The “Male Loneliness Epidemic” Does Not Exist
The media panic around “male loneliness” is driven by cherry-picked statistics and sexism. Now, that’s sad.
My partner is my best friend. This is because I am terrible at making friends, and I admit it. I tend to have two intimacy settings — either “you are my best friend and I will literally love you for the rest of my life and then die for you” or “excuse me, sir, can you point the way to the restroom?” — and I never learned how to navigate that middle range where most friendships reside. I have a small child, so it’s hard to make time for people. I’m trans in a place where there aren’t many trans folks. I’m, like, really annoying.
It adds up, and so my partner is the only person I can talk to without freezing up or missing some crucial social cue or worrying that I sound like a dick. This is a stereotypically masculine problem, and it’s not healthy. People are happier when they have a broad support network. Relationships are easier when nobody has to shoulder the weight of being someone’s only connection to humanity. Nonetheless, we’re told, men refuse to cultivate platonic intimacy and dump everything on their partners. Men like me.
This is all to say: There are certainly things I can appreciate about all the recent coverage of the “male loneliness epidemic.” There are good things about the work being done in its name. Some of it is what feminists have been asking men to do for ages: Learning to process emotions in conversation with other men, instead of forcing women to do all their feeling for them, or talking openly about their trauma.
Nonetheless, “male loneliness,” the media phenomenon, is unsatisfactory. Even well-meaning pundits tend to cook their statistics and muddle their premises in a way that is ultimately misleading at best. For one thing: If you look at the actual numbers, the “male loneliness epidemic” does not exist.
Let’s begin, then, with those numbers. According to the 2022 Cigna Group report on the “loneliness epidemic” — worth citing, not least because it goes back a few years — “57% of men and 59% of women reported being lonely.”
Men and women are equally lonely. Men and women are equally lonely. In fact, as per this report…