I’m about to turn 34, and I’m single—but I’m not afraid to announce it to the world. I don’t consider myself an old maid, and I’m tired of my friends, family members, and colleagues feeling sorry for me. Why? Relationship-wise, I’m in one of the best places I’ve ever been, and I don’t mind being kid-free at this point. I’m confident, I know what I want and what I don’t want, and I’m not the naive 20-something I used to be. While it is hard to be the only person who’s single at a wedding, most of the time it’s pretty cool to be single in your 30s.
According to the Pew Research Center, these days more people are single than before. Even so, society still seems to push the stereotype that the only way to be fulfilled in life is to find that significant other. But the truth is, there are a whole host of reasons someone is or chooses to be single. And whether you want to experience life solo or coupled (for the first time, or again) someday, here are five reasons being single in your 30s can be fun and stress-free.
Zero Emotional Labor
When you're single, and we don't mean this in a harsh way, but really, all you have to care about is yourself. There's something liberating about that, because as much as we've maybe loved being coupled up at some point, it takes a ton of patience and compromise to keep the relationship train going. “Intimacy and partnership takes up a lot of space in our heads. Even though much of this is happening unconsciously, there’s simply a lesser capacity for individually focused thought,” Susan Winter, a relationship expert, told TIME magazine.
Felt Cute, Won't Delete Later
You’re also more confident than you were in your 20s—or maybe you were previously just less self-assured in the past—and know how to identify what you really want and deserve. Learning to enjoy our own company unburdens us, says Winter. “Being content in our own company frees us from the need to chase others.”
In Love With Solo Travel
You can travel with ease. Since you only have your schedule to consider, planning your upcoming birthday trip or long weekend "just because" will be a breeze. When you're single, “you’re more likely to take risks and have adventures and have more novelty within your journey,” says psychologist and relationship expert, Dr. Niloo Dardashti to TIME. Want to spend a week in January at a surf camp in Costa Rica? Go right ahead! Want to ride a bike around Germany in high heels? Why not?
My Netflix, My Chill
You get to choose what you watch on TV, eat whatever you want for dinner, drive whatever car you'd like, prioritize your beauty sleep... the world is truly yours for the taking. You can sleep like a star and hog all the pillows and blankets. And, you can decorate your home however you’d like if that's what is important to you. It sounds super irreverent, so in other words, “When we’re not in a relationship we really have some time to get clear about what matters to us and what we value,” says Dr. Jenny Taitz, a clinical psychologist, told TIME.