by Nicole Russell
In our feminist-focused society, where efforts to create legal and societal gender parity have been mostly successful, it’s easy to forget about the men. After all, thanks to the patriarchy, they’ve been doing fine for ages.
Except now, they’re really not.
Pew Research confirms that more than 60% of young men are single, nearly twice the rate of unattached young women. Three of every 10 U.S. adults aren’t in a relationship of any kind, married, dating, or engaged. This has spread to all U.S. adults; 34% of women and 63% of men are single. The number of sexually active Americans is also at a 30-year low.
As much as sex is an indicator for most of being in a healthy relationship, that’s bad news. Worst of all? Half of single men aren’t even looking for a relationship.
“Men in their 20s are more likely than women in their 20s to be romantically uninvolved, sexually dormant, friendless and lonely,” explained Daniel De V isé in a piece at The Hill. “They stand at the vanguard of an epidemic of declining marriage, sexuality and relationships that afflicts all of young America.”
People aren’t finding love the way they used to, and that could have something to do with the statistics. Online dating is popular. Almost a quarter of the population uses it and men far outnumber women on the apps. Two in every five couples have met online and a small share — almost 15% — have had a relationship lasting at least a year with a person they met online.
However, for all its conveniences, online dating has done two things for men that have hurt them and contributed to their growing elusiveness. One, the “swipe culture” has let men continue to seek brief, sexual encounters rather than enduring romantic relationships. Two, online dating is really fantastic for only the top few men. You know, the top 5% of men who rate high in attractiveness, height and income, have the best shot at most of the women. Men of average appearance, height and income struggle — and often wind up alone.
Even though the pandemic has been over for a while, it seems like some people haven’t stopped hibernating, and it’s taking a toll on men’s health. Our men are increasingly lonely and unhappy. Young men commit suicide at four times the rate of young women.
Another reason men may be rejecting even trying to find love is that they don’t really need women, or may not feel like they do, because of the ubiquitousness of online porn.
A majority (57%) of men ages 30-49 report having watched pornography in the past month. Regular porn use distorts real-life relationships which require effort, communication, consistency, and more to remain healthy. Porn is a substitute for real sex with a real-life woman, which also requires more effort than logging onto a website. If porn addicts are married or in a relationship, they often feel shame or embarrassment about their amount of porn viewing and so they hide it. This discovery leads to an even more fractured relationship.
OnlyFans is a similar substitute, and perhaps worse in the sense that many men report turning to these paid accounts not just for titillation or sex but for a quasi-relationship. While some statistics show that more married than single men are users on OnlyFans, it’s clear both are seeking the site to satiate emotional or sexual needs they purport aren’t being filled.
Women, on the other hand, seem to be struggling far less. Data shows unmarried, childless women are the “happiest subgroup in the population.” Women now collect nearly 60% of bachelor’s degrees, and pay parity is increasing.
This shift in the dynamic in gender parity has played a role, though it’s hard to tell how much, and which came first: Did women start to out-achieve men and men couldn’t keep up so they gave up? Did men get addicted to porn and give up relationships so then women just moved up in the world without them?
Feminism has produced some great things in terms of the legal and societal parity women deserve. Now, women have more job opportunities and make more money than ever. But if women have gotten to the place financially where they don’t think they need a man, this mindset could be driving men out of the dating marketplace. This isn’t to wholly blame women at all.
Men also seem to be struggling to respond to this new generation of accomplished, high-achieving, high-earning women and, rather than up their own “game,” increase their value, embrace emotional maturity, and seek to still earn a woman’s love and respect, they simply give in to self-loathing, self-pity and self-sabotage.
Either way, unhappy, lonely, single men aren’t good for society. Men are natural providers and protectors. They often take on the most difficult work and spearhead the toughest industries: Firefighting, law enforcement, military, manufacturing. We need men to remain productive, happy, competent members of society.
Women are naturally attracted to men who demonstrate this potential and crave a relationship with this kind of healthy, mature, high-value male. But if he’s sitting at home, watching porn and playing video games, numbing his desires instead of seeking a relationship or being purposeful at work, this is far less attractive.
It’s hard to say exactly why men aren’t seeking relationships — both sexes need to take a hard look at themselves. But there are women out there seeking men who want love. Now, we need more men who want the same.