“It may be easier for someone to say ‘Hey babe, you look great’ than ‘I love you.’” Sex expert Ian Kerner, author of the “Good In Bed” series of guidebooks, agrees that the use of pet names is “a great thing” as long as both partners are comfortable with the names.
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It doesn’t seem like anyone has made any distinctions between heterosexual and homosexual couples with regard to the use of pet names–perhaps it’s not relevant?
–or compared how pet names are used in the United States versus other countries.
“Most couples tell me they’re shocked or know something is wrong in the relationship when a partner actually calls them by their actual name and not their nickname.” You may be familiar with another group of nicknames that are reserved only for certain people: families.
My parents have their own nicknames for me and my brother, and we have names for them too that we don’t use in public.
that collected data from almost 100,000 participants through an online survey about all things related to relationship happiness, including nicknames. (A controlled study would seem a bit inauthentic, however: Assigning some couples to use nicknames, and others not to, and then seeing who’s happier after a few years.) Nonetheless, Schwartz says she thinks pet names are important as shorthand for admiration and affection.
The authors gathered responses several countries–including Canada, England, France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and China–but only analyzed the U. Especially for those who feel they don’t get enough affection, using pet names makes up a lack of “hearing from their partner enough good stuff about how wonderful they are,” Schwartz says.
The names have resulted in a few awkward car rides with friends over the years, but otherwise I do see it as a largely positive extension of the bonds between us.
Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and my go-to person for all things connected to “the science of love,” thinks the process of giving a sweetheart a special name may be related to how parents and children give each other pet names, too.
But from what has been studied, and from the experience of several experts, it seems nicknames can be a good thing for a relationship – if both partners are into it. Plenty of my friends have developed nicknames with their romantic partners.