Does having two leases give you a new lease on love? Celina* says she and her third husband, Eric, a newscaster, have kept the spark alive by having separate homes. "It's a marriage preserver," reports the bubbly entertainment writer.
Even after being monogamous for six years, sharing a home, Celina says would have been a "lifestyle shock." Paying rent on two apartments in a doorman building in Manhattan, she admits, is a luxury. Still, she says, it keeps the relationship fun, romantic, and functions like a "pressure valve."
And the two are not alone in choosing to couple, but not cohabitate. Studies at University of Leeds, Oxford and the New York Times, have led this social phenomenon to acquire its own nomenclature, "Living Alone Together" or LAT for short. And it's gaining steam in Europe, too: In the International Encyclopedia of Sexuality, Swedish researcher Dr. Jan Trost reported an increased incidence of Scandinavian LATs. Exact numbers are hard to come by—though the 2007 U.S. Census reported that 30 million Americans live alone, it's tough to determine how many have a steady date a few doors down.
Couples who are LATs place a high premium on romance. Stephen and Kate Robinson, married TV writers in their mid-thirties, have lived on two separate coasts for six years. Since they often only have a weekend together, Stephen say they "try to do special things, so it's like an early-relationship date." Jim, a preppy, twice-married, 74-year-old, father of six, is happily LAT with Jane, a svelte, single mother and teacher, ten years his junior. "When I see Jane, it's always a fresh date," he says, and she agrees: "He puts so much effort into making the relationship romantic—planning our dates and [the way] he writes his e-mails."