More couples than ever are choosing not to cohabit with their partners. With celebrity advocates and psychological benefits, could living apart together (LAT) revitalise your relationship?
In an interview with The Times last week, Gillian Anderson revealed that she doesn’t live with her partner, The Crown creator Peter Morgan, explaining that the decision is one of the key factors that makes their relationship work. Anderson even argued that cohabiting would, “be the end” of their relationship.
Her comments tap into a wider relationship trend of partners who commit, but don’t cohabit. Known as “living apart together (LAT)”, it's a decision growing in popularity with Western couples (the UK, North America and Sweden have all seen a rise in the number of LAT partnerships).
Traditionally, moving in with a partner is seen as a key stage in a relationship; it's an act that can demonstrate commitment, increases intimacy and set the foundations for starting a family. That said, LAT partnerships have also been found to have various meaningful benefits.
Such relationships aid what psychologists refer to as “self-expanding activities” – the kind of behaviours more commonly adopted at the early stages of a relationship, such as going out more, trying new things together or making spontaneous plans. Research shows that these activities are often found to help rekindle sexual desire in long-term couples.
London-based writer Emily, 28, says being together but living separately is the ideal arrangement. “Me and my boyfriend will have been together for three years this March. Around the two-year mark I started to get the ‘so, do you think you’ll move in together’ question from friends and family. Well meaning, of course, but also a bit annoying; I’ve never lived with a partner before and so I find the concept quite scary. I like our set up. It's comfortable and easy; seeing each other three or four days a week, watching films, going for walks, Sunday afternoons at the pub. Then, the rest of the time we retreat to our separate lives, the one in which I have full remote control access, don’t worry about waking him up when I get ready in the morning, have long baths and can indulge in being a bit messy.”
While there’s no right or wrong way to be in a couple, the rise in LAT partnerships does demonstrate the increasing creativity and individuality with which people are approaching relationships. The parameters are shifting, and while an LAT partnership – like an open or long-distance relationship – might not be for everyone, if it works for Gillian Anderson, we're keeping an open mind.
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