF’ or ‘DILF’ or even ‘GILF,’ if you’re really into that).

Sex experts and the broader community alike agree that using the terms ‘mommy’ or ‘daddy’ to refer to your sexual partner has nothing to do with an attraction to a parent or parental figure, nor does it mean your partner has “daddy” or “mommy issues,” but usually revolve around fetishes of submission.

But if this kind of dirty talk does make you feel uncomfortable, that’s totally okay too.

In the end, sex is all about respect and personal preference. If the name calling turned you off, it’s important and totally normal to openly speak to your partner about this and explain why. If they don’t understand or accept your concerns, it might be time to find a new person to hit the sack with.