This Goes Out to Every Guy I've Had a Fantasy Relationship With in an Airport Terminal

We've all been there: stuck in an airport terminal after a flight delay, and you start to look around at the people there with you. Then you spot him: the guy closest to your age, headphones in, nose stuck in a book. Maybe it's the fact that you're surrounded by screaming babies and disgruntled business travelers, or perhaps that you've just downed coffee number four, but there's something about him that captures your attention. He's beautiful. He's mysterious and intriguing. You fall for him (silently). He doesn't know it, but you're meant to be together.

You, my friend, are experiencing something I like to call THP: traveling hotness phenomenon.

You see, this random guy at the airport might be so-so looking in real life. Sure, he's probably a very nice guy who calls his mom once a week, but let's be real: you wouldn't think twice about him in the outside world. Within the confines of the airport (or bus stop, train station, or any other major travel hub), though, he becomes an instant 10. While you wait to board the plane, you steal glances at him, constructing a fantasy relationship with this mystery traveler. You've married and buried him before you even step foot on the plane.

If you've experienced THP while jet-setting, you're not alone. Flight attendants do it — they call their four-hour-long crushes "airplane boyfriends." When I asked a group of my friends about it, they responded: "Yeah, that's a very real thing," and "It's because they're . . . there." Social media accounts like Hot Guys in Airports and Hot Dudes Reading don't exist for nothing — people all over the place are far more likely to check out (and fantasize about) other people while traveling.

So let's talk about it, shall we? Before you take a trip home for the holidays, we need to dissect this common experience and understand why it happens so often, especially on various forms of transit.

10 Reasons Guys Look Hotter When You're Traveling

  1. Let's be real: if this plane goes down and you're stranded on an island à la Lost, you need to figure out who your "I'm probably going to die here" romance is going to be. He's the Sawyer (or Jack) to your Kate. The Charlie to your Claire. The Sayid to your Shannon.
  2. You feel more comfortable staring. Everyone is engrossed in their own activities, whether that means reading or downing a preflight Chardonnay at the airport's overpriced wine bar.
  3. He's there. Your options are limited, so your fleeting crush is directed at the most eligible fellow in the terminal — which, given that most commercial planes seat 160 or so, is based on a pretty small pool.
  4. You're bored as hell, which allows for imagining unrealistic scenarios about the fate of your nonexistent love story.
  5. He's probably got "travel scruff," which at least doubles a guy's attractiveness factor.
  6. If he's reading a book or watching a show that you like, you feel bonded to him without even knowing him. (He likes Game of Thrones, too? Must be your soul mate.)
  7. He could afford a plane ticket. That bodes well for your fantasies of financial stability.
  8. You're probably drinking and/or sleep deprived if you've been at the airport long enough. Let's call this "sleepy goggles."
  9. He's a total mystery to you. Why is he traveling? Who is he going to see? How much of the world has he seen? This anonymity really allows you to get creative with your imagination.
  10. He might actually be hot. Who knows? Add him on Facebook and give it a look once you're out of travel mode. If he's still cute, it wasn't just THP at work. (After all, hot guys go home for Christmas, too.)