A pile of orange peels

Why Is Everyone on TikTok ‘Testing’ Their Relationship With Orange Peels?

A lot of TikTok trends and challenges can be quite confusing when they blow up on one’s For You page with no context. The latest trend will have viewers perplexed about why everyone is suddenly asking their significant others to peel an orange for them and calling it a “challenge.”

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Over the years, many TikTok relationship challenges have blown up on the platform. However, the vast majority are challenges that relationship experts would almost certainly never recommend. Some recent examples include asking your boyfriend to name the first woman that comes to his mind, calling your girlfriend another girl’s name, hitting your partner in the face with a purse, or pranking your partner about cheating on them. The challenges are silly at best and downright nasty at worst. Most of the time, they’ll probably say more about the person who feels the need to carry out and film such challenges than they do about a relationship. Still, these videos can be entertaining, and many are clearly planned skits between good-natured and humorous couples, so it’s not hard for them to go viral.

One trend that doesn’t seem to be dying down anytime soon is the orange peel challenge/theory. Unlike some trends, this one looks fairly harmless. Meanwhile, the way it has spread like wildfire might have users questioning if something as simple as orange can actually predict the trajectory of their relationship.

What is the orange peel theory on TikTok?

The orange peel theory is fairly simple. It consists of TikTok users asking their significant other if they would peel an orange for them. If their partner says, “Yes,” they pass the test. However, if they say “No,” it’s considered a failure and a major red flag. The idea is that if your partner peels an orange for you or does a similar small act of service, it’s a sign that you’re in a healthy relationship. Several TikTokers have even posted some very in-depth videos explaining the whole theory.

According to Anna Birmingham, how your partner responds to the test can be indicative of much bigger things. Essentially, if someone is willing to do things for you that you’re perfectly capable of doing yourself just because they like seeing you happy, it says a lot about their commitment to the relationship and how they view you. We have all heard of or been in a relationship where one partner has to literally beg their significant other to do the bare minimum for them, so the partner who will readily peel your orange is seen as the opposite of that red flag situation.

It’s difficult to be bombarded with this theory online without wanting to try it out. You might think you know your partner, but would they really peel an orange for you? Meanwhile, most videos of couples carrying out these challenges are quite sweet. It’s often women doing the challenge, and it’s always uplifting when videos like these normalize men doing acts of service for women, no matter how small or silly they seem.

There are also some failures. Sometimes these are funny, but others do seem to exhibit red flags. Most fails are filled with commenters urging the poster to dump their partner.

How did the orange peel theory start?

No one knows who did the orange peel test first because it didn’t start as a test. The whole thing started from a viral TikTok from the anonymous account @things.i.cant.sen. The TikTok was a slideshow that showed a text conversation between two people reminiscing about their past relationship. One text reads, “I miss when you would peel my oranges for me in the morning.” However, the whole exchange is ultimately very sad as, while this person’s partner did peel oranges for them, they also left them. The ex-orange peeler reminds their partner that they’re not “in love” with them anymore and requests them to stop texting. The other partner eventually sends one final message, revealing that they peeled their own orange that day.

It’s unclear how the orange peel theory sprouted from such a sad video about a breakup. For some reason, though, users fixated on the orange peel part, with commenters describing “sobbing” over the final text. Perhaps the test grew out of fear of ending up like the partner peeling their own orange.

However, relationship experts have warned not to put too much weight on the theory. Relationship and communication expert Rachel DeAlto explained to CNBC, “It’s not a red flag if your partner doesn’t peel an orange.” She did admit that there might be an ounce of validity to the test because a partner’s willingness to do small things says a lot about their desire to help with the bigger things in life. At the same time, one instance of asking a partner to peel an orange isn’t substantial evidence. One should instead pay attention to how often one’s partner doesn’t do similar tasks or should ask themselves serious questions about their partner’s patience, kindness, and ability to listen and support them.

Ultimately, DeAlto concludes that she doesn’t like tests in relationships. It’s not hard to see why, as the insecurity is evident in those who feel the need to use the orange peel theory to test their partner’s love, or whose first thought is to post their partner’s supposed “red flag” on TikTok for the world to see instead of privately addressing any concerns they might have. It’s also worth noting that when you stick a camera inches from your partner’s face while awkwardly and randomly requesting an orange and for them to peel it, you’re probably not going to get accurate results. If users want to do the challenge for fun, then that’s perfectly fine, but more users should be questioning why they feel the need to do this bizarre test in the first place.

(featured image: Ligora / Getty)

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Image of Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.