What is the viral shoe theory? Why girlfriends fear they’ll be dumped for Christmas

It can be a struggle to decide what to get your significant other for Christmas, but TikTok is warning that – if anything – they shouldn’t be given shoes.

According to users on the social media platform, giving your loved ones a pair of shoes means they’ll eventually “walk out on you” – or that a breakup is on its way. One TikToker named Angela Chan explained that she first learned about the theory from her mother when she was a little girl. “If you gift someone a pair of shoes, they will eventually walk out on you,” she said, adding that the Chinese word for “shoes” sounds similar to the word for “evil” or “bad luck”.

Many people on the platform have since dissected theory for themselves, explaining whether they believe in the theory or not. For example, one TikToker named Katie said that she originally believed the theory was “dumb”. This was until she had a “lightbulb moment” and remembered that she did give her ex a pair of shoes, and it was the only time she had ever gifted anyone the present. “They definitely walked out of my life,” she said.

In the comments of her video, many people commented that they believed the theory was bogus. “They likely would have left your life regardless, it seems like connecting two things that don’t even make sense lol,” one commenter wrote.

Another agreed, writing: “I gifted my partner a pair of shoes the first month we were together, it didn’t do anything.”

But some people did go on to prove the theory right with their own experiences, like one person who wrote: “I’ve never heard of this but literally the only person I ever bought shoes for is the only person who’s ‘walked out of my life’ unexpectedly.”

“Got my husband a pair of shoes for Christmas two years ago. The following March, days after our daughter’s bday, found he had been having a one-year affair,” read another comment.

The viral shoe theory is just one of many relationship trends that have popped up on TikTok over the past year. Prior to the shoe theory was the “name a woman” trend, which saw women asking their husbands or boyfriends to provide the name of any woman out of the blue. Based on the name that first comes to his mind, viewers and commenters then determine whether or not the man in question gave an “acceptable” answer.

In an ideal scenario, the man is supposed to respond with the name of his significant other, but some people have also accepted A-list celebrities like Zendaya or Taylor Swift. Historical figures have also been deemed acceptable answers as well, with some men naming Hillary Clinton or Susan B Anthony in response to the prompt. One of the only answers that has drawn concern is when a man responds with a common woman’s name that isn’t his partner’s.

While the viral videos are usually not taken very seriously, Yasmine Saad – a licensed clinical psychologist – said in an interview with Business Insider that there could be more consequential results for couples. For example, she said the man could give the name of a woman his partner might have feared he is interested in, or even name a woman that has wronged her in the past.

“In all cases, this challenge is based on the idea that there is something hidden and by asking an innocuous question, their partner will either pass a test or not,” Saad said. “Depending on the answer, the partner is either betraying the woman or is not triggering negative emotions and therefore passing the test.”