More older adults prefer ‘living apart together,’ study shows

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Perhaps love and marriage don’t go together like a horse and carriage after all. A new study finds that older Americans looking for love are latching onto a new trend that tempers the demands of a committed relationship, a phenomenon known as “Living Apart Together,” or “LAT.”

Spurred by a divorce rate that has doubled among this demographic since 1990, many older singles — often divorced or widowed — have taken on “an intimate relationship without a shared residence.” New research was conducted upon the increasingly popular relationship arrangement among those 50 years of age or older.

According to Jacquelyn Benson, a researcher at the University of Missouri who is entrenched in the topic, LAT has long been an established phenomenon in Europe. Only in recent years is the trend reaching the United States en masse.

“What has long been understood about late-in-life relationships is largely based on long-term marriage,” Benson explains in a release. With marriage rates amongst older Americans declining, she argues that “if more people young and old, married or not saw LAT as an option, it might save them from a lot of future heartache.”

LAT couples want independence, but should still discuss end-of-life care

For their study, Benson and another researcher interviewed adults who were at least 60 years of age and in committed relationships, yet didn’t live together. From their interactions with this demographic, the two researchers found that there were a number of motivating factors for a LAT-type relationship.

A major theme seemed to be independence older couples wanted their family and finances to remain separate from their partner. A stigma revolving around living together and not being wed at an older age also played a factor; many expressed that describing their partner as a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” would feel awkward.

Benson, who is continuing her research, points out how she hopes to help discover and resolve issues pertaining to LAT arrangements and late life imperatives, such as end-of-life planning and caregiving.

“Discussions about end-of-life planning and caregiving can be sensitive to talk about; however, LAT couples should make it a priority to have these conversations both as a couple and with their families,” she says. “Many of us wait until a crisis to address those issues, but in situations like LAT where there are no socially prescribed norms dictating behavior these conversations may be more important than ever.”

The study is published in the journal Family Relations.


  1. Really? This is neither new nor is it news. People have been in committed relationships but unmarried and not living together for many, many years. It was just never studied because nobody really cared what others did in their private lives. Leave it to the nosy, bored and ignorant so-called researchers of today’s under informed world to think they’ve discovered something new.

  2. I was married for 19 years before divorced and lived w another lady while dating. I now have my own place again and at 41 am so freaking excited.

    Even though I agree w this idea generally, the problem is that it’s inherently flawed.

    Why? Because Monogomy doesn’t work long-term. Look at the breakup, divorced and cheating stats to get proof of this.

    Because of this, I now never do exclusive or monogomus relationships. The only way I’d ever live w another woman again is if we could both see others.

    Nothing else works for us men and besides it’s a load of fun and less drama….

      1. Well, the ladies say I’m much more experienced than the 30 yr old guys so that’s all that I care about :))

  3. If you live apart from your spouse the marriage is one in name only. A real marriage is one that involves partners being together sharing meals, hearing about the day, planning schedules and enjoying intimacy without a schedule.
    There are many single men and women out there that want nothing more than a life partner to spend each and every day with.

  4. Yeah…it’s real good for raising kids. On the other hand, I see no reason to let a woman for a second time in my life get legal claim to my finances…been through that and my conclusion is they can’t be trusted and it’s not worth the risk of another big financial hit. As far as “intimacy”…there’s no woman 50+ that is that desirable, if you’re going to go for it at least go after a 30-40 yo, much more desirable for the trouble. Old woman have shot themselves in the foot.

  5. What this article doesn’t mention is that for a lot of ladies who are widows marrying again might leave them without medical benefits or any kind of work pension they had from their late husband. I know two women like that and yes you can say they should give it up for love etc etc. They are nice cultured ladies and they both have very nice gentlemen friends, who are widowers but being practical at this time in their life………… these ladies are very happy coming and going, traveling and being in an exclusive dating relationship. All four of the people seem to be happy. One of them has told me she would love to get married but she would lose the medical and she is not able to do that.

    My mom told me years after my father passed she really enjoyed this one man she dated for quite a long time. He probably would have married her but she was in a similar situation with medical benefits, she also said she really liked the freedom of going out, weekends at his place or her place and then returning home too. She said she felt more like a fun girlfriend that way. And after a lifetime of hard work, raising families etc. etc. I say where is the harm? If it works for the people involved, that is all that matters.

      1. No, not everyone is under Medicare. (Public/ Govt. employees are on their own plan and those are pretty good). Standard Medicare covers up to 20%. For older people who retired from a good company with service (30 to 36 years or more) say in industry that remaining 20% would be covered by a company plan and it is gold. If you are lucky enough to still have that, no way would you give that up. People are paying good money for supplement plans to cover that 20% today. 20% doesn’t sound like much but if you become seriously get ill it can be a huge number. By the time a person is older they usually have lived through some serious medical expenses .

  6. Going to be an interesting future. A lot of lonely people and depression I suspect. While keeping your money and independence are the positives here, you better have a lot of dependable friends or be lucky enough to have a lot of close relatives. With relationships changing and having less or no children you may not have any support as you age. And As we age and have less mobility and less independence its nice to have someone to depend on and look after you.

    1. Aw yeah Ansar but jeez it isn’t just about having a care giver and someone to depend on. Ya gotta have romance in there too. I know of an older guy who married a nurse because he thought a nurse would be a great caregiver. Now mind you this guy had a few health problems but nothing severe. He informed his wife of his big plans after they were married and she was so put out she divorced him and left. She wanted a husband and he wanted a nurse!

  7. I probably could have saved my marriage with LAT. Living together is the single most difficult thing about a relationship, IMHO. Now that I work in academia, I know of married couples who live in different cities (because of tenure issues) but who are just as committed as those who live together. I think I’d have a very hard time accepting a LAT arrangement that didn’t involve marriage, though. I would want my life mate to know if I were hospitalized or in a car accident, and I would want him to have the legal authority to make my end-of-life decisions rather than foisting those off on a distant relative. It’s just so odd that people think that marriage has to look a certain way, with both people living under the same roof, sharing the same bank account, and going on the same vacation. A little independence and mystery can make love last a long, long time.

  8. It sounds sad. Like some older people still view romantic relationships like teen or 20-something dating.

  9. Distance maketh the heart (among other things) grow fonder. I don’t want a relationship, I just want sex. I don’t want a wife, I want a lover. Anticipation is the key. Delayed gratification has become foreign to so many of us. We want everything yesterday. Scoop her up on weekends only, or a random day each week. Eat until both of your libidos are content. And afterwards, always obey your inner club DJ: you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

  10. This trend is because everyone who grew up in the 1945-1960 timeframe experienced the social cesspool American culture became last time Democrats were in charge for a while. This resulted in them gaining no understanding of human nature, nor any character, in their formative years. As a result, they want a ‘hollywood relationship,’ based on having sex with a cutie without regard for compatibility or actually liking each other.

    1. Baby Boomers? It’s so easy I won’t bite except to say: “this isn’t your parent’s twilight relationship with benefits”.

  11. Why would ANYone marry a woman these days?

    1.) Women put out at the drop of a hat, so you really don’t have to marry them anymore – or even live with them – to get regular bedroom time.
    2.) If you do get married, you better get a pre-nup, because they are entitled to half of everything you own if the marriage goes south (and it always does – they’ll see to it).
    3.) This isn’t your grandfather’s world anymore. Women aren’t nice, polite, well-mannered, charming, or anything special anymore. They have become rabid, angry feminists, who are lazy about their looks, and strive to be just like men. Don’t stick yourself with today’s bitter, loudmouthed, rude, self-involved, snotty entitlement b!tch. You will regret it for the rest of your life.
    4.) The endless NAGGING. Do you really want to go through this?

    I’ll get a lot of flack for this, but I speak the truth, and I speak from experience. Prove me wrong.


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