Your initial reaction to the title of this article may have been a combination of pity and sadness—it’s not your fault, our society conditions us to feel this way about single people (read: women) of a certain age! Hear us out, though. There are innumerable benefits to being unattached in your 30s, which are evident if you’re picturing the person in question as a man, but probably less so if you’re thinking of her as a woman. Here, all the reasons you should celebrate if you find yourself sans partner once you hit 30.
We happen to know individuals who 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. (We should also mention that we have 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 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, if we're getting real real, it's far less likely that a guy is going to waste your time when you're in your 30s—those guys tend to date girls in their 20s. Case in point: We have a 24-year-old friend who recently met a 38-year-old guy 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% 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.
Don't get us wrong—if you're single in your 20s, you're doing a lot on your own. That said, things get really 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—we have a friend who just bought a house, and it was a beast of a process that we're 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 LA!), which has empowered her in so many ways.
We recently invited a married friend to Spain to watch another friend's band play a show at the Primavera festival, and the reply we received was unexpectedly dour 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 we 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.