TikTok never fails to introduce a new and viral trend that appears across people’s “For You Page” for days.

Whether it be the latest dance routine or a popular sound, the social media app can infiltrate millions of users’ algorithms. Challenging relationships between couples is TikTok’s latest obsession, causing chaos on the digital platform. Several theories circulating across TikTok are supposed to help couples determine the fate and health of their relationships. However, testing your partner is not considered the healthiest approach to assessing the relationship. It can be more harmful than helpful by causing tension, conflict and unnecessary problems in the long run.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Camille Tenerife believes that the recurring theme in the foundation of every TikTok couple theory is insecurity. While she doesn’t view these insecurities as negative, they can play a role in the creation of these theories and their increase in popularity among couples seeking validation from their partners. In a recent interview with 21Ninety, Tenerife broke down some of the other potential underlying issues revealed in these TikTok couple tests.

What is the Orange Peel Theory?

If you’ve seen an increase in TikTok videos of people attempting to get their partners to peel an orange for them, chances are you have come across the orange peel theory. This theory tests the strength of a relationship by evaluating their significant other’s response after requesting their orange be peeled by them.  Peeling the orange indicates a healthy relationship, whereas their partner not doing so is considered a red flag.

More than 8,000 people have joined the #orangepeeltheory trend, hoping to receive validation from their partners. By posting it for others to see, that desire for external validation appears to also exist. Although seeking validation is often deemed a negative desire, Tenerife doesn’t entirely agree with that perspective.

“Validation is a natural part of being a human being,” she told 21Ninety. “We are social creatures by nature, so it’s very primal for us to want to feel the need to be validated.”

For her, the difference between external validation becoming harmful is when people attach their value to other people’s opinions.

“When you start to figure out yourself and your worth depends on somebody else, then that may be more problematic.”

What is the Cheating Theory?

The Cheating Theory helps determine if one person is unfaithful in the relationship. The videos show couples enjoying a meal together until one reaches for the other person’s food or phone. The theory states that if the partner is cheating, then they are more concerned about their phone than food. If they are more concerned about their food, then they are faithful.


Replying to @jpx_97 He probably just deleted the texts 🤷🏽‍♀️ BUT HE PAID FOR DINNER SO WHO CARES #boyfriend #relatable #dinner #couplecomedy #cheater

♬ original sound – Maddison

Feeling disconnected or insecure are common relationship problems, and these theories raise a bigger question for couples.

“The anecdote is not to test your partner,” she explained. “The anecdote is to be able to make that request, be very clear about it and work through it together.” 

What is the Bird Test Theory?

The Bird Test Theory determines the success and longevity of a relationship. It is based on one partner’s response to their significant other’s interests. When one person points out a bird to their partner and their reaction doesn’t match, that is a sign that the relationship will not last much longer. If their reaction does match, then the relationship is positive and will last.

Tenerife attributed this and the orange theory to longing for partner connection. She explained how both can be traced to The Gottman Method, which is a form of couples therapy that helps navigate conflict and improves relationships. This method follows the foundation of Sound Relationship House Theory, which details the nine pillars essential to a healthy relationship. Those nine pillars are love maps, shared fondness and admiration, turning towards and not away from each other, upholding a positive perspective, managing conflict, supporting each other’s dreams, creating shared meaning, trust and commitment.

What’s at the Root of TikTok Couple Theories?

As online users continue to develop these and other relationship trends, the longing for connection is at the root.

“Human beings want to connect with one another,” Tenerife said. “The theories are like requests or opportunities for your partner to connect with you.”

Instead of relying on viral TikTok trends to test the relationship, Tenerife recommends communicating openly and having each person own the emotions they feel about their current status. She used examples of “I” statements to point out the specific emotional needs of a person.

“Something like ‘I’m feeling a bit insecure about the relationship’ or some version of ‘I need more quality time with you,'” she explained. “Those are direct, clear ways to actually test your partner’s commitment or love for you.”

She also suggested implementing other ways to increase connectivity, such as scheduling date nights, getting to know your partner’s day-to-day life and supporting each other’s life goals.