The world is a lonely place, because the only certainty in this world is that we will die in it - alone.*
The passing of an equinox seems to set a priority flag in the "fuck the next available mate" in the brains of the creatures of the world. In autumn, with the world dying around us, the predefined instinct to cheat death by propagating our species by copulation (viz. fucking) kicks into high gear. In spring, the dawning of a time of new life, the fucking instinct is pretty automatic, what with every living thing on earth hell-bent on propagating itself as fast as possible.
Fall is the time in college when I remember people (who in my memories are always not me, though I know this isn't true) hooking up like mad - for no real reason other than it seemed like the thing to do. I was very, very bad at this sort of thing in college, and that was because I reaked of a disgusting pheromone that triggered violent reactions in women** to turn off whatever attraction they were feeling for me.
That particular fragrance is known as desperation.
Ed. - "The following contains a semi-cohesive rambling about what I believe lead to my desperation, and why I believe myself to no longer be desperate, and why you should probably agree with me, but it's not like I'm forcing you to read it. Savvy?"
The recipe for desperation is pretty easy, since it has no physical ingredients, and is created by your will alone. The only real step is to buy into several myths about human relationships, and then think about them way, way, way too much. Here are most of the key myths that come into play in this little psychodrama, and you have several elements of society and media to thank for their perpetuation. I express them here as pseudo-MadLibsy-regular-expressionish things:
1. "There has to be [an optional superlative adjective] somebody out there for [pronoun]"
Generally, what somebody means by "somebody" is "a dedicated long-term life partner". This is right up there with "the world isn't fair" as the kind of truism that people tell themselves to make themselves feel better or worse about their situation. The fact of the matter is that there is less than a one-to-one correspondence of available partners in the set of people who possess biological gender X to a single member of their preferred gender. Even factoring out the asexual renunciates and confirmed celibates of this world, there is still a significant statistical probability that you will not find a suitably dedicated long-term life partner in this particular incarnation. That doesn't mean that it doesn't happen; it just means that people who have a committed life partner are consistently working at beating the odds, and to remain in this subset of all people, they must consistently beat the odds until they die, or their committed life partner is dead.
We take for granted the enchanting unlikelihood of permanent coupling in this world, as we have been asked to deny the inherent sense of it (much like we have been asked to accept high school education and two weeks of vacation) as a reward for playing by the rules. This is not so.
The up-side to this is that that person who isn't with you, who you think is the one although they haven't told you they think you're the one? They're probably not - they're just as likely as anyone else in the pool of all possible people to be "the one".
2. "Dating is a[n] [activity|game] with well-established [rules|boundaries|codes of conduct]"
If there are hard and fast† rules to any aspect of human interaction, I would love to see them. [Societally normative gender] books and magazines like to make inventing-the-question-mark kinds of outrageous claims about how to successfully navigate interactions with potential life partners in a way to ensure a maximum score with as many additional side-quests completed as possible. People are not video games or ATM's - there is no magical button sequence that will unlock the secret costumes and levels of your to-be-beloved, no matter what the storybooks or hentai dating sims say.
From a relational perspective, every person is unique, since every person has different experiences, memories, operant memeplexes, et cetera. Our habit as thinking creatures (which we have used to great effect) is to make generalizations about the world so that we can understand it based around those generalizations. Our major failing in this endeavor is the inability to redraw our guiding interior maps when those maps no longer fit the territory. Redrawing these maps is a painful process of erasing our previously trusted boundary lines and landmarks to draw in new, untested regions and landmarks that probably don't fit the territory any better than the old ones.
While certain generalizations can be drawn after prolonged study, there is little you can know about somebody you're meeting for the first time that you did not acquire secondhand through hearsay.
3. "If I follow the [rules|laws|code|guidelines] of dating, I will find myself a[n] [modifier] [adjective] partner"
Since we have already established that there are no rules of dating or human interaction, let's assume that there exist (∃) guidelines G for dating which are neither as hard nor as fast† as the rules previously mentioned. G is a set of heuristic methods (rules of thumb) for achieving coupling. Some of them have broad application, like, "It is good form to avoid throwing anything sharp or slimey at a potential partner on your first date". Some of them have more narrow application, such as "It is good form to throw monkey excrement filled with razor blades at a potential partner on your first date", which is limited to cultures that value excrement more than they value life. Some of them have ambiguous application, such as "You should hold the door for your date as they enter" - an action which will offend just about as many people as it endears.
So, every person has their own set of guidelines for how people should behave (∀P) → ∃Gp), but there is no way to know what this is without asking them. If there were some sort of standardized interaction S(∀P) → ∃Gs), then everybody would already know how to behave to each other every day, in every way.
We might get this one sorted out about the same time the entire world is ruled under one government, and all of its people practice one religion (knock on wood).
4. "[With [the way|how] I [action|am adjective],] I deserve somebody [like|better than|who can] [noun]" and the ever-popular
5. "[Wo|M]en do[n't] like a [wo]man who [is|ca][n't] [activity|trait|characteristic]"
These two came out a little more complex than I would have liked (since they're the most important myth), so I will write it again more simply as, "I deserve somebody who will love me unconditionally".
There is nothing you can do to force somebody to love you romantically, conditionally or not. Nobody has to like you at all, under any circustances, "that way" or any other. There are power games, guilt trips, and forced arrangements which can arbitrarily create a temporary (or permanent) coupling, but those aren't love. You can have sex every night with people you'll never see again, but that isn't love. Love occurs because it is actively nurtured in an environment which has been made conducive to love. If you haven't been nurturing an environment within yourself to be receptive to the idea of sharing your most intimate thoughts and feelings with another so suitably prepared, you aren't ready for love.
The truth is, you don't deserve any of the "good" things that have happened to you in your life - they are gifts that can be taken away as quickly as they were given. Innumerable actions and failures to act have introduced you to this world, and intrude constantly on every aspect of your life, and while your actions are not without consequence, there is a large, interdependent web of things which have interceded on (or against) your behalf. Consider:
a. A valley of butterflies flapping their wings in Mexico change the air currents b. Somewhere in Australia, creating a thermal spike which c. Causes a server meltdown in a colocation facility in Sydney, which loses d. Your employer's parent company in Germany an exclusive contract with e. A vendor in Japan for untold millions, and causes f. Your employer in the US to take corrective actions by cutting staff by 25%, so g. Your division is outsourced to Ireland due to flat growth market levels outside of your control h. Which means you don't have a job anymore
Congratulations - a valley of butterflies in Mexico just outsourced your job to Ireland!‡ Whether you deserved it or not, it happened. Is it a bad thing you just lost your job? Maybe so - but the only thing you can do to "fix" your problem is to get another job. And so it is with dating - you just have to keep trying, learning, and being open to the idea that you know absolutely nothing about how this works - but you're willing to learn.
* - I think I found this in a notebook from when I was a proto-Goth/ teenager. Yikes. ** - I freely admit that I take poetic license in a self-deprecating way consistently when talking about dating and relationships. It's a crutch-like coping mechanism that I hope you will excuse. † - Hehe. Hard and fast. ‡ - Think about it. No, you think about it!
In the not-so-immortal words of a certain Mr. Owens - "Comments? Questions? Projectiles?"