Are You More Attractive When You’re Taken?

You might have had trouble meeting guys when you were single, but now that you’re in a relationship, it feels like you’re fighting them off with a ten-foot pole. What gives?

By Gwen Farrell4 min read
shutterstock 2135115757
Shutterstock/Summer loveee

Modern dating as we know it is a strange and often incomprehensible thing. When we’re single and aching for a relationship (which there’s nothing wrong with wanting, by the way) we might feel as though we’re walking through a desert searching for an oasis. Where do we meet guys? How do we separate the bad from the good? How do we find someone who wants the same things we want out of love? Is “The One” even real?

Strangely enough, as many of us know from firsthand experience, being in a relationship isn’t necessarily the end of being pursued. Although it’s a mind boggling sensation, for some reason being happy with our one and only sends off subliminal signals, and all of a sudden, guys are coming out of the woodwork trying to woo, date, sleep with, or marry us. Though we’re happy and content with our relationship, we might feel annoyed. Where were all these men when we were single!?

One of the most brilliant TV characters of all time, Jenna Maroney from 30 Rock, explains it like this: “Now that you’re with someone, you’re happy and confident. Guys can sense that. The point is, being with someone makes people want to be with you. You know, when it rains it pours.” Is it really that simple? Are guys jealous of the man we’re with? Are we the victim of some classic male competitive instinct? Let’s dive further.

Could It Be Biological?

Discussing dating in a pre-civilizational context might sound like the tactics of cringey pick-up artists or TikTok psychologists, but it does help us to understand situations on a more fundamental level. Essentially, committed relationships have a much larger impact than we might realize. If we’ve settled into a relationship, we’re not only becoming unavailable for all eligible single men out there, but our man is now off the market for all eligible single women as well. Now that two more people have become unavailable, the pool has narrowed, and it narrows considerably more with each new relationship that forms.

Part of the attraction of a taken individual, whether male or female, is the message that’s been communicated to other single people. Your friends, acquaintances, or fellow women might look at your man and notice that if you’ve locked him down, he must be one of the best. Out of the pool of available men, you’ve chosen him, and that choice in and of itself gives him an elite status that makes him stand out from his fellow men and other competitors. If another woman has taken the trouble, so to speak, of pursuing and locking down this man, then he must be worth it!

The same goes for women. Your man choosing and pursuing you has communicated to other men that you’re worth renouncing what could be seen as the freedom and convenience of singledom. You’re worth pursuing because someone other men envy or respect and trust has pursued you. There might also be an element of childlike jealousy to it – we sometimes want what we can’t have, like coveting a toy that another child is playing with in the sandbox.

Family and relationship therapist Neil Rosenthal refers to this as “the grass is greener syndrome.” And even when we’re in a relationship, we’re still susceptible to the mentality that if other men are hitting on or flirting with us despite the social taboo around doing so, they might be worth pursuing. (As you can probably guess, this is a terrible path to go down for everyone involved.) Additionally, there might have been guys in your circle who noticed you when you were single, but for whatever reason or another, never made a move. But according to Rosenthal, if they’re hitting you up when you’re taken, they’re likely hoping to be next in line, or they selfishly want what they can’t have and it’s more about the chase for them. 

Honing Your Relationship Energy As a Single Gal

We’ve all heard the old, and sometimes very annoying, adage “stop looking and you’ll find someone.” For some of us, this might have worked, and for others, it’s simply another reason to avoid your grandma at the family reunion dessert table. But despite how overwrought this advice is, especially when it’s heaped onto frustrated single folks, there might be something valuable we can glean from its premise.

Is it possible for us to hone all the best aspects of our “taken” energy when we’re single? Absolutely. Not only is this possible, but it’s effective.

Think about yourself or another individual when they’re in a relationship. We’re not talking about bad or messy breakups, but rather the brand-new excitement of the early dating days, or the comfortable security and stability of mutual trust and love that accompanies an engagement or marriage. Whether you realize it or not, your happiness and contentment has given you qualities you might never have exhibited before. You’re happy, you’re fulfilled, but most of all, you’re confident.

This kind of self-assuredness is what might be missing from your single mindset. It’s well-known that we need to give off the kind of qualities we’re hoping to attract, and if we’re frustrated with being single, that energy might sometimes come off as resentful, desperate, or bitter. We’re so frustrated with not being in a relationship that we’re letting despair or negativity dictate how we act. But attracting that kind of energy with that kind of mindset won’t lead to happiness.

It’s one thing to talk about being confident and self-assured, but how do we practice it? The short answer is to become an extremely well-rounded individual. Become the type of person other people want to be around. Pursue your interests, and become really well-versed in discussing a wide variety of topics that you research or enjoy studying, especially if it’s just for fun. Become passionate and excited about something. Pick a handful of skills and become really accomplished at them, whether that’s cooking, entertaining, decorating your space, hosting get togethers, or another creative project. 

Follow an interesting thought and see where it might lead. Seriously dedicate yourself to taking care of your body and your mind. Read classic novels, travel, or plan new, exciting experiences. Having a zest and a passion for life that’s undeniable will attract others to you not just physically, but on a metaphysical level. Romanticize your life, and curate your habits and routines. Have a hot girl life, not just a hot girl summer. 

Know what you want from your romantic life and from your friendships, and go after them. Become the person you want to be, and the energy you reflect in turn will attract the right person.

Closing Thoughts

You might notice that more men are trying to catch your eye, even with your boyfriend right next to you. Or you might even see a text from a male friend who seemingly never had time for you before, but now is trying to get together. You’re likely not misreading anything – but their newfound attention isn’t a good enough reason to question your own relationship.

What’s more, you can practice this kind of mindset even before a man comes into the picture. When we have much more to bring to the table, especially a sense of surety and self-awareness, we’re better equipped to discern the right kind of mate and to know what we’re worth. A few men here and there may suddenly notice you when you’re in a relationship, but chances are they’re not as deserving as the one who landed you in the first place.

Don’t miss anything! Sign up for our weekly newsletter and get curated content weekly!