I am a person who absolutely loved being single—I really did! I had a blast and I still get a little envious from time to time of my single friends who don't have to plan their lives around another person. But after spending four years happily committed to someone, I realize there are some pretty badass things about being in a long-term relationship that you can't get on your own.
1. You always have someone to cook for. I am a diehard foodie and I love to cook. But cooking for one can be kind of a drag. All that work and all those leftovers got a little depressing for me at times. Honestly, I felt like a nut making entire batches of braised short ribs or a whole roast duck that ended up getting shared with the dogs. (Dogs do not appreciate how perfectly seasoned a sauce is, OK?) Getting a chance to serve jaw-dropping meals that took me ages to prepare for someone who absolutely loves them and admires all the hard work is a foodie's dream come true. Plus, I have someone to share leftovers with besides my dogs. (Although my dogs are less happy about that one.)
2. And vice-versa, there's always someone to cook for you. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood to stand over a hot stove and deal with a bunch of pots and pans and complicated ingredient lists. Even if his idea of "cooking" sometimes involves unwrapping a burrito and heating it up in the microwave for me, it's wonderful to know that I have someone willing to jump up and take a load off my shoulders now and then.
3. INSIDE JOKES. If I say "Francis Ford Coppola has a question to ask you," my boyfriend will crack up uncontrollably because to us, this is the funniest thing in the entire world. It's one of many inside jokes we have in our relationship that no one else will ever get (we don't even bother explaining at this point). Having a unique secret language that only the two of you share or understand is one of the most enjoyable and special aspects of being in a relationship.
4. Sex, sex, sex, sex...Oh yeah, did I mention the sex? It's not just about having a lot of sex (forget those ludicrous stereotypes of getting "on-demand" sex in a relationship; your partner is a human being with their own moods, not a vibrator with an on/off switch). It's about having great sex with someone who knows all the ways and places you like to be touched and kissed. It's nice to have sex with someone who isn't trying weird stuff like putting their tongue on your elbow, going "I heard this is a turn-on or something."
5. Valentine's Day is no longer a day you curse on Facebook as a sham holiday created by evil greeting card company executives and the Lizard People. Our romantic life might not quite be like something out of a Diana Gabaldon novel (no one is swooping on horseback or whisking me off to their castles or anything) but I get my fair share of lovey-dovey moments. Whether it's a random text message telling me how beautiful I look today or a smiley face on the Post-It note telling me not to go into the guest room because "one of the dogs threw up something gross in there," I get plenty of swoon-worthy moments.
6. No more nightmarish online dating experiences. Goodbye unsolicited, disgusting dick pics.
7. No more judgey looks from waiters when you order the Tex Mex Mac & Cheese and Cowboy Triple Meat Burger from T.G.I. Friday's. Because, um, we're totally sharing this, see?
8. There's always someone to keep you in check when you really need it. They say your ultimate partner is someone who is the Yin to your Yang, someone who balances you out. So when I'm convinced that I'm done with the "rat race" and am about to quit my job, sell all my worldly possessions, move into a yurt and start selling handcrafted wax Justin Bieber figurines along the highway, it's good to know I have someone who can gently remind me of the importance of having a home with four solid walls and a decent credit rating. (But I will not be swayed to get out of the wax Bieber figurine business, though. That will always be the dream.)
9. You have a permanent shoulder to cry on. Because sometimes I just need to cry it out. Whether it's about the latest rejection letter for my novel or about that time I "experimented" with bangs (LET US NEVER SPEAK OF THE BANGS AGAIN), I have someone here who understands that I'm not unhinged, I just need a good cry.
10. You live with your best friend. I come home every day to my favorite person in the world. We talk about everything—I can sort through a lot of problems and fears knowing that he would never judge me (unlike certain waiters). And he's totally hot, too.
11. You have a semi-professional masseuse living in your home. OK, he's not professionally trained or anything (not by a longshot) but after years of giving the perfect back and foot rubs, he's got his technique down perfect.
12. You always have a buddy at awkward family events. It no longer matters to me that half of my family shoots the Evil Death Stare at the other half during weddings, christenings, and various parole hearings. When you're in a relationship, you have an automatic buffer between you and that one odd cousin who is always trying to get you to invest in his home guinea pig washing business.
13. No more getting set up on terrible blind dates. It's great being able to handle the question "Are you seeing anyone?" with a firm yes, I'm in a very happy relationship. I will never, ever again have to pretend to be nice to another weirdo my aunt sets me up with again.
14. It gives you an excuse to get out of doing dumb things your friends or co-workers try to talk you into. "Gee, Ellen, I'd love to go to that midnight cat yodeling class, but my boyfriend really needs me home to help him with something important. Maybe next time!"
15. You have a permanent activity partner who is always looking for something cool to do. I never minded shopping, hiking, visiting museums or going to restaurants on my own when I was single (and I still do plenty of my favorite activities alone sometimes, because it's nice to have some "me" time). But now I have a partner who helps come up with great ideas and tags along for the fun. Sure, one time he wanted to go visit "The World's Largest Toilet" and I had to pretend like this wasn't a terrible idea. But the rest of the time, it's been nothing but fun.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.