I’ve been in a Living Alone Together (or Living Apart Together) relationship for a few years now, and the question “Is this a phase, or will this be forever?” pops up from time to time. During some periods more often than others, but when I look back, I’ve noticed it has always been there. LAT relationships don’t have a lot of taboos, but talking about moving in together, it is certainly one of them.
As with most big items in a relationship -even if you are on the same page- you might not always be at the same point on that page. I am clear that living apart together has been, by far and away, one of the best decisions we have taken as a couple. In fact, it has been the resounding success of our implementation of LAT that had me wondering if this was how our lives were going to look like for the rest of the ride. When we started this “experiment” we had no idea if it was going to work, so we never did contemplate the long term scenario of this relationship variant. Now it feels as if that decision has been taken for us.
If everything is going well with LAT, what’s the problem?
I’ve had this vision of us growing old together. Coupled with that vision I had all these mental pictures of us doing “old people stuff”. I have this future movie clip of us where we are walking in the park feeding the pigeons while holding hands. In this vision, I never had us walking back home together because it was implied that we lived under one roof. So now I’ve added the return scene from the park, and there’s this moment where we hug and give each other a kiss, and walk off in different directions. This is when I realized that my open minded persona is not in sync with my expectations of life. Does this mean I need to update my expectations to my current reality?
After thinking about it for a long time, I’ve come to the conclusion that it will be more beneficial for me to keep my current situation as the base, and update my expectations accordingly. Expectations are just that, expectations. They don’t even have to be based on reality. You can expect to win the lottery, win a grant to start a newspaper, or get randomly selected to colonize Mars…the sky is the limit when it comes to expectations. Expectations only need to present an idea, they don’t do any of the work to accomplish it or have to deal with the realities of such an endeavor. So as comforting as they can be, I cannot give them more weight than they deserve.
But having modified my expectations, is just part of dealing with the question. And the question – by the way – still remains unanswered. Which brings me to my next point… Is marriage a phase, or is it forever? It is just as valid to ask the same question to the more socially accepted, and perhaps still the most widely practiced relationship format. I doubt that at this point I will need to quote divorce rates data, census reports, or show you some cool looking graphs…you throw a rock in any direction, you will hit 9 divorcees. Could you say that anyone that has been divorced had a “marriage phase”? I would say this, what makes a phase a phase, is that it ended. If it doesn’t end, then it’s not a phase. If a LAT relationship or a marriage carry on until eternity, then we call it “the story of your lives”. If it ends, then the phase label would apply; to both.
If the success of a path is actually what determines if something is a phase or not, then perhaps that’s what I should focus on. Whatever sort of relationship I’m in, I want it to be a success. I don’t want my relationship to be a phase. At this point in time, we are very very happy in a LAT relationship, and I don’t see us changing this at any point in the (near) future. But ultimately, we will do what is best for the relationship. Right now it is definitely LAT. Once we get to the “feeding the pigeons in the park” period of our lives, we might reconsider. After all, this is a LAT relationship, meaning we do walk back home together 2-3 days a week, maybe by then we bump it to 4-5 times a week…who knows? The only thing that matters is that relationship formats can come and go, be phased in, and phased out, adjusted and refactored…in this day and age you might have to go through several relationship formats before you arrive at the one that really works for you. But the one thing that should always remain is us.
We are not a phase.
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