A number of relationship tests — including the “orange peel theory” and the “ketchup test” have gone viral on TikTok — but experts say they’re not a fair or healthy way to assess your relationship.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, you may be looking to take stock of your relationship using one of TikTok’s viral boyfriend tests, but this approach isn’t likely to give you the answers you’re looking for, nor is it a fair position to put your partner in, according to relationship therapists.
The “orange peel theory” is perhaps the most popular of these tests. It typically involves a woman asking her male partner — either through words or the power of suggestion — to peel an orange for her and evaluate their response. Do they do it willingly, jumping at the opportunity to make her life just a little bit easier in this simple yet meaningful way? Or do they refuse, frustrated by the request for help with something she could easily do herself?
Viral videos of the trend show a wide variety of responses — from boyfriends who gladly peel the orange without a second thought to those who balk at the idea and use it as an opportunity to put their partner down.
@shelbyywilfong failed attempt. #fyp ♬ original sound - shelby
The woman then uses the response to evaluate the relationship as a whole, but relationship coach and author Emmi Fortin tells Healthnews that testing your partner in this way is actually a form of manipulation.
The partner being tested has no idea they’re being evaluated, she says, nor that major conclusions are being drawn from how they respond to this seemingly unassuming question. This is both unfair and unlikely to yield the desired results.
“You’re drawing a conclusion about your partner and their intentions toward you and the relationship on one single response or action,” Fortin says. “What if they’re in a bad mood that day or don’t feel like helping you out because they’re stressed or have other things on their mind? What if they wouldn’t want to peel your orange but would clear the snow off of your car? You can’t make conclusions about your relationship based on one random test.”
Don’t test — communicate
While it is normal to hold certain expectations for how we should be loved by another person, and some may believe that a “test” is a way for us to see whether the other person’s response will be up to our standards, it’s likely that the desire to conduct these tests actually stems from our own insecurities, fears, or past experiences that we’re trying to replicate or avoid, Fortin says.
Ultimately, these tests serve as a way to avoid direct communication about our own needs.
“The orange peel [theory] could enforce many couples’ belief that their partner should be able to read their mind, rather than having to communicate their needs,” sex and relationship therapist Ness Cooper tells Healthnews. “This will automatically lead to more couples failing than passing this test, as believing your partner should just know your needs in a relationship is one of the biggest reasons couples head to therapy.”
Cooper says these trends are also resulting in individuals exploiting their partner for the sake of social media content — a phenomenon that is not likely to bring you closer or improve your relationship.
If you feel you absolutely must try the test on your partner, Cooper recommends having a lighthearted attitude when going about it and using it as an opportunity to discuss your respective needs openly afterward.
But rather than test your partner at all, Fortin says, you’d be wise to try communicating openly about what is important to you from the get-go.
“It’s totally okay to observe your partner’s behavior and form opinions about it, but only when you intend to express those thoughts to your partner rather than dole out a 'pass/fail' grade,” she says. “We are all human, and if your partner (and you) are open to learning more about each other and forming solutions together, this will be a more fulfilling, supportive, and sustainable approach to love.”