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Pet Names Between Couples Are a Very Good Sign

Why do couples use pet names and baby talk?

Pet names, like nicknames, are a remarkably universal method of being demonstrative, showing affection, and projecting tenderness. Having a new love interest coin a new pet name for you can give you a really positive emotional charge. When someone calls you "Precious," and it's how you want to be thought of by that person, it can actually increase the attraction you feel for that individual.

Of course, there's a flip side to this, too. Sometimes pet names are used to infer power over another. Calling a female server "Honey" or "Babe" can be a way to call attention to your view of the role as subservient; it can be the same as calling females in the office "girls" instead of co-workers or colleagues. According to many traditions and philosophies, there is great power in naming things and when this power is wielded by those who choose to use it to their own advantage, nicknames and other nomenclature-related communications can do great harm. In this essay, we will keep the focus on affectionate nicknames between people in love.

Pet names and nicknames are a very good sign

Do you have a pet name for your partner? Do you have a favorite pet name that your partner uses for you? Do you ever use “baby talk” when you’re alone together? Has a “couplespeak” language developed over time? Chances are good your relationship is strong if you answered yes to at least a couple of these questions.

As couples get closer and their relationships build, the use of personal idioms and inside jokes increases. In fact, research shows that personal idiom usage is a sign of relationship solidarity.

Some couples have trigger words that convey a deeper meaning than might appear to others on the surface. You and your partner might share a “trigger word” that is used when trying to gracefully bow out of a party that’s gone on too long, for instance. Or perhaps you and your partner have developed a rich vocabulary of gestures and facial expressions and don’t even need words to communicate sometimes. A roll of the eyes, a passing smirk, a forced yawn, or perhaps a certain gaze may be all that’s needed for you or your partner to let the other one know what’s going through your minds.

Decreasing use of personal idioms?

On the opposite end of the relationship barometer, a fall in couple-speak frequency tends to reflect deteriorating conditions and disengagement. Baby talk, pet names, trigger words, and private jokes are signs that all’s well on the home front. So, once your partner has seen you hunkered down and wrapped up tight in your Green Bay Packers Snuggie, there’s nothing you can do but smile and blush when she begins calling you her “Big Green Snuggie Wuggie.” Remember, that’s a good sign.

Nicknames can be fun, but should be respectful, too

The “Beast Daddy Ever" has an NFL football jersey embroidered with this sobriquet on the back. There's a tender story associated with the creation of this nickname. His wife started using it for him when their young daughter, now in her mid-20s, gave him a handmade Father’s Day card on which she’d scrawled, “You’re the Beast Daddy ever!” Two decades later, he knows he’s very much loved when his wife addresses him using that very special term of endearment.

But be forewarned, according to one study, the countdown list of pet names that women disliked the most was topped with "Babe," "Sweet Cheeks," "Snookums," and "Baby Doll." If you’re going to use a special name for the person who’s the most special to you, make sure you choose one that brings a blush of modesty to the face, not a flush of anger. Now, who’s your Beast Squeeze?

More from Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D.
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More from Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D.
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