Not Knowing How To Flirt Is Main Reason People Are Single, Study Finds

by : Emily Brown on : 08 Mar 2021 11:56
Not Knowing How To Flirt Is Main Reason People Are Single, Study FindsPexels

‘Did it hurt?’ – ‘What?’ – ‘When you fell from heaven?’ With chat-up lines like this floating around, it’s no surprise that the main reason people are single is because they don’t know how to flirt.

Published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, a new study noted that in order to attract prospective partners people need to know how to flirt and how to understand signals of interest, as well as being willing to put in sufficient amounts of time and effort.


While there are plenty of people out there who are happy being single, author Menelaos Apostolou, of the University of Nicosia (Cyprus), has found that roughly half of single people are involuntarily single – meaning they’d like to have a partner, but are having trouble finding one.


For the last year, singletons have had a good excuse as to why they’ve not had much look in the love department. With a global pandemic to tend with, dating, chatting and getting up-close and person with new people hasn’t exactly been the easiest task.

However, the coronavirus excuse won’t fly forever, and at some point people are going to have to admit that maybe their single status isn’t solely down to global health issues.


Apostolou predicted that poor flirting skills, low ability in recognising flirting signs, a lack of effort and a high degree of choosiness would correlate with a greater likelihood of being involuntarily single and with longer periods of singlehood, so he gathered 1,228 men and women, whose average age was about 30, to put his theory to the test.


Of the 48% of participants who were single, 47% indicated their relationship status was down to difficulties attracting a partner, 30% said they were ‘between relationships,’ and 23% said they preferred to be single.

Using self-report surveys, Apostolou assessed flirting skills, ability to read signals of interest, effort and choosiness, Psych News Daily reports.


Participants had to respond on a scale of one to five to a series of statements including ‘I do not know how to flirt’, ‘I totally lack the ability to pick up and interpret signals of interest’, ‘I dedicate all my energy to my romantic relationships’ and ‘I am always very selective when choosing romantic partners.’

The results showed that for participants who indicated they were involuntarily single, the most important factor in their relationship status was by far their lack of flirting skills, followed by skills in perceiving signals of interest, ‘mating effort’ and choosiness.


Apostolou noted that the participants may have been biased in their responses, for example by not wanting to admit that they were bad at flirting, and that ‘reverse causation’ may play a role as longer periods of singlehood may diminish flirting skills.


On the whole, however, the author summarised: ‘We found that low scorers in flirting capacity, capacity to perceive signals of interest, and mating effort, were more likely to be involuntary single than in an intimate relationship, and more likely to experience longer spells of singlehood.’

For those looking to secure a partner, it might be time to start researching some conversation starters that don’t involve cheesy, cringe-worthy compliments.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Dating, lockdown, Now


Personality and Individual Differences and 1 other
  1. Personality and Individual Differences

    Involuntary singlehood and its causes: The effects of flirting capacity, mating effort, choosiness and capacity to perceive signals of interest

  2. Psych News Daily

    New study finds not knowing how to flirt is the main reason behind “involuntary singlehood”