Biology 101: Why You’re Still Single

(Originally Published on

It’s that time of year again,

when everyone from your great-aunt to your Uber driver can ask about your relationship status without it being wildly inappropriate (not that they needed a reason…it’s not like they don’t all do it anyway.)

But this Valentine’s Day, you can explain to them not only that you are single. But exactly why you’re single. “How?” You ask. Biology. Once again science is here to save the day.

In biology there is a concept called speciation.

Speciation: basically how new species are made.

This can happen in a number of ways, one of those ways is called — reproductive isolation.

Reproductive Isolation: anything that stops members of two different species that could mate from successfully producing offspring

The idea behind reproductive isolation is that for whatever reason, species x cannot or will not mate with species y to increase the gene pool and make more diverse offspring.

How does this relate to your singleness? Hold your horses.

You’re not trying to get pregnant here. You just want to find a nice guy. So we’ll take out all of the parts about fertilizing an egg, and just stick to the term “mating”.

Now, science will ever so kindly outline all of the scientific reasons you have not found a mate.

Barriers that impede mating or fertilization:

Habitat isolation: Two species that occupy the same habitat may encounter each other rarely. Sure you’re on the same campus, but you go to different coffee places, you eat at different restaurants, you go to the gym, he sits on the couch of some frat you’ve never been to.

OR, on a more dramatic level, you’re studying abroad in Paris, he’s here taking STAT 1011. When he goes to Australia, you come home to spend the election season in DC.

Temporal isolation: Species that breed during different times, seasons or years.

  • Time: You wake up on Saturday for 8am yoga, he’s not up until noon at least. He’s out partying until 3am, you’re at home watching Scandal.
  • Seasons: You hibernate in the winter — hot chocolate and Christmas movies, he estivates in the summer (a.k.a — doesn’t leave his basement).
  • Years: He “doesn’t want a girlfriend” freshman year. Or sophomore year. Or junior year. Or senior year. Or during grad school. Or ever. He’s George Clooney.

Behavioral isolation: Courtship rituals unique to certain species act as effective, reproductive barriers. I believe my biology professor used the phrase “he doesn’t do the right dance.” He’s into salsa, you’re more of a waltz kind of girl. I get it.

There are other more mechanical reasons that probably don’t apply to your love life, (if they do you should get that checked out) so we can just leave it at that. But now, at least when your family asks if you’re still single you can tell them exactly why you have not yet met your soulmate.

Or you could go back to “I’m just like really busy right now.”

That’s probably faster and less painful for everyone involved.