Why More Couples Are “Living Apart Together”
Wed, April 14, 2021

Why More Couples Are “Living Apart Together”

Couples living apart together means that they are in a relationship and enjoy the pleasures of intimacy, but practice autonomy / Photo by: dolgachov via 123RF

 

Most romantic relationships go through these stages: attraction, dating, disappointment, stability, and commitment. This is according to dating platform LoveToKnow. How long one stays in a certain stage depends on the couple and what usually signifies a big step in the relationship is when the couple decides to move in together either by marriage or cohabitation. Now, a third choice exists, referred to as living apart together or LAT.

LAT, a New Family Form or Living Arrangement for Couples

Couples living apart together means that they are in a relationship and enjoy the pleasures of intimacy, but practice autonomy. This means that they can do what they want in their own space and maintain preexisting friendships and arrangements because they are living in separate addresses.

University of Bradford’s Emeritus Professor in Social Policy Simon Duncan, whose studies focus on personal life, relationships, and families, said that LAT is increasingly seen in society as a better way for romantic couples to live. He cited a survey, which shows that about 10% of adults in Australia, Canada, the United States, New Zealand, and Western Europe choose this kind of set up. Furthermore, about a quarter of people in Britain have defined themselves as “single” in status even though they have an intimate partner living somewhere else.

The Darker Motivation of LAT

Duncan went on to say that based on their study, a couple may end up living apart as they are fearful, vulnerable, and feeling anxious about living with their partner. Although there are women who practice LAT because they can escape the traditional divisions of work at home, there are also those who still perform their traditional role of labor.

Different Types of Couples Who LAT

There are also different types of couples who are into such a living arrangement. Some couples believe they are not yet ready to live together or that it is still “too early” to take the next big step of moving in. Most couples in this type of LAT are young people who consider cohabitation as their next relationship stage. There are also couples who already want to live together but the situation prevents them, such as if one partner is employed in another place, can’t obtain a visa, can’t afford a joint home, or is in a care home or prison. There are also times when they are prevented from living together because of family opposition, like coming from a family of a different religion.

The third type of couples who live apart together is considered as the reference group. These are the couples who LAT in the longer term. The majority of them are older people who either have cohabited or have been married in the past. Couples who practice the third type of LAT as a family form often choose to live apart to create a better and new way of living than their previous relationship setup.

Duncan and his team's study was based on a nationwide survey that was supplemented by in-depth interviews with the study participants that help show the different stories behind the couples’ relationship preference. Couples who live apart together find their arrangement ideal because they can deal with their fears while they maintain the relationship. Some were hurt in their past cohabiting relationships, emotionally or financially. One participant named Michelle said that she doesn’t want to be “beaten up by someone who’s meant to love” her, which is the reason why she prefers LAT. Another study respondent named Graham explained that he had an “incredibly stressful time” after he separated from his wife. He came to a point when he had no real resources or no place to live that LAT with his new partner was like a form of “self-preservation.”

There are also different types of couples who are into such a living arrangement. Some couples believe they are not yet ready to live together or that it is still “too early” to take the next big step of moving in / Photo by: Aleksandr Davydov via 123RF

 

What Women and Men Want in a Marriage

Our World in Data, a scientific online publication that focuses on large global problems, details the common traits that women seek in their prospective husbands. These include mutual attraction or love, education and intelligence, sociability, good looks, good financial support, similar education background, favorable social status, and similar political background. Traits that declined in importance include having dependable character, maturity and emotional stability, pleasing disposition, good health, desire for children and home, industriousness and having an ambition, neatness and refinement, good cook or housekeeper, similar religious background, and chastity.

On the other hand, traits that men consider important in prospective wives are mutual attraction or love, dependable character, desire for children or home, intelligence or education, sociability, good financial prospect, similar education background, good looks, similar religious background, housekeeper or good cook, and similar political background.

As traits that people want in their partner change over time, it is not surprising that living apart together has become a solution to many couples nowadays. This does not mean though that every couple will thrive in such a kind of relationship. To another’s perspective, it could be that half a commitment is no commitment at all.

As traits that people want in their partner change over time, it is not surprising that living apart together has become a solution to many couples nowadays / Photo by: Antonio Diaz via 123RF