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Orange Peel Theory: Do Little Things in Relationships Really Matter?

The ongoing debate still stands. Do orange peels or “the little things” really matter in a relationship? If they do, why? 

Oranges and peel on table
Unsplash/Kaitlyn Chow

At the end of the day, we all want the perfect partner. You know, the one we secretly (or not so secretly) pine for in the wake of loneliness and candy heart holidays.  The one who understands us, gets all our jokes, validates us, and is the epitome of a walking green flag. 

While our parents had hour-long talks on the family phone and pagers to ask for a phone call, we cling to innocent Instagram stalking, compatibility tests, and star signs. After all, you can’t call it love if it hasn’t been validated, torn apart, and approved by society…right? 

Enter: The Orange Peel Theory

Among these Gen-Z tests of love lies none other than the newly achieved and notorious “Orange Peel Theory”. Made famous at the start of the 2024 new year, this TikTok theory leaves the mere fate of your relationship in the hands of fruit peels and courteous partners. In this trend, girls casually mention that they want an orange to their boyfriends. But what happens next, makes all the difference. 

If he peels the orange before handing it to her, it means he’s considerate and in tune with her needs. His true love is demonstrated in this small act. If not, TikTok users claim that his love for her is shallow and not as deep. Translation: the relationship is doomed. Even more, this trend speaks to how having a partner who does and remembers “the little things”, is vital to the longevity of a relationship. 

While the orange peel theory upset and riled up users all over the nation (more unassuming boyfriends than girlfriends), the ongoing debate still stands. Do orange peels or “the little things” really matter in a relationship? If they do, why? 

According to an article by PsychCentral, “Research supports how important the little things in relationships are to enduring love — and well-being, in general. A 2012 survey of more than 5,000 people found that small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness were more important than generic love gestures, like receiving a box of chocolate.” Let’s take a closer look and examine what these small acts of kindness actually do for our relationships. 

1. The “Little Things” Increase Emotional Intimacy

couple looking at each other with the ocean in the background
Credit:Unsplash/ Ryan Jacobson

Nope, it isn’t the ninety-five dollar perfume, new Jordans, or the romantic date planned at the top of the Eiffel Tower that seal the deal…although they couldn’t hurt. The beautiful thing about doing and remembering “the little things” in relationships is that it increases and solidifies emotional intimacy. Remembering important dates, actively listening to your partner’s day, or texting when apart lets our partner know two things: they are important to us, and we see them.

“Essentially, an emotional bid is a small way that we daily ask our partners, “Are you here with me?” or, “Do I matter to you?” By receiving a metaphorical “Yes!” to these questions consistently throughout your relationship, you strengthen your trust and connection to each other,” an article by The Gottman Institute said. And while physical and mental closeness has its perks, emotional intimacy is the superglue to any long-term relationship.

So the next time you don’t think reaffirming your partner with compliments or indulging in their favorite TV show with them matters, these could be the very actions that keep your relationship afloat.  

2. Everyday Life Becomes More

couple on bed eating pizza
Credit: Unsplash/ Toa Heftiba

Anyone in a long-term relationship knows one thing: the year the honeymoon phase ends is the year the relationship is truly tested. During the honeymoon phase, our rose-colored glasses keep us happy yet completely blind to our partner’s flaws.

But one day and approximately two years later, you wake up, and suddenly you find yourself feeling annoyed and judging your partner’s habits more than ever. In the mundane routine of life, choosing to remember “the little things” can make life more than what it plainly is. 

“By infusing your daily routine with small acts of love and kindness, you’re creating a positive, supportive environment where both you and your partner can thrive…focusing on the little things also helps us to appreciate the beauty and magic of the present moment,” an article by Chris Massman stated.

Whether it’s showing up to our partner’s house on a rainy day with their favorite snacks or asking questions about their day over dinner rather than scrolling, these small joys can upgrade our lives to so much more. In the end, you’ll find that the end of the honeymoon phase provides an opportunity to delve into a deeper, more fulfilling relationship.

3. The “Little Things” Lead to True Companionship

old couple walking with each other
Credit: Unsplash/ FORMAT Awr

You might’ve been looking for companionship in your dog, your best friend, or your Discord friends you game with every Friday night, but did you ever consider your romantic partner as a companion?

As we grow older and mature in our relationships, it’s no longer just about how tall they are and whether they post us on their Instagram. Our partner becomes someone we truly share our lives with, the person who is involved in every crevice and private matter of our life. As one wise man once said, marriage is the highest form of friendship. These small acts are the secret bindings that keep our relationship healthy and thriving. 

“A relationship is about giving and taking. If you’re the one always giving in the relationship, you will feel exhausted. The small things in our relationship make me feel important and secure in my relationship,” said Sandra Tudon, married for 27 years. “Every day, I move my wife’s car out of the driveway.

One day, I noticed she didn’t have enough gas for the day, so I went ahead and filled it up for her. And I didn’t say anything. I didn’t approach her and tell her, ‘Hey, why didn’t you tell me that you didn’t have gas?’ because I knew I didn’t need to.

This is how I show her I love her and care about her safety without expecting anything back in return.” said Mauricio Tudon, married for 27 years. 

Is the Orange Peel Theory Dangerous?

The verdict is this: the “little things” in relationships truly matter. However, are public tests like the orange peel theory really reliable enough to aid us in our relationships? The orange peel theory has concluded one thing for sure: Gen-Z is an all-or-nothing generation. In one TikToker video, her boyfriend met her with a “tough love buddy” when she asked him to peel her orange.

Users can be found in the comments saying things like: “He missed the point entirely. Throw it out and get a new one” and “Girl, run…run as fast as you can.” While the orange peel theory can provide further insight into a relationship, our generation doesn’t need oranges and tests to determine the fate of any relationship.

Appreciate Your Partner for What They Do Offer

“Maybe your partner doesn’t peel the orange, but your partner goes for a walk with you and talks to you for an hour about a crisis that happened at work. Maybe they don’t peel the orange, but they take your mom out to lunch to boost her spirits. I want people to keep a really wide perspective on all the ways that partners can and do show up for each other that can’t be summarized or captured in one gesture or one way of showing love,” an article by Vox stated.

Another article by The New York Times encourages us to take a more mature approach to communication in our relationships. “If you want your orange peeled, just ask for it — but don’t play games or let the peeling become a referendum on the health of your relationship. Instead of testing partners to see if they will make you a latte in the morning, for example, you should instead say, “I love when you make me a latte in the morning,” the article states. 

happy black couple hugging
Shutterstock/ Yuri A

The little things: Yes. The orange peel? Not so much. Think twice before you adhere to these mindless TikTok trends that put our partners to the test. Let’s go back to the simplicity of enjoying and remembering the little things in life. Your relationships, in all aspects of your life, will thank you for it. 

Written By

UCLA graduate with a background in English and Animation. When I'm not catching up on sleep, I'm trying to analyze everyone in the room, catching up on the latest YA Fantasy Novel, or watching the Office.

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