Why Do Couples Call Each Other ‘Baby?’ 7 Reasons For The Pet Name

Whether you call your main squeeze, “babe,” “baby,” “honey,” or “my lil stinker,” there's a good chance you probably have a pet name for your partner. But while you’ve been mid-sentence asking “Monkey,” (as I called my former partner), where you should go for dinner, have you ever thought about why this is? Why the hell are you calling a grown person “monkey” or “baby?” Does love really make us that lovey-dovey and mushy? Sort of.

As relationship expert Dr. Wendy Walsh tells Bustle, a relationship can be “a very sweet, childlike, intimate, almost infantile type of place.” In other words, that closeness makes us total balls of mush where it lets us feel comfortable to be, well, kid-like. Did my former partner look or act like a monkey in any way? No. But when in my mind and heart, he was just as darling as a baby monkey, so calling him a monkey made sense to me. (I often shortened it to “monk,” too, which I imagine was confusing when we were out in public.)

But getting back to the term “baby,” research has found that there’s a reason, and a totally normal reason at that, why couples call each other “baby.” Here are seven of those reasons.

1. It Rolls Off The Tongue Nicely

As Jen Doll wrote for The Cut, “words like husband and wife don’t always roll off the tongue,” and tend to sound a bit too “establishment.” The same can also be said for the words “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” or “partner.” “Baby” or “babe,” on the other hand, just flows. (I know you're totally trying this right now out loud.)

2. It Shows Intimacy

Intimacy pretty much opens the flood gates to people exposing their true selves and being completely comfortable doing so. As Dr. Walsh tells Bustle, “[relationships are] the most intimate place, where we are comfortably allowed to be the sweet baby that's inside of all of us.” Aww, baby!

3. It’s An Extension Of The Couple’s Language

Couples speak a language all their own, similarly to any other close relationship. That being said, it only makes sense that a pet name would be part of that language and ways of communicating with each other that’s unique in itself.

4. It’s All About Biochemistry

Research has found that biochemistry of our romantic relationships actually replicates the first love of our lives: The one we had with our parents. In both situations, dopamine, oxytocin, and phenylethylamine are all at play and because of this grown adults in romantic relationships don’t just call each other “baby,” but revert to what’s known as “baby talk” in how they communicate with their partner. Now it makes perfect sense why you talk to your partner and your two-year-old niece the exact same way, doesn’t it?

5. It’s A Sign Of Affection

Unless you’re Vince Vaughn in Swingers, there’s a pretty good chance that you don’t run around calling everyone you meet, male or female, friend or foe, “baby.” Because of that we can easily chalk up the term to one of affection that you only use for your “one and only.” Unless, of course, you’re me and it’s 3 a.m., and I’m talking to the guy behind the pizza counter.

6. It’s Part Of Pop Culture

Although the first use of the word “baby” in a romantic sense dates back to the 1860s, over the years, the use of it in this way has increased. I mean, just think about all the songs that have “baby” in the title! And, as we all know, we’re products of our culture, and most definitely products of our pop culture, so using the word “baby,” to address or communicate with our partner just naturally fits into our vocabulary.

7. It Intensifies Attachment

Love changes over time from infatuation to attachment. When people use a pet name for their partner, they’re intensifying their attachment, because it comes back down to that special language between couples that makes them feel like it’s them and everyone else.

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