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People who live apart together (LATs) - how different are they?

By Simon Duncan and M. Phillips


Yes‘Living apart together’ – that is being in an intimate relationship with a partner who lives somewhere else – is increasingly recognised and accepted as a specific way of being in a couple. On the face of it, this is a far cry from the ‘traditional’ version of couple relationships, where co-residence in marriage was placed at the centre and where living apart from one's partner would be regarded as abnormal, and understandable only as a reaction to severe external constraints.\ud \ud Some commentators regard living apart together as a historically new family form where LATs can pursue a ‘both/and’ solution to partnership – they can experience both the intimacy of being in a couple, and at the same time continue with pre-existing commitments. LATs may even de-prioritize couple relationships and place more importance on friendship. Alternatively, others see LAT as just a ‘stage’ on the way to cohabitation and marriage, where LATs are not radical pioneers moving beyond the family, but are cautious and conservative, and simply show a lack of commitment. Behind these rival interpretations lies the increasingly tarnished spectre of individualisation theory. Is LAT some sort of index for a developing individualisation in practice?\ud \ud In this paper we take this debate further by using information from the 2006 British Social Attitudes Survey. We find that LATs have quite diverse origins and motivations, and while as a category LATs are often among the more liberal in family matters, as a whole they do not show any marked ‘pioneer’ attitudinal position in the sense of leading a radical new way, especially if age is taken into account.ESR

Topics: Living apart together (LAT), Families, Individualisation, Family relationships, Couple relationships
Publisher: Wiley Blackwell
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2009.01874.x
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Bradford Scholars

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