Calling out ex's name in bed

Originally Published: February 1, 1994 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: March 9, 2009
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Dear Alice,

My girlfriend and I have been having sex with each other for the last six months. Just before we began seeing each other, she had gotten out of a pretty serious relationship. She insists it is over and that she has no feelings for him. I believed her up until recently, when we were having sex and she cried out his name. I like her very much, but, of course this incident has made me very insecure about our relationship. I'm not sure whether she needs more time to get over this guy, if I'm getting myself into a position where I'll get hurt, or if I should just ignore the whole thing altogether. What should I do?

Signed,
Sleepy or Dopey?

Dear Sleepy or Dopey?,

Sorry to hear you're feeling sexcluded in your own relationship! In your question, you mentioned a few different issues:

  • You think your girlfriend may need more time to get over her last partner. She is the only one who can answer that question, but you should feel free to discuss your concern with her.
  • You wonder if you are getting yourself into a position where you might get hurt. While this is a possibility in any relationship, you may ask yourself if you are willing to take the risk for this person.
  • You are considering ignoring the whole thing. Unfortunately, ignoring the issue won't reassure you of anything. Talking about your feelings and listening to your partner's can help you sort out the possible misunderstanding. You can be honest with your girlfriend and can ask the same of her.

These discussions can be challenging, especially since they deal with sensitive issues of jealousy and insecurity. A state-of-the-relationship discussion might be a good option. Either it will ease your anxieties and reaffirm your girlfriend's commitment and interest in you, or it will allow you to make a clean break.

Here are some ways to initiate a potentially difficult conversation. You can start by picking a time and place where you are both calm and comfortable. You might focus on the name-calling, or you might focus on the broader relationship. For example, you could say,

  • The other night in bed it sounded like you said someone else's name. Do you remember that?

OR

  • I've been thinking about our relationship lately and I'd like to talk about where we're going. Can we talk now?

Start however you feel comfortable, keeping in mind that your partner may be as uncomfortable, if not more so, than you are about the game-time misnomer. Avoid bringing it up while in bed or on a date. You can ask her to talk with you about her perspective and her feelings. Maybe your name starts with the same letter as her ex's name. Maybe it was a brain-freeze in the heat of passion. Maybe she was fantasizing about another person. Maybe she does need a little more time to get over her ex.

Whatever the reason(s) for calling out the wrong name, and she may not even know why it happened, she can tell you about her feelings for you, which could be all you're looking for. Best of luck!

Alice

March 22, 2012

508986
I can understand that this is not a great feeling, but I think more often than not people have their ex's names still embedded in their heads when it comes to relationships so slipping up and...
I can understand that this is not a great feeling, but I think more often than not people have their ex's names still embedded in their heads when it comes to relationships so slipping up and mentioning one of their names really is only that - a slip up, that means nothing. My ex boyfriend once called me his ex-girlfriend's name. He kept apologising and I told him it was okay, and it really was okay - I know he slipped up. My ex was very much in love with me and we were only a few months into the relationship. I understand that it was a mistake. It is always my worst fear that when I talk to a new boyfriend I call out the wrong name. And last night I did just that. I was talking to my boyfriend and instead of saying his name I said an ex of 5 years ago's name! I think being in a sleepy state brought this on, because I have no feelings for the ex whatsoever. Therefore, speaking for myself I can say it really was just a slip-up. I think this should be the first conclusion when this happens and being understanding and taking it lightly is really what is needed. It isn't easy on the person who slips up, knowing the awkwardness and fears from the person in their lives. But talk about it and make light of the issue. These things happen. It's not the end of the world. Good luck!

February 1, 1994

20295
Dear Alice, I have had two serious long-term relationships (several years each), both of which were very wonderful. However, there was only about a month's span between the end of one relationship...
Dear Alice, I have had two serious long-term relationships (several years each), both of which were very wonderful. However, there was only about a month's span between the end of one relationship and the beginning of the other. It did take me a while to sort through my emotions and become certain about my feelings. However, long after this, I had the natural tendency to call out my ex-partner's name. It had absolutely nothing to do with my love or commitment to my girlfriend. It was purely a learned reaction that became deeply ingrained in me, like when one says "ouch" after touching something hot. After having three years of sex with my first girlfriend, it was difficult to break the habit of calling out her name which was so closely associated with sex. It was not her that I was really calling out, just her name. Basically, I can say with confidence that one can call out a name of an ex-partner and it can (and probably usually does) mean absolutely nothing other than the "habit" hasn't been broken yet.