“date night tonight and my pookie is hot”. If you’re wondering what this saying means, just take a moment to browse TikTok and you will fall upon the hashtag #pookiewhich currently has 317.2 thousand posts and 4.9 billion views. But what is a pookie and why all this obsession with the term?

The buzz around ‘pookie’ started by them Campbell and Jett Puckett, a married couple from Georgia, USA, who caught the attention of TikTok users through videos showing their style suggestions for a date. What set them apart was Jett’s pep talks about his wife, where he often called her “pookie” among other things.

The couple’s sudden rise to fame is largely due to Jett’s affectionate nickname for Campbell. The trend has even inspired stand up acts, such as that of comedian Jessie Lee. However, despite the teasing they received, there are also many viewers who express their desire for such affectionate nicknames in their relationships. “Oh my god I want to be someone’s pookie,” one user wrote under the couple’s video. โ€œIf it’s not like that, I just DON’T WANT IT. POOKIE SUPREMACY ๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ‘‘ยปwrites another.

@campbellhuntpuckett Was not expecting that #couple #datenight #love โ™ฌ original sound – Campbell Puckett

Pet names are, of course, nothing new. Although we may not be willing to admit it publicly, many of us have used or received them. They are, in fact, a frequent addition to many pop songs.

So why do cute names make us feel special in our relationships, even if they are a little creepy and controversial? According to sex and relationship therapist Cate Campbell, it’s all about attachment and recreating the sense of security we seek from our parents.

“The endearing terms and names parents use and other forms of attachment with young children are soothing and often unique for this particular relationship. It’s no surprise, then, that we find ourselves using endearing names and baby words when we’re in a close relationship as adults. Although this is usually an unconscious reaction, it nonetheless marks the relationship as special and, therefore, safe and reassuring.”he explains.

These nicknames also help create bonds between couples, as they become part of their private language, says psychotherapist and mental health author Emily Mendez. “These cute nicknames often bring back those butterfly-in-the-stomach feelings from the first days of dating,” she adds.

So then why are they simultaneously creepy when others use them? There’s a part of us that feels like we’re intruding on an intimacy we shouldn’t be privy to, Campbell explains. It can also trigger memories of being spoken to as a child, which as adults we may find humiliating and childish. “Memory resides in our bodies and surfaces as a warm reaction when we remember our own experience and as a chilling reaction when we feel we are overhearing something personal,” says the expert.

Either way, there’s a satisfaction we all get from feeling like we can be vulnerable with our partners. And while some of us may perceive this vulnerability as endearing to others, others may find it odd. There is no right or wrong way to refer to someone of yours with funny or cute nicknames. Do as you feel, without overthinking it.