How to lead a happy life without romantic relationships

This article was co-authored by Allison Broennimann, PhD. Dr. Allison Broennimann is a licensed Clinical Psychologist with a private practice based in the San Francisco Bay Area providing psychotherapy and neuropsychology services. With over a decade of experience, Dr. Broennimann specializes in in-depth psychotherapy to provide solution-focused treatments for anxiety, depression, relationship problems, grief, adjustment problems, traumatic stress, and phase-of-life transitions. And as part of her neuropsychology practice, she integrates depth psychotherapy and cognitive rehabilitation for those recovering after traumatic brain injury. Dr. Broennimann holds a BA in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MS and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Palo Alto University. She is licensed by the California Board of Psychology and is a member of the American Psychological Association.

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Romantic relationships are not at all necessary to lead a happy life. While some people may find them fulfilling, others are much happier living on their own. Whether you never plan on pursuing a romantic relationship or you’re open to it in the future, it’s important to focus on living a fulfilling life that makes you happy. Happiness is different for everyone, so take a good look at yourself and decide what it is that fulfills you.

How to lead a happy life without romantic relationships

Photo by Jane Sundried

As a single person myself, I can attest to how many times I have been asked, “Why are you not in a relationship?” and honestly, I sometimes ask myself that question too. But you see, those kinds of questions shouldn’t base your worth and happiness. While some might find it fulfilling to be with someone, others just don’t see being with another person.

Whether you’re open to pursuing a romantic relationship in the future or you never plan on having it, it is important to focus on living a life that makes you happy. Happiness may vary from person to person, so try to look closer and find what makes your life fulfilling.

If you’re still single right now, you don’t have to be worried. Here are 13 ways to live a happy life without a boyfriend.

1. Pursue your passion.

What is that thing that motivates you? Whether it is a love for the arts, achieving a certain profession, or helping others who are in need, pursue it. Oftentimes when we’re with someone, we tend to hold back or set aside the things that we really want to do and pursue. When you work something out of passion, you really have the drive and motivation to get things done and improve yourself more.

2. Never settle for less.

Most of the time, we tend to get stuck in our comfort zone. We are so afraid of being out there and doing more. Keep in mind that you are capable of so much more and you deserve the best things in life. Hence, go out of your comfort zone. Try your best to live your life to the fullest, especially that you are single and you can be a more independent person.

3. Celebrate your victories.

Whether it is big or small, celebrate those achievements! At the end of the day, you are your very own cheerleader and motivator. Never stop being proud of what you have accomplished because you deserve it. You don’t need a boyfriend to celebrate your achievements. You can always celebrate with your family and friends.

4. Live in the present.

Having goals and focusing on achieving those things is a good thing, but it is always important to not forget to live in the present. Do not let yourself get wrapped up in a past relationship or even in a soon-to-be relationship that you would lose sight of enjoying the things you have now and life’s simple pleasures.

5. Spend time with the people around you.

It is human nature for us to be social and be with other people, no matter how much of an introvert we are. It is very important to maintain your relationship with your friends and family. Because no matter how tough your life can be, they will be there for you through thick and thin. You don’t need to be as outgoing to enjoy social relationships, what matters is your presence and your interest to talk to them.

6. Meet new people.

Do not be stuck on the person who broke or imprisoned your heart, it is also beneficial to go out and meet other people. Encountering and building new relationships can help you widen your perspective and explore things you have yet to experience. This can also help you build connections and meet people who share the same interest as you.

7. Travel!

Going out to new places don’t need to be abroad, there are many sights to see even without spending too much. Travelling can help you discover new sights, cultures, and people. You will begin to appreciate the world around your more. Don’t wait for a boyfriend to experience the beauty of the world.

8. Volunteer for a cause.

When you volunteer for a worthy cause, it increases your sense of fulfillment and self-worth. It is always a good thing to help those who are in need especially if you have the means and capabilities to help them. Try looking for an organization in your area that has a vision and mission that you also believe in. Find out how you can be of help and give whatever you can. You may even meet new people who share the same vision and advocacy as yours.

9. Exercise!

A lot of people feel very happy when they get to exercise. Having a healthy lifestyle is essential for us since it affects our whole well-being. Whether it’s riding a bike, a jog or playing a sport, try finding an exercise that you enjoy doing. Take your best friends or your siblings with you. You don’t need to have a boyfriend to get fit and healthy!

10. Have some time alone.

Being single will give you a lot of space and time to enjoy your “Me” time. Being alone doesn’t need to be sad or lonely. Take this time as an opportunity for you to relax and unwind. Go to a beach or have a massage.

11. Do not forget to take care of yourself.

We sometimes neglect this part when we’re single. You tend to overwork and spend too much time looking out for others when it is also important to take care of yourself. As much as you give love to others, you should never forget to love yourself too.

12. Stop comparing yourself to others.

Everyone has their own pace in life. Some might reach their success faster (or even slower) than yours. It may be tempting to compare yourself with others because of the things that you see, but keep a positive attitude. Focus on the things you are doing to become the best version of yourself. Trust the process, it is not easy but you’ll get there. As long as you’re fighting, there’s still a chance for you to achieve your goals and dreams in life.

13. Don’t beat yourself up.

You’re only human, you make mistakes and you mess up things, and that’s okay. It may sound so cliché but nobody’s perfect. Life doesn’t always go as planned, but you just need to keep going.

A lot of us think that having a boyfriend is the only thing that will really keep us constantly happy. But there is so much more out there that you can do and experience to make you happy even without a partner. What matters is you stay true to yourself and that no matter what happens in your life, you should always remember who you are and what you believe in.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who have a love life and those who do not. Some people might be in a happy relationship right now. Others have just broken up, slowly picking up the pieces and starting to move on. As for others, they have never experienced being in a romantic relationship.

If you belong to the latter group, there are ways to find “the one.” You can consult a professional matchmaker, go on blind dates, or install that popular dating app on your smartphone. Then again, not everyone is in a rush to enter a relationship and prefer to relish singlehood.

Enjoy life without a love life

Most people have already had boyfriends or girlfriends during their teenage years. And then here you are, almost reaching a quarter of a century old, yet you have never experienced being in a romantic relationship.

Whether you admit it or not, you might feel a little jealous seeing couples around walking while holding hands. After all, it does feel good when someone likes you because you’re pretty, funny, or smart. But being single should not deter you from enjoying life as it is.

That said, it is possible to enjoy life even if you do not have a significant other to share it with. Being single is either due to circumstance or choice. Yes, there are people out there who choose to stay single due to whatever reason. Nevertheless, it is possible to be happy and fulfilled, even without a love life.

How to enjoy singlehood

How to lead a happy life without romantic relationships

Being in love is a happy feeling, but it’s not only what life is all about. Other things can satisfy you aside from being in a relationship with someone. Sure, your partner can inspire you to be a better person. But not all relationships end happily ever after.

If you’ve never been in a romantic relationship, it’s not the end of your life. You can make the most out of your singlehood.

1. Patience is key.

Don’t think about being single too much. Love is just around the corner. It’s up to you whether to find it by yourself or wait for the right person to come by. But in the meantime, enjoy time with yourself first!

2. Stick to your standards.

It can be tempting to become desperate and look for someone to be in a relationship with. However, you should set a standard when looking for “the one.” The person should not only be good-looking (although it’s a plus point) but someone who shares your values and treats you well.

3. Embrace singlehood.

Being single doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lonely. It’s just that you should enjoy your time alone because your life will never be the same when you enter a relationship and eventually get married.

Being single is not a bad thing at all. There are reasons why people remain single even if they are already in their 20’s or even 30’s. Remember that before you can love others, you should learn to love yourself. That is one crucial lesson singlehood can teach you.

New research into happiness and well-being reveals what really matters.

Both men and women often lament their prospects for happiness if they don’t find a partner. I’ve heard this from those who seek to find the “right” person for a relationship that will last and bring joy to their lives, and from others who were in a relationship that ended and really long for another. They dread the prospect of “ending up alone.”

But what do we really know about how being with a partner relates to a happy life? New studies reveal information some about that and point to what does support a “happy” life – more accurately described as one of mental and physical well-being; a sense of growth over time; and a feeling that it’s worth being alive, despite the ups and downs of life and the inevitable transitions and changes we experience.

Let’s look at some recent research into relationships and happiness. A study from Michigan State University assessed the happiness level of over 7000 people – those married, previously married, and those who remained single — from age 18 to 60. The researchers sought to find out, as in the classic Tina Turner song, “What’s love got to do with it?”

About 80 percent of participants had been consistently married, in one marriage; 13 percent had been in and out of relationships; and 8 percent had been consistently single. The researchers examined how the participants’ ratings of happiness related to the particular group they fell into.

The upshot of the study was that “…staking your happiness on being married isn’t a sure bet,” as co-author William Chopik reported. That is, the lifelong singles and those who had varied relationship histories didn’t differ in their level of happiness. Moreover, the lifelong married individuals showed only marginally higher levels of happiness. The research was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology.

What to make of this? The empirical data confirms the obvious: Lifelong happiness – a sense of well-being and fulfillment – is more rooted in your overall life, not just whether you’re in a relationship or not. And even for those in long-term “one marriage” relationships – which is less representative of current demographics – one always finds couples who stay married despite a sense of deadness, flatness, or outright anger toward each other. Clinically, we often see this in the lives of couples who seek therapy. As Chopik pointed out, “People can certainly be in unhappy relationships, and single people derive enjoyment from all sorts of other parts of their lives. If the goal is to find happiness, it seems a little silly that people put so much stock in being partnered.”

No kidding: If you’re not living a life that generates happiness and fulfillment to begin with, then being in a relationship in itself won’t change that. It could even make things worse.

So what does support well-being overall, through life? The answer is complex, and involves several dimensions, including how you think, feel and behave, and the societal context in which you live as well. The latter may condition you to believe in a particular definition of “happiness” that can undermine your health and well-being.

But a few dimensions that relate to how you live your life stand out. One example is cultivating positive emotions such as compassion and generosity. Another is serving something larger than just your own “needs” and ego. All are linked with increased well-being. More broadly, those reflect the link between happiness and a life that’s healthy — both mentally and physically. Recent evidence of that connection is a study showing that if you take steps to enhance your well-being, they could have an impact on your physical health. The study was conducted with 155 adults between ages 25 and 75. It focused on increasing three different sources of happiness. Over a period of 12 weeks, the participants reported increasing levels of well-being. And that “…increasing the psychological well-being even of generally healthy adults can have benefits to their physical health,” according to researcher Kostadin Kushlev.

The study was conducted by researchers from Georgetown University, the University of Virginia, and the University of British Columbia, is described in more detail here and was published in Psychological Science.

These and other studies add to a growing recognition that everything is intertwined: Mind, body, spirit, behavior, and the “external” context of your life. It includes your level of repose – taking time to “chill,” embrace pleasure; or just acknowledge gratitude for being alive, as this recent study found. Healthy hedonism, as the research describes it. It includes following a diet that enhances your immunity and mental health, as those interconnections become increasingly evident, as I described in this previous post.

And perhaps most central to an integrated, healthy life of well-being is opening yourself to an evolving sense of life purpose. That’s not something you “acquire,” like a new tech gadget; nor a “place” you arrive at. Rather, it’s something to be receptive to discovering, that gives definition to what you’re doing with your life. and why. It evolves and changes through the stages and transitions of life, as this report from UC Berkeley explains.

For many centuries, being part of a couple was essential in order to survive and thrive. Two incomes meant a better ability to gain financial success, and gender inequalities prevented women from owning property or opening bank accounts without a man. Luckily, times have changed significantly, and now, it's no longer a requirement to be married or part of a duo to live a fulfilling life. Even so, being alone can carry a heavy stigma—and a lot of people wonder how it's possible to be happy alone.

As Paula Flidermauz, MHC-LP, mental health counselor at Empower Your Mind Therapy, explains, many of us grow up thinking there must be something wrong with us—or that there's no way to be truly happy—if we're not in a romantic relationship. This is largely thanks to societal pressures, media influence, and unwelcome comments from friends and family members. “More and more people realize they can find happiness outside of partnerships,” she continues. “It says nothing about your worth as a person if you are or are not in a relationship—despite what your Aunt Shirley may think.”

Flidermauz says there are many reasons people choose not to be in coupled relationships, whether it's in reaction to a negative past experience or simply comes down to personal preference. These might include: 

  • You just came out of a long-term relationship and want to reconnect with or reestablish your identity as an individual outside of a couple.
  • You were in a co-dependent, abusive, or generally unhealthy relationship in the past, and now you suffer from trigger trauma responses. 
  • You simply enjoy your alone time, and you don't want to share it with another person. 
  • You prefer to focus your energy on your work, career, and time spent with friends. 
  • You identify as asexual or aromantic, and you may not necessarily feel the need for a relationship to experience emotional fulfillment. 

Sound like you? You're not alone in being alone, since a recent PEW research study found that almost half of single individuals today are choosing not to be in a relationship. If you're part of this crowd—or considering cutting out the aspect of traditional dating/coupling—here are some helpful pointers on how to nurture your best self and be happy alone.

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1 Invest in your platonic relationships.

Even if you don’t crave the company of a romantic partner, making social connections and being part of a community are an essential part of maintaining your mental health and living a long, fulfilling life. That’s why Flidermauz says, to cultivate happiness alone, it’s vital to invest in your platonic friendships, including friends and family members—and yes, this also includes pets.

“Make some time in your schedule for calling and seeing people who are important to you,” she continues. “People appreciate when you think of them, and a phone call can do much to strengthen your relationship with them. Instead of going on dates with a partner, why not go on those dates with a friend—or your dog? It’s just as fun.”

2 Do an annual life review—and make a plan.

True: It’s unnecessary to have a partner to build financial wealth, purchase a home, set goals, or create a retirement account. Also true: You do have to plan to make the life you want. That’s why conducting an annual life review and strategizing monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals will help you build confidence, says Rachael Evans, founder and CEO of The Workshop Whisperer.

She recommends listing out your achievements, lessons learned, what you did well, what didn’t work so well, and the things that got in the way of achieving any previously set goals. Then take time to reflect by asking yourself questions like these:

  • Were those goals really important to you, or were they things you thought you wanted but turned out not to be that important?
  • What did you enjoy doing either by yourself or with others?
  • What filled you up?
  • What took away your energy?

Then, you can create your plan for the year ahead. “With a clear list from the previous year and some time spent in reflection, create your new plan for the year ahead, being mindful of the things that may have derailed you previously,” Evans says.

To guide your thinking, consider what you want to achieve this year in the areas of health and wellbeing, career, travel, community service, and friendships. “While thinking about this plan for the future, remember to indulge yourself in thoughts about what will truly fill your cup,” she continues. “One of the benefits of being single is that you don’t have to compromise your wants and needs for someone else’s. Dream big—and then do big.”

3 Cultivate hobbies you love.

Being part of a relationship is a significant investment in your time, energy, and emotions. (Partners aren’t referred to as “significant others” for nothing.) So when you don’t have that other person to fill up your days and mental space, you’re left with more time for your needs and interests. However, if you don’t actively choose activities and hobbies that bring you joy, you could end up feeling lonely, depressed, or aimless. Flidermauz encourages those who choose to be alone to dabble into something they used to love doing but haven’t had time to do in a while. It could be rollerskating, crocheting, cooking, working out, painting, writing—you name it. “There’s a whole world of things you can do that can spark your interest,” she continues. “What’s more is that you can build a sense of community around any of these activities. There are classes, clubs, groups, meet-ups, and forums you can join to meet other like-minded people.”

4 Contribute to the greater good.

According to Makhosi Nejeser, a human potential expert and the founder of The Royal Shaman, one commonly overlooked human need is the desire for purpose and legacy. “While many people find meaning in supporting their significant others or children, you can still contribute in important ways to humanity and genuinely feel good about making a difference in the world,” she explains.

To do this, seek out organizations that align with causes that are meaningful to you and your values. And remember, you don’t need to donate in the triple-digits to make a difference. As Nejeser says, simply volunteering your time and skills or finding creative ways to promote the change you want to see can go a long way in supporting others and keeping you happy.

5 Prioritize self-care.

When building a life just for you, you won’t always have someone to nudge you to drink more water, suggest you splurge on a weekend getaway, remind you to get your physical, or be your buddy at the gym. Everyone needs to prioritize self-care, but for those choosing to live alone, it’s vital to set the standard for how you want to feel and be treated, Flidermauz says. This looks different for everyone—taking yourself out to dinner, getting dressed up, booking a massage. But it’s small, yet truly powerful investments that enrich your well-being. “

“We all have some idea of self-care looking like spa days and getting your nails done, but sometimes self-care is as simple as remembering to shower, eat, or make your bed,” she says. “These things can seem like real feats when one is experiencing depression or other mental health issues, and being able to do them is an accomplishment worth noting.”

In short? Remember to pat yourself on the back—be your own friend and cheerleader when it comes to taking care of yourself. “Celebrate all your accomplishments, even the smaller ones,” she says.

Is it a myth or true that you need to put a ring on it to be happy?

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

Do you really need to put a ring on it to attain happiness? For decades now, social media has suggested that we must have two conditions to be happy: career success and marriage. And a body of research over the years has suggested that marriage has advantages for boosting happiness and longevity. A case in point was a 17-nation study published in a 1998 edition of the Journal of Marriage and Family that found being married was 3.4 times more closely linked to happiness than cohabitation. But a new first of its kind study paints a surprisingly different picture.

Researchers from Michigan State University sought to quantify the happiness of married, formerly married, and single people at the end of their lives to find out just how much love and marriage played into overall well-being. The study—published in the Journal of Positive Psychology—examined the relationship histories of 7,532 people divided into three groups (ages 18 to 60) to determine who reported being happiest at the end of their lives.

  • Group 1: 79 percent of the participants were consistently married, spending most of their lives in one marriage.
  • Group 2: 8 percent were consistently single or spent most of their lives unmarried.
  • Group 3: 13 percent had a mixed history of moving in and out of relationships, divorce, remarrying or becoming widowed.

The researchers asked questions such as, “Do people need to be in a relationship to be happy?” and “Does living single your whole life translate to unhappiness?” Or “What about if you were married at some point but it didn’t work out?” Once becoming an older adult, the participants were asked to rate their overall happiness, and the researchers compared their responses to the group they were in.

The results showed no difference in the happiness among those who had mixed relationship histories and those who remained a lifelong single. The authors of the study suggest that their findings call into question Alfred Lord Tennyson’s famous quote, “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” And those who “loved and lost” are just as happy at the end of their lives as those who “Never loved at all.”

When it comes to lasting romance, passion has nothing on friendship.

“How to Build a Life is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness.

“I think I may have met my future wife,” I told my father on the phone, “but there are a few issues.” To be precise: I met the woman in question on a weeklong trip to Europe, she lived in Spain, we’d only been on a couple of dates, and we didn’t speak a word of the same language. Obviously, I told my amused father, “she has no idea I plan to marry her.” But I was 24 and lovestruck, and none of that stopped me from embarking on a quixotic romantic adventure. After a year punctuated by two frustratingly short visits, I quit my job in New York and moved to Barcelona with a plan to learn the language and a prayer that when she could actually understand me, she might love me.

Falling in love was Sturm und Drang: euphoric at times, but also risky, fraught, and emotionally draining. The long-distance relationship before I moved to Spain was filled with agonizing phone calls, unintelligible letters, and constant misunderstandings. I certainly didn’t need a social scientist with a Ph.D.—future me—to present young me with scholarly evidence that a lot of unhappiness can attend the early stages of romantic passion. For example, if I had been shown the evidence that “destiny beliefs” about soul mates or love being meant to be can predict low forgiveness when paired with attachment anxiety, I would have said, “Well, duh.”

Listen to Arthur Brooks and Dr. Vivek Murthy discuss remedies to alleviate the impact of loneliness on our daily lives in How to Build a Happy Life.

Falling in love can be exhilarating, but it isn’t the secret to happiness per se. You might more accurately say that falling in love is the start-up cost for happiness—an exhilarating but stressful stage we have to endure to get to the relationships that actually fulfill us.

P assionate love —the period of falling in love—often hijacks our brains in a way that can cause elation or the depths of despair. Thrilling, yes, but it can hardly be thought of as bringing contentment; indeed, during some historical periods it has even been connected to suicide.

And yet, romantic love has been scientifically shown to be one of the best predictors of happiness. The Harvard Study of Adult Development has assessed the connection between people’s habits and their subsequent well-being since the late 1930s. Many of the patterns uncovered by the study are important but unsurprising: The happiest, healthiest people in old age didn’t smoke (or quit early in life), exercised, drank moderately or not at all, and stayed mentally active, among other patterns. But these habits pale in comparison with one big one: The most important predictors of late-life happiness are stable relationships—and, especially, a long romantic partnership. The healthiest participants at age 80 tend to have been most satisfied in their relationships at age 50.

In other words, the secret to happiness isn’t falling in love; it’s staying in love. This does not mean just sticking together legally: Research shows that being married only accounts for 2 percent of subjective well-being later in life. The important thing for well-being is relationship satisfaction, and that depends on what psychologists call “companionate love”—love based less on passionate highs and lows and more on stable affection, mutual understanding, and commitment.

You might think “companionate love” sounds a little, well, disappointing. I certainly did the first time I heard it, on the heels of the amateur romantic comedy I described above. I did not move to Barcelona like a knight errant in search of “companionate love,” I can assure you. But let me finish the story: She said yes—actually, —and we have been happily married for 30 years. Our communication has improved—we text at least 20 times a day—and it turns out that we don’t just love each other; we like each other, too. Once and always my romantic love, she is also my best friend.

Being rooted in friendship is the reason that companionate love creates true happiness. Passionate love, which relies on attraction, does not typically last beyond the novelty of the relationship. Companionate love relies on its very familiarity. As one researcher bluntly summarizes the evidence in the Journal of Happiness Studies, “The well-being benefits of marriage are much greater for those who also regard their spouse as their best friend.”

Best friends get enjoyment, satisfaction, and meaning from each other’s company. They bring out the best in one another; they gently tease one another; they have fun together. President Calvin Coolidge and his wife, Grace, famously had such a friendship. According to one story (perhaps apocryphal), when the president and first lady were touring a poultry farm, Mrs. Coolidge remarked to the farmer—loud enough for the president to hear—that it was amazing so many eggs were fertilized by just one rooster. The farmer told her that the roosters did their jobs over and over again each day. “Perhaps you could point that out to Mr. Coolidge,” she told him with a smile. The president, noting the remark, inquired whether the rooster serviced the same hen each time. No, the farmer told him, there were many hens for each rooster. “Perhaps you could point that out to Mrs. Coolidge,” said the president.

Promiscuous roosters notwithstanding, the romance of companionate love seems to make people happiest when it’s monogamous. I say this as a social scientist, not a moralist: In 2004, a survey of 16,000 American adults found that for men and women alike, “The happiness-maximizing number of sexual partners in the previous year is calculated to be 1.”

The deep friendship of companionate love should not be exclusive, however. In 2007, researchers at the University of Michigan found that married people aged 22 to 79 who said they had at least two close friends—meaning at least one besides their spouse—had higher levels of life satisfaction and self-esteem and lower levels of depression than spouses who did not have close friends outside their marriage. In other words, long-term companionate love might be necessary, but isn’t sufficient for happiness.

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I t will be no surprise to you that while I love reading Shakespeare, Pablo Neruda, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning on passionate love, my Spanish romance is best expressed by Miguel de Cervantes. In Don Quixote, Cervantes gives the hero this song about his beloved Dulcinea:

The divine Tobosan, fair
Dulcinea, claims me whole;
Nothing can her image tear;
’Tis one substance with my soul.

This conveys the intensity of passionate love perfectly. But when it comes to happiness, it is important to heed the un-poetic Friedrich Nietzsche, who wrote, “It is not the absence of love but the absence of friendship that makes marriages unhappy.” True, Nietzsche never married, and was reportedly rebuffed in proposals three times by the same woman. (Nihilism isn’t much of an aphrodisiac, it seems.) He is correct nonetheless.

All the data and studies aside, the best evidence I have about happiness and companionate love is my own life. Three decades and counting after tilting at the windmill of an unlikely romance, my Dulcinea accompanies me through good times and bad. We share our joys, and tremble together in fear—fear that, for example, one of our three adult children might do something ridiculous, like run off to Europe chasing passionate love. We hope to enjoy plenty more decades of life in love and friendship together. And then hers, I pray, will be the face I see as I draw my last breath—her image one substance with my soul.

How to lead a happy life without romantic relationships

Your life feels incomplete, so what’s the first thing that you do? You start looking for your perfect match, the person who can fill that big hole in your heart and change your life forever. You may feel like each relationship you try is a dead-end. There’s something dissatisfying about each of them, but you can’t give up. You’re afraid of being on your own because you’re afraid that you’re incapable of being happy on your own. In reality, being alone and learning to strengthen your relationship with yourself can be rewarding and liberating and will help you find true and lasting happiness.

What Feeling Alone Really Means

Feeling alone isn’t always synonymous with being alone. Most of us have experienced the feeling of loneliness when we’re with family, friends, or even a partner. On the flip side, sometimes we’ve felt content and connected when we were on our own. You’ve probably felt an aching sense of loneliness at the most unlikely times and wondered, how could I feel this way? The answer? You may not feel understood or loved by the people around you at that moment. You feel like they aren’t giving you something you need.

Here’s the punchline: they may have nothing to do with it! Your loneliness may be stemming from your lack of love and understanding for yourself.

How Learning to Be Alone Can Enrich Your Relationships

Solitude is a powerful tool that can strengthen you and your relationship with others. [1] People often underestimate its value. Because of suburban living, there are many who experience solitude very rarely and to whom the idea of being alone for a long period of time is a foreign concept. In most relationships, one or both of the people involved feels like they need to get their sense of identity from the other and that their partner is responsible for making sure they don’t feel alone. This is unrealistic and unreasonable.

The best relationships are formed between people who are totally comfortable and happy by themselves, but who choose to be with someone else because they love them. By learning to be alone, you can become more whole as a person, making every aspect of your life, including any relationships, indescribably better.

Learning to Understand Yourself

You may be thinking that all of this is easier said than done. That’s understandable. We all have a certain amount of programming and bad habits in our brains that can sometimes make change difficult. But we are nothing if not flexible. There are several things you can start doing right now that will help you to understand yourself and maybe even enjoy your own company.

  • Go on quiet walks on your own in nature. Nature puts us in tune with our mind and body and relieves depression. [2] Enjoying nature for a little while every day can help you feel more content in being alone with yourself.
  • Journal. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re a good writer. In fact, don’t worry about what you’re writing about at all. Use the “stream of consciousness” technique. [3] Journaling can be a great way to vent and relieve tension and can help you reach a better understanding of your own mind. You needn’t devote much time to this activity unless it feels right. Five to ten minutes should suffice.
  • Use art of any kind. Whether it’s music, painting, or just coloring, art is an invaluable tool to help you connect with your deeper self in a more meaningful level. Many people use coloring to put their mind into a meditative or calm state when traditional meditation doesn’t work for them.
  • Meditate. Meditating is probably one of the most tried and true methods to help you gain a deeper understanding and love for yourself. Just remember if it’s your first time, not to be discouraged if you can’t completely relax into a meditation. [4]

The key to a happy life isn’t a happy relationship. The trick is to realize that you’re beautiful, wonderful, and whole all by yourself. Take some time to get to know the wonderful being that is you. The only side effects are increased happiness and health!

Single men are sharing the ways to find happiness without a relationship.

How to lead a happy life without romantic relationships

How to lead a happy life without romantic relationships

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 realize 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.

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 recognize 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.

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The Dissenter

The Dissenter

No romantic love = no committed relationship = no family. Extrapolation is needed because I see that many young people fail to look even slightly into the future to see the consequences of their black-and-white, yes-and-no choices.

If you decide to live a life without love, you may not be able to change your mind later. I really do not know of any lifelong single,
childless, elderly people who are especially thrilled about their status.

Not that anything you decide today will actually come to pass. I don’t even understand why anyone would ask such a question–as if at their age they could ever even begin to predict the changing circumstances, pressures and desires they will face in their lives.

People. You don’t have to decide the course of your entire life right now! Relax!