**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.
Baby, honey, sweetheart, bae, darling, sugar, love — angel. These are just some of the ‘pet names’ people like to use for their romantic partners.
But why do we use these pet names for each other, to begin with?
According to Florida State University neuro-anthropologist Professor Dean Falk, the reason people in relationships use pet names for their partners is that they’re harking back to their own childhood experience and to their first love, their mother.
Studies have indeed shown that young children love ‘baby talk’ and also love being called pet names — especially by their mothers.
Attaching lovable names to a partner can be used as a bonding mechanism to cultivate intimacy and familiarity.
So, now we know why we might want to adorn our romantic partners with pet names.
However, my quandary is more about how we might recycle or reuse special pet names for different partners.
For instance, if you always called your ex-lover babe would you also call your next lover babe? Or would you switch it up?
Does each new partner throughout your life deserve a new pet name and is it even appropriate to keep using the same pet name over and over in different relationships? Is there a pet name etiquette for romantic partners?
I honestly and quite surprisingly started wondering about this because I recently found out that an ex of mine was referring to his new partner as his babydoll.
The name babydoll was what my ex called me for 6 years during our relationship. I guess I had always assumed that the term babydoll was reserved specifically for me. I realize now that perhaps this term is just what he called all of his partners — both before and after me.
Is this a big deal? No, not in the grand scheme of things. However, I had never actually thought about the significance of pet names before and I still can’t decide if I feel amused or slighted by the babydoll situation.
The fact that my ex was using the same pet name for his current partner that he used for me did take me by surprise. I’m thinking that I’m either very naive or perhaps a bit egotistical for feeling anything about it at all.
Have I also referred to different lovers with the same pet name? I definitely thought about this question and the answer was no. Not on purpose, though. It actually never occurred to me to use different pet names for different partners. It usually just evolved in its own way.
I think each individual we’re with gives off a different kind of vibe and the intimacy that blossoms in the relationship may spark different kinds of pet names for different types of couples.
There are certainly some more unique pet names out there besides babe and babydoll, that’s for sure. Names like kitten, bear, beast, tiger, or treasure are a bit more creative and, of course, there’s always room for more. Some couples like to name each other after their favorite superheroes or movie stars. For some, their pet names are an inside joke known only to them.
To each their own.
I’m accepting the fact that I am not an original babydoll—and maybe it’s funny that I thought I was.
It’s okay. No matter what pet name my ex gave me, the partner before me, or the partner after me, I’ve moved on to a healthy and fulfilling relationship with my own babe.