I have been living a very happy, peaceful, and fulfilling life all by myself for the last 10 years or so. Before that, I spent years in what some would call the traditional “living together” relationships. These “normal” relationships were either not for me, or I simply didn’t come across the right person to have one with.
About a year ago, I was presented with the idea of having a LAT relationship. This person knew my situation quite well. She was aware that I wasn’t looking for someone, and that I was very happy on my own. The selling point was that with a Living Apart Together set up, we could both keep our “living alone” lives, with the added perks of a relationship.
On paper it sounded interesting of course. The “best of both worlds” kind of thing. I did like her, there was a tangible attraction between us, and I did enjoy spending time with her. I asked her for some time to get my head around it.
As with everyone, I have quite a well represented group of LAT couples around me. Some of my best friends, all they know is LAT relationships. Had a few chats with them, took in all their accumulated wisdom and experience on the subject, brought it back home…and simmered on all this information for a few days. I kept on thinking, if I can really keep the balanced and peaceful life I have now and somehow combine it with a version of a relationship that will not disturb it…where’s the catch of a LAT relationship?
Even though I could see some issues on the horizon, the only way you are really going to find out if a LAT relationship is for you, is if you try it. This is a very short version of how it went:
- We went for it and gave LAT a go!
- It was great.
- And then it wasn’t.
Where’s the catch of a Living Apart Together relationship?
#1 The need for constant reassurance
I wonder if LATers quantify how much time and energy they actually spend reassuring each other? Hundreds of short texts and emojis sent back and forth, indicating that everything is OK, that I still love you, and you still love me. But oh! This morning I woke up, and there was no good morning kiss emoji!? Is this the beginning of the end? What does this mean? We do this everyday, what happened today?
It’s always one, the other, or both that need this constant guarantee cycle that things are fine. And it doesn’t matter how many times you do, the appeasing effect is never permanent. Tell me that when I am not with you are still thinking of me. Tell me again that I still am a central point in your life. This in time becomes exhausting. On either side, as we managed to get on both sides of this behavior at some point or another.
If you are on the receiving end of these demands, it can be truly overwhelming. There will be a moment when you simply run out of things to say on the matter. You want to say something, but you have used up every word in your vocabulary, in every possible combination, to let your partner know that things are fine.
If you are on the demanding end, it is excruciating to have this constant gnawing feeling inside of you that your relationship is hanging by a thread every day. That it is not what you think or hope it is. The feeling that in a LAT relationship you are more apart than you are together.
Either way, this is not a sustainable situation.
#2 Jealousy and Insecurities
If you are looking for a fertile ground for jealousy and insecurity, don’t look further than a LAT environment. It has all the ingredients and the ideal ecosystem for these emotions to thrive. You and your partner spend tons of time on your own, with other people, engaging in all the subjects, personal interests, and activities that you don’t do with each other. You might even spend as much, or more, time with other people than you do with your actual partner. And in time this could also become deeper and more intense. Not enough to tip you but to tempt you. We like to think that we are more than adept to deal with such things. But is that really so?
Sooner or later these regular exchanges with other people you have developed deep shared affinities with outside of your relationship, will give way to jealousy and insecurities.
If jealousy does find its way into your LAT relationship, the days between seeing each other can feel like eternal episodes of hell. The uncertainty and physical pain that the overpowering pressure of jealousy can impose upon you is utterly devastating. This can obviously exist in any relationship format, but in a LAT the conditions are simply ideal, and thus, more prevalent.
#3 Often when yo do need your partner by your side, they are not there
Most LAT relationships have the “weekend” arrangement. Meaning you see each other mostly, or only, during the weekends. I don’t know about you, but in my life, if something goes wrong, it’s usually during the week. That’s when I would need the support, the comfort, or a shoulder to cry on. And that’s exactly the time when your partner will not be present. And this is by design!
If you are going to commit to a relationship, one of the most important aspects that come in “the benefits package” is this moral support. Going through a bad experience is one thing. Going through a bad experience, and not having your partner with you while you are in the middle of it, just makes it so much worse. Not only are you contending with the situation that came up, but also dealing with the constant reminder that you are on your own….but you shouldn’t be.
#4 It’s vague and uncertain
If you are in any sort of relationship, it implies a certain level of commitment. If there is commitment, that means that you have either a vested interest or expectations of some kind. How can a LAT relationship harbor these interests or satisfy any expectations?
If most relationships have the potential of being abstract, LAT is by far the most abstract of them all when it comes to clarity. There is none. The most important person in your life is not there with you? You actually spend most of your time alone? Your partner has a completely different block of their life which you are not a part of in any way? What can you actually expect from such an arrangement? You don’t have any grip on how things are or how they will be. Either you are in or you are out. A LAT relationship is neither, it’s limbo.
#5 The impact it has on your family and social life
Being in a LAT relationship means that you block off anywhere from 40% to 60% of your agenda for your partner. These days are exclusively marked for you and your partner. Given that you only see each other during specific days, it’s less likely you would combine these days with visiting family, or spending it with friends. Depending on how big or important these groups are for you, a LAT relationship will have an effect on them. Most of the time LATers spend with each other will be during the weekends, so unless it’s a huge event like a wedding or a funeral that warrants an exception, you won’t be seeing your folks for most weekend family reunions or outings. The same thing would go for friends. If meeting your friends over the weekend, having backyard BBQs on Saturday, or watching the games on Sunday is a valuable part of your life, be prepared for it to be diluted.
I wouldn’t put too much attention to this as a matter of principle, but depending on what part of the country you are from, a LAT relationship might not be the most welcomed concept in some circles. It draws questions, rumors, and awkward situations. Again, this shouldn’t influence your decision, but do think about it, as it can become a big burden.
Final thoughts on LAT…
A LAT arrangement gives you all the responsibilities of a normal relationship, but almost none of the advantages. I’m not saying Living Apart Together doesn’t work. I’m only saying it doesn’t work for me. I am intrigued by those who swear by it, as for me LAT was actually the “worst of both worlds”. I would much rather carry on with my peaceful, balanced, and harmonious life living alone, in the tranquility of my own little quiet bubble.
- If you would like to learn more about LAT: