TikTok's 'Nickname Theory' Can Help Narrow Down Your Dating Options

When you've been swiping, chatting, and going on first dates for a while, your true feelings for someone can start to get fuzzy. By the time you find a match you're interested in, it can be hard to determine if you really like them or if you're just suffering from dating burnout and desperate to lock it down with anyone decent enough.


To help you decode that confusing heart of yours, TikTok has a super simple test courtesy of content creator Dani Coco. In a viral video, liked by over 234,000 viewers and counting, Coco says the test is called the "nickname theory" and applies specifically to budding relationships (she focuses on heterosexual couples, but we think it could work with any pairing). "'Nickname theory' is the idea that the dumber the nickname you give the man you're dating, the less you like him," the TikToker explains. As she points out, it's common to use made-up monikers when talking about dates with friends, and the type of name you choose for your crush might say a lot about your compatibility.

The theory, explained

There are three categories of names given to new or potential partners, according to Dani Coco's "nickname theory." The first: silly, light-hearted names. "My theory is if you give a guy a really stupid nickname, like on your first date, he told you that his favorite kind of bagel is a plain bagel with cream cheese — a serial killer's order — so you start calling him 'Plain Bagel With Cream Cheese Guy,' it's not that serious," the influencer says, adding that you likely wouldn't marry someone with such an absurd name.


The second category is the "location and/or relevant information nickname." These names are based on where you had your first date (the "Coffee Shop Guy") or another tidbit of basic info you've gathered about your crush. They're neutral and don't make fun of the other person's quirks, and, unsurprisingly, they also say little about your compatibility. "That kind of nickname means it's TBD," Coco states.

The final nickname category in the theory isn't actually a nickname at all. The content creator says that if you refer to a new partner by their real name when chatting with friends, you're genuinely into them, and serious commitment may be in your future.

Do nicknames really matter?

The TikTok concept likely isn't meant to be taken too seriously, considering Dani Coco tagged the video with the #datinghumor hashtag. Still, the theory might hold water when you're struggling to gauge your interest and compatibility with a new boo.


As Dr. Theresa E. DiDonato, an associate professor of psychology at Loyola University Maryland, shared with Oprah Daily, many people try to find (or create) similarities between themselves and their crushes. They may even start to emulate a love interest's unique traits. "Because of this self-other overlap, individuals feel real pride for their partner's achievements, see themselves more like their partner, and can mistake their partner's characteristics for their own," Dr. DiDonato revealed. Giving a silly nickname based on a perceived difference (the first category in Coco's theory) could suggest that, deep down, you don't see a future with a partner. For example, you probably wouldn't call someone "Gamer Guy" if you, too, are a gamer, but you might use that moniker if you find gaming to be an unusual or unfamiliar hobby.


On the other hand, if you refer to someone by their actual name, you may be more open to getting to know them as a person rather than seeing them for their superficial characteristics. With that said, not all nicknames spell a short-lived romance. A survey conducted by Superdrug Online Doctor found that, among American couples, pet names boosted relationship satisfaction by 16%. Sometimes, silly nicknames might lead to love after all.