Ten years ago I met a nice real estate agent who showed us our future apartment (the one we have today). As the days went by, we became closer and closer and she told me about the relationship she had with her boyfriend. I thought it was strange that she talked like that, because she was already a mature woman, but she was right: until you get married, the couple is still “dating”; there is no free union.
She used to tell me that everything was going great because they didn’t live together: “He is in his house and I’m in mine”. At that moment, my #sinrecato mind asked her about the obvious thing: sex. Her response was mischievously: “That’s settled too. Either he stays at my place or I stay at his”.
“There was no conflict. If one of us had to leave, the person left and that was it”. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? This trend is now known as LAT (Living Apart Together).
Psychologist Laura S. Moreno, an expert in couple relationships, states that “living together (in sentimental harmony), but not mixed up (in marital cohabitation). This type of couples maintain a stable relationship with a certain commitment and have decided by mutual agreement not to live at the same address”.
She explains that, socially, the solidity or success of this type of couple is questioned, and even more so when there are some myths and truths about it:
Cohabitation is essential to be successful as a couple: False. When someone who is single asks a married person what is the most difficult thing about living together, the word appears practically shining: cohabitation.
According to the expert, for some couples it is necessary to share the same roof and cohabitation is a must. But in the LAT couple, it is not necessary to live together for the couple to maintain fidelity and exclusivity. This relationship avoids the wear and tear of cohabitation.
However, it is an option that is not designed for everyone, since some prefer to follow a standard line of couple, which is socially accepted, but others do not feel social pressure and do not want to follow the traditional line either. It does not only happen in the couples’ sphere, it can also happen at work, in the family or in the way of living.
Everyone wants to be a LAT couple: False. The reality is that the age group that is most likely to want to experience this type of relationship is from 45 years and older. Moreno states: “Many at that age have experienced a previous cohabitation and have had the experience of having children. But they have the desire to give love a second, third, fourth or fifth or even more chance. Love has no age. What they don’t want is to live together.”
They don’t want to be together: False. There are reasons why people who have already lived as a couple want to live in their own space, among them, is that they have teenage children and do not want to complicate the family unit with cohabitation.
But psychologist Moreno says that these couples also want to share moments and experiences such as traveling together, enjoying a common hobby, talking, loving each other. They consider that person their life partner, but prefer not to live in the same house on a daily basis. The success of this requires that both are clear about not wanting to live together.
Socially it is NOT considered a serious relationship: True. “I am a strong advocate for people who are different. If one decides with their partner to have this type of relationship and it works, either open, with or without cohabitation, with someone of a different sex or the same sex, the important thing is that both agree. You don’t have to live all day long, pending the acceptance of others”, Moreno affirms.
LAT couples are characterized by being self-confident. If either of the two is controlling, jealous or has experienced deception or betrayal, it is very difficult for them to enter into this type of relationship.
It is important that both have a wide family and social circle, because if it is the other way around and if either has a lot of time on their hands, it is very likely that they will question their partner’s hectic social life.
Nothing is for sure
The point is that, in terms of couples, nothing is for sure. There are couples who are compatible and love each other intensely, but cannot live together because they do not match in order, habits or schedules.
Another advantage of this lifestyle is that they keep their privacy, their way of running the house, their order and economy. The issue of the economy here is very clear: in cohabiting couples it is usually a delicate issue, while in this case, the expenses are divided and there is awareness that each one has their own stuff.
The weak point of these relationships is that some people need physical contact, affection, presence. To get close and talk, to have a coffee together, or to do something affectionate. This may be irrelevant for some, but for others it is something natural; it is the complicity that generates valuable bonds.
The expert in couples concludes that: “LAT couples, nowadays, do not give many explanations if they have this type of relationship or not. But I have the feeling that when that stigma or that social pressure passes, there will be more people who bet on this formula”.
Traducción del español: Catalina Oviedo Brugés