Why Men Remain Single: The Science, Lies, And Logistics

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There’s an emerging crisis. To most, it’s just another distressing trend among the many we have in this chaotic world. More men are staying single. Some do it by choice. Some just do it because they’ve given up and decided to take themselves out of the dating pool. Whatever their reason, the results are the same.

Men aren’t seeking love, getting married, or having children. According to both Gallup and data from the United Kingdom, the number of single adults is increasing, especially among the younger generations. Even the number of couples cohabitating aren’t increasing. In the United States alone, 64 percent of young adults report being single. That’s nearly two-thirds of the youth population.

Naturally, the abundance of single men is causing more concern than single women. To governments, demographers, religious leaders, conservatives, and women looking for romance, that’s a major issue with enormous ramifications. They see perpetually single men as a danger that threatens to undercut the current social fabric. Some societies are already having to deal with it, albeit for different reasons.

There are plenty of theories as to why these men are opting to remain single. Conservatives claim they’ve lost touch with tradition. Feminists blame lingering misogyny. They’ll often cite the emerging incel phenomenon as proof that these men are toxic burdens who will hold everyone back.

To all those various groups and their theories, I respectfully disagree. Speaking as a man who is currently single, but very open to finding love, I like to think I have more insight than most on single male mentality. I can’t claim to speak for all men, single or otherwise. However, I can offer my personal take while also citing some actual research.

In August 2018, the Journal of Evolutionary Psychological Science published a study that surveyed approximately 13,400 men on this issue. The methods weren’t exactly sophisticated. They used Reddit as a source of data. As a regular user of Reddit, I can attest that there are some meaningful insights from commenters. I can also attest that there’s a lot of trolling and misinformation.

That said, the study still provides some insights into this phenomenon that has so many people worried. I won’t say it’s definitive. No study is. The author of the paper freely admits that. However, there’s still some truth to be gleaned from the data, as well as a few lies.

To appreciate both, here are the top five reasons that men in the study gave for being single.

1: Poor Looks

2: Low Self-Esteem/Confidence

3: Not Putting Much Effort Into Seeking Relationships

4: Not Being Interested In A Relationship

5: Poor Social Skills With Women

There were a total of 43 other categories of reasons/excuses that men gave, but these were the most common. I feel they’re worth highlighting because they identify some of the inherent complications men deal with in today’s relationship scene.

Of those five stated reasons, three of them reflect traits that a person can actually control to some extent. Looks, confidence, and social skills can all be improved through work and effort. I, myself, am a testament to that. It’s not easy, but it is possible. It’s the other two reasons, though, namely the third and fourth most common response, that are the most telling.

In those cases, being single is a choice. The men don’t want to seek out companionship. They want to stay single. That notion seems off-putting to a lot of people, implying that there’s something wrong with them. How could men not be miserable staying single? That concept just feels flawed in the context of our current culture.

It’s a concept that doesn’t apply equally to women. The idea of a single woman isn’t seen as a societal problem. It’s even glorified in the media. There are popular songs about it. The entire “Sex in the City” franchise is built around it. That’s understandable, to some extent. Historically, women have had very few opportunities for independence. I don’t think anyone should be surprised that some are celebrating it.

With men, though, there’s a disconnect between those who have certain assumptions about masculinity and the mentality of those who don’t abide by those assumptions. This is where some of the lies surrounding the study show. It isn’t explicitly stated in the data, but it is implied.

It all comes back to incentives. If you look at the current structure of relationships, as reflected in popular culture and social norms, men don’t necessarily have much incentive to pursue a relationship. To understand why, just consider the expectations men face in those relationships.

Men are expected to set aside their interests, hobbies, and passions for their partner. They need to stop playing video games, hanging out with friends, and watching sports all day so they can tend to their lover’s needs. They’re expected to support their partner emotionally and financially at every turn. In return, they get love, intimacy, sex, and family. To many men, that reward just isn’t sufficient.

What I just described is not an accurate description of how most relationships play out in the real world. It assumes a lot about how much women want to control their partners. Granted, there are some very controlling women out there. I’ve known a few, but they’re not nearly as common as 80s teen movies would indicate.

How common they are doesn’t matter, though. That is the perception men have of relationships. On top of that, many young people are currently swimming in student loan debt, unable to get a high-paying job, and withholding their rage every time older generations blame them for ruining things. From a logistical standpoint, it makes sense for men to protect their independence.

It certainly doesn’t help that young men are one of the easiest demographics to denigrate. They commit most of the crime. They’re the ones spreading hate, misogyny, and outrage throughout our hyper-connected culture. Even if they’re more likely to be victimized in violent crime and less likely to garner sympathy, you’re not going to face much stigma for hating them.

That doesn’t even factor in the serious inequities in marriage laws, which I’ve talked about before. A man entering a relationship is taking a chance, but unlike the woman, he’s risking more than just heartbreak. If ever that relationship gets to that stage and binding contracts become involved, he stands to lose more than just a partner.

Again, and I feel it’s worth belaboring, some of the reasons these men give for wanting to remain single are based on flawed assumptions about relationships. However, when it comes to issues surrounding our emotions and the hyper-connected media that evokes them, perception matters more than any data from a study.

The men who participated in this particular study are probably not an accurate reflection of all men. They do provide some important insight, though, on the current state of relationships, gender, and everything in between.

Regardless of the study’s conclusion, though, the romance-lover in me genuinely believes that there’s room for improvement. Whether or not we pursue that improvement depends largely on the choices men make and the incentives they have to make them.

9 Comments

Filed under gender issues, human nature, Marriage and Relationships, men's issues, psychology, sex in society, sexuality, Wonder Woman

9 responses to “Why Men Remain Single: The Science, Lies, And Logistics

  1. JB

    >They’re the ones spreading hate, misogyny, and outrage throughout our hyper-connected culture.

    Actually, whenever anyone’s bothered to investigate this instead of just assuming, it turns out women call each other bitches and sluts way more than men do.

    If you want to decode modern feminism: patriarchy is a word for what women decide collectively. Cos if it were men deciding, they would just blame men directly.

  2. Belzebuthian

    It’s even more than that. Why would I give commitment to a woman that gave “it” away for free to dozens upon dozens of men. I want it for free as well. I should give something to get the sloppy 52nds? She gave her best to others for free. No thank you. I’ll stick to pumping and dumping thank you very much.

  3. Gandolfian

    I’m a middle-aged widower. While I loved being married, I would be a fool to do so again at this stage in my life. I’m financially secure, very self-sufficient and have grown accustomed to my freedom. Being a bit of an introvert has helped me in my lonely times. And I have my family. I do not want, nor do I need to be cared for by a woman.

    I have arrived at this decision for two reasons. First, I started a dating a woman and planned to have her move into my home. She wanted to change things, which I was okay with. She was moving into another woman’s home and wanted to feel comfortable. Okay, no problem there. I was already redoing things anyway. The deal breaker was her refusal to sign a cohabitation agreement, a kind of prenup for single people. I feared that if she was contributing to my household, in the event of a breakup she could make a claim to the equity in my home. A very real and commonplace situation. Second, when I was online dating, it was very clear that 95% of the women out there were out for a mans resources. They wanted the good life, which, as mainly divorced single moms, were not able to attain on their own. I will be no ones sugar daddy.

    So yeah, I’ll endure lonely nights sipping Irish whiskey and watching movies and sports on my smart TV.

    • Thanks for sharing your study and your perspective. I’m sorry to hear that you lost your wife. I also don’t deny that the dating scene is very complicated lately and not for the right reasons. I’ve tried online dating too. It did not work and it was a waste of money. I think we’re in an era where everyone is fighting for leverage, but only a handful of people can get away with fighting overtly. It’s tough for a lot of people, but I think the growing single male population demonstrates where those complications are manifesting.

  4. Al

    I want to be in a relationship, but I’m not actively pursuing one like I used to. A lot of girls out here aren’t worthy of my time and commitment yet I’m not the type to sleep around. Of course there are girls out there that are are worth my time, but they’re far and few/taken. Maybe I’m tired of getting no where. I’ve had girls who stopped talking to me but it’s usually the other way around. I think that I just want a girl to show and put in an equal amount of effort, I feel as if many don’t. A girl that’s mature and knows what they want maybe? With the rise of the internet and things like tinder I think that’s there is too much choice and many people rather just talk to someone new. I’m currently in higher education which is a matchmaker in that of itself but it’s difficult to make friends/potential connections w/women out and about.

    Most of my friends are ladies and I don’t mind that at all. There are only 2 girls that I’ve deemed worthy of my time, and sadly I never worked out but I still wish the beat for them. I’m open to love I’m just waiting for the right one. One that knows that love is a two way street. She doesn’t have to be perfect, I expect her to have flaws. I have flaws too, we should be able to work on them together and support each other in our journey towards becoming better people.

    • Thanks for the comment. I’ve been in that position too. Sometimes, you’re just in an area where the relationship prospects aren’t good. At the moment, I live in an area that’s full of families and little kids. There aren’t many single people, which makes it tough to find someone. Even when I do, it just doesn’t go anywhere. Everyone is sort of forging their own path, but leaving no room for others to join. It’s frustrating, but understandable to some extent. I just think it’s harder when single men face stigma while single women are celebrated.

  5. Hayden Collins

    Sounds to me like an article written by a woman..Those arent the reasons men are staying single….Its feminism itself..Most women have taken feminist ideas onboard ..and to many men..basically yuck!!

  6. toofaketotell

    I stay single because about 1 in 1000 women typically give me the ‘time of day’.

    woman 1: 20 years older, ugly, fat, and lecherous. She isn’t concerned about any man in particular. She would just want “a dick thats for me”. Asking anyeone with a pulse this question, she wants to try me on. No thanks.

    woman 2: 8 years younger. Manipulative and destructive to men around her. She wouldlie and burn them with spreading rumors of sexual assault or abuse or stalking. I got lucky. Apart from the torment of the “honeymoon barrage” of the first week of “you’re so great, so wonderful, you wanna fuck?”, I got out cheap later on.

    woman 3: 10 years younger. Extremely lonely, has a child on her own. Waiting at a bar. Said she’ll hang out with “us” (my friends and me), “even if she has to fuck us”. First warning sign. Learning about her situation more and more (she says shes going to be an old cat lady, willing to let grown men sleep in her daughters bed while she’s away at “grandmas”, etc, all just to be with someone because she’s lonely), I rejected her offer. I might not’ve resisted if she made a move on me physically, luckily, she was trying to make me do the move. She was decently attractive, to me. But everything I learned from past women told me to beware.

    3 sexual partners in 14 years. less than 1 year of sex.

    Constantly get called creepy. Even friends have said they thought i was creepy at first. Female friends, that is.

    How do I hit on women successfully? if I fail, is it sexual harassment? Do I get in trouble? Am I doomed to be seen as creepy because im not attractive enough to be desirable by all but the craziest, loneliest, or ugliest women? Im wallpaper to any other type.

  7. Iceman

    Jack,

    I have to give you credit for the most part for being so neutral with this article, and admitting some problems young men have that most people absolutely don’t even want to touch.
    I have to wonder, though, why you decided to conclude your article in such a biased way. I’m not here to tell you what you can and can’t write on your own website, but the ending just threw me off considering how neutral the whole article was.
    You can see for yourself that the men who were asked about why they were single almost entirely blamed themselves and other life factors rather than women. This idea that men in droves are victimizing women because they remain single is a feminist lie.
    I’ve seen many manifestations of this ‘men dropping out of society’ conversation take place, and the vast majority of what I’ve seen always sides with women and blames men for not performing their duties. Why does western society pride itself on being so modern and enlightened, and allowing women to shed their roles, while men are so firmly expected to do what people want them to do, and be what people want them to be?
    As for myself, I am not fully going my own way yet, which is why I will read content like this and comment from time to time. I am curious, I am eager to learn more. I haven’t had the greatest luck with women in my lifetime, I’ve taken a beating in that regard, but I still maintain a small glimmer of hope and optimism that things will work out in the end.

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