Single men have spoken. After being asked why they are single, they responded with a variety of reasons, such as poor flirting skills, low self-confidence, poor looks, shyness, low effort, and bad experiences from previous relationships. While these factors don’t seem too groundbreaking, one study blames a lack of evolution of male social skills for these guys' singledom.
The study, published in Evolutionary Psychological Science, looked at the responses beneath an anonymous Reddit post that simply asked: “Guys, why are you single?” The author, Menelaos Apostolou, looked at 13,429 responses and classified 6,794 into categories. He found 43 driving themes among the many thousands of reasons cited. These include anxiety, lack of time, enjoying being single, fear of relationships, and simply having "given up". You can see the full list in the paper.
After looking at these categories, Apostolou constructed the idea that men's social skills haven’t kept up with societal changes.
"Single modern men often lack flirting skills because in an ancestral pre-industrial context, the selection pressures on mechanisms which regulated mating effort and choosiness were weak," Apostolou explained in a statement. "Such skills are needed today, because in post-industrial societies mate choice is not regulated or forced, but people have to instead find mates on their own."
He claims that since men no longer have the option to enter into an arranged marriage or force their way into a relationship, they are struggling to find a partner. This so-called regulation of mating is relatively recent in the history of our species. It is not widespread across all human societies, and isn't necessarily widespread within the societies that have adopted it.
On top of that, this evolutionary argument absolves men of any responsibility for their singleness. The claim suggests that their single status is the result of something that has been passed on to them by their unskilled ancestors that didn’t need to be good at flirting to get a wife. And not only is the theory questionable, it is also counter-productive for single men.
Apostolou hopes “that in the future, researchers will allocate more effort in studying singlehood and how people can become more effective mate-seekers and mate-keepers.” But this cannot be done if the reasons stated by the single men themselves are not taken at face value and are instead just used to provide support for an “evolutionary” framework.
The analysis obviously lacks half the population because it only focused on men. But that is not the only limitation. It has no demographic information so we don’t know the age range of the respondents, their locations, cultural backgrounds, etc. The main message that we can take from the study is that many single men struggle with insecurities. The best way to deal with this is to construct a society where men can deal with those feelings openly.
Apostolou has previously claimed that lesbians only exist to turn on men following a survey that only questioned heterosexual people.