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Living apart together

Uncoupling intimacy and co-residence

Couple at park
Researchers: Miranda Phillips
Published: May 2013

Aim

Around one fifth of those normally classified as ‘single’ are actually in a relationship but not living with their partner – 9% of adults in Britain. This mixed-method study was conducted in 2011-12 and is the most comprehensive study to date of those who choose to live apart together.

Findings

You can download a four-page pdf summary of the findings.

Alternatively, here's a brief overview of what we found out.

LAT relationships are relatively common

  • 9% of British adults are in a “living apart together” relationship.

Personal preference and practical reasons were given for living apart together

  • 30% of those surveyed expressed a preference for living apart, while 31% said it was too early in their relationship to cohabit.
  • 19% were constrained from living together, usually for financial reasons, and 12% said they lived apart due to their situation (e.g. job or study location).

All sorts of people, across the social spectrum, live apart together.

  • 29% of LATs were managers or in professional occupations, 20% were in intermediate occupations, and 41% were in routine or manual occupations or unemployed – similar proportions to those found in the general population
  • Two thirds of LAT couples live within 10 miles of each other, and a quarter live with children (24%) compared with 32% across the general population.

Methodology

Three complementary methods were used to gain a thorough understanding of LAT relationships:

  • A representative, national survey of 572 people who were asked questions about their social characteristics, their relationship, their motivations, and attitudes.
  • 50 people then went onto take part in qualitative interviews to gain more insight into everyday relationship practices, and 16 people responded to longer psycho-social biographical interviews about their personal relationships and life histories.

Read the report