Baby Talk: Annoying Nonsense or Evidence of a Lasting Bond?
Do you have a pet name for your honey-bunny like Khloe and Lamar do?
“Bon, Bean, Bonnifer Lee, Bonnie, and Lee Bon,” are all names that my husband and I call each other and the list, disturbingly, goes on. I’m not exactly sure how this phenomenon started but we’ve been together seven years and the names continue to multiply unabated. Saying “Bean” with a southern accent somehow morphs into “Bon” and so on. Are your eyes rolling irretrievably back in your head right now, or do you see … yourself?
People tend to have conflicting opinions on nicknames and other such baby blah blah. Is communicating this way in a relationship a healthy sign of your intimate connection, or an irritating co-dependant habit you should ditch?
I watched an episode of Khloe and Lamar in the afternoon the other day (don’t ask) and was reminded of how baby talk that isn’t your own can be grating. So why do we gravitate towards high-pitched mumbo jumbo with boyfriends, infants, and, you know, small dogs? I looked it up and discovered that babies actually do respond to this nonsense because they’re particularly attentive to high tones.
Who knew? (Maybe everyone but this childless dumb-dumb.) Anyway, this info goes a long way in explaining why we so universally adopt ridiculous-baby-voice when we’re within five feet of an infant. As babies grow, they become more attentive to lower tones and we naturally progress into speaking to them like regular human beings. Unfortunately this behavior persists with Chihuahuas into old age.
So, too, does the baby talk continue in relationships. Why do we do this? I’ve heard a few theories: mainly Oedipal ones like we associate baby talk with our mothers and unconditional love. Another is that we come up with jargon and nicknames to solidify our exclusive bond with our main squeeze. Having a “language” in a twosome may even be evidence of a solid relationship, states this article: “Cutesy nicknames strengthen a couple’s bond” on MSNBC. Check out this quote:
One study on couples’ “insider language” published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships reported that the more goofy names, made-up terms, and covert requests for nooky a couple used, the higher their relationship satisfaction tended to be.
The theory here is that cutesy talk represents a code between you and your significant other that you don’t share with the rest of the world. It’s a way to show each other and everyone else you’re tight. This article even argues that if you don’t wax lovey-dovey with your baby doll, you should start, because it may even help keep you together.
This advice will infuriate the millions out there who find baby talk atrocious, and for that, I apologize. Maybe baby talk does signal co-dependence, or at least general lameness. Hubby and I may be tight, but we ain’t cool. And I certainly don’t mean to encourage the Kardashian clan. While I’m obviously somewhat pro-baby-talk, I still think it should be banned from network TV. Of course, that would mean the end of Kendra, Khloe and Lamar and Ice Loves Coco. Oh the tragic loss.
Emily Southwood is working on a memoir called Prude and blogs at imarriedapornographer.com. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Emily is the author of the “I Married a Pornographer” series on BettyConfidential.