The "Orange Peel Theory" is a trending concept on TikTok, used to evaluate the depth and authenticity of personal relationships, whether romantic or platonic. The theory suggests that small, thoughtful acts of service, such as peeling an orange for someone without being asked, can be indicators of genuine love and care. This idea extends beyond just peeling oranges; it encompasses any small gesture made to ease someone's life or brighten their day, like making tea or buying a favorite treat. These actions are valued not because they are obligatory, but because they are done willingly and affectionately.
The theory gained popularity after TikTok user @NeaNotMia posted a video explaining it, highlighting the importance of little things done out of understanding and affection. For instance, if one knows their partner dislikes peeling oranges due to its effect on their manicure, doing it for them becomes a significant gesture. The concept resonated widely, with many TikTokers affirming its applicability to various types of relationships. According to TikTok user Anna Birmingham, even a minor act like peeling an orange can reveal a lot about someone's attitude towards another person and the nature of their relationship.