Around 31 percent of all US adults are single. For many, it’s purely by choice, preferring the single lifestyle, while others have just not found ‘the one" yet despite trying everything from bars to online dating.
However, there is a large number of people that despite desperately wanting a partner, they can’t seem to find one – so-called "involuntary singles". These people may don’t know what they’re doing wrong, but a new study just might.
According to a new study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences by Menelaos Apostolou from the University of Nicosia, scientists may have found the top reasons why all those involuntary singletons aren’t finding a match, and – spoiler alert – it isn’t everyone else's fault.
The study involved 1,228 Greek-speaking women and men over the age of 18 with varying relationship status, asking each to fill out a series of online surveys to test predictors of singleness. These ranged from their ability to flirt, ability to perceive signals of interest, and how much effort they put into dating. Once all the data was gathered, it was analyzed for correlations between relationship status – including whether they "choose to be single" or "find it difficult to attract a mate" – and the surveyed variables.
The results showed that the largest deciding factor was an inability to flirt – even just a one-unit drop in scores for flirting was correlated with a 50 percent increase in the chance of being single. Flirting is a huge factor in both traditional dating and the newer online dating, and clearly, it held back many from their relationship goals.
In close second was how well participants perceived interest of a mate, with many struggling with the "do they like me or don’t they" aspect of dating. Anyone with experience in dating knows this is one of the most difficult parts of it, with some of us completely unable to take a hint no matter how obvious it is.
There were also correlations in the other variables, too – less effort put into dating was correlated with being single more, as was being more "choosy".
When looking at how long each participant was single, the researchers also discovered that a one-unit increase in flirting ability led to a reduction of 1.2 years on the length of their single periods.
As with all survey-based studies, the results may be biased and influenced by the participants’ confidence in themselves. Likewise, people in relationships may be more likely to talk highly of their flirting skills, as they were clearly successful.
Regardless, the evidence suggests that if you are struggling to find a partner, your best bet may be to brush up on those flirting skills. Attractiveness is not a gift bestowed on all of us, but the ways described in this study are our best tools at finding "the one" – there is someone for everyone, after all.