Some women will not like it either! I know I wouldn't, if someone I had only just met decided to use it.
It is a term of endearment, and can be considered patronising when used outside of a close relationship.
I would avoid it altogether except for use with people who are genuinely "dear" to you.
As for what to use instead... how about the person's name? You can't really go wrong with that.
Interested in Language