Living Apart Together: What Is It, and Why Are More People Doing It?

As a child, my family were quite into art. I remember a moment at an exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s work where I learnt something quirky about Kahlo and her husband, the famous painter Diego Rivera. Despite being married, they lived in seperate houses! Right next door to each other, with an adjoining bridge. They were living apart, together! I remember wondering why anyone would do that. While also secretly thinking that it might be quite nice to be able to have your partner there when you wanted them to be, and to send them home when you needed some space. The more I read about Frida and Diego’s tempestuous relationship, the more I realised that living apart was a good idea for them! But that’s a whole other conversation…

What is ‘living apart together?’

‘Living Apart Together’ (LAT) is used to describe couples who live in seperate residences, while maintaining an intimate relationship. It’s now so common that there are have been quite a few research studies done to try to understand why it’s happening, and what the benefits are for those who choose to do it.

Why are people living apart together?

Research in the UK by NatCen Social Research suggested that there were four main reasons that couples lived apart. For some, it was just too early in the relationship for moving in together to be an option. A third of respondents said that living apart together was a preference. That could be because they wanted to keep their own homes, or were prioritising other responsibilities such as raising children from previous relationship. Or, because they just didn’t want to live together! A fifth of respondents said that they couldn’t afford to live together. And just over one in ten said they couldn’t live with their partner due to circumstances. That could be because they studied or worked elsewhere, or were in an institution such as a hospital or prison.

Why might you consider living apart together?

Living apart together brings quite a few benefits. From allowing each partner in the relationship to keep to their own routines and maintaining their independence, through to keeping the novelty and excitement alive, living apart just suits some couples better than others.

Without the constraints of living together, couples may also have more freedom to pursue their own interests. Having individual living spaces can be a welcome relief for those who are more introverted and / or value their solitude.

Social psychologist Samantha Joel suggests that LAT couples often experience more passion, idealise their partners more, and report more loving feelings toward their partner than couples who live together.

“In choosing to live apart, my husband and I are really choosing to honor our individuality and honor each other’s personal growth.”

―Lise Stoessel, author of Living Happily Ever After—Separately

Do you live seperately from your significant other? Would you consider it? Use the comments to let us know about your experience!

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