As someone who's dated off-and-on throughout my middle years I've been fortunate enough to have missed out on much of the bitterness you describe, though friends have documented their experiences in a way that matches yours. My own viewpoint, as someone who grew up in what used to be called third world countries (dust, danger, disease) is that in the West, and in the USA especially, people are so used to soft easy lives that everyone feels entitled. Yet, in reality, we're entitled to nothing. No one is handed an invisible AMEX card at birth that will thereafter automagically summon all good things, or even some good things. Just as no one except trust fund babies automatically gets a great education and a lovely house for free, so no one automatically gets the Disney life - not least because real life is almost the antithesis of the schlock Hollywood pumps relentlessly into people's brains. On the rare occasions I go on a date, I'm expecting only to have a conversation. Perhaps the person across the table will be interesting and have some stories I can learn from. Hopefully they'll treat me with the same courtesy I'll treat them. Usually I learn something from such encounters and walk away feeling modestly enriched, as if I've been given an unexpected gift. Because in the end, the odds against two people really clicking are astonishingly low and as we grow older the odds diminish further. We have our foibles, our set ways, our diminishing need to have anyone else in our lives. Wandering through life with an inbuilt sense of entitlement seems like me to be a very self-defeating posture, especially as the years roll by. Perhaps if we saw dating more as a social activity and less as a job interview, more people would be able to derive more pleasure from it.