Analysis & Comment

John Daly: 'Live-in lovers now a thing of the past?'

Are you LAT? No, it’s not another new diet or mortgage tracker. In fact, it’s a relationship trend we’re probably going to see a lot more of as the Roaring Twenties roll in. ‘Living apart together’ is the new black for an increasing number of couples as the age-old marriage of romance and domesticity negotiates another new turn of the road of life.

There might be something in that old phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” after all if recent research is to be believed. According to a study by the University of Bradford, not only is LAT more common, it is increasingly seen as a better way for couples to live.

Previous surveys suggested up to 10pc of adults in Western Europe, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are adopting this new trend, while up to a quarter of people in the UK who are statistically defined as single have an intimate partner – they just live somewhere else.

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Being together but apart allows for a “win-win” relationship – maintaining your own space, habits and friendships – added to the with the pleasure of intimacy on tap with a regular partner.

And it helps avoid those recurring barneys around doing the dishes or picking up withered underwear scattered about the bedroom floor.

Maybe that star of Hollywood’s golden age, Katherine Hepburn, was ahead of her time: “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”

As it does in so many aspects of modern life, the smartphone acts as activity referee and mothering monitor to LAT couples, offering constant contact by text, Facebook and WhatsApp – as well as the inevitable midnight “booty call” one supposes.

Speaking of which there are rules to this new relationship state, including an expectation of monogamous fidelity, whether you live across the street, the county or the country.

Interestingly, the over-50s are the main drivers of the LAT revolution – many of whom have already been down the marriage/divorce road. Now in a place where they’ve set up life just as they want it, the idea of compromising that freedom by full-time cohabitation is a bridge too far in the autumn years.

Life is all about the details, so guarding the independence of your finances and routines ranks just as important as always getting the right side of the bed. Or as a chatty New Yorker I met recently on a Dublin-Cork Aircoach declared: “You spend a lot of time and effort putting together a life where your apartment is just how you want it, and you’re gonna risk it all for some dude with a winning smile and lousy toilet habits? Gettaoutahere!”

In the end, perhaps the essence of LAT is best encapsulated by the philosophy of Kahlil Gibran: “Let there be spaces in your togetherness and allow the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love.”

In its terrifying beauty, ‘1917’ shows war is hell

EVERYWHERE you turn this month there’s misery – rain, flu and the trauma of badly thrashed credit cards. It’s a time for taking your entertainment in comfort, like the almost empty afternoon screenings at your local cinema.

Book an armchair for ‘1917’ – destined to be one of the best films of the year. A deep dive into the abyss of WWI trench warfare, it is a beautifully terrifying vision of hell, courtesy of the stunning cinematography of Roger Deakins.

Exciting, dramatic, gripping, nerve-shredding – it is all of these and more in a tale of two soldiers sent across the terrain of No Man’s Land to save the certain deaths of 1,600 comrades.

When American Civil War General William Sherman remarked that “war is hell”, he said a mouthful.

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