The "celibate couples": together or not?

The "celibate couples": together or not?

At what age should you get married? And when should you start thinking about starting a family? What if the standards of married life have changed so much that you don't even have to live in the same apartment to be together? Myriam Braiki, a sexologist and couple therapist, discusses the modern forms of cohabitation.

What are “celibate couples”?

Tell me, have you ever heard of the new love trend that couples call "celibate couples", "non-cohabitants," or even LAT (Living Apart Together)? Well, I'm going to enlighten you right away about these. These names are given to couples who make a choice not to live together.

For a good reason, they choose not to fit into certain famous societal injunctions. You know the infamous “boxes” you need to fit 0 to meet your love, live with them, buy a house together, have one, two, or three children, have a family car, and, if I push it a little, to have a dog and house in the suburbs! Well, some couples don't want that anymore! And yet they are still couples who love each other, committed to their relationships, but who "blow up" the old scheme of the marital home. These couples are committed to their relationship and yet have two different homes! They make a choice not to cohabit, for various reasons that I will talk about in this article.

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Who are those people?

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Let's check out some French figures. In France, 8% of the population declares to be in a relationship but not living under the same roof, that is almost 4 million people! That's quite a number and not so "out of the ordinary" at all!

Among these, for 40% it is an enlightened choice while other couples suffer this configuration, mainly for professional reasons. Surprisingly, this aspiration is found in all social circles...

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Couples from 18 to 25. Among these so-called "non-cohabiting" couples, 28% are between 18 and 25 years old. Let's face it, this figure also reflects the fact that stable couples are forming later than before. This may also be due to the increase in the number of years of study, but also the ever-increasing tendency to individualize society.

Couples from 25 to 55. But what about after the age of 25? Those who build the parental couple... Between the ages of 25 and 55, no less than 17% of couples are celibate couples who refuse to live together. The number of separated and divorced couples is, unfortunately, increasing more and more. And even if time is doing its restorative work, these new singles hesitate and think much longer before embarking, again, in a cohabitation. People who have already lived together know it well: when the couple dies, the disillusionment is immense. Some people don't want to go through it again. 

Couples over 55. A different turn for this age group… After the age of 55, there is a real difference between the sexes: more and more women are living alone, and these figures increase sharply as the years go by. Unfortunately, the "midday demon" is not just a myth! After the age of 50, and especially as we approach retirement, it is not uncommon to find that couples break up, usually at the initiative of the gentlemen.


These LAT couples (Living Apart Together) testify that living apart allows love to remain at the center of the relationship, preserving the desire to see each other, without the constraints of daily life or any obligation. Sharing moments together is always a choice, after all

Why choose to be non-cohabiting? Let’s check out the advantages

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Keep your independence. Nowadays, whether it's after leaving your parental home or after being in a couple, many people go through the "solo life" stage, with or without children. Even if this lifestyle is not appreciated by everyone, the fact remains that the vast majority end up adapting to it, and even enjoying it. It is then difficult to make room in one's daily life for a new person, because this will inevitably lead to some compromises that can destabilize this reassuring and comfortable organization.

No routine. Living separately maintains the famous enthusiasm of the beginnings, the unexpected evenings, and the tasty "let's sleep together tonight”, a bit like a date that you are delighted to have and to live. Appreciate the presence of the other, wait for this moment, and especially choose it!  Not living together would therefore push you to savor the presence of the other more. LAT couples say they avoid arguments linked to the daily routine: housework, shopping, etc! And, as you probably know, we are often told that routine is the number 1 enemy of a couple. 

For my part, I take this with a pinch of salt, because the routine can indeed "extinguish" the flame, but it is also so reassuring! And then, if we are not careful to maintain the ardor, the routine can also settle in a "célicouple."

Upgrade your sexuality. I can't talk about couples without talking about sexuality, which remains a founding element for the majority. The absence of the other naturally increases sexual desire tenfold. Indeed, when we live under the same roof, everything is there, within reach, accessible and possible!  There is not always the need to seduce each other, the kids are between you, the fatigue of daily life, the rhythm of shared madness... For these non-cohabiting couples, the chosen moments of reunion are mostly precious, and they describe moments of love as expected and stronger.

Independence, this space of freedom! Being able to keep their independence as well as their precious moments of solitude, are also positive aspects that they appreciate in this relationship. The reunion is only better, and this withdrawal can preserve the flame. Having a small space of freedom allows them not to suffocate... Being together at chosen moments, reduces the routine, arouses the desire to get ready for the other, and seduces them. There is, therefore, much less risk of getting tired of the other.

Couples want to be able to do things on their own, to have moments just for themselves. Many people living together end up complaining about their life together, expressing the lack of special moments. 

After a few years of living together, unfortunately, we end up forgetting that we have to take care of each other and that it is important to continue to pamper and surprise each other. Nothing is ever taken for granted, don't forget it! I like to say that the grass is not greener elsewhere, but it is greener where we maintain it!

What about the disadvantages of not living together?

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The financial aspect. To live as a couple, you have to be able to pay two of the rent, electricity bills, taxes, insurances, and so on... We won't lie to each other, you need a certain financial independence. And in these different expenses, I do not speak about the additional journeys to meet at one or the other. And if they wish to live separately, this little bohemian existence requires a certain financial ease that limits its concretization in these times of crisis.

An unfailing trust. Not having your partner under your "elbow" also requires you to be comfortable enough to offer the other person the confidence necessary for the good co-construction of a "celicouple." It is essential to find THE person who is ready to live this model as a couple. Avoid the emotionally dependent people, who will not support this model of not living together often in the idea that the couple represents the equation 1+1=2.

The material gymnastics. The fact of living separately can regularly leave the need for perpetual travel between one home and the other. By this, I mean that it regularly requires bringing and returning certain personal belongings. Never having your own place at the other's. Finally, you will have understood that times change, and so do the models of couples! We live in an era where everything is consumed quickly, even love. As soon as you meet, as soon as you ghost (read the Pure article on ghosting here), the sooner you forget. Couples that last and do not live together often create a form of misunderstanding for others. 

As you can see, there are many varied love patterns. Each couple must find the one that suits them best, provided that both partners are fulfilled. Many people live together but don't really spend time on their relationship. They neglect it, and it ends up being tarnished and extinguished. The most important thing is that the time spent together is of quality.

Myriam Braiki


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