Living apart together has become more common than you probably even thought. If you take some time to survey, you may find couples who are married but living apart or those who are together but apart.
Although living together in relationships is important as it helps strengthen the relationship and makes both parties fall more in love with themselves, there are times when it is impossible to prevent a gaping distance between partners. This is when you find them living apart together.
In this article, we will walk you through what this phenomenon means and how you can navigate these treacherous times. You will also discover the pros and cons of living apart together because as you know, almost everything in life comes with its upsides and downsides.
What is living apart together?
Living apart together is the term given to the situation in which couples who have an intimate relationship choose to live in different locations for a number of reasons.
The living apart together term covers a host of scenarios including couples who would want to live together but are constrained from doing so (maybe because of family influences and religious beliefs), those who prefer to live apart, or those who may be taking a break from their relationship at some point.
Research has it that about one-third of the entire U.S adults who are not married or cohabiting are in some form of Living Apart Together relationships (LAT Relationships). What this implies is that there are more living apart together couples than you possibly imagined.
Furthermore, couples who are living apart together can choose to live close to themselves or far away from each other and just get to meet up at the times they predict.
Under these circumstances, they are in absolute control over their living apart together conditions and aren’t compelled to make decisions based on a couple of factors that are beyond their control.
To some, being apart but together is their definition of love that waxes strong. To others, living apart while married is a complete no-no.
There are so many reasons why couples end up living apart after living together or choose to live at different locations from the start. As we have already hinted, here are some of them.
1. Some people just love their space
Being in a romantic relationship with someone else is not about making them trade their peace of mind for anything. They would rather choose the living apart together option and opt in to meet themselves at arranged schedules.
2. Others believe they don’t have to live out of each other’s pockets
Others don’t think that the best and most effective way to show that they love someone is to pack up and move into the same house with the person. For these people, they would rather find other ways to express their love for a person than to live in the same house.
This is also absolutely fine, and if it works perfectly for you, then so be it.
3. Influence of family
Some people come from close-knit families, and they may have spent their entire lives living in the same house as their families. Even when they grow up and get into romantic relationships, they may find it challenging to get out of those houses they’ve lived in all their lives to start afresh with someone else.
On the flip side, they may just be from families that don’t support the entire idea of living together when you aren’t yet married.
As per the research, about 48% of U.S Christian citizens affirm that their religion is important to them.
Considering that the Christian faith frowns on any form of living together before marriage, it is not unusual to meet the people who are in strong and committed romantic relationships but who’d end up living apart together because of their religious beliefs.
In that case, these people would choose to wait to get married before moving in together. These said, let us quickly take a look at the both sides of this pendulum. What are the advantages and disadvantages of living apart together?
Pros of living apart together
Wondering what could be the living apart together benefits? Here are some of the benefits of being in a relationship but not living together.
1. You have independence
One of the first things you’d learn when you step into a relationship is how to tolerate your partner. You’d have to live with their excesses or run yourself into an early grave trying to fix them.
To make this work, you’d have to make a lot of compromises while they do the same as well. Some of the most challenging times come when both of you decide to live together, and you have to find common ground to meet on almost all matters.
When living apart together is your choice action, you’ll end up saving yourself so much stress. For one, you wouldn’t have to define the decor with someone else. You can choose how you want your space to look, what you want to bring in, if you prefer minimalism over everything else, etc.
The first and major advantage of living apart from your spouse is that you get to decide what you want and how you want it.
2. Living apart together helps you cherish the time you spend with your partner
One of the things you may have to deal with soon enough if you live with your spouse is the familiarity concept. When you know that they’d always be there when you wake up first thing in the morning, there’s every possibility that you’ll pay them little heed when they try to get your attention.
This can cause friction in the relationship as time passes. However, when you just get to see yourselves at intervals, you’ll look forward to the time you’ll spend together, and you’ll also commit to mailing everything you can from those hours.
If you are the person who lives to have their hands over your schedule; to determine what you do, when you do it, and how you do it, then living apart together might just be the perfect choice for you.
When you live alone, you can decide your schedule. First of all, there’s no one in your immediate space that you have to think of. No family time. No immediate movie dates to worry about. Nothing that isn’t you!
This gives you the space to determine your schedule to the best of your abilities. Also, this can positively impact your career if you are the type of person who places priority on your work.
4. Living apart together gives an opportunity to think for yourself
One of the things that can happen in relationships is that a time may come when you may need some space to think, process, and determine the direction in which your relationship is headed. Sometimes, making the hard decisions is impossible if you are living out of each other’s pockets.
When you are living apart together, you can process information concerning the relationship in a clearer headspace.
In addition, not seeing your spouse every other second can actually contribute to making the relationship stronger as you may end up desiring those times you get to hang out and spend quality time with yourselves.
5. Living apart together can come in handy in breaking societal stereotypes
In many heterosexual relationships, there are predefined gender-based stereotypes and norms. Some of them imply that the woman is expected to be the one who takes care of the home while the man is at liberty to do as he pleases.
Many of these norms empower the men to chase their dreams while the women stay at home to create a conducive space for the man to thrive while keeping their ambitions in the back seat forever.
One of the major advantages of living apart together relationships is that these stereotypes hold little or no water under these conditions. When everyone has to live in their spaces, they have to figure out how to thrive independently of themselves. Another advantage is that unhealthy dependence on your partner goes out the door.
Cons of living apart together
Just like most things with advantages, living apart together comes with a couple of downsides as well. Here are some of them.
1. Jealousy can easily brew
If either of the partners feels like they are being ignored in the relationship, spending time apart in a relationship can worsen those feelings, and jealousy may begin to brew as time passes.
At least, they could easily navigate themselves and monitor their partners if they were living in the same house. However, when distance is added to the mix, they may begin to doubt their partner’s love for them.
2. This might just be the first step in a relationship that will hit the rocks
One of the main challenges that can easily pop up for living apart together relationships is that if extra care isn’t taken, the distance can cause both parties to start losing the feeling they once had for themselves over time.
When one person starts feeling like they have to go too far to meet the one they love, they might just be tempted to opt out of the relationship and seek a new love interest that is closer to them.
As much as absence makes the heart grow fonder, it can also cause love to die down with time.
The heart wants what it wants. Although it is easy to focus on the bright and beautiful side of things, you may want to ask yourself this question. What if you wake up at 3 am, and all you want are the arms of your lover wrapped tightly around you?
You might be able to manage your emotions at first. However, if nothing is done, you may find yourself beginning to look for other options as time passes.
One of the major downsides of these relationships is that sometimes, affection and intimacy can be hard to get. Then again, the spontaneity that most couples who live together enjoy (like having hot sex in the shower and going for a little walk in the evenings) has to be planned and meticulously executed.
Having an order is great. However, what’s a healthy relationship without a little bit of spontaneous fun?
One of the biggest disadvantages of living apart together is its effect on the finances of both people. Instead of taking advantage of all the money you can save, you may have to spend way higher on accommodation and monthly running costs if you choose to live apart.
These numbers still don’t mean that married couples living apart are silly or lack financial intelligence. If they have to do that, they must have their strong reasons, right?
Suggested video: What you need to know about financially toxic relationships
5. It takes too much work to maintain a living apart together relationship
You may have to drive halfway across town to see them when you want to. You may have to wait for a couple of days until you can break the good news of your promotion to them.
You can’t even get to share the small but precious moments of your life with them. And what’s worse? The distance is opening your eyes to many other possible love interests that live just around the corner.
The simple answer to this question is “Yes. Living apart together works.”
However, to make it work, you must understand your unique situation and the things you must do to keep the flames of your love life. There are tons of couples out there who have made either scenario work for them. You just have to make sure that you are on the same page with your partner and that both of you are willing to see things through.
It takes a lot to make a living apart together relationship work. However, if both parties commit to making it work and if the situations are right for this type of arrangement, it is bound to work for you.
If it isn’t working, however, you may want to sit together and analyze what you are doing. Then match your actions against your goals and see how you can adjust things.
You may also want to consider enlisting the help of professional counselors to help you make the best decision for your unique relationship.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.