The dynamics behind why we call our boo ‘dog breath’ or ‘my maggot’

Endearing monikers happen in 87% of relationships, and experts explain why we do it

An increasing , number of Americans struggle to find love.If you feel like Cupid continually misses you with hisarrows of love, you're not alone.Here are some trends that depict the downfall of love in the United States:.Less lovemaking.According to a 2021 General Social Survey, 26% of Americans 18 and older said they didn't engage in sexual activity once in 2020.Less living together.Per a 2021 Pew Research Center study, 62% of Americans 25 to 64 were married or shareda living space, down from 71% in 1990.Less dating.Young Americans are seemingly growing more uninterested in being tied down by relationships

From snookums to shmoopsie, around 87% of people in relationships refer to their partners by pet names. While most couples hide their beloved nicknames, the potentially cringe-eliciting practice is totally normal. And science has a fascinating explanation for why we do it.

“Why use these unusual terms of endearment at all?” Erica Brozovsky, Ph.D., sociolinguist and host of PBS Otherwords, asked on YouTube. “Family dynamics researcher Carol Bruess found that terms of endearment are part of a larger linguistic phenomenon that couples engage in. When we enter a relationship with someone, we form a culture of two by mirroring each other’s vocabulary and speech patterns and coming up with nicknames to indicate alignment with each other.”

While the practice is common, it can lead to some interesting pet names.

Following a survey of 1,966 people across 14 languages, Preply determined that babe, love, baby, honey and dear are the five most popular affectionate nicknames worldwide. In English, three ranked as the least liked monikers: bae, boo and daddy. Particularly fascinating and unique epithets earned spots on Preply’s hall of fame, including captain underpants, banana, cheese, stinkle, booger ball, triceratops and grumpy old git.

According to Brozovsky, partner pet names can often be broken down into commonplace categories. Many people refer to their partners as desserts, plants or animals. It’s all a way to glue a new relationship together.

“Researchers find that this style of idiosyncratic communication is especially important in newer relationships,” she said. “Couples who’ve been married for fewer than five years and who haven’t yet had kids report using pet names the most.

“Because what better way to communicate that you might be more than friends than calling someone by a name that not even their friends will use?” she continued. But even after the honeymoon is over, the insider lexicon we use in our relationships still serves an important purpose. Couples that use pet names and baby talk in their relationships report higher marital satisfaction than those who cringe at the sound of boo or baby.”

According to Preply’s survey, around 79% of people who use affectionate nicknames say they believe it strengthens their relationships.

“This may be because idiosyncratic language is a way of reinforcing one’s social bond while setting it apart from our other friendships or family relationships,” she added. “Over time, we develop what TikTokers might call marriage language or what linguists call familects. And social psychologists say these specific and sometimes cringey words and phrases we use inside relationships are part of building intimacy and trust.”

As far as the more unique nicknames go — including hall of famers dog breath and my maggot — it’s about providing affection on a meta level.

“These familects are made up of inside jokes, stories too embarrassing to repeat in public, and yes, terms of endearment,” Brozovsky said. “So really, calling your partner cutie pie or doodle bug is just a way of saying you’re the only one for me. I think that’s pretty sweet.”