The “Orange Peel Theory” Can Make or Break a Relationship — Here’s What It Means

Distractify Staff - Author
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Jan. 18 2024, Published 11:52 a.m. ET

(l-r): A woman feeding her partner an orange
Source: Getty Images

A citrusy trend has TikTok users in a chokehold.

In 2023, TikTokers became invested in believing that the key to a successful relationship can come from something as simple as an orange. The “Orange Peel Theory,” which first circulated in November 2023, is now a hot topic amongst those in romantic relationships and single people alike.

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Though the Orange Peel Theory has gained popularity, with over 35 million views on the hashtag, the theory has little to do with oranges or their pesky skin. So, what does the Orange Peel Theory mean? Here’s what to know!

A woman peeling an orange
Source: Getty Images
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What does the “Orange Peel Theory” mean?

The Orange Peel Theory originated in November 2023. At the time, the TikTok account @things.i.cant.sen posted a text exchange between two exes, Charlotte and Em. In the text’s screenshots, the exes reminisced about their time together and how Em would peel oranges for Charlotte because she never learned how to do it. After sharing how much she misses Em, Charlotte sends her a heartbreaking text stating, “I peeled my orange today.”

The emotional “I peeled my orange today” TikTok eventually sparked the Orange Peel Theory. The theory suggests that small gestures like Em peeling an orange for Charlotte do wonders for a relationship. How so? Someone is peeling an orange for their partner without them having to ask shows that they understand their partner’s needs and possible shortcomings and do the task for them.

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As Kate Truitt, a board-certified psychologist and applied neuroscientist, explained to HuffPost, the orange peel theory has a deeper meaning than someone’s ability to peel an orange for someone. She explained that it’s more about the partner’s response to the person they’re in a relationship with, asking them to peel the orange.

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“The orange peel theory focuses on the idea that small acts of service are not just about the action itself but about what it represents in the relationship,” she said. “They signal care, love and commitment, and the repetition of the act enhances the overall health and happiness of the relationship. These gestures, often simple and seemingly mundane, are in fact pivotal in nurturing a loving, supportive and enduring partnership.”

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Several TikTokers have shared how they practice the “Orange Peel Theory” in their relationships.

In a November 2023 TikTok, a user named Anna Birmingham (@annabham), further supported Kate’s take on the orange peel theory and gave other examples of someone using the orange peel theory themselves without any actual orange peel.

“I’m sure we’ve all been in that relationship where we feel like we’re having to practically beg on our hands and knees for someone to just get us flowers or pick up dinner for us on the way home when they know we’ve had a bad day,” Ana stated in her video. “In that situation, it was never about the frickin’ flowers. It’s the acknowledgment and the feeling of being taken care of and cherished.”

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In addition to Anna's post, other TikTokers shared how their lovers have utilized the orange peel theory in their relationships. Some, like TikTokers @kyleandjade_ actually asked their partner to peel the orange for them to watch their reaction. However, as TikTok user Ariel (@flaw_liss) shared, the theory can potentially backfire.

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In January 2024, Ariel stated that her ex-boyfriend didn't like the TikTok trend. Ariel explained that, after her boyfriend broke up with her, stting the theory as his "main reason" for ending the relationship. Once Ariel realized her asking him to peel an orange was the "final straw" for him, she took it as a sign that she was better off without him.

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"You know what? I would like someone who wants to peel an orange for me," Ariel stated in the video. "Really would. Not gonna ask you to. I just wanna know that you would. Is that too much to ask?"

We don't think Ariel, nor anyone asking to peel an orange is asking for too much. Relationships are about understanding one another, and anyone who can't peel your orange — or do any other act of service for you — isn't someone worth spending your energy on!

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