Fashion

Women are dating with higher standards and demanding more from their relationships. Apparently, it’s hurting men

Some psychological research about dating has sort of dominated social media users’ posts lately – especially single people. According to Psychology Today, men are viscerally single and feeling lonelier than ever. This is cause for concern, as men typically have a better quality of life when partnered and they possess a lethal combination of being less likely to seek help for their mental health, and more likely to commit suicide. 

Loneliness is serious and should be addressed and supported, but first we have to unpack why it’s happening.

Part of the loneliness is simply down to men making up 63% of dating app users. So if we’re thinking heterosexually (which every study like this seems to be), there are more men than women dating and, therefore, less chances for making matches. Yet, popular dating app Hinge, found through their beta trials that 90% of users rated their first date positively, with 72% indicating wanting a second date. So, how are there so many lonely and unmatched men? Perhaps the happy 90% were dating other people.

But there’s a deeper problem with dating culture at play. Men are feeling lonely, because expectations for men have been famously low and they tend to half-arse both dating and their own personal development, and women are, put simply, giving up on them, weeding out the week and raising their dating standards. 

Psychology Today puts it this way: “[Women] prefer men who are emotionally available, good communicators, and share similar values.” And because men are… not always the best at all of those things, women are ditching them.  

The study clearly isn’t blaming women – it even says, “with so many options out there, why not [raise their standards]?”– but it does frame men as a victim of circumstance, as though women’s firm-but-fair standards have rendered men to be single forever. But these markers feel less like high standards and more like raising the bar for a good boyfriend out of hell and onto the ground.

Good communication, emotional intelligence, and availability are hardly strict criteria to help you find a great partner. They’re basic entry-level requirements for, well, being a grown-up. If you don’t possess them, something has gone very wrong.

That something is good old sexism. The same study says that men “need to address skill deficits to meet healthier relationship expectations,” and it’s refreshing that after so many years spent normalising dating men that feel more like an unfinished prototype than a fully realised person, their lack of personal skills is being officially addressed as a deficit. 

“The problem for men is that emotional connection is the lifeblood of healthy, long-term love”, but emotional skills are not taught to young boys in families consistently. While young girls are groomed to play into heterosexual male standards from a young age, boys are rarely told to respect, let alone reach toward women.

In a way, I feel bad for men. They’ve had centuries of misleading instructions. They’ve been told – for the longest time – that they can sit down and relax, and as long as they have some cash to keep the household, women will run at them from all directions like one of those old terrible Lynx ads. But a cultural shift has left heterosexual women wanting more from their relationships and, in turn, realising that men can’t always provide for them in the way they want. Now that we don’t need men to hunt and gather, and more need them to contribute to relationships emotionally, they don’t always deliver.