Being Bad At Flirting Is The Biggest Reason People Are Single, Study Finds

Now, just to be clear here, there's nothing wrong with being single. I've been there. I was single for a long, long time, and I was fine with it. Sure, there were some awkward third-wheel moments at social gatherings, but let's face it, long-term, committed relationships just aren't for everyone.

But when you want a partner and can't find one, it can be frustrating and disappointing like little else in life. It's hard not to take rejection personally, and it's hard to reject someone else who's just looking for love, and you spend a long time wondering why it just won't work out for you.

Well, scientists have been looking into it and they've been able to make some helpful conclusions. The good news is, there's hope for us all!

About 31% of U.S. adults are single, and half of them are happy to be on their own.

Unsplash | Eric Ward

The rest are "involuntary singles," out there looking for love in all the wrong places, unable to find the match they desire. And according to research out of the University of Nicosia in Cyprus, the biggest reason singles aren't mingling is because they're bad at flirting.

As study author Menelaos Apostolou noted, flirting is a relatively new phenomenon in human history as young people would be paired up by their parents in many societies — flirting simply wasn't necessary, and so it's not surprising that a lot of people just don't have the skills.

To determine that poor flirting skills were the heart of the issue, Apostolou recruited 711 women and 512 men with an average age of 30.

Unsplash | Hello Revival

Of them, about 48% were single, 38% in a relationship, and the remaining 14% were married. Of the singles, 47% said they were trying to find a partner but hadn't been successful yet, 30% said they were "between relationships," and 23% were happily single.

All the participants were surveyed, on a scale of one to five, on their perceived abilities to flirt, to pick up on signals of interest, on the level of effort they put into finding a partner, and how picky they were about prospective love interests.

For the involuntary singles, the biggest factor was a lack of flirting skills, and it wasn't even close.

Unsplash | Alexis Brown

Coming in second was the inability to pick up signals, followed by a lack of effort, and choosiness.

However, for the voluntary singles, choosiness was the biggest factor for remaining single, followed by effort.

And, for what it's worth, men in the study reported more years being single than women, 5.2 years on average versus 3.6 years.

Now, Apostolou was willing to admit that his study wasn't perfect.

Having the participants self-report their flirting skills isn't exactly the most reliable data — "participants may be unwilling to admit, even to themselves, that they had poor flirting skills," he noted.

There could also be "reverse causation" at play — basically, if you've been single for too long, your flirting skills are going to be out of practice. Let's face it, there will be a ton of awkwardness and rusty flirting after pandemic restrictions can finally be completely lifted.

But just being out of practice can lead people to believe they're bad at it, and can lead to feelings of hopelessness, which never helps your effort level.

Nevertheless, the lonely hearts of the world should find some solace in this study.

Unsplash | Stanley Dai

Maybe they're not as bad at flirting as they think! And even if they are, lots of other people are as well, and they all need some practice, so it's worth getting out there and talking to potential partners, if only to brush up on those dating skills.

Apostolou's study was published in Personality and Individual Differences.

h/t: Psych News Daily

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