Baby. Honey. Sexy. Sweetie. Pumpkin. Chances are if you’re in a relationship, you’re also in the habit of using a nickname to refer to your significant other.
But if recent studies are anything to go by, it might be time to come up with a pet name that’s a little more original than “sweetie”, or else revert back to plain old John. (Or whatever his or her real name is. Don’t be weird about it.)
Yep, relationship experts have sussed out the type of nicknames that actually harm relationships — and today, we’ve broken down the research so you can sort-of-scientifically determine whether your lovey-dovey pet name is killing your love.
Couples of Australia, you’re welcome.
“Honey”, “muffin” and other passion-killers.
Maggie Arana, co-author with Julienne Davis of Stop Calling Him Honey…and Start Having Sex!, argues pet names can be a passion-dampener.
She told science journalist Elizabeth Landau of Scientific American that couples can improve their sex lives by dropping the pet names — and she warns that not-so-sexy names like “honey” can contribute to “roommate syndrome”, where a relationship slides from passion into a more platonic bond.
Related content: Do you have a pet name for your partner?
Arana adds that calling your partner by his or her first name can also work to reignite the sexy times.
“When you don’t call your spouse ever by his or her name, I think you can run into trouble,” she said. “If you’re calling each other Muffin, for example, it’s really hard to go from Muffin to having sex.”
The experts don’t all agree on this one, though. Pat Love, co-author of How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, says it can be a red flag if your partner stops calling you by your pet name. “It’s like calling a naughty kid by his full name. It sends the signal ‘I’m not being intimate with you anymore,” he says, as Women’s Health reports.
Other studies have shown that in the language of love, nicknames work to bond relationships — but only if they’re original enough.
A famous old study by Carol Bruess and Judy Pearson examined the relationship between nicknames and the satisfaction of 154 married couples, and found that “idiosyncratic communication” — including coded talk and nicknames — was linked with marital satisfaction.