Living Apart Together (abbreviation: LAT) is a term for couples who, whilst committed to each other, decide to have separate homes rather than one shared residence.
The Times Study speculates that quantum of LAT relationships equates the incidences of de facto relationships in the UK.
LATs consist of three factions, concerning decision to keep separate domestic residences. There are firstly: the "gladly apart", and two minorities identified as being: the "regretfully apart" (due to work commitments, family responsibilities, legal/residency requirements, or other reasons) and the "undecidedly apart" (committed but not especially moving towards cohabitation at the time).
Sweden, which has witnessed similar trends to the UK in marriage, divorce and people living alone, has seen LATs rise from 6% in 1993 to more than 14% in 2001/02. Two UK studies support this - research at Oxford University
by John Haskey (2005) estimating up to 2 million UK couples were living separately, and research by Professor Sasha Roseneil of the University of Leeds
(On Not Living With A Partner
Whilst living apart appears to be more "popular among younger people" , the studies found "hundreds of thousands" of couples age 35 - 59 choosing separate living as well, including an estimated 14% of 50 - 59 year olds. Roseneil's conclusion includes that LATs are on the increase, and other experts are stated to agree that LATs are "now part of the social landscape".
The decision to live apart
Although research is far from conclusive as to motive, common themes suggested include the benefits to both individual and joint lives it confers on the couple and also on their children. LAT couples claim that these include:
- * LAT having "kept their relationship fresh while providing the ideal environment in which to bring up [...] children".
- * Having both an intimate relationship and one's own space is a treat.
- * The anticipation of time together always being special.
- * Having bases in two cultures – for example both a busy city and a country village.
- * Freedom to do things without consultation, and the freedom not to do things in one's own abode.
- * Independent finances and homes meaning that financial dispute and negotiation is not a source of friction in the couple's relationship.
- * Ability to focus on work or one's own activities without interruption at times when one wishes to work.
Reasons also include emotional bases, for example "because a previous cohabiting relationship has broken down, or they do not want to impose a new partner on children from a previous relationship."
Whilst professionals appear to consider LATs a viable lifestyle, it is an area requiring further research to determine long term sociological affects of LATs.
Critics of LATs raise concerns that this social deconstructionism displaces the traditional family unit.
The Times cites the following examples of LATs: Woody Allen
and Mia Farrow
(different homes either side of Central Park
, New York
), Margaret Drabble
and Michael Holroyd
(married 24 years as of 2007, separate homes), Helena Bonham Carter
and Tim Burton
(one child, two houses next door to each other in Hampstead
), and Booker prizewinner Arundhati Roy
and husband Pradip Krishen
(separate homes in Delhi