Traditional relationships, mainly heteronormative monogamous relationships, are becoming a thing of the past. As the world evolves, more and more couples are looking to embrace partnership styles that reflect and compliment their lifestyle choices. An emerging approach to dating has been named Living Apart Together. Living Apart Together (LAT) is a style of dating that places emphasis on the individual’s space in the relationship. These couples are choosing to live apart from one another while still maintaining an intimate, committed partnership.
You can truly have
it all: a career and romantic relationship without having to compromise one or the other.
As new lifestyles emerge, new dating approaches emerge with them. ‘Nontraditional’ is quickly becoming the new ‘traditional’ when it comes to dating. With more jobs that emphasize traveling and busy schedules, it is comforting to know that you can truly have it all: a career and romantic relationship without having to compromise one or the other. Living Apart Together is gaining popularity, and I project that it will become mainstream eventually. While, ultimately, it is up to each individual couple to design the relationship that works best for them, I feel it is exciting that new options are available for those who wish to choose something different.
“Now hold on a second,” you might be thinking, “They don’t wish to cohabitate ever?” For the most part, the answer is no. LAT relationships prioritize the need for autonomy in everyday life. By living apart, the people in the relationship build intimacy by creating space to share their time intentionally. Living with a partner is a big step and can end up putting a lot of pressure on a couple. When you live with a significant other, you can kiss your personal space goodbye. These are the facts. For some, cohabitating is an exercise in deepening the strength and bond of a relationship. For the LAT community, time spent in solace adds dimension to the dynamic without having to compromise their independence or personal space.
Curious to see how the general public relates to the approach of Living Apart Together, I took to Instagram for some polling. As a sex and relationship coach, I am passionate about where the mentality of the general public is and where it might be heading in the future. Here are the questions I asked:
- “Have you ever heard of Living Apart Together as a style of dating?” Twenty-eight percent of my audience answered yes and 72 percent answered no.
- “Couples living apart together (LAT) have an intimate relationship but live at separate addresses. Is this something you’d be open to in your relationship?” Eighty percent answered yes and 20 percent answered no.
- “For example, Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton and their children lived in two houses next door to each other in London. Do you see more advantages or disadvantages to this lifestyle?” Seventy-nine percent said they saw more advantages and 21 percent said they saw more disadvantages.
- “Would you rather live with your partner or live by yourself while in a committed relationship?” Forty-six percent said they wanted to live with a partner and 54 percent said they wanted to live by themselves.
The last question dove a little deeper, prompting my audience to explain their reasoning. “What are some advantages of LAT? What are some disadvantages?”. It definitely confirmed that more people are open to LAT relationships than not. Money seems to be the primary disadvantage my audience talked about: having two rents and separate expenses that might have otherwise been saved when combining households. A few people pointed out that not many couples can afford to maintain separate dwellings. It is a privilege! Trust issues (i.e. cheating), isolation (i.e. not getting to see partner), and potentially confusing children involved were some other disadvantages.
The advantages list was lengthy and really put some things into perspective for me, specifically striking a balance between the relationship and self. Ensuring that independence doesn’t transform into codependence is an essential element to any lasting relationship. It was brought up over and over again how important alone time is and how that alone time brings peace to the relationship without compromising personal space. Celebrating this space for autonomy also invites intention when spending time together in the relationship. My audience felt intentionally spending time together developed more intimacy in the relationship.
My findings confirmed my suspicions of how the narrative of dating is evolving. The nuclear family (i.e. house with a white picket fence, heterosexual couple, two and a half kids, cat and dog) is no longer working in the way it was intended. This one-size-fits-all approach to dating is quickly being outgrown by millennials and older couples alike. While it might still suit some more traditional couples, my surveys show a shift in the way couples are choosing to come together. It appears people are starting to value their independence more and more, creating space to redefine the terms of their significant partnerships. If 54 percent of my audience said they would rather live alone than with a partner, how will that affect the future of relationships?
Luckily there are some resources for those who are interested in participating in LAT relationships. Apartner is a new online dating site that specifically caters to LAT relationships. Apartner helps its users find a meaningful, lasting relationship that is long-term, committed and monogamous, but less than full-time. Part-time dating is a relatively new concept for me, and it is up to each couple to define what it uniquely means to them, but I would describe it as being a relationship that is harmonious with an independent lifestyle. Apartner promotes modern, liberal views of love, diversity and inclusion. A refreshing alternative to old-fashioned relationships.
Another great resource for LAT couples is The #LDR Activity Book. LDR (Long Distance Relationships) is common amongst LAT couples. This activity book keeps couples who can’t be physically close engaged in the relationship. It is the first psychology-backed activity book couples complete together, from a distance. Backed by both a registered psychologist and sexologist, the LDR Activity is inspired by distance and is custom and unique to each couple. It is a practical yet fun (it’s filled with questionnaires, games and tips for problem resolutions) way for people to continuously get to know each other, identify their needs, and maintain an intimate relationship with their long-distance partner.
Shelby Sells is a sexologist, writer, photographer, and cinematographer based in NYC. Her work is centered around the intersection of love, sex and relationships. She aims to liberate sexual prowess through these mediums and educate my audience through emotional intelligence and awareness. She is finishing her degree in Psychology with a Human Sexuality focus.
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