'Mentionitis': What The Relationship Term Means & How To Fix The Issue

Do you remember the first time you had a crush on someone, and they were all you talked about to your family and friends? Maybe you're in that boat now, or you know someone who just won't shut up about somebody they recently met. These scenarios lead to the assumption that if you mention someone's name non-stop, and you're happy about it, there just might be a crush forming, or some other positive emotions. And of course, in true 21st-century fashion, there's a name for this practice. It's called mentionitis.

You can actually find the term in the online Oxford English Dictionary. It's defined as "a tendency towards repeatedly or habitually mentioning something, especially the name of a person one is attracted to or infatuated with, regardless of its relevance to the topic of conversation." The word appeared in print for the first time in 1954, was spoken in the 1999 film, "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason," and was selected as Quite Interesting's Word of the Day on Twitter in 2021.

If the person "infected" with mentionitis is single, gushing about another single person, there shouldn't be a reason for concern, but what if the person is your significant other? Or you? A licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) weighed in on how to address the issue, as did several non-experts/readers in response to an Ask a Manager online post.

If you're on the receiving end, communication is key

Even if you're completely secure in your relationship, it's understandable to be a little concerned when your partner keeps talking about another woman in a positive way. Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a marriage and family therapist based in New York, spoke about the notion of mentionitis and was quoted in Newsweek. Merely saying someone's name aloud, over and over, isn't necessarily a reason for alarm. However, if your partner starts comparing you to this person in a way that places them on top, it might be, according to DeGeare.

One way to address the issue is to simply be honest with your partner. Let them know your thoughts and concerns. In other words, don't jump to conclusions or assume anything unless you have concrete evidence about something. Ask questions in a non-accusatory way, and assure them that you'll trust them ... unless they break that trust. 

It's also essential to keep your emotions in check. While you may be tempted to explode after the 127th mention of a person's name, that might make matters worse. So do your best to stay calm, and if your partner truly cares about your feelings and respects you, they'll address their case of mentionitis.

The person with mentionitis might need to take a step back

Mentionitis involving a coworker is a pretty common form of the condition. It can affect both single and married people, just as it affected an anonymous married man who posted about his coworker's dilemma on Ask a Manager. "My wife says my relationship with my coworker is inappropriate," his headline read. His relationship involved extensive chat messages about non-work-related topics, a few intimate phone calls, lots of compliments, and a lunch date. So although he didn't speak about this coworker excessively to his wife, respondents described him as having mentionitis. 

One person said, "All the mentionitis and compliments and totally not appropriate comments add up to a great big waving red flag." Another said that her ex, who had mentionitis involving a female coworker, ended up leaving her for that coworker. A third reader said she had an affair with a married manager at her job, and it started with mentionitis.

Most respondents agreed with his wife about the relationship with his coworker being inappropriate, indirectly implying that the original poster needs to apply the brakes with the coworker before the relationship becomes even more inappropriate. Affairs don't usually happen with total strangers. They often start with an innocent relationship that slowly becomes ... not so innocent. So if your partner is complaining about your mentionitis, listen to them, and reevaluate your relationship with the person you keep talking about so that nobody gets hurt.