Long Distance Can Make Relationships Better
A long distance relationship is often stigmatized as one that will fail. In movies, the long distance relationship is romanticized at first with eager couples wanting to make things work. However, after too much time spent apart, the relationships crumble. Even though this stereotype gets played over and over again by numerous movies, a recent study suggests that absence does in fact make the heart grow fonder. In this study, researchers report that long distance relationships can help deepen the bond and connection between two people.
In this study, researchers recruited 63 heterosexual couples and asked them to keep a diary detailing the interactions they had with their significant others for one whole week. Half of the sample set was living in the same area while the other half was in a long distance relationship. The couples tended to be on the young side with the majority of them being in college at the age of 21. The researchers noted that the couples that lived apart had been geographically separated for an average of 17 months.
Unsurprisingly, the researchers, headed by L. Crystal Jiang of City University of Hong Kong and Jeffrey T. Hancock of Cornell University, discovered that people who were in long distance relationships had fewer interactions per day with one another. Despite this find, the researchers were shocked to discover that the limited interactions between the people in a long distance relationship were more meaningful. The people in these relationships appeared to be more willing to share more intimate details with their partners.
"The long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy," Jiang explained according to NPR. "Their efforts do pay back."
The researchers found that couples who are physically together might not try as hard in comparison to people in long distance relationships. Despite this find, the researchers could not identify why people in long distance relationships tend to expose more of themselves. They theorized that since time is a huge factor in their relationship, the partners might feel like every second counts and thus, only meaningful things should be said or time would be wasted. The researchers also reasoned that in these geographically impossible situations, couples might be blocking out time for communication and thus, they might be more willing to avoid distractions, like TV and focus only on the conversation at hand, forcing them to really think about what they say.
The researchers believe that more studies looking into the effects of long distance relationships could enlighten people about how communication, especially through social media, works and how it affects people's mentalities. The findings were published in the Journal of Communication.