TikTok's viral 'shoe theory' explained

TikTok's viral 'shoe theory' explained
TikTok therapist reveals five secrets to long relationship

Scores of TikTok users won’t be adding boots or trainers to their Christmas shopping lists thanks to the latest viral trend.

The social media platform has seen a recent surge in the hashtag “shoetheory” over recent days, as the latest relationship hypothesis runs riot among young users.

As with any craze, it has left users divided. Streams of TikTokers have insisted the theory is real, sharing their own tales of woe as evidence, while others have dismissed it as being as reliable as flipflops in winter.

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What actually is the shoe theory?

One TikToker called Katie concisely explained it as follows: “If you gift somebody in your life a pair of shoes, essentially one day they are going to walk out of it.”

Where does it come from?

There’s no one person or culture that can lay claim to the theory, it’s essentially just an urban legend. However, website China Market Advisor suggests the Chinese have promoted the idea for centuries.

“Primarily the whole idea comes from the Chinese word for shoes (鞋 xié) which sounds similar to evil (邪 xié ),” it states.

“So giving someone a pair of shoes is like giving them a bad spirit. Additionally, it is believed that it sends the message of ending your relationship. Therefore, it is an inappropriate gift between dating couples. However, this superstition does not apply to close family members.”

Elsewhere, the website Mental Floss says the gesture has both positive and negative meanings.

“Giving someone a new pair of shoes is unlucky, although strangely it is also said to prolong their life,” it says on its page about gift-giving superstitions.

“It is very bad luck to give shoes as a Christmas present, as it is thought to signify that the receiver will walk away from you. However, if you never give anyone a gift of shoes, it means that you will be doomed to go shoeless in the afterlife. Tough choice.”

What does TikTok have to say about it?

In Katie's video on the theory, she said that when she first read about it she thought it seemed “dumb”, but then she remembered that she’d once bought a pair of shoes for an ex.

“Mind you, this is the only time I’ve ever gifted someone a pair of shoes, like I’ve never bought shoes for anybody else, but I’m not gonna lie – they definitely walked out of my life.”

She then asked her followers whether this had ever happened to them, prompting a flood of responses.


this is odd #fypシ #shoetheory

Some endorsed the theory: “My ex RAN out of mine after I got him Nikes,” one 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,” commented another.

Meanwhile, others soundly rejected it.

“My mother always gives my dad shoes… they’ve been together for 12 years so…” one said.

“I work in a shoe store… I gift shoes to everyone…,” wrote another.

“Pretty common significant other gift,” pointed out a third.

But other TikTokers have shared their concern that they might become prey to the curse.

“I got my mom expensive shoes for this Christmas, what do I do?” one asked.


i might delete this later

In a separate video, a user called Grace asked: “Guys, why has this shoe theory only come out two weeks before Christmas? I’ve bought my boyfriend shoes – do I send them back?’

And in another, a TikToker called Gab similarly asked: “Why is the shoe theory just coming out? Like after I bought his present? Really? I didn’t just buy a 100 dollar pair of shoes just to get broken up with.”

The question is, are you brave enough to buy a pair for your significant other...?

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