The Cab Light Theory: Why Men Only Marry When They’re Ready

Florence Williamson
3 min readMay 1, 2023
A taxi, whose light is what the cab light theory is based on
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Men are like cabs. When they’re available, their light goes on. They awake one day and decide they’re ready to settle down, have babies, whatever, and they turn their light on. Next woman they pick up, boom! That’s the one they’ll marry.

-Miranda Hobbs, Sex in the City, Season 3, Episode 8: “The Big Time”

I was reading blogs one day when I stumbled upon this quote. It suggests that men are uninterested in committing themselves to relationships until they change their minds right then and there.

It also alludes that commitment isn’t the star of the show; rather, timing is the star player here. The quote’s line of thinking believes that commitment and love are mutually exclusive.

And with that, some people have called it the cab light theory. Going by its logic, men won’t marry when they meet the right woman for them. Instead, they’ll only marry when they’re ready, hence the comparison to a cab light.

While I understand where Miranda’s line is getting at, I also thought, don’t many of us feel that way? Isn’t that a bit unfair toward men? I get that some are cynics when it comes to love. Past observations and heartbreaks can be enough to influence one’s thoughts on romance.

However, Miranda’s line is a little extreme. Not every man is a commitment-phobe dater, and not every woman has been fantasizing about their wedding day for a long time. There are men out there looking for committed relationships and seeking matches with similar intentions.

The theory enforces unfair stereotypes. If it alludes to men as uncommitted beings, it also suggests that women are passive actors in their relationships. The thing is, relationships need both parties to be active participants. Men and women have equal say when making decisions within and surrounding their partnership.

GIF by Apple TV+ on Giphy

But for all its faults, it isn’t surprising that some of us believe the cab light theory to be true. If dating was already difficult during Sex and the City’s time, how much more challenging is it now?

Nowadays, it seems healthy and happy relationships are rare. And because they’re hard to find, it’s tempting to follow such a theory. Maybe you just haven’t met the right person yet! Admittedly, there’s comfort in knowing that someone is out there for you and the timing isn’t right at the moment.

The one thing I agree with Miranda on is the readiness. If you want to be in a relationship with someone, you should be ready for everything that comes with it, from the time to the work. Feelings can only sustain it for so long.

And with that, maybe we shouldn’t judge people who agree with the theory. Here’s a friendly reminder: dating doesn’t have a universal approach! Everyone plays by their own rules, and we shouldn’t argue with that.

Still, don’t let it get to you. Sure, dating can get pretty frustrating sometimes. Browsing (or swiping) countless profiles can get old quickly, and bad dates and rejections are tiring. But think about it: the more you let this burnout consume you, you’ll just make modern dating more exhausting than it already is.

So, when someone turns their light on and points it to you, you can choose to be with that person. When you get involved with them, make your desires and priorities clear.