LAT (Living Apart Together) for Seniors By Mac Marshall

 

"Being Apart -Teaches-Us How To Be Together"

copyright OurMindfulLife,com, used with permission.

Many of us over 60 are widowed, divorced, or maybe single our whole lives. We’ve gotten used to being independent. We’ve created a life for ourselves, with our own routines, habits, activities, and friends. We’re happy living on our own.

Then we meet someone — and ka boom!

Hearts aflutter, sex drive in high gear, intimacy is ours. We fall in love. Our closeness grows. We feel a strong commitment to each other. Our next step must be…

No, no, no! We don’t want to get married. We don’t even want to live together.

We relish our visits — especially the overnight ones! — and we equally relish the return to our own home afterwards. For many of us, the idea of marriage or even cohabitation may be unattractive, undesirable, or unworkable. Because of our personalities or our circumstances, we don’t want to mingle homes, finances, and legal obligations. Fortunately, there’s a lifestyle choice and relationship modality that describes what we want, and many of us are living that way now.

LAT is shorthand for “living apart together.” LAT is a long-term, committed, romantic connection without an intent to share a home.

LAT presents an attractive long-term relationship alternative to traditional marriage. It is a lifestyle choice—a new emergent family form, especially among older adults.

In a LAT relationship, a couple who’ve developed strong, loving feelings for one another nevertheless choose to reside separately. Usually, they get together on a regular basis, but each retains a separate abode. People in a LAT relationship treasure their times together, and they equally value their autonomy and alone time. LAT offers the separation that complements our need for togetherness. For many, it provides the best of both worlds.

Why might you, as seniors, prefer a LAT relationship over marriage or living together?

  • You each maintain your own home and private space.
  • You each retain and interact with your own friends and social network.
  • You each keep control over your own finances.
  • You each pursue activities and hobbies which may not interest the other partner.
  • You rely on each other for emotional intimacy and support without being together all the time.
  • You celebrate your personal autonomy concurrent with the joy of regular close companionship.
  • By not cohabiting 24/7, the time you spend together is ever sweeter.

 

Does LAT appeal to you? Do you live that way now? Any tips for readers who are considering LAT? We welcome your comments, experiences, and questions.

Mac Marshall

 

Mac Marshall, PhD is a retired anthropology professor, researcher, and author who is delighted to explore sexuality studies at this time of his life.

17 Comments

  1. Dawn McDonnell on October 5, 2021 at 11:39 am

    I just read Making Joy & Love in Seasoned Bodies by Joan Price. A really wonderful short story about this living aging space 50’s , 60’s & beyond.
    I often wondered and shared with my husband this idea of LAT way before I hit 60.
    I was a New Yorker part country gal loving the Hamptons & Jersey shore but a lover of my high heels, short skirts, and bling sashaying the nighttime lights in NYC with oodles of choice to go in a city that doesn’t sleep .
    Sooooo after marrying in my mid 30’s children between 36-40 & moving as a single gal more than 7x and moving again married 4 more times moving further South, Atlanta, Pontevedra &Now
    Siesta key….. it has become more clear to me LAT is more like a man’s cave – woman’s cave or a bi cave where our elusive personalities would be much more fun in separate spaces and places creating dating again in a married life. Hmmmmm with Children off on their own I find this might be a great way to keep my own mind snd body excited with one man. The one I’m married to! I think I will purchase my own women’s cave for me and one for him. He can decorate his own space!!! It might be a fishing cabin in one room & a mechanics room in another, a work bench a NFL size TV , fridge,
    Gym & exercise room, with the accouterments for a romp room while I choose my own space & decorate. That might be the elixer to bliss.
    Kitchens aside!
    Love this idea fir married couples when children have gone!

  2. Janet on October 1, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    Interesting my relationship has a name! lol LAT is the relationship my love and I have, We have been together over 4 years, We have no desire to get married, It works great for us!, We both contribute to the food I do a lot of cooking he takes a lot home and heats it up when we’re not together, (He doesn’t cook) Our relationship is loving, warm. just wonderful. We love each other, when we’re back together after not seeing each other for a few days, it’s honeymoon time again! We always sing the song “In the morning, In the evening don’t we have fun!:, I was in a loveless, sexless marriage, after he died I was blessed with the man I’m now with the love of my life! Seeing each other often, but not living together, A Living Apart Together relationship, works for us!

  3. BJ on October 1, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    I would love to hear is there are any shared finances in this living situation. I am feeling like I am bearing way too much of the cost for food since he eats with me most nights.

    • Joan Price on October 1, 2021 at 1:51 pm

      BJ, every couple can make its own agreement, but LAT for most includes separate finances. I recommend telling your partner to kick in for food costs!

  4. Velma on September 29, 2021 at 9:19 am

    I have heard the term LAT before. It describes a 20 year relationship that my friend has with her significant other. After the death of my husband four years ago, I joined a dating site and met a very nice gentleman with whom we had a FWB relationship. This worked for a while until I discovered that we had a different understanding of FWB. To me, it included commitment and monogamy. However, he believed that each of us was free to pursue and have relationships with others. I am currently dating another gentleman and made my intention clear that I prefer a LAT relationship and not another FWB. Jealousy, emotional bonding, and not to mention STDs that can occur with sex with multiple partners create unnecessary obstacles to having a good relationship. I also simply do not care to share domestically with anyone or to deal with the legal, financial, and other complications of marriage. I am an independent 73 year old woman who wants sex and romance. I just wish that the rest of the world could understand. I follow the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Simon. 💋

  5. Peter Reck on September 29, 2021 at 6:33 am

    From an anthropology perspective – all 5 comments are from women 😉 – well, here a man’s perspective:

    Cohabitating and spending significant amounts of time with another is multifaceted, complex and increasingly challenging as we get older. At some point, chances for one to be the caretaker of the other increase, and that “shared responsibilities” protocol is no longer possible.

    After many years alone a comfortable lifestyle has ensued and is now enjoyed more and more consistently. Romance and physical/emotional intimacy is the icing on the cake – and the LAT model is meeting that need wonderfully: Each partner remains free to choose how they are dividing their time, and unlike in live-in relationships, there is less negotiating and compromising required.

    Love, affection, friendship can unfold freely, eliminating the challenge of meeting of both partners needs most of the time in the context of shared activities (food, shopping, cleaning, maintaining a home, entertainment, etc.) . The LAT environment can be designed around those the areas where the needs of both partners match.

    What is there not to like about LAT? – It clearly works better for those who have learned and mastered to be happy living alone, whereas those who believe that they can’t feel complete and content without being in a marriage-type relationship, where most aspects of life are shared, including the home.

    Thank you for discussing this, as it is quite helpful to get clear on this issue right at the outset in a friendship.

  6. Jeneene Lambert on September 29, 2021 at 4:47 am

    I’ve been on my own for 40 years, he has spent most of his life married or cohabiting. When we started dating he told me he wants to live alone, maybe for the rest of his life. I said “that’s the best thing you could have said!” Two + years in, working better than I could have imagined. We get together once a week. The sex is fantastic, bone-melting. Different, but amazing. He is 71, I am 75.
    At his house he does the cooking and cleanup and serves me breakfast in bed. At my house I do it all. We talk on the phone every morning and email a goodnight message, and sometimes text during the day, or call if we want to. It is the healthiest relationship I’ve probably ever had. We have totally different interests, both enjoy hearing about the other’s but no interest in combining our lives. Many of my friends thing I really want more. I don’t! I’m glad there is a word, and a bit of literature, about this now.

  7. Marlene Powell on September 29, 2021 at 4:45 am

    I’m in total agreement and have often pointed people to K.T. Oslin’s song, Live Close By, Visit Often, to give them an idea of my relationship philosophy. Unfortunately, I can’t even seem to find anyone to date in my small city, let alone with whom to have any kind of relationship, LAT or otherwise.

    • Joan Price on September 29, 2021 at 12:14 pm

      Marlene, thank you for mentioning the song! https://youtu.be/hPaksVyKUC0. Perfect!

    • Mac Marshall on September 29, 2021 at 12:18 pm

      Thank you for the mention of K. T. Oslin’s song. I wasn’t familiar with it, and I agree that its lyrics are a *perfect* example of LAT. I hope that your search for a relationship partner will prove successful in the near future—wishing you the best.

  8. Ann Anderson Evans on September 23, 2021 at 7:17 am

    I am widowed, and the thought of changing my life around, again, to fit into somebody else’s boxes makes me deeply uncomfortable. At the moment, I’m alone alone, not in any kind of romantic relationship. Not having backup is unsettling sometimes but then again, the only other entities whose emergencies I have to deal with are my dog and the plants in my garden. I’ve rearranged my life many times, and maybe I’ll rearrange it again sometime, but for the moment my life feels comforting. A LAT relationship is, I believe (though as I said, I’ve been known to change my mind), the only kind I would consider.

  9. Nikki Canter on September 22, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    This describes exactly how I envision the rest of my life. Now I just need to find a proper companion!

  10. Linda Anderson on September 22, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    This also works well for those of us who are seniors yet still working. Sometimes it’s difficult to cohabit when one person is working full-time and the other is fully retired. Other times when we are geographically distant and still working it may not be possible to find new employment in a new location, especially as senior workers who don’t want to start over again. Creating a relationship that allows each to continue to work yet also share time together just makes good sense! I’ve tried LAT in both of these scenarios. The FT worker versus retiree still had challenges. But LAT because jobs are in different places continues to be a very positive experience.

    • Nan May on September 24, 2021 at 5:20 am

      I guess that’s what I’m in, just never knew it had a name. Widowed several years and met a lovely man who moved out of state to be close to family (we’re both in our 70s). We are 2+ hours apart, but visit back and forth every few weeks. Sometimes we meet in a third location for a few days vacation. I can’t imagine giving up my home or moving away from my friends and family and he feels the same way. It’s worked well for us for over a year.

  11. Irene Botsko on September 22, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    Great Article Mac! Thanks for putting a name to a very valid life choice!

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