Why am I still single?

'member her?
Dear Edahn,

What is wrong with the single people in this city? It seems that everywhere I turn I am surrounded by young, attractive single people with wonderful qualities and a lot to give. Yet, increasingly, it has come to my attention that more and more people in my community are completely incapable of getting into relationships and maintaining them.

I have attended many different types of events across this city and I have observed. I've observed people standing around with their drinks and making inane conversation with people they don't care about. I've observed people engaged in mild flirtation with members of the opposite sex. I've observed the guys checking out the girls and the girls gossiping about the guys. What I haven't observed is anything authentic or real. I haven't seen any real connections made or if they are, they seem to be easily broken. Giving a number out a party usually ends with text tag, inconsistent date booking, and general douchebaggery.

Why are authentic, real connections so difficult to make? When did a female or male who is simply interested in trying a connection become the hottest commodity? And more importantly, where are the normal people who say what they mean, mean what they say and know a quality female or male when they see one?

Authentic connections are difficult to make because people aren't authentic to begin with. Part of the reason has to do with fear, and the other part has to do with expectations generated by certain environments. 

It all works like this. We're raised to think that we must be all these things for people to like us. We must be confident, we must be smooth, we must be charming, we must have our shit together, we must have ambition, direction, personality, humor, depth, interesting things, sexual knowledge, friendships, the list goes on and on. We start measuring ourselves against those standards and comparing ourselves to others. I've got this, but I need more that... He has that, she doesn't have that, they need this... It's an endless game of one-up that we play in our head.

Certain environments bring out those expectations even more. Bars, clubs, escort services, dating events, they all trigger those anxieties and comparisons. Right away, we start to shift into our persona. (Traditionally, the persona was the mask Greek actors would wear when performing, hence Jung's adoption of the term.) The persona blocks out the stuff we think others will find unacceptable and emphasizes the stuff others will view favorably. This is every conversation at a bar. It's awfully empty. 

It takes guts to show people who you really are, with all your flaws and mediocrity. Our society doesn't really encourage it. It prefers to keep people on pedestals. It's socially unacceptable to have doubts. I'm speaking in generalities.

Two solutions. One, practice authenticity. Practice being honest and look out for the desire to hide and modify who you are. Authenticity is contagious, so being authentic will attract authentic people. (Has nothing to do with the god forsaken Secret.) Second, hang out in venues with less pressure to be someone. Volunteering is a great way to meet people, as is going to dinner parties or establishing yourself as a denizen of your local coffee shop. Plus, you get free coffee.