For the first half of this year, I was in a relationship. It was a good relationship, but something didn’t feel right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I wasn’t happy. In the end, we called it quits, and I’ve now been single for the second half of 2019.

For my whole adult life, I’ve been on and off single. As in, I’ve been in a few relationships but nothing super long-term. If anything, it’s been longer periods of singleness with 3-12 month stints in relationships.

For a large chunk of that, I lamented my single status. I was just waiting to meet someone again so I could be coupled-up. Being single felt like purgatory – it wasn’t that I was super unhappy, but I definitely wasn’t enjoying myself the way I would in relationships.

Then I had a bit of a revelation. I realised that, to be honest, being in a relationship is the same shit-good sandwich as being single is. By which I mean, both have their pros and cons, so why do so many of us spend our single periods looking longingly at couples, wishing we were in a relationship?

As we end 2019 and enter 2020, my new energy is this – I’m going to enjoy all of it. Whether I stay single through next year or not, I’m not hitting pause. Here’s what I’ve realised rules about flying solo.

1. Everything Is An Opportunity

I’m talking about fucking. But I’m not JUST talking about fucking. Basically, yes when you are single, you can go out on a normal Saturday night for dinner with friends, and end up having a wild fling with an ex-reality TV star and tell a wild story over Sunday brunch the next day. That’s fun. Even if nothing eventuates, the feeling that the world is your sex oyster is really, really fun.

But there’s more opportunity that is freely yours than hook ups. Travelling. Job opportunities overseas. Driving around Australia on your own. When you’re in a long-term relationship, you naturally consider the other person’s needs and feelings, even when it comes to your own personal decisions, which means you’re less likely to just balls-to-the-wall do shit. That’s not a bad thing – if anything, it’s a good thing. You learn to compromise and become a team with someone else.

But it does mean that your decisions stop being *entirely* your own.

Look, technically they are still your own. You can at any point dump your partner and choof off overseas. You can cheat. You have the agency to do whatever you want… but it’s likely that you will simply not want to, because you’re in love and in a committed relationship. Naturally, you stop thinking about what benefits you, and instead start considering what benefits you AND your partner.

2. Your Alone Time Is All Yours

The one thing I hear most from friends in relationships, especially if they live together, is how precious solo time becomes. They simply don’t get time just to themselves as often as they did when they were single. Which makes sense – you’ve added a new element to your life in the form of one person you really, really love hanging out with. Naturally, the sacrifice becomes solo time – instead of cancelling on your mates or blanking out of work stuff, you give up your solo nights to see your partner.

But alone time is amazing – when you don’t see it through the lens of “I’m lonely” and consider it more as time to be simply with yourself. It’s not an easy thing to grasp – it’s taken me years to see a night at home, in bed, reading a book as “solo time” not “really depressing”. But it’s such a – for lack of a better term – ~rejuvenating experience~. And it’s really something you get the most when you’re single.

3. You Spend More Time Developing Yourself

I asked a bunch of people in the office what was amazing about their single life versus their relationship life, and they all said they felt like they grew as people. Not that you don’t develop as a person in a relationship, but think about it. When you’re single, you have SO much more free time. Take out all the time you would dedicate to building a relationship or just being besotted with your partner, and then think about how you use that when you’re single.

Pottery classes. Joining new sports. Hanging out with people you’ve just met. Learning a language. Travelling. Those are just some of the things I’ve done – especially after a break up – to fill in my time. And what amazing fucking things to do! They all grew me as a person, whether by teaching me shit about myself or through new life experiences.

It’s funny because usually, like I said, I spend the most time on self-development when I’m heartbroken and need distraction. Which is wild because it turns the worst part of my year into the most defining part.

4. You Work Out What You Want

I know people who have jumped from relationship to relationship, stayed in things that didn’t make them happy, all that shit. It’s pretty hard to figure out what you want in a partner when you never stop to consider it, but it’s also hard to really assess it objectively when you’re mid-dating someone.

I’ve found the times I reflected on past relationships has been when I’m single. I’m less influenced by whoever I am currently seeing, so I can get a better gauge on what truly makes me happy. Is it someone being witty? Or just someone who laughs at the same shit I do? Is it someone who is creative, or does that not matter? All of this self-reflective thought helps you make better decisions in the future – my biggest fear is ending up in a beige relationship with someone who isn’t right for me, simply because I didn’t really consider if we made each other happy or not.

In the end, this isn’t about shitting on people in relationships. I love being in a relationship – but now, I equally love being single. At the end of the day, it’s just a life stage. So make the most of it.