New York City and the surrounding tri-state area make up a big playground for singles. Every day New York City single men meet New York City single women in smaller playgrounds: bars, restaurants, and at Meetup events, or through friends, online dating, social media, and professional matchmakers. That amounts to thousands of New York City singles meeting every day! Why then, with so many New York City singles, does it still seem so difficult to meet someone looking for a serious relationship who also wants to fall in love?

Theories as to why New York City singles remain, ahem, single, fill thousands of blog posts daily and fuel a multi-million dollar online dating industry that continues to leave many New York City singles longing for a meaningful connection and scratching their heads why they haven’t found one. Out of all the reasons they’ve heard, they still haven’t been able to fill in the blanks.

With no readily available explanation as to why they’re alone, many frustrated singles in New York City begin feeling disillusioned with the dating process. Where at first the prospect of meeting other New York City singles was exciting, a lot of New York City singles walk away feeling disappointed. They consider giving up. They rationalize for lack of a better explanation there must be something in the drinking water in New York City that makes everyone appear disinterested in finding a partner and falling in love. Or maybe, they say, New York singles are just plain old nuts.

But what if I was to tell you there is a reason why you haven’t met someone worth dating seriously or falling in love with in New York City? And that it’s a reason you may not have read about or thought of before, despite it being quite obvious. The real explanation why you remain alone may boil down to the goals you’ve been setting up to now and how they may, in a twist of irony, be what’s holding you back. Let me explain.

You see, most professional singles in New York City aren’t native New Yorkers, meaning they may not have been born in or raised in the area. For many of them, however, living and finding a job in New York City is a top goal of theirs, admittedly not an easy one to achieve. When they do meet this goal, they give themselves a well-earned pat on the back. The only problem is, when a lot of these New York City singles land their dream job and find that fantastic apartment in the city, they start believing, falsely, they are now every New York City single woman or New York City single man’s dream.

These New York City singles then go in search of the perfect relationship, one to match their already so-called perfect life, and the perfect person with whom to be in that relationship. They kick their wild imaginations into high gear and start dreaming up what kind of a guy or girl they want to date and marry one day. Usually, their mind moves quickly past the types of partners that interested them in high school and college when they were open-minded. Their ego today makes them want something different, something challenging because it’s human nature to think if we have to work hard for something, it must automatically be worth it. That may be true in business. When it comes to finding a mate among other singles in New York City, unfortunately, that’s not usually the case.

Searching for a partner among all New York City singles requires calling upon a different set of skills. It requires taking a long hard look at what you have to offer first and what you don’t. It means realistically assessing your strengths and weaknesses, recognizing how much you have to offer and areas where a partner can enhance and enrich your life. Instead of going through this exercise, too many New York City singles immediately go in search of an imaginary partner, who you often hear referred to as “The One,” to complement their imaginary self. What results is a sense of dissatisfaction and an insatiable need to go in search of the next best thing.

These are the types of frustrated singles in New York City who tend to focus on superficial qualities first, like looks and how wealthy a date is rather than their date’s character and how compatible they are with him or her. Over time, this behavior becomes habitual. Dating turns into merely a stepping stone for finding that “better,” i.e., imaginary, person. And eventually, these frustrated singles become so used to playing in this fantasy playground they’ve created for themselves that the quest for The One becomes only an excuse for them not to have to commit to one person. These frustrated singles live for the future, rarely in the present, and the result is they remain by themselves and unsatisfied.

The good news is, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and, no, I’m not referring to the Lincoln Tunnel! The key for New York City singles is first to get real about the person they are and then real about the person they want to have in their life, for life. It’s all about learning to play in a different kind of playground, one where authentic, quality, like-minded New York City singles with serious relationship goals come together to meet, have fun, and eventually fall in love.