In 2020, Pew Research did a profile on single Americans.
First, let’s define some terms.
“Partnered” means married, living with a partner (considered “common law” marriage in some states), or in a committed, long-term romantic relationship.
“Single” means that none of those apply — but includes people who are actively dating and looking for a committed relationship.
With these definitions in mind, here are some of the findings:
- Just over half (51%) of men under 30 are single, compared to 32% of women in the same age group.
- Men are far more likely than women to be actively dating, with 61% of single men currently looking for a relationship compared with only 38% of single women.
- Women are more likely to be exclusively seeking a committed relationship, with 36% of women saying they are looking for commitment compared with 22% of men.
The study also explored the reasons why people were single — whether it was their choice or they just hadn’t found the right person yet.
The number one reason men gave for still being single was that it can be difficult to approach women (52%).
This makes sense, considering that the world of social media and dating apps has significantly reduced the need for approaching people in person.
Additionally, it can be very intimidating to put yourself out there and risk facing rejection.
This isn’t entirely due to men’s lack of confidence or social skills, though. Movements like #MeToo where almost anything can be considered sexual harassment have left men feeling dejected or just unwilling to risk being called a predator just for asking a woman out more than once.
Women report that it’s hard to find someone looking for the same type of relationship as them (65%) and who meets their expectations (56%).
For women, the “same type of relationship” basically means something more than casual sex.
Most women want committed, romantic relationships leading to marriage, whereas a significantly larger number of men are willing to date casually (as long as they’re getting into her bedroom).
The “expectations” gap also makes sense, considering that women’s expectations of men are often unrealistic for this day and age.
Men can no longer support a family on one salary. Men are graduating college at lower rates than women. Not to mention that most men aren’t over six feet tall or as good-looking as Brad Pitt.
So if men don’t meet a woman’s standards because he doesn’t fall in the top 5% of men in America — you might need to change your standards.
Regardless of gender, both reported having negative experiences while dating.
A third of participants reported having experienced “ghosting” — that is when a person you are dating suddenly stops speaking to you with no explanation.
The highest demographic who had this experience was between the ages of 18–29 with 42% of participants admitting to having been ghosted by someone they were seeing.
Even more troubling — the majority of women have reported unwanted harassment or unsolicited sexual conduct. This includes unwanted touch (35%), pressure to have sex (42%), and unwanted sexually explicit images (25%). Men also experience sexual harassment while dating, but at a significantly lower rate.
If this is relatively common while dating, no wonder women are opting out.
But it also hurts decent men who have to make up for the problematic behaviors of other men. Well-meaning guys are having to jump through hoops to prove they aren’t perverts or sexual harassers and that makes things more complicated for everyone.
A quote that summarizes this problem well:
“It’s not all men. But it’s enough men that it is all women.”
These challenges are a tale as old as time.
Since the garden of Eden, men and women have been at odds, blaming each other for all their problems.
The first step on both sides is to turn inward and ask, “what could I be doing better?”
Not only in terms of your dating life but in your life in general.
Hold yourself accountable. Hold each other accountable. Be kind, operate with integrity, take risks, and flirt with life. Give the other side some grace.
If I had one piece of advice for single men and women it would be this:
Life doesn’t start when you enter a romantic relationship. It’s happening right now, all around you. Don’t wait for a partner or relationship to make your life better.
It starts now, with you.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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