Love At A Distance, Ctd

by Chris Bodenner

The discussion continues:

That reader in a semi-monogomous relationship with his GF who has her own place can live as they please but still have each other … and that’s great – without kids. With kids that’s called an amicable divorce.

Another skeptic:

So this reader is in a non-monogamous relationship with someone they don’t live with. Congratulations, you’ve discovered dating. This is not exactly a breakthrough.

I met the woman who would become my wife when we lived on opposite sides of the country. I moved to be with her and we married a year after I got to town. But even before we got hitched, we lived together. I love her, so I want to be around her. Like everyone, we have times where we recharge individually, but good grief; I couldn’t imagine saying “I love you, I’m so grateful to have you in my life, now go away.”

There’s also the joy of intimacy, and I mean real intimacy – of having someone in your life, of giving yourself to them, of just being around someone. My wife isn’t a roommate with benefits. This is not someone I dig and want to hook up with occasionally. I love her. It would be insane not to want to be around her.

But another reader has had success with living apart together:

Can we talk some more about LAT? It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. My long-time partner and I maintain separate households in neighborhoods about a half-hour drive away from each other, but we’ve lived together periodically when circumstances dictate (I had to get out of my place for awhile while it was being worked on; he had to sublet his place for a few months while he was unemployed).

Living together just hasn’t worked out so well for us. Both of us live in an expensive city, so our places are small, and we have very different styles when it comes to maintaining our space. I like a clean, peaceful place, and he tends to leave a trail of clothes and crumbs wherever he goes. I sometimes like to binge-watch shows on Netflix, which he hates. Living together, domestic resentments piled up (I don’t like to clean up after another adult, but he’s never going to be as orderly as I am, etc.), and we grew tired of seeing each other morning in and morning out, much as we enjoy sleeping in the same bed, and the focus of many of our conversations were domestic issues. It got boring, even though I find him anything but boring.

We plan to marry, but we will still live apart and date. Visiting each other on weekends and one or two nights during the week  builds in enough space that we have lots of unshared experiences to talk about, and enough space that we’re overjoyed to see each other when it happens. Sex isn’t on the table nightly and therefore easy to avoid; when we see each other, it’s with anticipation. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I want to be with this man for the rest of my life, but sharing a domestic existence would grind that desire right out of me. I’m at an age at which I don’t need a relationship for child-bearing or asset-building; I’m in it for good times, affectionate companionship, and mutual support. It makes sense to keep the good times rolling. Luckily for me, we see absolutely eye-to-eye on this.

Another:

I’ve been so excited to see these posts; they are very comforting to me right now. My husband of seven years recently took a too-good-to-pass-up job offer in San Francisco, moving away from me and our pet rabbit, who live in Boston. It hasn’t been easy, but so far, it’s been working for us. He came home two weekends ago, and we spent the best weekend we’ve had together in years. It’s easier to spend quality time together once a month than every night in front of the TV and laptop screens.

Like the other reader, I see very real advantages to living apart, like moving to the neighborhood he never wanted to live in, and getting the farm share he wouldn’t eat. But as we learn to navigate this new normal in our relationship, it’s tremendously helpful to see that many other people are making it work.

Update from the original reader:

Love the responses, and let me add an addendum: Yes, my GF don’t have (or want) kids (or marriage) which makes it simpler for us. Exactly: for us. We don’t think that our way is for everyone, yet people who criticize the LATs of the world (and they are legion, including many family members, gay and straight, who push us to get married) assume that what works for them (Living together! Daily intimacy! Every damn day forever and a day!) should work for everyone. We all share certain things in common (the desire for love and affection, intimacy and support) but we’re also all different and people ought to do what works for them without scorning or dismissing those who do otherwise.