Each home! For some, the slogan has nothing to do with containment measures: according to the National Institute for Demographic Studies, 1.2 million French people are in a relationship without living under the same roof. LAT (“living apart together”), or CNC for “non-cohabiting couple” in the language of Molière, have they found the cure for the inevitable erosion of love?
For the journalist and psychopractor Cécile Guéret, author of To love is to take the risk of surprise (Albin Michel), “The formula seems to feed two basic needs of the human being: the need for attachment and belonging on the one hand, and singularity and autonomy on the other”. According to a study by the University of Missouri, these couples are indeed motivated by the desire to remain independent, often after a first union and children. Balance and love regained, they decide not to mix everything anymore, and are “Generally satisfied with this new mode of intimate relationships”.
4 million French people
But the concept actually covers a wide variety of situations. Depending on the surveys and the wording of the questions, their number varies. “Nearly 4 million French people declare themselves in a “stable romantic relationship” without living with their partner, observes Arnaud Régnier-Loilier, researcher at INED. The situations are very different, voluntary or not, provisional or not. ” Among these 8% of the population, there are young lovebirds, for example, or people living separately because of family or professional constraints. On the other hand, we do not count these other conjugal models which are also emerging: LTAs “living together apart”, ex-partners who share the same roof when they no longer love each other, to keep the family cocoon or for lack of financial means to move.
It must be said that life as a couple can now afford anything: for half a century, marital models have changed. In his book Partnering, an uncertain business (Eyrolles), the sociologist Gérard Neyrand thus notes “The diversity of situations that hyper modernity has produced: one can be married, common-law, civil union, cohabiting, non-cohabiting, same sex, second or third union …”
We are out of the symbiotic vision of union, and we can hardly speak of our partner as of our half, except to do it in a joking tone.
Gérard Neyrand, sociologist
“Everyone at home” corresponds to the ideologies of the time, which gives pride of place to (all) personal development. “We have come out of the symbiotic vision of union, explains the sociologist, and you can hardly speak of your partner as your other half, except to do it in a joking tone. ” Finally, love has become non-negotiable: to keep the thrill, some people brandish “fission”, to use the formula of sociologist Serge Chaumier. Needing oxygen and afraid of feeling suffocated, the couple “Regenerates all the better as it can be fed from other sources”, he writes in Fissional Love (Fayard).
Out of sight near the heart?
Non-cohabitation obviously has a few advantages: if distance allows everyone to cultivate their “me” and their secret garden, it also creates lack, and therefore envy and desire, and avoids the burdensome daily routine. Hello libido, goodbye tension and other disappointments! It also seems to reduce the conflicts linked to family, domestic and material constraints: everyone has their own rhythm, activities, children and laundry. We only share good times.
But… because there is one but, and even several. First, the formula is expensive: according to INED, the CNCs are mainly city-dwellers, more often managers than employees. And then the feeling of loneliness can, over the water and the clothesline, weigh. Everyone is overwhelmed by their mental load, moments of sharing are long overdue and disengagement, real or felt as such, can overcome good feelings. Another concern is adherence to the project. When it is not one of the spouses who, infatuated with freedom, imposes its rhythm on the other (16% of cases), it is often the constraints, always less sexy, which force the couple to distance (62 %). Only 20% of the respondents chose together not to mix their tea towels and their towels.
We could then deprive ourselves of an essential dimension of the couple: the acceptance of the other and all their weaknesses, but also the happiness of being loved as we are.
Cécile Guéret, journalist and psychopractor
Finally, the couple’s lack of authenticity can threaten. “Not wanting to live together can sometimes be a way of staying in hyper-control of myself (I am always in a good mood, I have no faults …) and of the bond (I am afraid of committing myself, d ‘be invaded …), remarks Cécile Guéret. We could then deprive ourselves of an essential dimension of the couple: the acceptance of the other and all their weaknesses, but also the happiness of being loved as we are, with our imperfections, our failings, everything that makes our humanity. “ So in socks, mixing tea towels and towels. What one CNC out of two plans to do elsewhere in the year. According to Arnaud Régnier-Loilier, “Everyone at home is a transitional period of marital relationship, a step before cleaning up”. And sharing the washing machine.