I’ll just get right into it: Travis Kelce is hot. And, IMHO, Kelce has always been conventionally attractive: Blue eyes, athletic, tall… he’s just what you picture when someone says the words, “super hot.” Of course, his contagious personality also contributes to his good looks — but lately, he has been looking extra good, and I think Taylor Swift has something to do with it.
Ever since the rumors of Kelce and Taylor Swift’s relationship took over the internet, the NFL player keeps looking better and better. He’s consistently performing during every game (and looking good while doing it) and somehow just keeps on getting hotter with every T-Swift appearance. What is this sorcery? Well, it comes down to a little thing called “the girlfriend effect.”
The girlfriend effect is a theory that we know all too well (wink). This trend has been taking over TikTok, showing boyfriends before versus after being in a relationship, and showing how they had a “glow up” thanks to having a girlfriend in their lives. I was curious how this can be true for the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and if there is some sort of scientific reasoning for people appearing more attractive after being “taken” or in a relationship.
I spoke to Dr. Melissa Gentry, a clinical psychologist specializing in relationships, about the girlfriend effect, what scientific evidence there is behind it, how it’s apparent, and why it happens.
People are more attractive when they’re “taken.”
There must be some reasoning behind all of this, and the answer isn’t you being delulu: it’s backed up by science! I asked Gentry if there is scientific or psychological reasoning for deeming a person more attractive after seeing them in a relationship, and her answer was mind-blowing.
“Yes, there are psychological and neurological reasons behind this phenomenon,” Gentry tells Her Campus. “When someone is taken or in a committed relationship, our perception of them can change. This shift often relates to the principle of scarcity.”
Good to know, but WTF is “the principle of scarcity” and what does it mean? Gentry explains, “In psychology, we tend to place higher value on things that are less available or accessible. When someone is in a relationship, they become less available on the dating market, making them appear more attractive. This is influenced by the brain’s reward system, where the anticipation of a reward (in this case, a committed partner) increases our perception of its value.”
Ok, glad to know it’s not just me.
And, yes, a “relationship glow-up” is totally real.
The relationship glow-up is very evident right now for Kelce. He just keeps on looking better, and there are various psychological factors that deem a person more attractive once they are in a relationship. “One key factor is our inherent need for social validation,” Gentry says “Being in a relationship may signify desirability and compatibility, making an individual more appealing to others.”
Of course, confidence is a large factor in all of this too. “Additionally, when people are in love or happy relationships, they often experience a boost in self-esteem and confidence, which can radiate as a glow-up due to improved mental and emotional well-being,” Gentry adds.
The Girlfriend Effect Is Backed Up By Science.
The girlfriend effect isn’t just another TikTok trend or phenomenon that people made up — it is a very real thing! Gentry explains it, “When someone is in a relationship, they can exude a more confident and content demeanor, which can make them appear more attractive to others.”
Looking at this phenomena from a neuropsychological perspective provides some interesting intel. “From a neuropsychological perspective, positive emotions and relationship satisfaction can lead to the release of neurochemicals like dopamine and oxytocin, which contribute to a person’s overall well-being and attractiveness,” Gentry says. “Furthermore, being in a committed relationship can signal stability and emotional maturity — qualities that many find appealing.”
While all of this is interesting, Gentry advises that you take the girlfriend effect with a grain of salt at the end of the day. “It’s important to note that the girlfriend effect is a complex interplay of psychological and social factors,” she says. “While there are scientific reasons behind our changing perceptions, it’s crucial to remember that attractiveness is highly subjective.”
It’s all about your personal preference and what you are attracted to. “Factors like personality, shared values, and genuine connection remain the foundation of a successful and lasting relationship,” Gentry says. “While the girlfriend effect may spark initial interest, it’s the deeper, authentic connections that sustain and nurture meaningful relationships.”
Now, it all makes so much more sense. No wonder Kelce is looking, dare I say, better than revenge. See what I did there?