If you’ve ever wondered “why am I still single?” this one’s for you.

Not too long ago, being single over the age of thirty was a shameful stigma. This is still true for many parts of the world. My Mother grew up in a different country and in a completely different world than I did. Her story is not mine to tell, but I hope one day she tells it here on PMS. When I was born, my grandmother was in her late thirties and I was lucky enough to know all of my great grandmothers except for one.

Here in Los Angeles, most of my girlfriends don’t get married or have kids until well into their thirties. Many men I know in their forties and fifties are having their first child or they have young kids. In other parts of the country, people get married and have children much younger. I love connecting with all of you around the world and learning about the cultural differences within the big cities and small towns of my own country, as well as others.

As of two years ago, for the very first time, unmarried people in America surpassed married ones by .2%. – making ours the most unmarried generation in recorded human history. 

The reasons for this could be anything. Yes, we are collectively waiting longer to marry. Yes, it’s easier now to get a divorce than it was a generation ago. Yes, the online culture has now given us so many choices and distractions, it’s harder than ever to focus on finding “The One.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re someone who really wants to fall in love, get married and start a family or if you don’t know exactly what you want right now.

Whatever the case may be, we all want meaning, intimacy, and connection. And as time goes by, if we feel like we’re doing all the right things – putting ourselves out there, evolving, improving, and are STILL single…

It’s devastating, it’s confusing, and it’s unfair.

You start to think that you’re just unlucky in love. And you reside in that awful tug-of-war-land-of-limbo where you’re constantly going from having to psych yourself into embracing your single status and not succumbing to the pain of “something missing” – despite being the kind of person and building the kind of life that classifies you as a catch.

So, if you’ve dotted every self-reflective “i,” crossed every relational “t,” are exhausted, and asking yourself “why am I still single?”….

Let’s make some sense of it.

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Shame vs guilt is tricky. Some say the differences are obvious – that one is good and the other is bad. Many institutions, cults, organizations, parental figures from your childhood, teachers, coaches, friends, family, romantic partners, and even some religions use these two powerful emotions to your disadvantage without you even knowing it.

Once they can ignite guilt and shame within you, they then get to justifiably ask for the keys to the car of your life – after getting you to voluntarily admit that you are not qualified to drive (which you are ashamed about having to acknowledge and which absolves them of the empathetic guilt that they are incapable of feeling/acknowledging).

This is done in a short-cut attempt to sever the ties from the anchors of their own shame and guilt. It can also be done to affirm power. To them, the fact that you are now handing over your keys gives them immunity (even though it’s rooted in delusion).

That “immunity” cannot exist though, without emotional unavailability, narcissism, gaslighting, and in some cases, pathological lying and sociopathy.

There are so many things today that I feel ashamed of myself – for doing, for not doing, for feeling, for not letting go of, for saying, for not saying, for struggling with, etc. And the intertwined guilt that comes with each of these things made it hard for a really long time…

Until I was able to use these normal, human emotions of guilt, shame, and guilt vs shame to my dignified advantage.

Here’s what I know about shame vs guilt now that I’ve found my way out…

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When it comes to fake friends, we have all had them and we have all been one.

Even if you’ve been the best friend imaginable and have never been a fake friend to someone else… The fact that you have tolerated, excused, and have given second chances and credit that was never earned to a fools gold friend, means that YOU were a fake friend to both your gut/instinct and the one person who needed you the most: Yourself.

I have been an awful friend to myself and other people. When I think back to how terrible of a friend I was to certain people when I was younger, the guilt, shame, self-hate, and embarrassment is so bad, it would paralyze me if I had not built a life around those lessons learned.

What hurts even more, is that I was always a fake friend to the absolute best people.

I would give all my love, care, and attention to the people in my life who were just as toxic and just as fake of a friend to me as I was to these friends who were the most deserving. This negative feedback loop justified my narcissistic, hypocritical behavior and cemented my bad luck and self-sabotaging ways.

The ability to put up with fake friends is directly tied to your low self-esteem, non-existent confidence, and lack of boundaries. It’s all about how willing you are to continue being a fake friend to yourself.

We all carry shame from our mistakes in the past. We overly blame ourselves, personalize the behavior of others, and because of this, adopt negative beliefs about ourselves that prevent our innate ability to prevail. The lack of self-worth we feel makes us a sitting duck for emotionally cutting via putting up with fake friends.

You will never tolerate being treated any worse from others than you are already treating yourself. And remember…

Fake friends will always (directly and indirectly), make you feel (through their patterns, actions, inactions, and words) the exact.same.way that they feel about themselves – sh*tty.

We put up with fake friends for many reasons – because we have a history with them, we feel elevated by association with them, and we confuse being needed with being wanted.

The common denominators here are loneliness and thirst.

We are lonely and because of this, thirsty for the attention we avoid having to give ourselves. The self-reflection that it would require is just too painful.

So, we settle for the low-quality attention of fake friends.

Today, my life is much different than it was years ago…

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Today is a very special day because I get to introduce you all to one of my dearest friends, Irena. I met her years ago when I first started PMS and just like with Lorelle, was so taken back by her comments both to me and other readers. Over the years, we kept in touch, have traveled together, and have become very close friends (you will learn more about her in this post). A few weeks ago, I asked her if she would write a post on something that I myself was struggling with: selfish people. Irena, take it away my friend…

I really like to get to the bottom of things. My favorite game growing up was “library.” My second favorite game was “make unhappy people happy,” except I didn’t exactly call it that at the time. As it turns out, I never got to the bottom of how to do that, though I did find that unhappy people seemed to need me more than others. And as it will, my fixation on other people’s darkness, made me blind to my own. It also made me a nice, albeit pathetic snack for selfish people.

I wish I could say I grew out of this or that I got smarter about it, but I didn’t. In fact, I grew up to be quite the meal.

Yes, everyone acts in selfish ways and has selfish moments, but some types of chronically unhappy, toxic people exhibit a PATTERN of behavior that communicates to others that their ego and needs are more important than your anyone else’s. Like being hangry or having to pee on a road trip with no exit in sight, selfish people have one track, immediate, pressing needs, all the time. Trying to make a selfish person happy is like chaperoning a bus of fourth-graders on a never-ending road trip with no snacks and no destination. No offense to fourth graders.

I have found that most advice that I have ever encountered on “how to deal with selfish people” kept me on a hamster wheel of patiently trying to understand people, explaining my feelings, believing that one day unconditional love will magically ignite, and becoming a full-time empathy tutor for people who never asked to learn.

I’m not a saint though, and all this didn’t make me a better person. What it made me was a doormat that was so dirty, it would roll itself up and away at any suggestion of getting clean. In fact, the more I invested in a certain kind of selfish person, the more I tied my self worth to providing the BEST fuel to meet their needs. Worse yet, I started believing that with the best fuel, the most attention, and the most love, I could unselfish a selfish person.

A pattern of habitual selfishness is a very specific and insidious red flag. Toxic, narcissistic, and emotionally unavailable people become that much more detrimental when you get caught up in the MOMENTUM of their never-ending needs, instead of doing work on your own.

When I didn’t feel nourished and loved, I tried harder. And there was always a way to try harder.

Selfish people trigger you into believing your old stories: if you’re better, more understanding, smarter, if you say it in the right way, if you give it enough time, things will be better.

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