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The relationship Orange Peel Theory and how our standards have slipped below sea level

The relationship Orange Peel Theory and how our standards have slipped below sea level


by Sarah Gill
19th Jan 2024

Wake up sweetie, a new relationship test just dropped.

A 2024 iteration of ‘would you love me if I were a worm’, the Orange Peel Theory is a fun new way to gauge just how much your partner likes you, and presents further proof that the bar has been thrown out the window, into the sea, and now officially resides at the bottom of the ocean.

Remember when TikTok trends consisted of weirdly complicated dances, somewhat amusing soundbites, and 10-second clips worthy of Vine fame? Those were the days. Now, the platform seems dedicated to dishing out pseudo-intellectual advice, making pre-teens shop for retinol, and instigating flash in the pan spats in otherwise just fine relationships.

The latest illustration? The Orange Peel Theory.


Something that started circulating back in November and reached peak cross-platform virality this week, it’s essentially a test to see if your partner will peel an orange for you. If they do it, they love you, and if they don’t, you have to run for the hills. I will, once again, remind you of the location of the bar. I cannot limbo under it. It’s literally in hell.

Naturally, people are recording themselves asking their off-camera partner to peel an orange for them and posting the results for the masses to either envy or condemn. TikTok user @shelbywilfong hopped on the trend, but her beau didn’t exactly follow through. He gave her the orange, sure, but refused to peel it for her because, essentially, she can do it herself.

People were sounding off in the comments, hoping it was a skit (in the video he told her she wasn’t special, which makes me think he was verging on red flag territory pre-peel fiasco) and urging her to dump him. When it was reposted on X (Twitter), the platform where the cynics live, people began pointing out a not yet universally acknowledged truth: straight women are living in the trenches.

A few points to clarify here: Firstly, I have to assume they’re talking about mandarins, as I have never actually peeled an orange. I slice it up and eat it off the skin, but maybe that’s neither here nor there. Secondly, yes, the simple act of peeling an orange (read: mandarin) for your partner is nice and falls under ‘acts of service’ territory, which is indeed a good way to give and receive love. But for the love of God, it’s really not that deep.

Because TikTok seems to be obsessed with fruit (Strawberry Girl, Tomato Girl, brain melt, etc), the less-prominent Pomegranate Theory is also doing the rounds. If you haven’t prepared a pomegranate before, the task is a slow and deliberate one, it’s frustrating but cannot be rushed, and the theory states that if your partner is willing to do this for you, they’ll be willing to do pretty much anything.

Obviously, both theories are allegories carrying a somewhat deeper meaning, but when taken literally and at face value, they’re just another way to test your relationship. Not too long ago, there was the ‘name a woman’ theory, which was basically baiting your partner into disclosing the woman or celebrity crush on their mind. Spoiler: it was almost always Sydney Sweeney. Fair.

Tests masquerading as theories, these little bits of fight fuel have been described as ‘bids’ by relationship experts, which are basically subtle (or not so subtle) requests for love, affection, and validation. Which is fine, do what you want, but if you feel the need to test your relationship in the first place, there’s obviously something else going on under the hood.

For some it may well be the orange that breaks the relationship’s back, for others, it will be a nice excuse to get one of their five a day. But if the idea fills you with a sense of foreboding, it might be a good incentive to perform a long-overdue relationship audit. Or maybe it’s just a reminder to log off, go outside, and touch some grass.