Monday, July 22, 2024

Living Apart Together Relationships: An Expert Explains LAT

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Imagine a world where you never fight with your partner about washing dishes or laundry or whose turn it is to clean the bathroom. There’s no weaponized incompetence or disagreements about decor (although sage green is always the answer), and you never have to wake up to their alarm clock or find a way to sleep through their snores. In this world, your partner isn’t your roommate — they’re simply your partner. That’s the reality for couples in “LAT” relationships.

LAT, which stands for “living apart together,” is a relationship dynamic in which couples live apart from each other intentionally. “A living-apart-together relationship is a long-term relationship where couples are fully committed but they choose to live apart from their partner instead of cohabitating,” relationship expert Nicole Moore says.

Though people might not use the official term, LAT relationships have been around for years. Even Sarah Paulson recently shared that she lives separately from her partner Holland Taylor, stating it’s the “secret” to their relationship.

Sharon Hyman, 61, agrees. Hyman runs the Facebook community group “Apartners (Living Apart Together)” and is directing the documentary “The Apartners: Living Happily Ever Apart.” For her, being LAT provides the best of both worlds. “I have a very solid, committed relationship, and also have time to be on my own,” she tells PS.

Of course, an LAT relationship isn’t for everyone. But for the people in these partnerships, the benefits are clear: most notably, the ability to maintain a strong bond while preserving personal space and independence.

Experts Featured in This Article

Nicole Moore is a relationship therapist and founder of the “Love Works Method,” a program that has helped people find lasting love fast.

What Is an LAT Relationship?

An LAT relationship is an arrangement in which couples “function and operate as a unit, but they don’t sleep in the same bed in the same house together every single night,” Moore says. People in LAT relationships often have to find other ways to build intimacy with their partner.

Hyman notes this relationship dynamic doesn’t have to be rigid, however. Similarly to any other relationships, LAT relationships can be “fluid,” Hyman says. “When you need more time together, it’s possible, and when you need less time together, that’s possible, too.”

What Are the Benefits of Being in an LAT Relationship?

The most obvious benefit is the independence LAT relationships provide for each individual. “Many long-term couples that live together become enmeshed and they start to lose all sense of who they are as individuals,” Moore says. “But living apart together can help couples not lose themselves or their distinct personalities.”

This is the case for Hyman, who really values time to herself. “By being LAT, it gives me that time that I need — that everyone needs — to really get to know themselves, work on themselves, work on their issues, and take responsibility for their issues,” she adds.

“When you need more time together, it’s possible, and when you need less time together, that’s possible, too.”

Mike Webber, 66, loves that LAT allows him to follow his passions without it interfering with his partner’s space. His partner likes movies and TV shows, whereas Webber is more of music person and collects vinyl records. “We like having our own places that we can tailor to our individual preferences.” Additionally, the LAT dynamic helps his 22-year relationship feel new. “The anticipation of seeing your partner always keeps things fresh,” Webber adds.

Another benefit: LAT relationships require less logistical maneuvering for blended families and parents of children from prior relationships. kelsie kilawna, 37, has three children from her past relationship, and she lives five hours away from her current partner because “uprooting either of our lives felt unfair.” She adds, “Culturally and logistically, living LAT made perfect sense for us.”

What Are the Cons of an LAT Relationship?

For kilawna, the hardest part about being LAT is coordinating schedules. “Both of us are business owners with family obligations that demand our attention, making it tough to see each other as often as we’d like,” she says. As for Webber, he says there are no major cons for him and his partner, though his partner’s mattress is a “little hard for my liking,” he says.

Although some people may believe an LAT relationship would be expensive because of the dual rents and expenses, Hyman disagrees. “We both have very small, like 500 square feet, modest apartments that have rent control,” she says. “If we moved in together, we’d have to get a much bigger place, and we would lose our rent control of places and it would be more costly actually.”

The biggest issue you may face in an LAT relationship, however, may be judgement from family or friends. “Some people have the mistaken idea that happy couples must live together and share a bed together or something is wrong with the relationship, so you may sometimes feel judged for your choice to live apart together,” Moore says.

Is an LAT Relationship Right For You?

It could be. If everything with your partner is great, but you find yourself arguing about roommate problems, like chores and household upkeep, you may benefit from an LAT relationship, Moore says. “Couples with wildly different sleep preferences, schedules, or living habits would also benefit most from a LAT relationship,” she adds. But an LAT relationship also doesn’t work for everyone.

At the end of the day, an LAT relationship is just one example of a dynamic that could work for you if you allow yourself to think beyond what society traditionally tells you to do. “I want people to know that options exist,” Hyman says. “Forget what families tell you, what culture tells you, and start to look at what really works for you and your partner.” If it’s living together, that’s one thing. But if it’s not living together, that’s OK too.

Just because you’re not living together doesn’t mean that you’re not going through life together, Hyman says. “And just because you’re not sharing physical space doesn’t mean you’re not sharing emotional and spiritual space.”

Taylor Andrews is a Balance editor at PS who specializes in topics relating to sex, relationships, dating, sexual health, mental health, and more.

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