Single: Those with lower self-esteem put more effort into dating

Most people want a partner, but not all singles put a lot of effort into getting to know a new person. A recent study has now revealed why this might be the case.

Isn’t it often nicer to watch a film in the evening as a couple than alone? Isn’t cooking for two people more fun than for one? Being single isn’t always fun and many people want a partner for life. But how is it that some people fall out of love when dating and make a real effort to win over the new acquaintance, while others just buy a coffee and send one message a day?

Researchers Menelaos Apostolou, Burcu Tekeş and Antonios Kagialis investigated the cause of these differences in a 2024 study. 990 people of Greek and Turkish descent were surveyed on the extent to which their own anxiety affects their dating efforts. The study included 568 women with an average age of 33.4 years, 412 men who were on average 34.8 years old, six people with diverse gender and four people who did not specify gender. Of the participants, 25.9 percent reported being in a relationship, 20.1 percent were involuntarily single, 19.3 percent married, 18.7 percent in a relationship, 12.0 percent voluntarily single, and 4.0 percent classified their relationship status as “other.”

Does the fear of being single have something to do with the effort involved in dating? The researchers asked

The researchers then asked the participants about the effort they had put into finding long-term relationships. They were asked to rate the following statements on a scale of 1 to 5:

  • If I am alone at the end of my life, I will probably feel like there is something wrong with me.
  • The thought of being single forever scares me.
  • Loneliness scares me.
  • It scares me not to have an intimate partner by my side.
  • I’m scared of being single.

Based on the evaluations, the study confirmed what the researchers had previously suspected: people who are more afraid of being single also put more effort into finding a partner.

People who are afraid of loneliness seem to invest more effort, activities and contact in dating. Conversely, the researchers were also able to verify that someone who is voluntarily single and has no fear of being alone does not necessarily want to stay alone, but because of the lack of fear, makes less intensive efforts to get to know people. No differences between the sexes were evident here.

Another finding of the researchers was derived from the participants’ self-esteem. They assessed the self-esteem of the people they surveyed by rating them on a scale with statements such as “I feel like I don’t have much to be proud of.” This showed that there is a direct connection between the factors: people with higher self-esteem are more confident in finding and keeping a partner, which reduces their fear of being alone. Therefore, they invest less time and effort in dating.

In conclusion, if you invest more effort in getting to know someone and dating than you do, you are not automatically more interested in the other person. It could also be that you are simply afraid of being alone and do not have the greatest self-esteem.

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