Acquaintance using baby talk and acting childlike. What gives?

A good friend of mine has started dating a fairly nice 23 year old girl recently. The rest of our circle of friends are stuck trying to figure out how to understand and deal with her.

She talks in a high pitched voice, and often speaks with baby talk and acts child like. An example would be her coming up to me at some point and saying “and what would The Davey like?” at times she acts in other childish ways, such as when my friend brushed off something she said one time she started getting upset, stating “I just wanted to do x but now Friend is upset with me” over something very trivial where he wasn’t even upset. Some of these reactions seem like she simply can’t handle simple problems properly.

I am doing a terrible job explaining this, my apologies.

What I do know is that she has some mental health issues. She visits the hospital semi regularly for panic attacks and I am sure much more.

All but one person in our group find her grating, and the one who doesn’t likely feels this way out of pity. I personally see her acting this way to come across as small or non-intimidating. She seems to be manipulative, using baby talk and child like actions to get her wants. Unrelated to that, she wants to be an expert in everything that comes up, claiming to be very smart. This combination of things has made our whole group not want to deal with her, so I am looking to find a way to approach her about our thoughts.

I honestly see her as somebody who would threaten suicide if my friend broke up with her. Does anybody here care to share insight into this kind of personality? I apologize for any errors and/or lack of information, this was written on my phone.

Sounds like you have a case pf Pwincess Pwecious. I miss Eve.


I feel your pain.

Unfortunately, I’ve never come across an approach that works when a friend is dating someone with annoying mannerisms. Honesty over the annoyance, however gently put, tends to end up in an “us versus them” situation, which the circle of friends may well lose (that is, if a choice becomes necessary, the friend may dump you guys and not her). Sounds like the annoyance is causing an “us versus them” situation to develop already, though.


I’ve heard the theory floated around that girls with childish sounding voices had something traumatic happen as a child and their voice stays at that age. So if she has been abused, saw her parents killed, accidentally drowned a sibling or something while young, she may not even realize that she doesn’t sound normal.

If it’s a good friend and you’re very close, I would 1 on 1 ask him what he thinks about it. He has to notice it, right? If he’s cool with it or, for whatever reason, likes it, then you don’t have much choice but to suck it up. If he indicates it kind of annoys him, no worries, he’ll probably break up with her soon enough.

I knew a girl (sister of a friend), probably closer to 28 or 30 years old, who baby-talked and when I met her parents I found out why. Her parents talked like that to her constantly. And she lived with them. They did not talk that way to their son, and he acknowledged later that the whole thing is weird.

I don’t think you’re going to understand why she does it without getting to know her well. Lots of younger siblings, work in a day-care, something she just never un-learned, coping strategy for anxiety or trauma… lots of possibilities.

As for addressing it, I’d take it up with her directly rather than trying to get your friend (her boyfriend) involved, if that’s possible. This might minimize any “us vs them” dynamic. I’d start the conversation with “Do you know that you often speak in baby talk?” and then go from there to address your concerns and suggestions.

She probably, as a kid, got her way a lot that way. Manipulate your elders by maximizing cuteness.

Now, she most likely never grew out of it and doesn’t realize how pathetic it is at her age. Yet.

Your last statement sounds like you think she has borderline personality disorder. Does she have the other symptoms, like thinking everyone either loves or hates her, or just being emotionally unstable? Or impulsive and reckless behavior?

With just baby talk alone, I would actually first go to “speech problem.” But you indicate childish mannerisms to go along with it, which does lead me to think it’s something else. But I’m not sure I see “faking suicide” in your description, unless she’s rather manipulative.

There is certainly an us vs them dynamic already created. When I said that only one person didn’t find her grating, I meant one person out of all of the people from our circles she has met. This is a mother of one of my good friends, who defended her after her husband was asked his opinion of her (known to be one of the most polite/personable guys I know), flat out said while drunk “You want to know the truth? I can’t fucking stand her.” This sentiment is mirrored by just about every single adult, with them making jokes about her the instant she leaves and also sighs when they hear she is coming. I’ve talked with friends to gauge opinions and been flat out asked if it would be rude to ask her not to hang out with us.

Originally we figured that our friend was in the relationship for the obvious reasons, as I have heard him complain about many of her bad traits (lives disgustingly, cat lady like) before, but I’ve been informed that he recently called her “his best friend.” This doesn’t bother me as I’ve literally known this guy since I could talk, and I will be discussing everything with him/her next time we meet up in a fair and honest way. I see no way he would leave us, unless she is actually a truly manipulative person who is good at it and managed to persuade him.

I find her to be manipulative. I can recall many occasions where she asked me if I wanted something, and after my saying no, she would snuggle up next to me calling me best friends and giving me puppy eyes and whatnot.

The extent of my knowledge of her medical conditions is that she has spent multiple weeks in neuropsych at my local hospital, though not sure for what exactly. She has mentioned a tonne of possible problems, but says they’re still looking for more. I tend to zone out because she always tries to relate it to my epilepsy somehow, throwing in pointless terms to sound knowledgeable. She brings it all up without much prompting, which is also a sign of insecurity in my books. An example of this was when I was with everyone one night a friend asked me about some test results and I said something about frontal temporal lobe epilepsy. He asked what the temporal lobe was, and I said it was basically the side of your brain, deals with sensory stuff and memories etc, and she jumped in saying “you know, like your hippocampus and amygdala.” She tends to always jump in with pointless extra information on every single topic that comes up, even when it holds no value or purpose. That wasn’t the best example but it is the first time I actually noticed her doing it so it stuck with me.

I can see her being a black hole who could somehow convince my friend that he is the best thing ever to happen to her (she has said that her last birthday was “her best birthday ever” even though only my friend and I went with her, and it was a pretty average day. She uses “ever” a lot in regards to him), and that her life would be terrible without him. I think my friend may fall for that and try to solve her issues rather than just letting go.

The idea of her being abused or dealing with something traumatic while young was also my guess. As to the last reply, I believe that she has mentioned a lot of people in her life such as bosses, boyfriends etc. being terrible.

I just feel the puzzle is fitting together too well.

Too late to edit. She likely does have borderline personality disorder now that I’ve looked, as she has brought up cognitive behavioural therapy and dialectical behavioural therapy specifically as treatments that neuro-psych could perform. She specifically outlined those two by name when I asked her for information about neuro-psych to rule out panic attacks after being referred by my neuro due to seizure changes. I don’t know if her bringing this pointless information up was just her acting excessively smart with irrelevant information, or a sign of her oversharing. I assume it may be both.

I’ve know a lot of people with mental health problems, and she sounds like one of the worst cases I’ve heard described before. I’m bipolar so I tend to gravitate towards people like that, though, thankfully, my last group of friends, (I moved recently) were all more or less normal and all more or less had friends.

Some of the traits sound like Aspergers*, but, she sounds way too social too be an aspie. Are there any conditions that mimic these traits?

I guess the question is, if you talk with them - and - she can somehow admit her problem and wants to change/do better, do you think you can give her a second chance?

  • I am referring to what seems like a lot of naivete and scripted sounding interactions. But now that I think about it, in addition to being highly social, which aspies are not, she also has social awareness, from the manipulation…

It’s not unknown for human males to put up with/not see things in human females who are willing to have sex with them.

“I guess the question is, if you talk with them - and - she can somehow admit her problem and wants to change/do better, do you think you can give her a second chance?”

Of course. It would be incredibly unfair not to.

Yeah, I recall Dr. Drew of “Loveline” being particularly fond of this theory. Whenever he got a baby-talk woman on the line, it seems, he would ask if she was sexually abused as a child. I have no idea whether this has any psychological validity, and I’d take that with a huge grain of salt.

Accidentally drowned a sibling? Outside of Damien-type movies, is that even a thing?

Does your friend who is dating the girl have a history of mental illness himself?

Yep. The grandmother of a family friend accidentally drowned her baby sister when her mother took both girls to the beach, and passed out, leaving a bored four-year-old to get the idea of pushing the baby’s stroller too near the water. The older girl couldn’t get the baby unstrapped when they ended up in the water, and baby drowned.

Get together for a movie night and, without comment, have them watch the movie In a World. In the voice class scene at the end, “Sexy Baby Voice” is actually addressed sympathetically without judgment.

Writer/Star Lake Bell explains it on her appearance on Conan.

  • Does your friend have a tendency towards white-knighting?

  • Did you say how old your friend is? Given that she’s 23, if he’s a lot older, there could be a “daddy/baby” kink dynamic going on.