Your initial reaction to the title of this article may have been a combination of pity and sadness—it’s not your fault. Often, society conditions individuals to feel this way about single people (read: women) of a certain age. Hear me out, though. There are innumerable reasons why being unattached in your 30s is actually the best.
Now, to be clear, being in a relationship can be pretty wonderful as well, and it's a valid and worthy goal to pursue. However, the idea that happiness does not exist without a significant other is simply false. There is plenty of joy and fulfillment to be had as a single individual — one just needs to learn to seize the moment a bit.
For instance, traveling alone is one of the most exhilarating pleasures one could experience (within or without a relationship), but isn't often pursued. Exploring the country or city of your choosing at your pace and on your own timeframe is truly a luxury that should be experienced at least once in a lifetime.
Picking up a new hobby or interest that is completely self-serving and solely for you is another sweet benefit of single life. Again, this can be done in a relationship, but there's something special about trying something new or picking up a new skill as an unattached individual.
Don't worry, I'm just getting started. Ahead, all the reasons you should celebrate if you find yourself sans partner once you hit 30.
Some (not all) individuals simply cannot attend any event on their own— they need a partner for everything, typically because they've been in a long-term relationship for a good part of their life and it is all they know. (It should be mentioned that are plenty of coupled-up pals that are fine with flying solo!) When you're single in your 30s, you likely find yourself sans wingman a lot — many of your friends have married and started families, so if you're not dating anyone, it can be hard to rope someone in to being your plus-one to obligatory events like birthday parties, engagement parties, etc. So, you get used to going it alone, which is a good thing, because life is long and unpredictable, and though you will absolutely find a partner if you want one, there are inevitably times in which you have to fly solo. You're way ahead of the curve on being okay with this.
The friends you make in your 20s are often circumstantial friends — you met in college, you partied after graduation, you started your careers together, etc. Once everyone starts to peel off into their adult lives, and you start to realize which friends you actually want to bring with you into your 30s, you're generally left with room for new additions based on your actual preferences as opposed to convenience. It's not that you can't do this if you're in a relationship, it's just that you're more likely to do the work of investing in making a new adult friend (it's a lot of work!) if you're single.
This doesn't always feel true, but bear with us. To start with, you know yourself better than you did in your 20s, which means you're pre-screening suitors with stricter criteria now. Secondly, it's far less likely that a person is going to waste your time when you're in your 30s. Case in point: I have a 24-year-old friend who recently met a 38-year-old man on Raya. He told her — in the same day — that he was "ready to stop playing the field and settle down" and that he would "never date a girl in her 30s because she's just looking for marriage." Spoiler alert: That guy played her, hard — he was 100 percent not looking to settle down, but lucky for all the 30-somethings out there, he also knew someone his own age wouldn't allow his antics (even if they're not looking for marriage, as not everyone is).
Don't get me wrong — if you're single in your 20s, you're doing a lot on your own. That said, things get real adult in your 30s, and your besties aren't around as much to help you deal. If you're single, you have to figure out a lot of stuff on your own that a partner would otherwise help with. I have a friend who just bought a house, and it was a beast of a process that I'm proud to have watched her navigate solo. Now she knows she can handle it (and kudos to her for having earned her own money to buy a house in Los Angeles!), which has empowered her in so many ways.
I recently invited a married friend to Spain to watch another friend's band play a show at the Primavera festival, and the reply I received was unexpectedly sour coming from someone who once traveled the world as if it were a small town. She couldn't get away on a whim, she said, because she's married, and has a child, and now has to plan everything she does with her family and with lots of advance notice. While vacationing with a doting husband and adorable child sounds so lovely, and I can't wait for that phase of life, there is something so liberating about being able to instantly say "Heck yes!" when a friend invites you on a last-minute trip to Tokyo.
If you're single in your 30s, chances are you've watched quite a few friends get hitched and make babies. While initially these milestones may incite jealousy, eventually the rose-colored glasses come off and you get to see them for what they really are—trade-offs that require a lot of work. This isn't to say they're not worth the sacrifice, it just means that the longer you wait to make these moves, the more time you will have to think mindfully about which scenarios actually make you happiest. Maybe you always thought you wanted children, for example, but after seeing the reality of what that entails you've changed your mind. Maybe you figured you would be a stay-at-home mom, but then you heard firsthand from friends how challenging that can be and have decided to remain committed to some version of your career. Maybe, after watching friends struggle with money, you've decided financial stability is an important criteria for anyone you seriously consider as a life partner. Whatever the revelation may be, you probably wouldn't have known it with such clarity had you not been able to bear witness to the trials and tribulations of your trailblazing friends.
It's an intensely luxurious thing to wake up each morning and realize that the day is yours to shape in whatever way you like. Sure, you may have an office job that doesn't allow you to exercise absolute free will, but what happens outside of that is all you. After work, you can go to the gym, read a book, take in a movie, drink a bottle of wine with a friend, go on a date—whatever you want. Once you have a family, this reality becomes a distant memory. The trade-offs are, of course, wonderful in their own way—you get to go home to loved ones, you have a hand to hold in hard times, you get to spend time with your child, who is likely to be your favorite person on the planet—but still. How great is it that you can go home tonight and eat mac and cheese in the bathtub while watching Sex and the City and flipping through Us Weekly if you want? Enjoy every moment, because one day you will look back on these times and wonder what you were complaining about!
You know the whole midlife-crisis thing? Yeah, you probably won't experience that. As an unattached thirty-something, you have the perfect combination of financial resources, good health and savvy which collectively allow for the possibility of totally transforming your life without having to consider what anyone else in your life wants or needs. This is rare and magical, and you will miss it when it's gone, so take advantage now and do that thing you've always said you would love to do, e.g. move to Paris for six months.
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