Sex And The City's Cab Theory Is Trending Again, But Is It Legit?

Perhaps nowhere do we see the hallmarks of adulthood — love, career, fashion, and singlehood — portrayed as vividly as in "Sex And The City." Throughout its six seasons running from 1998 to 2004, the television series drew a large audience with its graphic depiction of New York as the most happening place on earth, vivid snapshots into the bustling lives of Gotham cosmopolitans, risqué lovemaking scenes, and eclectic street styles. Almost 20 years have come and gone since the show's last aired episode, but the show's still enduringly influential. 

Not only does the TV series have a lot to offer on the style front, but it also abounds with dernier cri philosophies specific to modern womanhood — feminism and sexual freedom. One theory from the series that has become widely debated recently is the cab light theory. 

In this scene, the ladies are chatting and fixing their makeup in a restaurant bathroom, Miranda Hobbes likened men to cab lights: "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 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." Miranda went on to explain that a man's readiness is all about timing and "you gotta get 'em when their light's on." So, do you think this theory holds water, or do you, like romantic Charlotte, "refuse to believe that love is that random?" Here are some insights. 

Experts weigh in on the cab light theory

While this dumbing-down theory sounds fairly valid, it doesn't hold water when you peel back the layers and apply the rules of logic. "This simply isn't true. There are plenty of men who are willing and interested in being in a committed relationship and are actively seeking a romantic partner," Michelle Herzog, a therapist, tells Bustle. Every man differs in his views on commitment, so it doesn't make sense to lump all of them together and say that all men are commitment-phobic. According to MantraCare, there are many single men who shy away from commitment because they don't like the idea of taking on additional responsibility, but there are those who equate commitment to strength and courage and do not back away from marriage or fatherhood.

Another loophole in the cab light theory is its leaning toward gender role stereotypes. "These theories resonate because of how we've socialized men and women to approach relationships," therapist Natasha Ceballos tells Bustle. Putting women in the passenger seat also makes women look like they're just along for the ride and completely passive in their search for relationships. "In this metaphor, the other person is the driver [who] gets to determine the trajectory of the relationship unilaterally when ideally, a relationship is a partnership in which we both determine the journey and often take turns taking charge of decisions," licensed marriage and family therapist Shadeen Francis told Bustle.

Here's why the cab theory is all the rage these days

So why is "cab theory" trending with young people, almost two decades after SATC's finale? Maybe the theory is reflective of their dating experiences, at least to a certain extent. If courtship was challenging in an urban setting in the late 20th century and in the early aughts, imagine how harder it's become post-pandemic. According to a Pew Research survey in 2020, nearly half of U.S. adults said dating became harder than it was a decade ago.

One of the most difficult aspects of dating, according to psychotherapist Dr. Tirrell Degannes, is knowing what you want, but you end up meeting people who want something else. Adding to the challenges is the deceptiveness of modern technology. "Modern dating comes down to apps. Apps mean you have the illusion of options. Options mean you're less likely to find good because you're in search of great, and you nonetheless weed through a lot of bad (and become bad yourself in the process)," Dr. Tirrell Degannes tells Thriving Center of Psychology.

If you want a healthy, long-term relationship, don't let preconceived notions cloud your judgment. Stand your ground, walk into a relationship knowing what you want, and don't hang out to unsatisfying situations. "Be clear with yourself about what kind of relationship you're looking to create with another person. Communicate your needs," Herzog tells Bustle.