‘I can’t seem to date anyone decent’

I'm a single woman in my mid-20s: attractive, talented, and smart. And I can't seem to date anyone decent. All the men I've dated in the past year turn out to be addicted to sex, emotionally unavailable, gaslighty, or terrified of any level of commitment. I feel like a character in a bad rom-com or all "Sex and the City" characters wrapped up in one. I don't just blame the men for my disappointment. I've learned lessons along the way: You can't tell what someone is truly like from a couple of dates, be cautious about having sex or introducing him to your friends until you're totally sure. Do activities together, not just talking and drinking. Keep the vulnerability light up front, but don't be afraid to ask meaningful questions. In short, I know only time can tell you if you're compatible.

But still, time and again, a couple months go by, I let myself get to know and be excited about someone, and the red flags start popping up: expecting guaranteed sex a certain number of times a week, saying sexist and angry things, avoiding any serious conversation, having zero ambition, or never asking me out. I don't look for perfection, but I can't ignore serious immaturities. And then I have to deal with ending it. It hurts. I can hear the echoes of old lady advice in my ear, too: I wonder, am I too picky? Should I get off internet dating and prowl around the real world night after night? Should I be more or less vulnerable? Am I not "putting myself out there"? Will some magic happen when I just stop looking? I'm perfectly happy single, but I'd like to have a partner. I've dated truly good men before and I know what they are like; I just can't find any more of them. I'm not sure I need advice as much as I need encouragement: Am I alone and foolish in this disappointment, and is there anything I can do to help myself? I'd like to find someone who is funny and kind, who wants to be with me, and me with him. At times, it feels impossible.

– Disappointed

I will do my best not to give you old lady advice even though that is kind of my thing. For the record, I do not think you're too picky.

It sounds like some of this is about the exhaustion that comes with quantity. In rom-coms and on televisions shows, there are always so many options for single characters looking for a partner. New suitors and potential mates show up every episode. Back in the day, that wasn't what happened in real life. Now, though, with dating apps, you can meet a list of new people the second you become single. The ease of it is great, but quantity doesn't mean quality. It can be overwhelming to have so many experiences that end in disappointment and rejection. It can put you in a bad place.

That doesn't mean you should stop dating, by the way, or even date less. It's just something to recognize. If your brain could delete some of the awkward first dates and a few of the relationships that ended quickly, would you feel more optimistic about what's out there?

Also know that yes, sometimes it helps to do some pursuing offline, in your community. Friends should know you're open to setups. You don't have to "prowl around the real world," but you can go out and look.

As for finding someone when you're not looking at all, well, I don't think that's a thing. Even in rom-coms, they tend to have to work.

– Meredith

Readers? Is this dating fatigue? Any advice?