As a writer—and as a person, I suppose—I feel lucky to have what many would consider a cool name (thanks mom and dad). Though Lindsay is rather popular, having Tigar (yes, pronounced like the animal) as a surname has made for an interesting career… and dating life. I’ve had guys sing ‘Eye of the Tiger’ to me at bars, growl at me when they learn my moniker, and once, a dude even showed up with a tiger-striped tie for our first date. (It was cute, we dated for a few months—if you’re curious.)
What’s fascinated me about having a unique name are the nicknames and pet names that have come from it. While most of my best friends call me Linds, editors tend to stick with my given name or my initials, and every guy I’ve ever dated has made something out of Tigar. Cub, Cubby, Tigar Lady, Tigar Baby—and the list goes on.
Yeah, it’s a little odd… and yeah, I really love it.
I’m not the only one who has a soft spot for pet (or in my case, wildlife) names within a romantic relationship, according to a recent research. This survey of more than 1K adults discovered not only do men use loving nicknames more than women, but when either sex uses ‘em, their relationship is happier. In fact, for Americans, when names like ‘beautiful’, ‘honey’ or ‘gorgeous’ were commonly dished out, 90 percent of reported feeling content and comfy. Though it’s definitely not the only habit you need to master to feel satisfied in a twosome, researchers do suggest there is a bit of science to it. Or as in most aspects of our adult relationships, some ties to our childhood experiences.
As one professor at Florida State University explained, when you speak this way toward your partner, he or she may be reminded of how their mother spoke to them as an infant or a toddler. If this was a rose-colored time of your life and you overall, had a positive upbringing, it would make sense why a nickname would make you feel adored.
For Emily Jordan, who has been with her husband for nearly a decade, his nickname for her was something that happened naturally, six months into their relationship. “We were long distance at first, and we would trade traveling to and from one another. When he was picking me up from the train station, he said ‘There’s my gorgeous girl!’, and it has stuck since then,” she shared. Though these two words paired together aren’t exactly anything revolutionary or over-the-top cutesy, Jordan says when he utters them, all these years later, it reminds her of those feelings that were just sprouting.
And maybe, more to the science of the study itself: they bring her comfort. Especially since ‘my’ comes before the nickname. This shows commitment, pride and companionship—and well, adds another layer of affection.
“When I’m really stressed out at work, feeling anxious about something or just in a bad place, he’ll use my nickname to make me relax,” Jones continues. “It’s sort of like this secret language between us that we can pull out when we need to communicate or get through to one another.”
So, when is it too soon for pulling out the vocabulary brainstorm? It really depends on the couple, but at least long enough to know the other person. If her husband would have called her ‘gorgeous girl’ from their first date, it wouldn’t hold as much value. Even so, her best advice for singles is to let the phrases flow as you’re feeling them. “Trust me, I didn’t have to think twice about his nickname,” she explained. “And I didn’t question if I should use it. It just felt right.”
Kind of like when you find the real deal, eh?