By Rick Nauert Ph.D.
New research published in the Journal of Communication suggests that people in long-distance relationships often have stronger bonds from more constant, and deeper, communication than normal relationships.
The belief is that geographical distance mobilizes parties to engage in deeper, more satisfying communication.
Communications researchers Drs. Crystal Jiang, City University of Hong Kong and Jeffrey Hancock, Cornell University, asked dating couples in long-distance and geographically close relationships to report their daily interactions over different media: face-to-face, phone calls, video chat, texting, instant messenger, and email.
Over a week, they reported to what extent they shared about themselves and experienced intimacy, and to what extent they felt their partners did the same thing.
When comparing the two types of relationships, Jiang and Hancock found that long-distance couples felt more intimate to each other, and this greater intimacy is driven by two tendencies: long-distance couples disclosed themselves more, and they idealized their partners’ behaviors.
Interestingly, these two tendencies become more pronounced when couples communicated in text-based, asynchronous and mobile media because they made more efforts to overcome the media constraints.
Long-distance relationships have been unexplored for years. One of the reasons is that the general public believes they are rare and not normal.
Previous studies have focused on how couples cope with problems, such as jealousy and stress, but until recently, several studies have shown that long-distance relationships are not always problematic.
Some surveys even indicate that long-distance couples have equal or better relationship qualities than geographically close couples.