Love

How The Rise Of Healthy Dating Standards Is “Screwing Over” Men

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man and woman looking at each other

Many of my straight female friends are single.

Almost all of them, by choice.

And honestly? I don’t blame them.

Before meeting my current partner a few years ago, I was in their shoes, and I remember how hard it was to find someone who was a genuinely good person and single at the same time.

I even gave up for a while, as well.

However, while an increasing number of heterosexual women are becoming comfortable and happy with staying single, this situation seems a bit different when it comes to men.

A recent article written by psychologist Greg Matos for Psychology Today suggests that the number of ‘lonely, single men’ is rapidly growing. It also cites a study that found that men are now ‘more likely than women to be unpartnered, which wasn’t the case 30 years ago.’

Well, I can’t say I’m surprised.

This situation has been decades in the making.

So what’s exactly behind this epidemic of ‘lonely, single men?’ And are straight relationships doomed forever?

Relationships just aren’t a good deal for women

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It should come as no surprise to anyone that in most heterosexual couples, it’s still women who carry the burden of unpaid labor — which the sociologist Arlie Hochschild coined as the ‘second shift.’

Women do most of the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, childcare, household management, ensuring everyone is happy and healthy, etc. And that’s true even if both partners work full-time and even when women are the primary breadwinner.

recent study found that, on average, women do 21 hours more unpaid work than men, with the gap more pronounced in couples with young children.

Yikes.

But sadly, the picture is equally bleak when it comes to sex life.

Because it turns out that heterosexual women have the least satisfying sex out of … literally everyone, according to a study that surveyed more than 52,000 adults of different sexual identities.

And while heterosexual men report that they orgasm 95% of the time, heterosexual women orgasm just 65% of the time — which is the so-called ‘orgasm gap.’

On top of all that, women are six times more likely to end up separated or divorced if they are diagnosed with a severe illness than if their male partners were facing the same situation.

They are also far more likely to suffer domestic abuse at the hands of their male partners than vice versa, including sexual violence, physical, psychological or emotional abuse, and violence that results in injury or death.

In the UK alone, an average of three women are murdered every fortnight by their male partner or ex-partner.

So let me get this straight.

Women in heterosexual relationships do the majority of the unpaid, domestic labor — even if they work full-time as well — while simultaneously not getting as much sexual pleasure as their partners and putting themselves at significant risk of getting abused, raped, or murdered and if they ever get seriously sick, they might not even have someone to care for them anyway.

Right.

It’s really a no-brainer that more women would rather avoid all that and be single. And those that do and remain unmarried and childless are not surprisingly the happiest demographic.

But the real question here is, why have we been putting up with all this for so long?

This isn’t the ‘good, old days’ anymore

When it comes to the reality of heterosexual relationships, the most significant difference between a good few decades ago and now is women’s participation in the workforce.

Or rather, lack thereof back in the day.

Sure, some women in the Western world did work, and they were limited to what was considered a ‘woman’s job’ — being a teacher, nurse, stewardess, librarian, or secretary. But most of them didn’t.

And that’s not only because the working world wasn’t exactly women-friendly and women had little to no choice in life, generally speaking, but also because single-income households were actually possible.

Unlike now, thanks to the nightmare we call late-stage capitalism.

And today, sometimes, it’s women who are the primary breadwinners. Sometimes it’s men. But most of the time, both halves of the couple work.

This means that when women are looking for a partner, the fact that a man can provide for them, well, isn’t as important as it used to be. After all, we can provide for ourselves now.

And we don’t exactly need to be in a relationship with men, unlike the ‘good, old days' when we couldn’t even have a bank account or credit card without a male co-signer. (By the way, it wasn’t until 1974 in the US and 1975 in the UK that these laws changed.)

So when we do want to find a mate today, we want something more than just someone who will provide. In particular, seeing how modern relationships too often aren’t that good of a deal for women.

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In Matos’s recent article for Psychology Today, he says he regularly holds roundtable-like discussions with women ages 25 to 45 on what they’re looking for in men and often hears that they ‘prefer men who are emotionally available, good communicators, and share similar values.’

In other words: men who meet healthy relationship standards.

But these aren’t exactly fitting descriptors for many single straight men out there, are they?

Not really.

That’s why later in his article, Matos says that if all those single men out there want to change their relationship situation, they must first work on their skills deficit. And most importantly, on skills required for emotional connection, which are, unfortunately, not consistently taught to many young boys.

Because ‘boys are easier to raise,’ ‘boys don’t cry, ‘boys will be boys,’ and other patriarchal bullshit we’d all be better off without.

Not much will change if men won’t step up

Unlike women, men are typically much happier and healthier when partnered. Some studies even found that they live longer if they get married.

So it’s no wonder why those who fail to meet the healthy relationship standards established by women tired of putting up with anything just for the sake of not being single aren’t happy.

Actually, young and middle-aged men today are the loneliest they’ve ever been in generations.

And it’s probably going to get a lot worse.

Now, I know some people love to label me as a ‘man-hater’ while purposefully misquoting my own work — thanks for that, by the way — but even I, the aggressive man-hater, do care about the fact that so many men struggle today.

And at the same time, many of us probably already know — often firsthand — that lonely men can be dangerous. Not only to themselves but to society at large.

Because growing numbers of ‘lonely, single men’ sounds like a recipe for more self-victimizing incels, radicalized misogynists, more anti-feminist backlash, and more heated discussions on the internet that frequently breed real-life violence.

So what’s the solution here?

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Well, if you ask that question to a more, let’s call it a ‘traditional’ crowd, they’d probably answer we should just go back to the ‘good, old days.’ And for that to happen, women would have to forego their current standards, their hard-won independence, and, once again, become a man’s mother-maid-therapist-assistant-cook.

But although it’s not surprising why the past has such a ‘romantic’ appeal to some men today, expecting women to be okay with doing everything for everyone at the expense of their happiness just isn’t going to work anymore.

So how about instead of blaming women for wanting to be in healthy, loving relationships that don’t require them to lose their sleep and work themselves to death and cater to their emotionally unavailable partner’s every need, it’s single straight men who step up?

And finally recognize that if they don’t wish to remain single forever, they might need to change a thing or two. But, most importantly, to commit to themselves first.

To commit to their mental health. To value their own internal world. To address their skills gap. And to see romance, intimacy, and emotional connection worthy of their time and effort.

Because they very much are.

However, all that alone isn’t going to be enough to fix this complex situation.

It’s also up to parents to stop raising boys for a world that doesn’t exist anymore. A world where men are expected to be tough, emotionless walking wallets that get away with problematic behavior simply on account of being born male.

Because while we’ve done a good job raising girls to be empowered and independent, it seems like we’ve forgotten about boys.

And that’s a shame.

One right women haven’t lost yet is to swipe left on as many emotionally unavailable men stuck in the past that’s never coming back as we please.

And to deny us that right and force us to settle for less because there’s an epidemic of ‘single, lonely men’ is absurd. And wrong.

But it’s equally wrong to claim that these men should then just die alone or kill themselves.

I do hope, though, that by withholding our love from men who don’t deserve it today, they’ll eventually change their attitudes and try to become better partners in more egalitarian relationships. Or get comfortable with being single.

Otherwise, this isn’t going to end well for anyone.

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Katie Jgln is a writer and activist currently based in London, UK. Her work covers women’s rights issues, pop culture, and news. You can find her on various social media platforms here.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.