I lived with my partner for almost two decades. When he moved out, after we decided to divorce, I was scared. I was nervous about fixing things around the house, I wasn't sure I would remember to pay all the bills, I didn't want all the responsibility and, most of all, I was afraid I would be lonely.
But I was so wrong.
I've learned after living on my own that I didn't miss having a partner live with me. I enjoyed my own company and got to do as I pleased, spend money the way I wanted and have control over the thermostat. Living alone was better than I thought and there's a part of me that isn't sure I can go back—even if I fall madly in love.
It turns out that I'm not alone. I was shocked when I recently heard on a radio program that more and more couples—not just divorced people—are choosing to be in "living apart together" (LAT) relationships.
Hearing woman after woman call in and say how it's working for them because they can decorate how they want and they don't have to deal with extra hair in the bathroom sink and have some alone time to reset themselves regularly, got me thinking maybe this whole LAT lifestyle is going to become a thing.
An article in the Huffington Post confirms there are more couples these days who are bucking the trend of falling in love, becoming roommates and getting married.
In fact, living apart together is working and preserving loving, committed relationships. The reasons are varied, according to the article. Some are choosing this lifestyle "for financial circumstances or because (of) separations brought on by work or school."
Other couples are doing it to hold on to their independence. They want to stay in their home and keep on with their lifestyle but want to remain partnered and exclusive, and feel they are preserving "passion and novelty to the relationship when they come together after spending time apart."
Supposedly, couples who are in LAT relationships also feel more appreciated by their partners and value their time spent together. When I was married, I often felt it would be great if my ex-husband or I had a different place to go to get some distance and space. Even when we had three little kids, the thought of being married, co-parenting and living separately didn't sound that bizarre to me. You both get alone time and you both get quality time with your kids when you are with them.
Obviously, in order for it to work, you both have to be on the same page, but I no longer think it's as crazy as it sounds.
Of course, there are downsides to this arrangement. It may make it too easy to walk away during an argument and not resolve things that are bothering you. It could also make one person feel that the other isn't fully committed to them, if they don't want to live with them and build a life together in the same house.
Obviously, in order for it to work, you both have to be on the same page, but I no longer think it's as crazy as it sounds. I know more women than not who say they need a break from their partners, that they wish they could run away for a bit or that they are in need of some major alone time.
I've heard people admit they don't want a divorce and they love their spouse, but living apart would make their relationship better. And they wouldn't feel guilty about daydreaming about booking a hotel for the weekend by themselves.
Who knows, maybe LAT relationships will soon outnumber the couples who decided to get married, buy a home and live happily ever after. Perhaps if it becomes more normalized, people will stay together longer and have healthier relationships. All I know is that each couple should do what works best for them and not feel like they have to coexist under the same roof if they'd rather be in love and living apart.
We all do what we have to do to help our relationships thrive, so who's to judge if it actually works?