What Is the Cab Light Theory & How Does It Apply To Your Love Life?

What Is the Cab Light Theory & How Does It Apply To Your Love Life?

For most of my 20s, I found myself toggled between situationships and dead-end dynamics that left me with nothing more than frosty memories of what could have been. While these relationships proved to be great learning moments and experiences that have shaped my views on what I deserve in a long-term partnership, it’s hard not to mull over why timing never quite played in my favor.

Chalk it up to naivety or simply the hopeful romantic in me, but love never seemed like a distant concept to me. Sure there were tough lessons I had to learn and breakups that I needed healing from, but the hope of finding that special someone still remained. Yet, in my reflections, I couldn’t help but wonder why I kept meeting men who seemed good enough for the moment but would be better had we met at another time.

That is, until I considered one fated component of my dating life that was simply out of my control: and that was time.

When you can’t make sense of things on your own, the TikTok algorithm has a way of leading you to the answers you’re seeking. And during a recent scroll, I stumbled upon a thread of women echoing the sentiment that “men marry the woman in front of them, at the time they are ready to be married” — but could this be the root of my dilemma?

This notion, known as the "Cab Light Theory" is a concept that was introduced in the hit TV series Sex and the City. In the scene, lawyer Miranda Hobbes suggested that men are like taxis - when they're available, their "cab light" is on, and when they're not, it's off. “When they’re available, their light goes on. They wake up one day and decide they’re ready to settle down, have babies, whatever, and they turn their light on. The next woman they pick up — boom! That’s the woman they marry. It’s not fate. It’s dumb luck,” she tells her group of friends in the ladies' room.


The theory is that men are ready and willing to pursue a romantic relationship when they're emotionally available and interested (light on), and if they’re not, well, it’s on to the next pick-up they go (light off). While men are not modes of transportation, there is a point to be made about how a passing notion in a TV series from the start of the millennium could still hold some truth today.

In the original video shared by creator Tay Talks, her take on the “Cab Light Theory” implied that men aren’t necessarily marrying their soulmate or even the love of their life, instead, “it was just the girl he was dating at the time he was ready to get married and settle down.” The “dumb luck” that Miranda Hobbes was referring to in the show is the chance encounter that a woman would find a man who is both financially sound and emotionally available enough to stop his dating pursuits and commit to one woman forever.

But as dating trends shift with new social and economic factors at play, how could it be that more “lights” aren’t going off for men?

In an illuminating piece by Psychology Today, men are more lonely than they’ve been in decades and their soil for choice isn’t helping. The article shared that dating apps drive new connections but have a gender imbalance, with 62% of users being men. And with women becoming increasingly more selective in preferring emotionally available men who share their values, men are now facing a relationship skills gap that can lead to fewer opportunities for long-term partnership if growth, healing, and deeper emotional intelligence are not achieved.

While it’s easy to oversimplify the headaches and frustrations that come with modern dating, we can’t forget that while timing does play a factor in us finding “the one,” we also have the power of choice within our grasp. Men and women both need time to heal, grow, and discover themselves on a deeper level — so would we really want to “jump in the cab” of someone who hasn’t gone through that process already?

Since love is one of those forces that we can’t just make happen a the snap of our fingers, it can be easy to fix a blanket theory into the reason behind our singleness, but it’s important to remember that we can choose to pursue other candidates who date with openness and desire for commitment rather than waiting until someone’s light hastily cuts on.

While love can be sublime it shouldn’t be random. And when love finds us, we shouldn’t have the question in the back of our mind whether we were the best our man could do at the time. We deserve to be sure.

So yes, the “cab light theory” is a cheeky concept that prompts us to appreciate the timing of our love life, but it should also remind us that alignment is everything.

Because the real question is: was his light not on, or was he simply not the one?

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images




For years, studying zodiac sign compatibility has been a fascinating journey for those who want to understand the dynamics of their relationships better. Between the first date debates of Cheesecake Factory vs. coffee shops, we truly understand that sometimes looking to a higher power to guide you on who to date sounds like a good idea. So, it is no surprise that people often turn to Astrology to gain insights into their compatibility with others.


As we know, being a Black girl in luxury is more than just putting our disposable income toward material goods. It’s about spoiling ourselves with the simple luxuries that make our lives more easeful and convenient. While the movement has since evolved from being a posterboard for expensive trips and Birkin bags, the need to reclaim the space in a more intentional way has led it back to what truly matters: practical comfort.