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Using pet names ‘strengthens’ romantic relationships, research suggests

'They can be a sign you’ve gotten comfortable enough with each other to develop a love language'

Olivia Petter
Saturday 01 December 2018 13:24 GMT
(Rex Features)

The language of love is rich, personal, and wrought with nuance, that is, if you’re discounting pet names.

“Sweetie”, “muffin” and “baby” are just some of the trite monikers loved-up couples give to one another, and while sceptics will deride them for it, it turns out the earnest sweethearts are having the last laugh, because research suggests using pet names actually makes your relationship stronger.

According to a survey of 1,026 adults conducted by Superdrug Online Doctor, using pet names increases relationship satisfaction by 16 per cent in the US and nine per cent in European countries.

The survey revealed that using pet names can be beneficial because it fosters a sense of intimacy between partners and boosts emotional connections.

“Under the right circumstances, pet names aren’t just a cute way to get your partner’s attention – they can be a sign you’ve gotten comfortable enough with each other to develop a love language,” writes the team at Superdrug who conducted the survey.

As for which names were most popular, “cutie”, “princess” and “honey” came out on top, with less favourable - and slightly more problematic - labels like “sweet cheeks” “papi” and “daddy” named the least common.

Participants were ages between 20 and 71 and had to have been in a romantic relationship for one month or more to take part; 49 per cent of respondents were European and 51 per cent were American.

It’s not the first time pet names have been hailed as an indicator of relationship satisfaction.

A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships in 1993 examined the use of quirky idioms in married couples and found that those who use pet names (it cites “sweet pea” and “pussy cat” as examples) were generally happier with one another than those who didn't.

The results also suggested that spouses' use of idioms declined over the course of their relationship, with couples married for less than five years with no children using the most pet names.

Meanwhile, those who had children and had been married for longer used them much less frequently.

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