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But as for desperation, you can't think that getting a girlfriend will solve your problems.
I have a buddy, we were talking pretty often and he seemed so angry at world, his life, his loneliness, his life situation, kept saying "if I had a gf I'd do this and that".
First thing you gotta do is get yourself to a point in life where you're truly happy with who you are and are comfortable in your own skin and space.
If you're already happy with yourself (job, home situation, hobbies, etc...), then just keep living your life and think about attending venues that are geared towards your strengths as a person where you'd feel comfortable interacting with people. This will eventually cause a "snowball" effect and you as a person (we're not talking looks) will rise in the eyes of everyone around you.
I'm not ugly (you'll have to take my word for it), I'm intelligent, kind, mature, well spoken... I've asked female friends and their response was "no idea".
My other problem is I don't know what to do if I do find someone I really connect with.
I'm 27 and still haven't had a girlfriend in over 2 years, and before that I hadn't had one for 4 years.
As far as taking it slow, there are women out who would really appreciate that part about you, so don't change or compromise that and be patient. Not to brag, but literarly almost everyone I've known has commented on my appearance. Your insecurity (forgive my bluntness) and low sense of self worth is oozing through and works as garlic on women.