Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life

Article excerpt

'What do you mean, your ex-ex-boyfriend is still living with his ex-girlfriend?' said my friend Sarah, pulling a disgusted face.

To summarise the many questions that followed, this bosom buddy of mine dared to ask me to explain why I was now referring to The Builder as my 'ex-ex-boyfriend', and why said ex-ex-boyfriend was still living with the girlfriend he was going out with before he met me. Talk about impertinent.

Sometimes my married friends give me absolutely no leeway for how complicated modern romance is. They have no idea what singletons have to cope with in this godless age. The last time they were single, women used to be 'courted' or go on 'dates', or get 'marriage proposals'.

Nowadays, romance is a jungle, a war zone, a no-man's-land strewn with moral boundaries and broken-hearted people panting from the effort of crossing lines they swore they never would.

Naturally, as any other singleton will understand, I don't want to call someone with whom I have rekindled a defunct relationship 'my boyfriend' because that would be humiliating. So The Builder is now my ex-ex. As for the rest of it, well, as I explained to my friend:

'It's no big deal. I'm fine with it.'

'Hmm, ' said my friend.

'What do you mean hmm?'

'I mean hmm.'

'No, you don't mean hmm, you mean I'm an idiot. You mean: who goes out with a man who's living with his ex-girlfriend? I know your hmms. That was definitely a judgmental hmm, not a nonchalant hmm.'

'Well, I just think it's a bit weird.'

'Look, they were together a long time.

When they split up, it made sense to go on sharing a house. It's the modern way. Virtually all couples who break up carry on living together now.

There's an acronym for it.'

'Really? What is it then?'

Unfortunately, I couldn't think of it. And I've been trying to think of it ever since.

After some frenzied Googling, I've established that there is something called 'Living Apart Together', whose proponents are referred to as LATs. But that is quite the opposite of what my ex-ex-boyfriend does with his ex-girlfriend.

LATs are couples who are together, romantically speaking, but living at separate addresses, for practical, financial and/or spiritual reasons ('I just so need my space', and so on). …

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