Picture: Screenshots of Lauren Zarras’s TikTok video.
Picture: Screenshots of Lauren Zarras’s TikTok video.

Who is this ’couch guy’ and why is the entire internet talking about him?

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Oct 10, 2021

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If you’ve made it off of berries and cream TikTok, congratulations, unfortunately, that means you’ve probably entered into couch guy territory.

From the video remakes to comment sections rampant with spicy digs, it’s one of the most befitting examples of how TikTok users can turn a single situation into one gigantic inside joke.

It all began around two weeks ago when Lauren Zarras posted a clip of herself surprising her long-distance boyfriend, Robbie, at college. The video begins with Zarras entering a dorm room with a friend, backpack on and suitcase trailing behind her.

Ellie Goulding’s romantic ballad, Still Falling For You, blares over the entire scene, heightening the viewers’ expectations of a wonderful, teary-eyed reunion. Instead, Zarras steps into an incredibly awkward situation.

@laurenzarras

robbie had no idea

♬ still falling for you - audiobear

Her boyfriend is seated on a couch with three other girls as Robbie’s guy friends amusedly watch events unfold from a distance. Locking eyes, the couple tentatively inch closer with Zarras extending her arms out for a hug that the internet has since ripped to shreds. One TikTok user by the name of @sizzle took to the comments section to express this saying, “He hugged her like she was his aunt at Christmas.”

None of the girls stood up to greet Zarras, instead, they each remained firmly planted in their seats, smiling with one of the girls even redirecting her attention back to her cell phone.

Now at 60 million views, it’s evident that the video has struck a chord with people from all across the globe. Out of the 127 000 comments, most of them are united by their shared experiences of betrayal from a significant other who cheated. “This video honestly gives me PTSD because it’s just so obvious to others but never yourself. Be easy on her, she will figure it out for herself,” one of the most liked comments reads.

Unfortunately, kind and understanding most people were not. Many believe Zarras is in complete and utter denial over the state of her relationship as well as the faithfulness of her boyfriend who is now being referred to as couch guy. Of course, after believing she was sharing a sweet moment with a loved one on the app, Zarras was blindsided by the response she had received, and defended herself in the comment section. “Breaks my heart that people can watch a special moment and bring so much negativity. Please think before you assume anything about my relationship,” she said.

Usually when you come across a video paired with the lyrics, “And just like that, all I breathe, all I feel, you are all for me,” it most likely paired with visuals of adorably mushy relationship content featuring lovers fawning over one another. However, Goulding’s song is now mostly being used to mock the couch guy situation.

From moms awkwardly catching babysitters bonding with their kids to girlfriends catching their dog snuggling up to their partner and couples re-enacting the video for fun, remake after remake is being shared onto the app and nobody’s ‘For You Page is safe from the wrath of couch gu enthusiasts

Then there are those who are wrapped up by the excitement of being the first to get to the bottom of the situation. These so-called TikTok detectives were quick to come up with their own theories about the reunion video, dissecting every frame as they reviewed it for their own audience at half-speed.

Some theorists suggest that one of the girls sitting next to Robbie had her arm resting on his back while others dispute this stating that what looked to be the girl’s thumb is in fact the watch strap of one of the guy friends standing further back. Another more popular theory is that the girl sitting next to Robbie slyly passed him back his cellphone as he strategically bent over, hiding the secret exchange, as he stood for the infamous reunion hug.

But, the most concerning of all the theories were the ones that came after people stalked Zarras’s Instagram profile and discovered that Robbie did not like many of his girlfriend’s pictures - a major no-no and red flag for Gen-Zers in the dating game.

Couch guy himself posted a video addressing the situation. “Couch guy here,” he began, “Ur welcome for getting u off berries & cream TikTok, but remember: Not everything is true crime. Don’t be a parasocial creep. Go get some fresh air. Take care.” Robbie also captioned his video with the words “I love @laurenzarras, she’s the best.”

With hundreds of negative reactions, one commenter even called him out for gaslighting his girlfriend and the rest of the internet, to which Robbie responded with one final video. “Are you being gaslit if someone on the internet tells you to get some fresh air after you scrutinize their private life? Or, are you being gaslit if thousands of strangers call you delusional for claiming to know your own relationship better than they do?” Unsurprisingly, not many people were impressed with this response as he used the opportunity to defend himself rather than show support for his girlfriend.

In a Q and A video, popular TikToker, @FarhaKhalidi, was asked for her opinion of the ‘couch guy’ situation. “Yeah, I found it extremely off-putting and disgusting that any of you care. Stop projecting your own unhealed trust issues onto high school sweethearts. They’ll realise how the cookie crumbles when it crumbles. Not when mentally ill TikTokers play their video at 0.05x speed to see where his left middle finger was when she was turned 60 degrees to the right.” Her video is one of the few that came to Zarras’s defence. Khalidi’s comment section was also filled with supportive messages for Zarras asking people to mind their business.

@farhakhalidi #fyp #couchguy ♬ original sound - Farha Khalidi

However, it isn’t all bad for Zarras, the ordeal has left her with 177 800 followers pushing her into creator-fund territory allowing her to earn money off of the millions of views she’s amassed. She’s also launched a website selling ‘couch guy’ T-shirts, although this business venture hasn't been incredibly well received by the public. “Not you trying to make a quick buck off of your embarrassment,” one commenter said.

This article first appeared in Sunday Insider, Oct 10, 2021

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