UVic relationship study seeks couples who love together but live apart

Former UVic sociologist Laura Funk had heard anecdotal reports of “Living Apart Together,” or LAT, couples in Canada before she delved into researching the new family form with Karen Kobayashi of UVic’s Centre on Aging.

Researchers at the University of Victoria are studying a new family form: long-term, committed relationships between intimate partners who live in separate homes.

Former UVic sociologist Laura Funk had heard anecdotal reports of “Living Apart Together,” or LAT, couples in Canada before she delved into researching the new family form with Karen Kobayashi of UVic’s Centre on Aging.

“You might think that signals a lack of commitment – if two people don’t want to move in together – but in fact you can have long-term committed partnerships that are LATS. It’s not uncommon for a LAT couple to be married, yet still maintain separate residences,” said Funk, who is now based at the University of Manitoba. “It challenges our definitions of family.”

Couples with children from previous partners may choose these types of relationships to avoid the potential stress of blending families, Funk said. Other possible motivations behind LAT relationships include older women who have regained their independence after the end of a traditional marriage and don’t want to provide household duties for a new partner. Finances are also likely to play a role in the relationships, as both partners must be financially secure enough to maintain their own residences.

Stats Can had previously reported that up to one in 12 people in the country were in LAT relationships – a figure that Funk learned was inflated by including teens living at home in the study.

The researchers are looking to contact couples –  both opposite- and same-sex – in Victoria or Vancouver who have been in separate-residence relationships for at least five years and are over the age of 25.

Loving the Distance Between: Living Apart Together Relationships began in May 2011 and runs to May 2012. It’s funded by a Social Sciences and Humanties Research Council Internal Research Grant from UVic.

To take part in the study contact Kobayashi at 250-721-7574 or email kmkobay@uvic.ca.