Daters, Meet "Pebbling" ― The Penguin-Based Dating Trend Social Media Loves

It's cute, it's free, and experts seem to be a fan.
Isabel Pavia via Getty Images

We’ve written before at HuffPost UK about “tolyamory,” where one or both partners silently permits the infidelity of another without ever explicitly addressing it.

We’ve covered the “orange peel” and “Dorito” dating tests, too. But what’s “pebbling” ― a penguin-inspired dating trend I keep seeing on my For You Page?

A viral TikTok from @jakeyboiarts describes it as giving “someone a bunch of something because you’re thinking about them, for example, a penguin that gives a pebble to another penguin they love.”

The video, which has earned over 640k views as of the time of writing, explained that “pebbling online is like someone who gets videos, memes, whatever, and you send them to someone.”

What’s that got to do with dating?

It doesn’t have to. Another TikTok video by autism-specialising therapist @myautistictherapist suggested that “the way [many autistic people] share love is through giving information” ― “pebbling” facts, as it were.

And that love can be for friends and family as well as partners. “A lot of the autistic people on this app are showing the world love by sharing what they know,” the therapist said; of course, the same goes for anyone else. It’s a little gift for those you love.

But seeing as the Gentoo penguin-based habit it’s based on is used for amorous avian couples, the trend has taken on a romantic hue on social media ― and the pros seem to approve.

Older forms of “pebbling,” like giving someone a gift, bringing them home a snack, or even telling them about a part of your day that made you think of them have existed for as long as love has, Psychology Today points out.

But relationship expert Gigi Engle told that the newer, online application is great for couples; “I think it’s the cutest thing ever because memes are a love language these days,” she said.

“Pebbling started with the advent of meme sending as a form of creating a connection with people... It can definitely strengthen a relationship because it’s similar to sending a message saying, ‘I saw this and thought of you,’” the romance expert added.

So... it’s always good?

As with anything else, you can have too much of a cute thing.

App user @jakeyboiarts’ TikTok references opening your phone to “hundreds” of notifications ― that might be overwhelming to some (it’s me, I’m ‘some’).

Engle also told Metro that, “Pebbling does have the potential to set an expectation of communication you’re going to have throughout your relationship, so that’s something to keep in mind.” Your partner may feel hurt if you’re unable to keep up the pebble pace for long.

And in the same article, dating expert Drew Wyllie of Pure dating app, advised that “What is deemed sweet and thoughtful for someone, may be irrelevant for someone else” and suggested pebblers “make a mental note of your partner’s likes and dislikes as well as their daily behaviours so you can make your presents more relevant.”

“Pebbling alone is not going to get you far,” Psychology Today adds, stating that the memes should be a jumping-off point for deeper connections and not your main romantic meeting point.

Still, though, if you are your beau have a sweet meme exchange going, then take it from the Gentoo gents and keep it rolling.