More couples are living apart together

Q: My neighbor and their spouse reside in separate homes. This is the third couple I have heard of living this way. Why do some people choose to live apart?

A: Living Apart Together (LAT) is a modern relationship arrangement where couples choose to remain in separate residences while maintaining a committed romantic relationship. This phenomenon has been gaining popularity, challenging traditional notions of cohabitation and partnership. Let us explore the concept of LAT couples, examine the reasons behind this trend, and consider the benefits and challenges that come with it.

LAT couples are individuals who prioritize their individual autonomy and independence while also valuing their romantic relationship. They choose to live apart for various reasons, such as career commitments, educational pursuits, or lifestyle and sleep schedules. Despite not sharing a physical living space, LAT couples are emotionally connected and committed to each other, often spending quality time together on weekends or during scheduled visits.

While it’s hard to know how many people are in LAT relationships, it is estimated that about 10 percent of adults in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia live apart from their romantic partners. Britain may have the highest population, with nearly a quarter of people statistically defined as “single” who actually have a romantic partner that lives elsewhere.

No matter what the current statistics are regarding the number of people living apart from their partner, social scientists say the LAT phenomenon is growing. And for some very good reasons.

One of the main trends behind the rise of LAT couples is the changing societal norms and expectations regarding relationships. In today's fast-paced world, individuals are prioritizing their personal goals and ambitions, often requiring them to live in different locations for work or education. Additionally, with the increasing acceptance of diverse relationship structures, couples feel more empowered to define their own terms of commitment.

Boomer women have been on the forefront of restructuring gendered family life, and often lead living apart together relationships. When residing separately from a romantic partner, women avoid the sex-based caretaking and housekeeping they often are expected to do. LAT is especially attractive if a woman typically lived with male partners before and was the main family manager as well.

Moreover, LAT relationships offer unique benefits that may not be present in traditional cohabiting arrangements. For instance, couples have the freedom to maintain their individual routines and habits without compromising on their personal space. This can lead to a greater sense of independence and self-fulfillment, ultimately enhancing the quality of the relationship. Additionally, living apart can help prevent the monotony and complacency that sometimes arises in long-term cohabiting relationships, as couples are more intentional about spending quality time together.

However, living apart also presents its own set of challenges. Distance can create logistical issues, such as coordinating schedules or situational misunderstandings. It is crucial to support each others’ goals and be flexible and adaptable. Additionally, the lack of daily physical presence can sometimes lead to feelings of loneliness or disconnect.

Utilizing technology to stay connected can bridge the physical distance. Using video calls, messaging apps, shared calendars, or social media to share moments and make future plans helps each other stay updated. It is essential for success that LAT couples establish clear communication channels to maintain trust and lessen the gap created by physical distance.

In conclusion, the concept of Living Apart Together challenges traditional notions of romantic relationships and offers a unique approach to love and commitment. While it may not be suitable for everyone, LAT relationships can provide individuals with the space and freedom to nurture their individual growth while also fostering a deep emotional connection with their partner. By understanding the reasons behind this trend and navigating the challenges that come with it, LAT couples can create a fulfilling and sustainable relationship that works for them.

Additional resources

Karen Casanovas, PCC, CPCC, CLIPP is a health and wellness professional coach practicing in Anchorage. If you have questions write to her at

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