Met, fell in love, started dating, moved in – most long-term relationships develop according to this pattern. But sometimes it happens that the ‘moved in’ part falls out of it, as some couples prefer to stay on their own territory.

Have you ever heard the term ‘living apart together?’ Also known as LAT, this trend keeps getting more and more attention. It’s a sort of a long-distance relationship but with joint weekends and all the fun that comes with ordinary relationships. The couple is officially dating, but each of the partners lives separately, sharing nothing but the time they spend together. Is it a new gimmick? A way to cope with a relationship crisis? A test of feelings? And who benefits from such a relationship? Let’s figure out what LAT is and how to make it work.

living apart together married

Is LAT relationship a new trend in dating?

Living together apart does gain popularity. The option that gives you the pros of a normal relationship without the liabilities of sharing living space seems very attractive to many couples that value their personal space but don’t want their honeymoon period to end.

Our fast-paced world needs new trends that can help us keep up with its rhythm. This relationship model allows partners to stay together while living in different countries, but no one says you can’t try it if you live in the same city. To build a healthy relationship, you don’t have to be together 24/7 – just don’t forget that LAT, despite having some openness to it, remains monogamous.

It’s not hard to imagine LAT growing even more as a trend: you can meet and spend time together as often as you like and live wherever you want – on neighboring streets or different continents. You’re free to progress at your own pace as long as you remember a few rules. LAT isn’t a synonym for an open relationship. You may sleep in different beds, but you remain loyal to each other and never consider affairs on the side. This is a deliberate and voluntary choice. If your partner travels around the world or works on a rotational basis, while you’re forced to wait for them at home – it’s not LAT. It's rather a long-distance relationship.

Who chooses a 'living apart together' kind of relationship?

The main idea of LAT relationships is to live separately, occasionally meeting on neutral territory. The frequency of meetings and the progress of a relationship, in general, depend on the distance between partners. This may sound too exotic for some couples, so not everyone can handle such a way of life. But there are people, for who LAT is the best (or only) choice.

Single parents

Kids can be jealous, especially when it comes to parental attention. Moreover, not all children can understand why they need a new person at home. That’s why a single mom looking for love is so different from an average woman seeking men on a website for foreigners. But rebelling kids aren’t an excuse for single parents to put an end to personal life and chances to find happiness. An LAT relationship may serve as an intermediate stage for couples where one of the partners has children. This way, they’ll have an opportunity to gradually introduce kids to the changes that will occur in the family.

Young couples on the very beginning of dating

Most LAT couples are young people striving to achieve their life goals but having no time for building a traditional relationship. For them, this type of relationship is a handy way to gain new experience in the field of romance and prepare for more serious steps towards an equal and strong union of hearts without making too much effort at the first stages.

lat couples

Strongly independent personalities

There are people so independent that even the idea of sharing territory with someone seems like a violation of personal boundaries. For them, LAT is the best way to keep both their own independence and relationships going. They take personal comfort seriously and would think twice before giving it up. We’re talking about finances, daily routine, and the overall rhythm of their lives. These people love the way they live: their apartment, income, job, the way they spend time, and so on. But at the same time, they want a stable and traditional relationship with a fellow-minded partner.

Couples who need changes or relationship test

Sometimes LAT is a lifeline for a drowning relationship. People are so tired of constant quarrels, resentments, and disappointments that they’re on the verge of a breakup. But emotions often tend to get in the way of making the right decision. What if ending the relationship turns out to be a mistake you won’t be able to correct? In this case, living separately after living together may help you calm down and figure out what to do next.

Can a couple be happy in a committed relationship when living together apart?

All the articles about LAT you may find online provide conflicting information. Some argue that for a healthy relationship to develop, a couple needs to live together. Others claim that couples living apart keep love alive. A person who’s satisfied with life feels happier and conveys this feeling to people they interact with. Having the ability to regulate the relationship between social and solitude, they experience less stress.

Making up for the lack of time to do what you love helps to feel complete and save your “I” in a relationship. It gives a resource that allows a person to share energy, mood, and interests with a partner. Any relationship is a kind of agreement, the same goes for LAT. And if two people are satisfied with everything sticking to their agreement, staying honest and open, then why not choose an LAT relationship?

A lot of people go for LAT relationships because of traumas, experiences, and addictions that turned out to be scary and painful, like a relationship with an abuser. They form the so-called counter dependence – ‘I’m good on my own.’ In fact, we’re all addicted in any relationship, and avoiding it is also a kind of addiction. Sometimes LAT isn’t a voluntary choice but a compromise, with its own pitfalls and internal conflicts. In this case, this is just one way to avoid solving problems.

There’s nothing wrong or shameful in seeking to provide yourself with the necessary level of psychological comfort. Moreover, attempts to change oneself and adjust to the general standards of life or the needs of a partner usually lead to disastrous results and ultimately destroy the relationship. And for some, the LAT option is the only opportunity to build a partnership that will delight both for years to come.

Living apart together: pros and cons

There’s no common recipe for happiness, and there can’t be any. Each couple chooses their own path, and the most important thing is to can find an option that suits both partners. The ability to listen to yourself, understanding your own needs, and respect for each other can help. If you’re considering an LAT relationship model, knowing some of its pluses and drawbacks wouldn’t hurt.

The pros of LAT

  • No disagreements in everyday life. LAT is very convenient here because you don’t need to adapt to the habits of another person. You can only appreciate it once you start living apart after living together.
  • Romance. You come home from work, do your part around the house, find some time to talk to your loved one, and crawl to bed. That's all she wrote. Regular meetings aren’t as tiring, and with the proper diligence and imagination, each date turns into a small holiday.
  • Separate budget. It’s much more convenient to manage your finances in an LAT relationship. No quarrels about money: both of you spend money at your own discretion. No explanations and unwanted secrets.

The disadvantages of living apart together

  • No emotional closeness. Video calls and messengers replace real conversations. You receive less warmth and care from your partner than you’d like. Often, you have to rely only on yourself: no one will cover you with a warm blanket or cook dinner.
  • Children. Even adults don’t always understand what LAT is. How can you explain to a child that the parents just feel more comfortable living separately? Besides, living apart together, married couples struggle to distribute parenting responsibilities?
  • An intermediate stage. Subconsciously, some people perceive LAT relationships as an intermediate stage: ‘I’m with you for now, but I’m waiting for someone better.’ On average, such relationships live from five to six years, until the partners sort out their feelings and find another partner.
living apart after living together

How to make it work?

When you’re married but living apart, benefits are often outweighed by complications, namely, communication problems. Sometimes it’s difficult to express true emotions over the phone or text messages. This can result in never-ending quarrels. But there are tips to help you minimize the negative effects.

1) Always stay in touch

People living together can easily resolve any relationship problems that may occur, look into each other's eyes, and hug. When most of their communication goes through phone calls, they have nothing but their voices or even a few messages and emojis. The lack of communication may create misunderstandings or even make conflicts worse, as it’s harder to read a person's feelings and see through their intentions.

2) Be ready to cope on your own

If you fall ill, need to call a doctor, or go to the pharmacy, your partner may refuse to help: ‘This wasn’t in our agreement’ or ‘You know I'm kinda busy now.’ You need to teach yourself not to take offense when this happens. You must accept this and live with the understanding that if something happens, you can only rely on yourself.

3) Don’t count on your partner to help you with everyday problems

People living in an LAT relationship have to hammer nails and wash shirts with their own hands or hire help. However, the times when we had to do all the housework ourselves has long been a thing of the past. It's hard to imagine a successful manager holding a plunger or hammer, or a top model bending her back at an ironing board. It is very common today for married couples to hire domestic helpers, even in traditional relationships.

4) Remember about romance

One of the pros of LAT relationships is that couples can keep their feelings fresh for longer by going to restaurants, cafes, traveling, etc. There’s no place for destructive daily routine in such unions, but you won’t benefit from this much if you don’t pay attention to the romantic aspect.

5) Prepare to deal with misunderstanding from your family

The majority of people still find it hard to accept this kind of relationship. In their heads, a happy couple is the one that lives as a traditional family - and nothing else. That’s why people looking for more comfort in a relationship through LAT are often frowned upon.

Bottom line

So, does living apart together work? Each couple must decide for themselves. The only thing worth mentioning is that LAT relationships could save thousands of ordinary couples dealing with problems. After all, voluntary separation, even temporary, is surprisingly able to smooth over the accumulated contradictions between partners, breathe new life into a broken relationship, and bring new colors to your feelings.

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