Navigating Living Alone Together

Posted by: Center for Growth Therapists

Navigating Living Alone Together (LAT)

            In a time when the trend is going toward cohabitating prior to marriage, there is also a trend to Living Alone Together. What does that mean? Couples that Live Alone Together are choosing to be together and commit themselves to one another. However, Living Alone Together couples are also choosing to not live with one another and keep their individual lives separate from their couple life.

            There are many different scenarios that may have led you to where you are now, Living Alone Together. A common couple that chooses to Live Alone Together are those that are in a serious, monogamous relationship but have a previous divorce. Individuals in these couples have most likely worked really hard to reestablish themselves as individuals after their divorce and know just how hard it is to get that back. They also may have children from their previous marriage. Children, specifically adolescence, can be hard set on which school they go to. Parents, you also want your children to have the best education and the most stability in their lives. If you’ve already gone through a divorce, the children have most likely gone through a moment of instability. With that said, entering into a new relationship with children can be rather difficult and the best choice may be to live separately.

            Other couples may choose to Live Alone Together based on their living style. Living style could include, but is not limited to, cleanliness, area of living, morning versus night person, interest levels, extrovert versus introvert, decorative style, the list goes on. Issues surrounding living style are important enough to each partner that they do not want to compromise on, but also do not see as important enough to end the relationship if an agreement cannot be made.

            Another reason couples may choose to Live Alone Together is due to their career choices. In this economy (this tip was written in January 2013), the job sources are scarce and it may make more sense financially for couples to live apart in an area that each individual can get the best job possible. Living Alone Together due to a job can also reduce the commute, which is a huge source of stress for most individuals. Along with the job theme, couples may also choose to Live Alone Together in order to follow their professional dream. Individuals have an understanding of the other person that their career is important to him or her. The couple chooses [together] to not have to make one person sacrifice their individual goals for the purpose of cohabitating together as a couple.

            Couples who choose to Live Alone Together may also be doing so due to their children’s school. Where one person might have a very good career in a not-so-good school district, private school may be an [expensive] option or living in a better public school district separately may be an [less expensive] option. Going along with this idea, a school district may be very good but the job market may be very difficult (rural areas for example) and one individual may be forced to seek a job elsewhere.  There are also tax and real estate benefits to Living Alone Together.

The list of reasons a couple chooses to Live Alone Together is ongoing.  Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of Living Apart Together to better evaluate the situation.

 

PROS:

Your own living space
Privacy
Down time on your own time
Possible career advancement
Better school districts
Scheduled time to meet with your partner (something to look forward to)
Individuality
Possible tax rebates
Investment in real estate
Space to gather thoughts without partner influence
Not compromising personal routine
Having your own décor
Quirks that may become annoying stay “cute”
You stay more focused on yourself and your interests without being as influenced by your partner on a daily basis
Increase the “new” feeling
More of an individual
Less need to compromise
Hang outs are intentional time
Best behavior so the other person gets the best you

 

CONS:

Upkeep of two homes
Expense of having two of everything
Travel time
Immediate person-to-person consoling may be missing
Inflexibility
Lack of intimacy
Looks weird to society
Miss out on closeness gained from compromise
Limits opportunity to build better negotiation skills
Harder to integrate friends and family, less of a unit than an individual
Less opportunity to have spontaneity
Always on best behavior because it’s not your home, on visitor status- can’t relax

 

The first step to navigating Living Alone Together is to understand, as a couple, why Living Alone Together is the best choice for you.  Knowing why you chose to Live Alone Together will help you navigate that living choice. By asking why, a couple can then answer when, how, what, where, and who. To get you started and to be more specific with why, when, how, what, where, and who here are some questions you should be asking yourself when you are considering cohabitating with your partner or Living Alone Together.

 

            Why are we choosing one over the other?

                        Am I feeling pushed into one or the other?

                        Am I pushing my partner into one or the other?

            Why do I want/not want this?

            When will Living Alone Together become a part of the relationship and for how long, indefinitely or, for example, once the job market becomes better and both individuals can find good enough jobs in the same area?            

When is the right time to make this move?

            What if it’s not the right time for one of us but is for the other?

            When will we switch our living situations?

Will we switch our living circumstances again?

            When is it financially smart to do so? Is it ever?

            When will you start a family?

What will having a family look like while you have two homes?

How are you going to explain your living situation to your children when they see it is not the “social norm?”

            When do you communicate?

                        When I have something to communicate that isn’t scheduled, can I?

            When do you see each other?

            When do you not see each other?

            When will you know your partner needs you or doesn’t need you?

            How will you let your partner know when you need them?

            How will we afford to live like this?

How will Living Alone Together be played out within the relationship?

            If it is for the children, do you see each other on the weekend in one home?

            If it is due to differences in living styles, do you eat dinner together each night?            

            How will our daily/weekly/monthly/yearly lives look?

            How will our living situation look?

                        Some couples simply need separate bedrooms where others need completely separate houses.

            How will we split costs?

            How will we make our schedules with one another?

            How will we communicate? Phone, Skype, texting, email…

            How will this affect the children (if applicable)?

            How will you start a family?

                        Where will the children live?

                        Do living situations change during the pregnancy and within the first few months of the child’s life?

            How often do we see each other?

            What are the guidelines in LAT?

            What does each individual need from the other and their living situation?

            What are your expectations? 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years… down the road?

            Where are the limits; is one partner going to be in California and the other in New York, or is one going to be at the Jersey Shore and the other in Philadelphia?

            Where will you sleep, eat dinner, spend your weekends?

            Who’s house will you eat dinner at?

            Who’s bed will you sleep in?

            Who is going to be commuting?

            Who is going to raise the children?

 

There are many more questions to be asking yourself and your partner when considering your living situations. The main behavior of these questions is to get you to communicate with your partner. The idea behind Living Alone Together is allowing for each partner to have their own space to express themselves how they see fit. Living Alone Together does limit the partners from seeing nonverbal cues more often than not due to the lack of face-to-face contact. Therefore, open communication is key to a successful Living Alone Together couple. Within open communication, it is important to come to the same conclusion about the above questions. There should not be any leftover conversations. If parts of the question are left unanswered, this will become problematic in the future. The above questions should be answered in a face-to-face conversation.

Balance is another important part of Living Alone Together. For some, the purpose of becoming a Living Alone Together couple is due to work. Though compromise is not as prevalent in Living Alone Together couples, it is still necessary. The couple must find a good balance of dividing their time. How much time will be spent individually, together, at work, with family, etc?

At the end of the day, Living Alone Together is about knowing yourself and your needs and getting them met while also balancing having a partner; just as couples living together must do.  Understanding what Living Alone Together is going to look like for you and your partner is key. Understanding that Living Alone Together is not the social normalcy and therefore may be up against more setbacks is also important. Knowing what you and your partner need and want out of the relationship and how to navigate it is the best way to success. When Living Alone Together works, it really works for those couples. However, sometimes Living Alone Together is not the right choice for others and that is okay too.  Again, figuring out what your needs and wants are is the most important factor.