Long-distance love

Long-distance relationships are probably more common than ever before. This is largely because people are able to “meet” remotely via internet dating sites and social media. Of course, this does not mean that long-distance relationships are a new thing. For as long as eyes have met across a crowded room, or not so crowded savannah, there have been examples of two people meeting from different backgrounds and then having to overcome the barrier of distance to consummate their love. The prevailing attitude is that these long-distance romances have small chance of success, but according to a new study these long-distance relationships can actually form stronger bonds than occur when people are physically closer.

To examine the impact of distance on relationships, researchers asked dating couples in both long-distance and geographically close relationships a series of questions. The questions were aimed at measuring the frequency and quality of the couples’ daily interactions, whether that was face to face, on the phone, via video chat, through texting, by instant messenger or over email. Each person reported to what extent they shared about themselves and to what extent they were experiencing intimacy in the relationship.

The results showed that long-distance couples felt more intimate with each other. This was partly driven by participants in long-distance relationships disclosing more about themselves. This is probably because the long-distance couples are making an effort to overcome the restraints of communication via various media whereas people in a more conventional face-to-face relationship take for granted that the relationship is “normal” and will progress of its own accord.

The other interesting finding was that long-distance couples tended to idealise their partner. It’s nice to see the best in your partner but it raises the question of whether the relationship is rooted in reality. The magic that surrounds the intense self-revelation of regular video chats and text messages tends to be dispelled in the prosaic business of dish washing, driving in city traffic and bed hair.

So while long-distance relationships may be stronger than face-to-face relationships in some ways, are they going to be able to stand the rigours of day-to-day living together? Then again, is that just a very 20th century question? Maybe the relationship of the future, and perhaps even today, will be conducted largely on a virtual basis with occasional trysts and connubial delights thrown in. After all, humans are evolving, why can’t their relationships be evolving too?

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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