On August 11 2022, a post from the Facebook page “Feminist News” featured a purported screenshot from a Psychology Today article, blaming an increase in “healthy relationship standards” for a “rise in lonely, single men”:
The screenshot appeared to have been captured on a mobile device. Its text (with the circled portion bolded below) read:
The State of Our Unions
The Rise of Lonely, Single Men
Dating apps and a drastically changing relationship landscape.
Posted August 9 2022, Reviewed by Hara Estroff Marano
- Dating opportunities for heterosexual men are diminishing as healthy relationship standards increase.
- Men represent approximately 62% of dating app users, lowering their chances for matches.
- Men need to address skills deficits to meet healthier relationship expectations.
On Facebook, the image was typically shared without a link to a live article. Google Trends data indicated a large spike in searches on August 11 2022 for “the rise of lonely single men” (“Psychology Today” was a “related search”):
As for the article in the screenshot, it was real and not altered or edited (aside from the red circle around “Dating opportunities for heterosexual men are diminishing as healthy relationship standards increase.”) Missing from the image was the author’s name (Greg Matos PsyD); “The State of Our Unions” was the name of a relationship-focused Psychology Today blog.
In the post (archived here), Matos described “three broad trends in the relationship landscape that suggest heterosexual men are in for a rough road ahead,” with “dating apps” the first of three bullet points. The second two were about the increase of “healthy relationship standards”:
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, good communicators, and share similar values.
Skills Deficits. For men, this means a relationship skills gap that, if not addressed, will likely lead to fewer dating opportunities, less patience for poor communication skills, and longer periods of being single. The problem for men is that emotional connection is the lifeblood of healthy, long-term love. Emotional connection requires all the skills that families are still not consistently teaching their young boys.
It warrants mentioning that Matos added “there’s probably no chance of stemming the rising tide of unintentional single men, [but] there is still good news,” advising the titular lonely, single men to work on themselves first:
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.
An extremely viral PsychologyToday screenshot featured a real article titled “The Rise of Single, Lonely Men.” It was published on August 9 2022, and indeed observed that dating “opportunities for heterosexual men are diminishing as healthy relationship standards increase.” In the piece, author Greg Matos added that lonely men could avail themselves of therapy and address any “skills gap” to meet the increasing demand for healthy, mutually respectful relationships.