Long distance relationships, LAT and my life a year later

I can’t believe this past year has gone by so quickly! Somehow the fact that it’s 2020 makes this new year seem even more surreal doesn’t it?

What have you been up to this past year? Have you made any big changes in your life?

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

About a year ago, I flew to England with the intention of making a home here. My plans were to still travel back to my home in the US when I could, but create a more permanent base here than I’ve had before.

Let me start by saying I’ve always been a bit of a gypsy and it’s not hard for me to move long distances. What’s your preference. Stay or go?

One of my childhood friends has been living in the same home for over 30 years now and I expect there are more like her than we’d expect.

Perhaps you’ve grown up the same way. On average there’s a 50% chance you won’t move away from the state you were born in! In some states the percentage is much higher. 75% of those born in the Rust belt or southern states like MI and LA , end up staying in their home state.

Having been born in England and lived in three different countries by my teens meant I’m a bit of an anomaly. I think it makes it easier for me to imagine moving long distances than someone whose roots are firmly grounded in one place.

The LAT Relationship

Last year I wrote about LAT relationships. Couples in a committed relationship deciding to “live apart together” in separate homes.

The reasons why couples choose to live apart are varied.

  • Older couples may want companionship without having to choose whose house to live in
  • As you age, you’re less likely to want to give up your hard won independence
  • Keeping your finances separate at this stage makes a smart choice

Couples over fifty are leading the current trend but on average 39% of couples in a partnership choose not to live together. Surprising right?

At the time I didn’t realize I would soon become part of that growing demographic!

My partner Jim loved his life in CO and didn’t want to give up rafting, friends he’d known all his adult life and nearby family. On the other hand my family was in England and I’d spent a lifetime living many thousands of miles apart with only brief get togethers over the years. I felt long overdue for some quality time in my birthplace.

Long Distance Relationship Update

That’s why last year I created a home in England and Jim and I began our version of a long distance LAT. Neither of us were sure how it would all work out. After all there’s no way to practice living apart. You just jump in!

Once I’d moved in, Jim flew back to the US and our new living apart life started.

He felt free to pursue his love of rafting and hanging out with friends all summer. I had time to set up my home here, take day trips by train to explore, meet up with family and learn how to navigate all the details that come with living in a new country!

I learned to rely on my own resources and quickly found a car share service for those times I couldn’t get where I needed to go by bus or train. An avid reader, I was thrilled to find all of my favorite authors at the local library. Exploring local shops and markets gave me inspiration for cooking for one, something which can be challenging in the US where everything is super-sized!

Jim and I speak on the phone every day by Whatsapp and share our day, thoughts or whatever daily trivia comes up. What’s on the news here, what we ate for dinner or our latest Netflix binge.

It’s not too far of a stretch to say we probably talk to each other as much, if not more than when we we lived together! When you condense it down to one conversation, you make the most of it don’t you?

Jim flew back this past fall and we traveled and lived together for almost two months.

The holidays were spent apart, but as each was spent with family it was a good outcome for both of us.

He’s due back here shortly and then we’ll be off on another adventure traveling through France.

Long Distance Relationship Must Have’s

I think living apart together and living long distance from your partner is the same. In both circumstances your relationship has to have trust to survive. Maturity too. If I was younger I may have been a lot less sanguine about what my other half was up to when I wasn’t around! But now I choose not to worry over something I have no control over. To be honest it’s not been an issue between us.

Communication is the glue that holds a LAT together.

Without daily real conversation you lose touch and with it the intimacy and companionship that a good relationship is all about.

Texts don’t cut it. Or emails. Oh they’re part of the communication trilogy, but you lose too much nuance and feeling when you don’t hear someone’s voice. We’re wired to talk to each other and without that connection, we can drift apart.

Trust and communication is vital, everything else is negotiable.

Do I know how this will all work out? Of course not!

But why bother trying to read the crystal ball. I believe if you put your best self into everything you do and let go of expectation, things have a way of working out.

A LAT or long distance committed relationship may work for you if you value your independence and have a strong sense of self. In other words you’re happy to spend a day alone or with your own company.

Relationships which start later in life may accommodate living apart more easily. Two partners used to living on their own have less stress over living apart I think. When Jim and I met we’d both gotten used to having our own home. Now we each have our own “home” again and visit each other. Which makes it feel special and intentional when we do get together.

Is it peachy perfect? Of course not. But then nothing is.

There will be times you’ll want the warmth of physical companionship. Someone to sit next to in the movies or across the table at dinner. But then it’s also pretty nice to have mornings to yourself if you’re not an early bird!

Less physical intimacy, aka sex is also a downside to any long distance relationship. You have to ask yourself if it’s a deal breaker.

Compromise is at the heart of any successful relationship. This is probably more true of a LAT than a traditional living together arrangement. If you can let go of expecting your long distance or living apart relationship to fill all your companionship needs then it’s got a good chance of success.

When you live apart it’s possible to have the best of both worlds. Your independence and commitment to another. I have no regrets one year in. If that sounds appealing to you, give it a go!

Keeping a journal is a helpful way of keeping track of desires and relationship goals.

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