The Language of Pet Names

by Scot McKay

It's a definite turning point, isn't it? She blurts it out innocently enough, but there it is -- it's out there, "Honey" (or, if the Angels Of Affectionate Blessing are working extra hard, "Sugar Smacks" ... or "Beanly" ... or "Goodness"). The proverbial cat is out of its bag. Just don't call me that in front of my friends, okay, "Sweet Thing"?

Pet names. What a concept. A topic I genuinely like, and have thought about in detail. I believe it's all about adding a new level of identity to a certain person so as to set apart the relationship between parties as sacred (or something like that). Pet names are a lot like nicknames in this respect, demonstrating that someone "cares" enough to call you in a way more private or familial than your given name.

But see, just about anyone you know can "care" enough to tag you with a mere nickname, and the end result can be questionable, right "Pigeon Lips"?

Oh yeah. Make no mistake, pet names are nicknames made perfect. This is all part of that elusive "language of love" made famous by Pepe LePew, et al.

Women, I'm guessing, typically get the ball rolling, and may wonder where the reciprocation is. Well, there's good cause for concern. A man might very well feel that "pet names" are a feminine thing, so during the normal course of life he may carefully guard his "macho" exterior and act embarrassed by them and/or refrain from using them -- especially in public I'd think. During the passion of sex, however, he may feel more uninhibited or quite frankly may not be able to help himself from coming out with the little names he already has in mind for her.

Did you know that it's very common for women to "age regress" when they are both attracted to and comfortable with a man? It's a very clear sign. "Baby talk" and pet-names are by products of this, and's a feminine trait. You know what I mean: all those little "cute-isms" used around the house that all healthy couples seem to have, but which the man would NEVER acknowledge outside of the safe confines of the house or the car.

A while back used to have "baby talk" on its list of "turn on/turnoffs" for members to select from when creating profiles. Women almost always checked it as a "turnoff" (e.g. if coming from a guy). My educated guess, however, is that a man really likes when women do that stuff because it gives him the security of knowing she's into him... as bizarre as that sounds.

And what about those pet names themselves? There are "universal" or "safe" pet names (e.g. baby, honey, cutie) that everyone can use over and over. Others, like "pumpkin", "sweet stuff", etc. probably aren't 'transferable' to the next relationship -- it would feel weird. Re-using the "sacred" ones would be kind of like calling out an ex-lover's name in bed, right?

All of this said, I do believe there are distinct words a man can use when talking to a woman he likes that accomplish the same endearing purpose as the "femmie" pet names, YET project all the right things about manhood. This is a tricky one, and highly variable depending on a guy's personality... or the woman's for that matter. Oddly enough, "girlie", "female" and "blondie" are examples I've heard can be used effectively....

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Scot McKay is a dating coach in San Antonio, TX and founder of X & Y Communications, a one-stop-shop for dating resources. He is the author of the new book "Deserve What You Want", and hosts the popular podcast series "X & Y On The Fly". He may be reached at or on the Web at or