Tired of that sinking feeling you get from searching through endless online dating profiles only to come up empty? Too afraid to venture into the crowded bar scene hoping to have an audible conversation with someone before his/her fourth beer? Dating isn't easy — it's not always pleasant, either — but there are some new tools out there to help us find our mates without embarrassing ourselves too much.

A recent New York Times article has unveiled a new face of dating as seen across the country.

At Me So Far, a Chicago singles event, dozens of singles get up on a stage — as if their current fates weren't emotionally obliterating enough — and are given six minutes to talk about a particular aspect of their psyche that might showcase them best to the people in front of them.

“People connect when they listen to each other” is the m.o. of Me So Far's approach, which might be more accurately stated as, “People connect when they listen to each other to see when they can start talking about themselves.”

Overheard at Me So Far: “This format is a natural filter for douchebags,” and “This is dating cross-pollination at its best” — although, to be fair, not many people actually use the word “cross-pollination” in polite company.

New York City's popular Urban Girl Squad's Friend-of-a-Friend Singles Parties — based on an episode of “Sex in the City,” the prospect of which should completely melt the souls of any average man who finds out — recommends various fashion ensembles for the women attending their mixers.

Two hundred singles bring their bachelor friends, gathering in chic bars, playing ice-breaking games and even participating in raffles. Of course, the upside is that friends of friends don't act boorish and off-base because word gets around. If you can make it uncomfortable there, you can make it uncomfortable anywhere.

Matchmakers have even been using online Klout scores to pair celebrities and public figures you'd never imagine opening an OKCupid account, in an attempt determine one's standing in the world of social media. Though no word on whether having a Friendster or FacetheJury account effectively exiles you to the wilds of Duluth.

So for those of you who don't think you could surmount the forces of looks, affluence and fame by advertising yourself, seek no further — Klout founder Joe Fernandez promises, “We analyze data from 13 different online networks and take into account reactions to a person's content.” Ahoy, polloi!

Tawkify — a slightly swifter twist on the dating game — is the creation of Elle magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, 69, and Kenneth Shaw, 27, late of the Facebook app My Purity Test. Eligible guys and dolls submit photographs, submit to a gentle battery of questions and, should they pass the test, are set up on a 10-minute date via something they call a “telephone.”

Using everything from the modern miracle of the Klout score to listening to her own gut feelings, Carroll recently set up professional ecdysiast Dita Von Teese with a mysterious Scandinavian novelist after Von Teese reportedly said she was “looking for a man who wanted to date the real her, not her public persona.” The real Dita Von Teese — real name: Heather Renée Sweet — eventually met her novelist in Paris, where both have real estate. Really.

So what of mixers for the transgendered? Widows and widowers? Cat and dog fanciers? Time will tell — even if, as a single person, it seems as if those 10 pounds of C4 explosives called biology are going to blow your happiness to smithereens in the next three seconds.

LA Weekly