Austin, TX

Why a Majority of Single People Report Difficulties with Dating

Carol Lennox

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Young woman sitting in front of blue wall in Austin, TX.Photo by Alex Avendado

Why do most single people surveyed say they aren't satisfied with their dating life? Isn’t dating supposed to be romantic, or at least fun?

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Photo of Graph from Pew Research Center

If dating is supposed to be fun, or at its highest level a form of exploration in hopes of forming a relationship, why is it so difficult? This isn’t just a rant from a single woman. Highly respected research organizations are finding the same is true for the majority of all singles of all dating preferences.

A 2019 Pew Research study found that nearly half of all single adults believe that dating has gotten harder over the past 10 years. Since I’ve been attempting to date in one of the top 5 ranked cities for singles, Austin, Texas, for the last 8 years, I can anecdotally concur.

Lest you think it’s because single people are too picky, the majority of the people surveyed said they are willing to or do date people of other religions and/or ethnicities, and will date people making considerably less or more money than they do.

What they hesitate on, or refuse to do, is dating someone very far away, or who is in deep debt, or who voted differently. This again agrees with my own experience.

Both men and women report equal difficulties in dating. However, women report more encounters with harassing behavior.

Author Anna Brown reports in a recent Pew Research Study, “While single-and-looking men and women report equal levels of dissatisfaction with their dating lives and the ease of finding people to date, women are more likely to say they have had some particularly negative experiences.”

65% of women who are currently single and looking to date have experienced at least one of six harassing behaviors asked about in the survey. From being touched in a way that made them uncomfortable, to rumors being spread about th, a majority of women report being harassed. This compares with 35% of men who are single and looking.

While it is telling that 30% more women than men report experiencing harassing and other negative dating experiences, it shouldn’t be ignored that over a third of the men surveyed also had negative experiences.

Before dating experiences good or bad happen, though, people have to be able to find others to date. That is one of the main reasons so many people are unhappy with their dating lives. Many report it’s too difficult to start one, much less one that’s satisfying.

Men report finding it difficult to approach people to start a dating relationship. The report states, “For their part, men are more likely to say difficulty in approaching people (52% of men vs. 35% of women) and being too busy (38% vs. 29%) are major reasons it has been difficult to find people to date.”

Women say it’s more difficult to find people who want the same type of relationship they do, whether online or in person. However, online gets mostly positive ratings from singles of all preferences and genders.

As the Pew study reports, “Of the 30% of U.S. adults who have ever used an online dating site or app, a majority (57%) say their experiences with online dating were very or somewhat positive. Men and women are about equally likely to have had positive experiences online dating.”

However, online dating seems to have more people who "ghost" than in-person dating. Ghosting means simply disappearing from the conversation by no longer instigating or responding to texts, phone calls, or emails. Some people who ghost even block the person with whom they've been communicating. 53% of those with online dating experience report that they’ve been ghosted before. Those currently using online dating apps and websites are even more likely, at 62%, to report having been ghosted.

Even more disappointing, online daters are no more likely to report being satisfied with their dating lives, even though their experiences have been mostly positive.

What’s a single person in the U.S. to do? Maybe move to one of the top 15 best cities for singles. Although, I live in one of them, Austin, TX, and can’t personally say dating is any better. However, because there’s lots to do here and people are active, it is much easier to meet people to date.

An idea for those who have trouble approaching people to date is to make an experiment of it. For a period of time, approach and ask out anyone you’re interested in. Yes, there will be rejections, but eventually someone will say yes, and you will become inured to rejection, so that it will no longer matter.

Psychologist Albert Ellis, originator of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, did this himself. He had social anxiety, especially about speaking in public, and was shy around women. To get over these issues, and his fear of rejection, he forced himself to talk to 100 women in the Bronx Botanical Gardens over a period of a month. It worked.

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My purpose is to inspire and inform. You can read more by me on Medium.com/@carollennox, and on the Good Men Project. I've had a lifetime of valuable experiences, and I want to share the lessons I've learned readily, or been forced to learn. I'm a psychotherapist, a hypnotherapist, a mother to my amazing son, Blake Scott, whom I write about often. I also write about race, equality, social justice, sex, government, and Mindfulness, not in that order.

Austin, TX
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