Recently I had a huge mental shift: I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy.

I never want to get married. I’ve always been this way. But I still wanted to date a girl. I don't like living with someone, so my ideal lifestyle was to live alone and have a girlfriend.

In order to do this, I would have to live in a city or suburb where there is enough pool of single girls. And unless I live in Tokyo, I probably need a car for a date. I live in an apartment, which is 20 minute walk from the nearest station. It's hard to date without a car in this situation, and it gets even worse in a countryside. Dating is expensive.

But the cost of dating is not the primary reason for my decision to be alone. I've never been good with girls, and I realized why: I don't want to date. You see, I still have a desire for emotional and physical connection with female. But my desire for freedom and control far outweighs it. Besides I'm totally comfortable being my own company.

So I asked myself: Can I exclude romance from my happiness equation? Can I live happily without a girlfriend? The answer is yes. I stopped dating 2 months ago, and I can tell you, I'm happier now. When I look back on the days of dating hustles, I see a very dark picture in my mind. I was desperate, confused, and angry. At one point I had 10 dates with 10 different women in one month. At the time, I thought that I have to figure out this part of my life, otherwise I would be miserable and unhappy no matter how successful I become. This is the common narrative of much of the pickup community and dating advice. And I believed it.

I think the fact that I was so convinced that I need a woman to be happy is largely shaped by society. I was able to question the value of marriage because many other people share the same value and choose to remain single, but there are very few people who question the value of social or romantic relationships. In positive psychology, having a social life is considerd to be one of the biggest sources of happiness. I could not find a role model who enjoys a truly single life. I began reading books on this topic and became more confident about my thought process. And yet saying to your frinds “I don’t need a woman to be happy” still sounds harder than “I don’t need to get married to be happy”, espacially at young age. It implies that you don’t have sex at all, and many consider him as a loser. That’s why I denied my instinct and followed the crowd.

Right now I'm busy working on my side business and have no mental capacity for dating. I've seen this pattern multiple times in the past. In high school, I was a pretty good drummer. And there was a girl who obviously liked me. One day while I was practicing, she visited the studio "just to say hello". I knew her intention, but I was annoyed by her interruption. So I sent her away and kept practicing. In college, I was so into programming that I stayed home on weekends learning programming and doing homework while other students were having fun. Because of this, I only had few dates with a handful of girls.

From all these experiences, I know that when I'm deeply into something, I de-prioritize dating. I also know that if a girl is not around my life in the first place, I feel less lonely and frustrated. Usually I develop a desire to get a particular girl I'm attracted to. These days I work from home and stay home on weekends, so I rarely see young girls. It's like food. When junk food is available in your house, you eat it. But it not, you will quickly adjust to the new diet. I found this out after I became vegan. I don't miss meat or cheese at all.

Practicing minimalism and frugal lifestyle also affected how I look at love and relationships. If you treat a potential wife or girlfriend as just another desire, then miniming or eliminating the desire leads to the sense of enough. This sense of “I have enough” is the key to happiness. Most gain comes with eventual loss. The strange part is you feel much bigger pain for losing something/someone than you feel joy for getting it. That’s why divorce and the death of a spouse can cause such a dramatic emotioal distress. If you don’t have a relationship in the first place, you can eliminate the possibility of the pain.

Minimalism is about decluttering your life. Applying that to people might sound offensive, but adding someone to your life creates so much complexity to your life. If you get married, suddenly many of your decisions have to take into account your partner. If both of you work, you have to live in a place where both can work. You can no longer set your own schedule. Even if you choose to remain single, you still have to figure out how to get a date and what to wear. Realizing that I can be happy on my own is such a big relief to me.

Happiness has roughly 3 categories: money, health, and love. I have no health issues, so I have always tried to improve either money/proffessional life or love. Now I have one less thing to worry about. From two to one. 50% less. Can you image how significant this is? This made me really excited about my life. It opens the door to all the amazing possibilities. I can live anywhere. I don’t have to constantly hunt for a date. I have no one to impress, so I can save money on cloting and other stuff to convey my status. I can proudly stay home on weekends and not feel shame or inferior. It’s liberating. I feel alive.

This is my life, and I get to live however I want.