Long Distance Relationships Stronger Than Once Thought, New Study Finds

Long Distance Relationships Stronger Than Once Thought, New Study Finds

The popular notion that long distance relationships never last and never work out may be debunked.

A new social science study, published in the Journal of Communication, has found a growing number of long distance relationships are surviving. And many were found to be stronger than face-to-face relationships.

Some time ago, long distance relationships between those separated by wars and vast oceans survived on epistle communication. The lovelorn penned epic and emotional letters back and forth to one another, pining for the day they could one day be reunited.

The quixotic idea that absence makes the heart grow fonder has been found to be true, to a point. But eventually the fire in some long distance relationships quell.

“While the public and the science community hold a pessimistic view towards long distance (LD), this research provides compelling support for the opposite side – long distance is not necessarily inferior to geographically close dating,” says Crystal Jiang. The assistant professor of communication at City University of Hong Kong was quoted by Today.

In the age of social media, video chat, and unlimited talk, text, and data, couples – separated temporarily by a stint in the military, work, or away at college – can maintain a more consistent connection.

“Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships,” was led by L. Crystal Jiang and Jeffrey T. Hancock.

In their study, 63 heterosexual dating couples (18 to 34) independently completed online surveys every day for one week. The majority were college students. And 80 percent of the couples considered their relationship status to be committed or serious.

The average length of the relationships was 22 months. On average, the long distance couples had been separated for at least 17 months, according to TIME.

Jiang’s research found people in long distance relationships reported feeling more emotionally closer to their partners than people in relationships with people who were physically geographically closer.

Long distance couples also reported sharing more with their partners, feeling like their partners were really listening.

Forgoing the physical aspect of the relationship required those, intent on maintaining a relationship, to keep up with communication.

An estimated three million Americans live apart from their spouses, for reasons other than discourse. This lifestyle has spawned the term commuter marriage, which reflects the reality of tough economic times. In many cases one partner has to go where the job opportunities are without uprooting their entire household.

Additionally, nearly 50 percent of college students live apart from their partners.

Regardless, the strength of any relationship is dependent on the amount of effort put into it. There are couples who wake and sleep in the same bed every day who invest very little in the life-blood of their relationship – lacking connection and communication.

How do you feel about long distance relationships? Have you ever had one? What advice would you give to a couple trying to maintain a long distance relationship?

[Image via Shutterstock]