In Europe, the data clearly show that later-life LAT relationships are on the rise. Jenny de Jong Gierveld, a sociologist at Vrije University in Amsterdam, said that as early as 1995, social scientists in the Netherlands added questions to large national surveys to track later-life LAT relationships. Dr. Brown said that didn’t happen in the United States, where surveys typically ask who is in a household. Nevertheless, Dr. Connidis said, social scientists can infer that LAT is now a “popular option” in the United States and Canada. For example, the sociologist Huijing Wu of the University of Western Ontario determined that of unmarried but partnered Wisconsin residents over 50 in 2011, 38 percent were daters, 32 percent were LATs, and 30 percent were cohabiting.
Social scientists comment on the resourcefulness of these older couples, who are creating ways to enjoy the intimacy and emotional support of marriage or cohabitation — as several studies on LAT have confirmed they do — while avoiding caregiving expectations. As Dr. Gierveld and her colleagues have found, LAT partners provide mainly emotional support to each other but not hands-on care. Some couples assume some care but not full-time.
“Once they’re in that relationship,” Dr. Connidis said, “partners end up more willing to care for each other than they thought they’d be, but not necessarily to the same level as a marital partner.”
Jill Spoon, 73, and John Backe, 74, a LAT …….