Why is the dating game for men so brutal? How do you get into it if you've been outside of it for various reasons?
I'm 25. Throughout high school & college I worked my ass off to get through it all without any student loans. Being in engineering physics, I was mostly surrounded by guys and never had any time for any dating. I did what I felt was responsible at the time, but now I feel like I made a mistake.
The dating game is not brutal. If you'd put in as much work as you did in engineering, you'd be able to meet women with a half a wink of your eye.
But you didn't. You need to think of yourself as a freshman in dating. You will make mistakes. You may even have to learn some basics just to gain any proficiency, but if you take it on as you did engineering, you'll have a Ph.D. in no time.
But you are also a scientist. You understand the notion of statistical significance, iteration, posing theories and testing them. Take this approach to dating. Go to a place where females of the appropriate age and circumstances congregate, and do an experiment. Try out different introductions. Try out different questions. Try out asking something, and then not talking. Let her fill the space.
You're in a great place. You can't blame yourself for what you did or didn't do. You can learn from it and move on.