There is little knowledge about what causes a person to have difficulty with dating and finding love, or how to prevent this loneliness.

There is much speculation about what might cause a lonely person to become angry and hateful, as has happened in the incel movement. In reaction to the violence and murders perpetrated by a few incels, there are simplistic theories that might lead to discrimination against innocent lonely people. (In particular, autistic people are not likely to be violent.)

Alana has a more nuanced theory, diagrammed below: There are many reasons for a person to need help learning social skills, so they can date people respectfully and successfully. If a person (of any gender) doesn't learn social skills, their life may be sad and lonely. It is the combination of loneliness with sexism, misogyny, privilege and entitlement that has led many men to be angry that women are not sexually available to them. The recent development of hateful online cultures has changed the incel community from supportive to angry, disrespectful, hateful and violent.

This theory has not yet been confirmed by research. Nor is it a complete picture of how a person's health, employment, friendships, family and other factors affect their dating success. Understanding this complex system of cause and effect is part of our research agenda.

Columnist Marni Soupcoff proposes: What should we do about dangerous 'incels'? Maybe help them. Let's explore how, together.