No matter what your love language is, I think we can all agree that having a partner who performs small acts of service for you is never a bad thing. Sure, lavish gestures of affection like whisking you away for a romantic getaway or gifting you with a stunning new piece of jewelry are great and all, but the little things—like cooking dinner or taking out the trash to make your life easier—matter, too. But while some might view these small acts as the icing on their relationship cake, TikTok’s orange peel theory says they can make or break your relationship. So, in the spirit of looking out for my girls, I decided to investigate this viral theory by testing it out on my partner to determine whether there’s any validity to it. Ahead, a breakdown of the theory, my experience along with my honest and unfiltered thoughts on the matter, and what to do if your partner “fails.”
What is the Orange Peel Theory?
The orange peel theory suggests that having a partner who performs small acts of service for you—like peeling an orange—is a sign of a healthy relationship. This idea is believed to have stemmed from a slideshow of screenshots between exes. In one of the slides, someone named Charlotte discloses to someone named Em: “I miss when you would peel my oranges for me in the morning” and “I peeled my orange today.”
Taken out of context, these texts may seem silly, but they actually go beyond the topic of peeling oranges. In essence, they reiterate the importance of performing small tasks for your partner, either because they ask for it, it makes their life easier, or simply out of the goodness of your heart.
Why are people using the Orange Peel Theory to test their relationships and partners?
To put this theory to the test, couples all over the internet are asking their partners to peel an orange for them to see how they respond. The idea behind this is that if you ask your partner to peel an orange for you and they say yes, it means that they have a positive attitude toward you and the relationship as a whole. Because willingly performing a tiny task you could easily do yourself not only means that they’re committed to you but also that they’ll be there for you when you really need it, like when you’re sick, going through a rough patch, and so forth.
On the other hand, if you ask your partner to peel an orange for you and they refuse, it’s a major red flag. According to TikTok, their refusal to help you out with this small task could be an indicator that they’ll be less likely to help you out with something else, like cleaning the house or accompanying you to an appointment. Essentially, you’ll have to beg them to do anything for you, which is something you shouldn’t have to do.
My experience with the Orange Peel Theory (and my honest thoughts on its validity)
Because my curiosity got the better of me, I decided to try out the orange peel theory on my fiancé. Admittedly, I had a feeling he’d pass the test with flying colors because he goes out of his way to do small things for me all the time, like covering me with an extra blanket whenever I’m freezing in bed and cleaning the kitchen so I have a nice environment to chill in when I’m home by myself. So, after a few glasses of prosecco and while he was cooking calamari for us, I asked him if he could peel an orange for me. Not only did he do it without batting an eye, but he also did it meticulously, going so far as to separate the slices on a plate because he thought I was going to use them in a cocktail recipe.
Life is rarely black and white… you cannot measure the strength of your relationship or level of commitment from your partner with just one test.
That being said, I still have mixed feelings about this theory. On the one hand, I love how it reiterates the importance of doing small things for your partner because I believe the small things matter more than the big things in a committed long-term relationship. Everyday life is filled with the mundane, and having a partner who peels an orange for you, cleans the shower, and rubs your feet while you’re watching TV goes so much farther than one who uses meals at five-star restaurants to profess their love; we all need someone who will help make our day-to-day lives easier.
But life is rarely black and white—it’s filled with shades of gray, and you cannot measure the strength of your relationship or level of commitment from your partner with just one test.
For starters, we all have moments when we just don’t want to be bothered. Regardless of whether your partner’s in the middle of something or just having a bad day, you can’t expect them to drop everything to peel an orange for you and vice versa. Sure, having a significant other who’s unwilling to help you whenever you ask might be a red flag, but it’s also important to remember that your partner’s response is based on how they feel at that exact moment—it’s not necessarily a measure of how they feel as a whole about you and the relationship.
What to do if your partner “fails”
Little things certainly matter, but no two relationships are the same. Instead of judging them with a one-size-fits-all test, I say we focus on fostering patience, communication, honesty, and safety in our relationships and with our partners first and foremost. Practicing patience and building a safe relationship starts with open and honest dialogue. So, if your partner “fails,” talk to them about how their refusal made you feel and listen to what they have to say in response; being receptive to each other is key here.
Similarly, it’s also important to recognize that everyone is hardwired differently; some people will be more inclined to perform small acts of service for their partner than others—and that’s OK! Thankfully, humans are fully capable of adapting, and if small things matter to you, chances are your partner will become more conscious of doing them. Likewise, it is perfectly acceptable to feel confident and secure in your relationship even if your partner doesn’t peel an orange for you. No couple functions the same, and our quirks and flaws are what make us human.
That said, if your partner “fails” the orange peel test and you’re not surprised about it, that might be a red flag. Relationships are all about teamwork, and you shouldn’t have to beg your significant other to perform tiny tasks or help you out when you need it. Of course, all relationships have good days and bad, but when it comes down to it, someone who loves you will want to make you feel good. And if your partner isn’t making you feel good, it might be time to re-examine the relationship. Remember: You deserve to feel loved, cared for, and safe—with and without the presence of oranges.