On Not Living with a Partner: Unpicking Coupledom and Cohabitation
The dominant contemporary normative model of sexual/ love relationships assumes a teleology in which some time after getting together two people instantiate their state of coupledom by moving in together. As a consequence, those who do not cohabit with a partner are generally thought not to be coupled. Social researchers have largely shared this understanding of intimate relationships, operating with a tripartite model of relationships in which people are single, cohabiting or married. This paper seeks to unpick the assumed contiguity of coupledom and cohabitation, and to deconstruct the category of 'single'. It draws on data from an intensive investigation of the relationship experiences, practices and values of people who are not living with a partner. It starts with a discussion of the prevalence of not living with a partner, offering a commentary on recent demographic data and quantitative research. It then sets out the methodology used in research, and describes the sample, before exploring the diverse practices of partnership and orientations towards (non) cohabitation of those interviewees who were in non-residential couple relationships. Three main orientations are identified amongst the partnered (living apart together, or LAT) interviewees: living apart regretfully; living apart gladly and living apart undecidedly. The individual and relational contexts of these orientations are then discussed.
Volume (Year): 11 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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