One in ten adults in Britain are in a relationship but not living with their partner - and most of those are incorrectly counted as single in official statistics, according to recently published research.
Researchers from the University of Bradford, Birkbeck, University of London and NatCen Social Research have been studying the 9% of British adults, most of whom are forced to tick the 'single' box in surveys because, although they are in a steady relationship, they do not live with their partner.
The researchers found that around a third of LATs live apart because they feel they are not yet ready to live together (although many of these hope to do so in the future). A further third choose to live apart - however few of these see this as a lifestyle choice, rather living apart is seen as emotionally safer, or a better way to manage other commitments, such as those to children, family and friends, or work. The remaining third are not able to live together due to circumstances outside the relationship itself - including financial reasons or working or studying in different places.
Professor Sasha Roseneil, from Birkbeck, University of London says: "Nowadays very few people settle into a life-long relationship in their early twenties and stay with their partner "until death us do part". People have complex relationship histories, and they often carry with them the emotional legacies of divorce and separation.
“For some people, more or less consciously, living apart together is a way of dealing with the messiness of intimate life today, protecting themselves, their children and their homes from some of the distress that they have previously experienced when a cohabiting relationship breaks down. That said, most people in LAT relationships have a strong sense that they are a couple, and many are in long-term relationships to which they are deeply committed."
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