Single men tend to attribute their lack of partner to poor looks, low self-esteem, low effort, lack of interest and bad experience from previous relationships, according to a study spearheaded by Menelaos Apostolou from the University of Nicosia.
The study — Why Men Stay Single? Evidence from Reddit — was published in Springer’s Evolutionary Psychological Science.
Researchers analysed thousands of comments posted in response to an anonymous question shared on Reddit in a bid to understand why so many are single — about one in three according to statistic published in the article.
The question simply read: ‘Guys, why are you single?’
Thousands of Reddit users replied to the post, allowing scientists to find the most common explanations.
Scientists filtered the results to only include posts from people who were not willingly single and wanted to be in a relationship. They analysed more than 6,700 comments and revealed the 43 most common reasons people listed for being unable to find a partner.
Among the most frequent reasons given put forward by the online community were poor looks, followed by lack of confidence.
Not making the effort or being uninterested in a long-term relationship were ranked high on the list, along with a lack of flirting skills and being too shy.
Some of the respondents said they had been so badly burnt during previous relationships they did not dare to get into another, according to the research.
Others felt they were too picky, did not have the opportunity to meet available women, or had different priorities.
Some of the men in the study had experienced mental health issues, sexual problems, or struggled with illness, disability or addiction.
Apostolou says there are evolutionary reasons why some modern men are unable to successfully approach women.
According to the so-called mismatch argument, their social skills do not align with the qualities needed today to make a good impression.
In a pre-industrial context, marriages were arranged, male-male competition was strong, and wives were sometimes obtained by force.
While in one respect this left men with little choice about who would be their wives, it also meant their looks were irrelevant, and they did not need to know how to attract the opposite sex.
Socially inept and unattractive men may not have been single because their relationships were regulated by their parents.
‘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,’ Dr Apostolou said.
‘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.’