Everything you need to know about the 'orange peel theory'

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Everything you need to know about the ‘orange peel theory,’ the test of true love in relationships

The popular theory romanticizes the little things people do for each other as symbols of love and care.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Nov 20, 2023   Updated on Nov 20, 2023, 5:17 pm CST

Last week, a TikTok baker went mega-viral after she posted a video of her boyfriend gifting her containers of egg whites separated from the yolks.

She had mentioned off-handedly a few days prior that she had a difficult time separating the egg whites due to her long nails, so his creative gesture showed that not only was he listening to her, but he wanted to make her life easier.

The video, many viewers said, was a prime example of the “orange peel theory.”

What is the orange peel theory?

The orange peel theory posits that if your partner peels your orange for you without you having to ask, they truly love and care for you. In general, the concept focuses on the little things someone does to brighten their partner’s day or make their life more convenient—just because they can.

TikToker @NeaNotMia says that the theory is also about someone else doing a task that you’re completely capable of doing but doing it for you because they love you.

Another example of the orange peel theory may be a loved one granting your wish to get a glass of water for you just because they’re already up.

“It might not literally be about peeling the orange,” @NeaNotMia says in her video. “They might be asking you for [a] small favor to see your reaction, to see if later they can ask you for a bigger favor. And how are you going to make them feel when they ask you to do that for them?”

Orange peel theory in action

Over the last week, TikTokers have shown the ways in which the theory plays out in their lives. One woman says that she feels cared for when her boyfriend opens doors for her, and another woman says that her boyfriend washes her hair to show his love for her.

The orange peel theory can be present in other types of relationships, not just romantic ones.

A mom posted on TikTok saying that whenever her kids (who can walk) ask to be carried up the stairs, she sees it as an opportunity to have a moment of connection with them. A teacher shared that he’s happy to tie his students’ shoes for them, describing it as “a beautiful little act of love and kindness.”

The theory may have already been the cause of one breakup: One redditor posted on the site last week that seeing a TikTok about the theory made her realize that she does more for her boyfriend than he does for her and that this dynamic signifies a larger imbalance causing a rift between them.

“Our relationship is not going to end because of my towel not being warm or my hair not being up,” the redditor wrote. “But because I realize that I am just settling for a lazy man who doesn’t take me out, doesn’t help out with his baby and has no motivations in life except to live at his parents house, play video games and drink.”

Case in point, the orange peel theory can be applied to help people appreciate their relationships by highlighting the little moments of care and intimacy. It can also signal to them that a relationship is incompatible, and it might be time to move on.

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*First Published: Nov 20, 2023, 5:09 pm CST