Depending on the person you're talking to, it can be awkward explaining that you and the man in your life aren't married, but happily living together. But how about explaining to someone that you and the man in your life are happily married -- and living apart?
An increasing number of people in marriages, or in other committed, long-term relationships, are choosing to keep their own places rather than move in together. Living Apart Together (LAT) is a term to describe couples who have an intimate relationship but live at separate addresses. Some researchers have seen living apart together as a historically new family form.
LAT couples can pursue both the intimacy of being in a couple and at the same time preserve their autonomy. Some LAT couples may even deprioritize couple relationships and place more importance on friendship. Alternatively, others see LAT as just a ‘stage’ on the way to possible cohabitation and marriage.
Possible advantages of an LAT relationship include:
* He still picks you up for a date
* If familiarity breeds contempt, then having separate places to retreat to means that you're more likely to appreciate each other when you do get together.
* Permanent "his" and "hers" bathrooms
* You get to live around your own stuff
* Different standards of cleanliness aren't a major issue
* Nobody has to give up a pet if the other person is allergic to it
* You have more opportunities for privacy and quality alone time
* You don't have to deal with each other in a bad mood, or when someone's sick
* If you're a single parent with children from a previous relationship, you sidestep the complications of blending a step-family
LATs are already commonplace in Europe: The rate of LAT relationships for women between 20 and 39 who have never married or lived with anyone is 32 percent in France and 47 percent in Switzerland. Until now, data on the trend within the U.S. has been scarce because, on a census report, anyone reporting his own address and no marriage partner would just be counted as single.
But, according to a study out of UCLA, seven percent of unmarried American women and six percent of men self-identify as LATs, and three percent of married couples live apart from their spouse. One reason for the rise? This generation, many of whom were raised by divorced parents, may be more gun-shy about commitment in general. As are some of their elders, who've tried a more traditional route and found themselves back at the drawing board. LAT relationships are also common among the divorced, who, back on the dating market again, find themselves less willing to compromise.
The good news is there's no longer a one-size-fits-all way for two people to be together. Whether you choose to live across the country, two miles apart, or want nothing more than a ring on your finger and one roof over your head, how you define love and commitment is very much up to you.
Now if one of my romance author friends would just write a novel based on a couple with this type of living arrangement, hmmmm...
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