Thanks to the romantic leanings of books, movies and TV shows that permeate your culture, you’d be forgiven for thinking that life isn’t worth living if you’re not in a relationship — but that’s simply not true. In a thread on Reddit, single guys have been sharing the ways that they pursue happiness and enjoy life when they’re not dating.
Several men were quick to point out the value of platonic relationships, which are often framed as secondary to familial and romantic connections. “People are quick to ignore the value of friendships and community these days,” said one guy. “Most of the time when making a life decision (job, where to live, marriage) the thought of what will happen to your friendships takes a backseat, or isn’t thought about at all. But I think this is one of the biggest factors to maintaining a happy, healthy life. Whether you are celebrating victories or going through hard times, both experiences are made better by having a supportive community around you.”
One guy’s advice involved stopping thinking of yourself in relation to other people. “You have to realise at some point that your sense of self and self worth isn’t dependent on having a relationship or dependent on someone else but on you,” he said.
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Others said that they have found it incredibly liberating to make peace with the fact that a relationship simply might not be on the cards for them. “I haven’t dated anyone in about 11 years at this point and I really like my life,” said one guy. “I have a few close friends around me who I can hang out with and get a beer or something, so the companionship of other people is there, I enjoy going on holidays on my own (I just recently went to Rome for a few days), and I find I can easily spend time by myself.”
“For me, it’s been helpful to recognise that I do in fact have a relationship with myself and to broaden my definition of relationships beyond ‘romantic partners,’ and even beyond platonic friendships,” advice columnist John Paul Brammer recently wrote in response to a letter from somebody who was chronically single. “It’s a great thing to take some time to work on yourself, and to work with yourself. Try to get yourself to a place where you feel open to a relationship, but not empty for one. If you think of a relationship in terms of what you don’t have, it makes you more susceptible to accepting one just to be in it, which isn’t a great reason. You can nurture your non-romantic relationships in the meanwhile.”
It’s easy to fall into an internal narrative which says that the time we spend alone is merely a rehearsal, that our “real” lives will begin once we meet that special someone. But the truth is, that isn’t guaranteed to happen. An amazing partner might be just around the corner for you, but nobody should live their life in waiting. You deserve to get just as much joy out of your life by yourself as you would if you were with someone.
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health