A new way to couple up

Our columnist looks at the new phenomenon LAT (living together apart) and explains why it’s a craze that is getting so much attention

Article by Jo Gregory 

When I tell people my partner lives over two hundred miles away, the typical response is, “who is going to move where then?”. It’s become so ingrained in us to believe that when we couple up, we must move in together. But who exactly made up these rules? As more and more people are turning their backs on traditional relationships, I begin to look into the new phenomena that is LAT, living apart together.

I was recently discussing with an extremely close friend about moving in together. However, we decided it was a bad idea because we are so close and we didn’t want to ruin this special bond. Now, if we take that thinking with a friendship, why on earth would we not take that stance with a partner?

We are born into a society that pushes us into thinking we need to get married, have children and live together but over the recent years, women in particular, are deciding to choose a life without children and be financially independent without being ostracised for their choices. The changes in the global job market has also been a contributing factor as it’s given us so much freedom. 

One of my biggest fears on entering a new relationship was the ‘M’ word, no, not marriage, monotony. It scares the hell out of me. Cohabitation breeds habit and habits become monotony. It’s only natural that when you see a person every single day, you take that situation for granted. Living with someone also means having to talk about bills, rubbish bins, house work and that f*cking chair that lives in the bedroom that always seems to have three days’ worth of clothes on it. It becomes incredibly dull. And what happens on those days when you just want to come home from work and not talk to anyone? Or when you go out and decide not to come home? There certainly weren’t any restrictions in my previous relationships, but somehow, without realising it, you begin to lose your independence. 

When you live with a partner, things become intertwined, it’s a natural progression. But imagine if you were living with a partner and they suddenly announced that the following weekend they are going away by themselves, that they were going to turn their phone off and couldn’t be contacted for few days. You’d feel concerned, hurt and probably a little rejected. But, when you’re living apart, these things don’t seem to faze us. It’s an incredibly freeing set-up.

For those couples who have nailed the co-habiting situation, I salute you. What is your secret? However, most relationship issues I know of stem from the strains of living with a partner. Having found myself single for the first time, in something like fourteen years, there were so many things on my list that I felt I needed to achieve. Having distance between a partner means having more time for yourself to pursue your interests and hobbies. Distance also means that you keep the fire alive so that when you do see each other, you make more of an effort to make special plans, rather than feeling like you should go on a date night just to try and inject a little romance back into the situation. 

Yes, I miss my partner a ridiculous amount but that’s only a good thing. As my father says “Always leave the audience wanting more” (something I wish I would remember when being a gobshite at after parties) but that’s exactly what we do when we say our goodbyes at the train station. The key is to make time for each other, arrange phone dates and keep on top of diaries but it really isn’t that hard. The worst part is when you are hung over on a Sunday and all you want is their arms wrapped around yours but it makes those reunions so much sweeter.

I know in overpriced cities such as London, having separate dwellings, unless you are dripping in gold, is unachievable but if you could, would you? I heard a very disturbing fact about the number of couples who stay together simply because they couldn’t afford to get out of the relationship. Relationships are hard at the best of times so why add another pressure into it for the sake of sharing a bed with someone? Living apart from your lover means you have lots of time for your friends, family and to work towards your goals. I for one am thriving from having so much time and space.

Perhaps I am being a miserable sod and this is all a hangover from my failed marriage or perhaps, with separations and divorce at an all-time high, we need to rip the rule book up and start again. riddle_stop 2

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