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The Rise of Lonely, Single Men

Men need to address their deficits to meet healthier relationship expectations.

Key points

  • Dating opportunities for heterosexual men are diminishing as relationship standards rise.
  • Men represent approximately 62% of dating app users, lowering their chances for matches.
  • Men need to address skills deficits to meet healthier relationship expectations.
Nathan Cowley/Pexels
Source: Nathan Cowley/Pexels

Younger and middle-aged men are the loneliest they’ve been in generations, and it’s probably going to get worse.

This is not my typical rosy view of relationships but a reality nonetheless. Over the last 30 years, men have become a larger portion of that growing group of long-term single people. And while you don’t actually need to be in a relationship to be happy, men typically are happier and healthier when partnered.

Here are three broad trends in the relationship landscape that suggest heterosexual men are in for a rough road ahead:

  • Dating Apps. Whether you’re just starting to date or you’re recently divorced and dating again, dating apps are a huge driver of new romantic connections in the United States. The only problem is that upwards of 62% of users are men and many women are overwhelmed by the number of options they have. Competition in online dating is fierce, and lucky in-person chance encounters with dreamy partners are rarer than ever.
  • Relationship Standards. With so many options, it’s not surprising that women are increasingly selective. I do a live TikTok show (@abetterloveproject) and speak with hundreds of audience members every week; I hear recurring dating themes from women between the ages of 25 and 45: They prefer men who are emotionally available, who are good communicators, and who share their values.
  • Skills Deficits. For men, this means a relationship skills gap that, if not addressed, will likely lead to fewer dating opportunities and longer periods of being single. There's less patience for poor communication skills today. The problem for men is that emotional connection is the lifeblood of healthy, long-term love and it requires all the skills that families still are not consistently teaching young boys.

While there’s probably no chance of stemming the rising tide of unintentional single men, there is some good news.

The algorithms are becoming increasingly more complex on dating apps and other online platforms. One result is that great matches are on the rise. One dating app, Hinge, found through beta trials that 90% of users rated their first date positively, with 72% indicating that they wanted a second date.

How can men reap the benefit of the algorithms? Level up your mental health game. That means getting into some individual therapy to address your skills gap. It means valuing your own internal world and respecting your ideas enough to communicate them effectively. It means seeing intimacy, romance, and emotional connection as worthy of your time and effort.

Ultimately, we have an opportunity to revolutionize romantic relationships and establish new, healthier norms starting with the first date. It’s likely that some of these romances will be transformative and healing, disrupting generational trauma and establishing a fresh culture of admiration and validation.

Men have a key role in this transformation but only if they go all-in. It’s going to take that kind of commitment to themselves, to their mental health, and to the kind of love they want to generate in the world. Will we step up?

Facebook image: Marjan Apostolovic/Shutterstock

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