The TikTok Shoe Theory Claims To Be A Harbinger Of Relationship Doom — Is It?

If your partner is an avid runner, needs some new work shoes, or considers themself a sneakerhead, you might not think twice about gifting them with a new pair for their birthday or another holiday. However, TikTok’s viral “shoe theory” claims that if you do that, you’re basically asking to get dumped. Wait, what?

What is TikTok’s “shoe theory” all about?


here is what i’ve been taught about The Shoes Theory growing up #theshoetheory #holidayshopping #chinesetheory #chinese #chinesetradition #chinesebelief #angelachaan #culturalappreciation #funny

♬ original sound – angela chan

A user by the name of @angela.chaan brought the “shoe theory” to light on TikTok, explaining that her mom had been giving her this stark warning for many, many years. According to Angela, the superstition comes from Chinese culture. In Mandarin, the word for shoes (鞋 xié) is pronounced exactly the same as the word “邪 xié,” which translates to “bad luck” or “evil.”

The “shoe theory,” therefore, claims that giving someone you love a pair of shoes is inviting bad luck. In particular, you’re giving them something to wear on their feet when they leave you in the dust. “To gift someone a pair of shoes implies a similar idea to gifting bad luck, hence the person receiving the shoes might walk out on you/your relationship,” Angela explains.

Is there any truth to the theory?



♬ original sound – discosexguru

Probably not. Even Angela thinks it’s a “cultural superstition” that doesn’t really hold true to reality. After all, the idea that giving your partner a new pair of sneakers or shoes will make them want to end things with you is something that could only go viral on TikTok.
However, she does add that if you worry it might end up being true, you can counteract the negative effects by giving your partner a little money on the side, even if it’s only a dollar or something.

That being said, a user named Betsabe (@DiscoSexGuru) doesn’t share our skepticism. In fact, she claims she gave an ex a pair of Merrel Gore-Tex sneakers and some slippers for their birthday, only to get dumped a few weeks later when their partner decided to move back to their hometown. She insisted that she learned her lesson and wouldn’t gift shoes again in the future.

What if your partner actually wants shoes as a gift?


#shoetheory #breakup

♬ original sound – <3

I don’t know about you, but I love shoes. I have so many pairs of Jordans and other sneakers and I’m always adding more to my collection. In other words, a new pair would be a welcome gift for me. If I’m asking, does the “shoe theory” still hold true? Will I suddenly want to leave my partner if I unwrap a new pair of Adidas Sambas on my birthday?

Not likely. I’m not alone in believing that shoes can be a great gift. Many people love giving and receiving gifts that are so useful — they may even be worn every day by the recipient — and also can be a great way to express personal style. After all, your choice of footwear can say a lot about your personality, so it takes some serious thought and effort to pick the right pair.

TikTok’s “shoe theory” may be fun to think about. However, like most superstitions, there’s not much reality behind it. If your partner wants a new pair of shoes, don’t be afraid to buy some for them. The chances of them walking away as a result are pretty slim.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill