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Who is 'couch guy' on TikTok? The internet's latest obsession, explained

A supposedly heartwarming clip has millions of people invested in a relationship that has them seeing red flags.

Abrar Al-Heeti Video producer / CNET
Abrar Al-Heeti is a video host and producer for CNET, with an interest in internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. Before joining the video team, she was a writer for CNET's culture team. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
Expertise Abrar has spent her career at CNET breaking down the latest trends on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram, while also reporting on diversity and inclusion initiatives in Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Credentials
  • Named a Tech Media Trailblazer by the Consumer Technology Association in 2019, a winner of SPJ NorCal's Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2022 and has twice been a finalist in the LA Press Club's National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.
Abrar Al-Heeti
5 min read
Couch guy

The TikTok video seen round the world.

Screenshot by Abrar Al-Heeti/CNET

TikTokers don't miss a beat. That much is clear after a reunion video that was meant to be a heartwarming instead has spurred in-depth analyses of a couple's relationship and countless parodies that now dominate many TikTok feeds. 

The target of suspicion that arose after the original video was posted has been dubbed "couch guy," and videos with the #couchguy hashtag have so far racked up over 657 million views. But how did this all start, and what exactly are people so intrigued by? Here's everything to know. 

Who is 'couch guy'?

It all started when TikTok user @laurenzarras posted a video on Sept. 21 about surprising her boyfriend at college. "Robbie had no idea," the caption reads. In the clip, she walks into an apartment along with two guys, backpack and suitcase in tow, and strides up to her boyfriend, who is sitting on a couch with three other girls. He does in fact look surprised, and he slowly gets up to give her a hug. There's one other guy in the room, sitting in a separate chair. The video currently has more than 59 million views.

Sounds innocent enough, right?

Wrong, apparently. Users flooded the comments section warning the user who posted the video that her boyfriend may be cheating on her. 

"Bro is on the couch with three other girls," one comment reads. "The girls look sus, the boys look amused, the boyfriend looks scared. Sis...please ask questions," another says. "3 girls 3 guys...sis you interrupted the party," another commented. "He hugged her like she was his aunt at Christmas dinner," one reads. Even Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran commented, writing, "Use these two words wisely, Lauren. 'I'm out.'" 

Some users pointed out that it looks like the girl next to couch guy had his phone and slyly slipped it to him as he hunched over before getting up to hug his girlfriend. (There have been many breakdowns and play-by-plays of this; more on that in a moment). 

"I don't like the sneaky phone pass AT ALL," one user commented. "He legit secretly grabbed his phone from the girl next to him," another wrote.

How has the couple responded?

TikToker @laurenzarras defended her boyfriend and their relationship in the comment section, writing: "Breaks my heart that people can watch a special moment and bring so much negativity. Please think before you assume anything about my relationship. As for the phone comment, his phone was in his lap. Thanks for the concerns though! And no I'm not in denial."

Her boyfriend, under the account @souljawatchambassador, posted his own response video, writing over footage of the infamous couch: "Couch guy here. Ur welcome for getting u off berries & cream TikTok (referring to a previous trend on the social video app), but remember: Not everything is true crime. Don't be a parasocial creep. Go get some fresh air. Take care." He captioned the video: "I love @laurenzarras, she's the best. #couchguy."


I love @laurenzarras , she’s the best. #couchguy

♬ Tears In Brasil - Piero Piccioni

Because of the way TikTok works, we haven't yet been able to contact @laurenzarras or @souljawatchambassador directly.  

How have TikTokers responded to the videos?

It seems that the majority of people on TikTok aren't buying couch guy's innocence. In fact, a TikTok search under #couchguy reveals countless videos breaking down each moment of the original clip, with some users carefully analyzing the alleged phone pass and others noting that they see a girl's hand on couch guy's back when his girlfriend walks in.

That said, one user posted a video aiming to debunk the hand-on-back claim:


#couchguy it’s not a thumb i’ll bet my life on it. #thewatch

♬ still falling for you - audiobear

Others have opted to create parodies of the original clip, reenacting scenarios in which it's obvious their partner isn't thrilled to see them or is obviously guilty of cheating. 

In one clip, a girl walks in on her boyfriend proposing to another woman.

In another, a girl knocks on the door of her boyfriend's apartment and he walks out while awkwardly pulling his shirt on, only to be followed by another girl peeking out of the door moments later.


That’s some Robbie behavior right there… #couchguy

♬ still falling for you - audiobear

Yet another parody shows a man on a couch with several other girls stroking him and cozying up to him, until his girlfriend walks in and he awkwardly hugs her with his hands full of phones.

Because it's the internet, even cat videos are making an appearance. One video reading "Surprising my cat by coming home early" shows two cats intertwined on the couch before the owner walks in and interrupts them.

One user joked about the uniting power the couch guy video has had on the internet. "Getting emotional thinking about how beautiful it is that so many people of different backgrounds, political beliefs, vaccination preferences, etc. came together for one thing this year," they wrote.


United we stand on the topic of couch guy #couchguy #worldpeace

♬ still falling for you - audiobear

Couch guy inspired people to post their own reunion videos

In classic TikTok fashion, people seized the opportunity to share their own heartfelt videos of surprising their significant others.

"May I present to you a ~different~ kind of #couchguy," one caption reads on a video of a girl surprising her boyfriend, who is also sitting on a couch when she walks in.


may I present to you a ~different~ kind of ##couchguy

♬ still falling for you - audiobear

Another clip shows a man walking into the kitchen to surprise his significant other, with the caption, "Had to hop on the trend... he flew and drove through the Texas snowstorm for this!"


had to hop on the trend… he flew and drove through the texas snowstorm for this!!! ##TakeTheDayOffChallenge ##couchguy ##BenefitOfBrows

♬ still falling for you - audiobear

In another, rather dramatic clip, a couple reunites in perhaps the world's most aggressive hug. The caption reads, "I've always loved this and it seems relevant."


i’ve always loved this and it seems relevant. ##couchguy

♬ original sound - I’m in a flop era…yay :/

Is anyone defending couch boy and his girlfriend?

Scatted amid all the couch boy jokes, analyses and alternative couple reunion videos, you'll find some videos of people defending the original couple.

"If you think couch boyfriend is cheating, maybe he is, but I don't think that video is evidence. I think he was caught off guard," one TikToker commented. "But if you think out of every single one of these videos we've seen that he's the only one who's cheating, you're out of your mind. Anyone can look like a happy couple in a five-second clip. Leave this poor girl alone."


Reply to @saralashhh social media isn’t real! men in bad videos can be good and men in good videos can be bad! #fyp #couchguy #surprisevisit #foru

♬ original sound - saralashhh

"I just think it's wild that that relationship is now under a microscope of the entirety of TikTok," someone else said. "I just hope that if/when they break up, ya'll please do not drag that girl because this is already embarrassing for her."

If one thing's clear, it's that couch guy and his girlfriend will likely have to keep defending their relationship until the next viral trend rolls around.