Bride and groom figurines
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April 22, 2016 8:00 AM EDT

I’m approaching my 30s—which means I get asked whether I’m in a relationship a lot. When I respond immediately with a resounding “nope”—I am practically a professional third and fifth wheel—an apologetic look tends to follow. It’s as though I should be sad because I’m single. But I have to say: I’m not.

It’s easy for well-intentioned loved ones to think that my single status means something is missing in my life. There’s always some nice friend of theirs who I should meet, and I’m often seated next to the only single groomsman at the wedding. But for me, marriage isn’t the ultimate relationship.

I already have several rich and meaningful bonds: With my parents, my siblings, my extended family and my close circle of friends and their families. My heart and my life are pretty full. I don’t feel empty because I’m not in a romantic relationship with a man.

I realize that many people find romantic relationships to be superior to other kinds. But in many cases, I think this myopic focus on romantic relationships—and only romantic relationships—diminishes those other types of bonds.

Read more: These Are The 3 Types of Friends Everyone Needs in Their Life

I’d rather have tacos and margaritas with my friends than worry whether a guy is going to ask me out. I don’t have to worry about having a Valentine because my dad stills sends me presents (mostly Girl Scout cookies) every February. I spend most nights talking to either my mom or my brother, and before I know it, three laughter-filled hours have gone by.

I may not be married, but I have known the wonder and the joy of marriage by witnessing people whom I love find their partners. I don’t have any children, but I am an aunt to a whole slew of them (and the best part is that I’m not the one paying for them to go to college). I would be lying if I said that I don’t want to get married and have children some day, but that, just like the Oscars acceptance speech that I have been rehearsing since I was 7, might not actually happen. That’s O.K. And if it does? It won’t suddenly make any of the other amazing relationships in my life less important.

Amanda Polick is an editorial fellow at Cooking Light.

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