During the initial stages of love, we want to spend every moment with the object of our affection. The intoxication of love overwhelms the senses. Calls, texts, and numerous dates leave us looking forward to that next time. The banter and fireworks can last months or years.
Once the first stages pass, the couple’s comfort level rises, often providing a moderate level of security. As a relationship evolves, the need to have constant closeness slightly diminishes. If you enter a commitment of marriage or cohabitation it further removes the urgency of seeing each other all the time. You trust that your partner will return home at the end of each day. Expectations of living under a single roof are common as you build a family and life together. This is the evolution of the relationship we have come to know, as traditional. But what happens when couples decide to live in separate residences? Do you wonder what is the reasoning? Why make such an unconventional move?
In recent years, I’ve met more than a handful of married and unmarried couples who have made a conscious decision to remain committed by living apart together (LAT). The agreement is increasingly popular as women focus more on their careers and themselves. Two people can love and be dedicated to each other without residing in the same home 100% of the time. The choice can derive from a desire to live different lifestyles or simply an inability to share space. The older we get, the more set in our ways we’re likely to become. Nowadays, living apart suits plenty of folks. It is not uncommon to see them stay in separate homes part-time and be perfectly happy together. In recent years, the younger generation seems to be catching on to the modern alternative.
The success of this type of agreement comes down to trust, communication, and commitment to each other. Personal experience has helped me understand the reasons why people might not completely rule it out. The traditional setting forces couples to assimilate or conform to a single space. Whether you like it or not, your partner is a package deal. You cannot change the essence of a person. Therefore, you are usually left to compromise more than your share.
Cohabitating means making adjustments which at times can be frustrating to either or both parties. Your adoration is not enough to eliminate personality quirks and annoying habits that bring conflict into a living situation. These scenarios may create resentment which turns into bickering over time. What does love have to do with it? Nothing! There are wonderful people who just need to have their own space. When you shack up, you are constantly in one another’s face. You get accustomed to having that person around. It’s natural to take him for granted. We are human, easily slipping into the daily monotony. We can innocently disregard how precious it is, the blessing of having this one special person there with you through and through, playing witness to your journey. We all get comfortable in old shoes, no?
I have been part of traditional and LAT relationships. Each one has its benefits and setbacks. Is one better than the other? No. They are just different and you should decide what works for you. I’ve had the most success with my LAT relationship by accepting the challenges unique to this type of arrangement.
The relationship encounters some of the same issues as any other, except we have to work harder at communicating. When you don’t see your partner every day, it can seem as if the distance drives a wedge. On the flip side, there are lots of things to talk about when you finally reunite. Kind gestures are included often to demonstrate time away has made the heart grow fonder. Greater interest in hearing about each other’s days is evident. It keeps things interesting and engaging both because you feel you missed so much already. These positive aspects can make LAT appealing to couples. However, issues also arise to make things especially difficult for you and your beau.
There are definitely downsides to this arrangement. Some people require emotional reinforcement, tough to provide if a couple is living apart. Timing is not always conducive to getting all needs fulfilled at the moment required. The other point to take into consideration? The stigma attached to this type of coupling can be mentally challenging at times. A certain level of judgment comes with living life outside the boundaries set by society. The mainstream way is perceived as the ”right” way of doing things. But I’m learning that everyone has a different normal. If you do what makes you happy and is best for you, it’s good enough. No one can live your life.
If the best of both worlds means getting what you need from your partner without compromising your desires or giving up your identity then living apart together (LAT) can possibly offer a 2-for-1 deal. However, often times you may question everything you’ve learned up to this point. That is okay. We are conditioned to preserve a heritage. Breaking tradition puts pressure on you to make others comfortable but it is not your job to make others understand. Envision the life you want then set the rules that apply to you. It’s hard to do one thing when everyone else is doing something else. It won’t be easy but you’ve got this! Just make sure it’s what you want – then go for it!
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