The Perils of Long Distance Love

Long distance relationships can’t work…or so  the colloquial wisdom goes. Ok…maybe they’ll work for a while: You’ll exchange a few texts, talk on the phone when you can both steal moments alone, maybe visit once in a while, have great sex, enjoy your time together thoroughly….. But the heartache of being apart and living separate lives will finally begin to wear on you until finally, things will just fizzle out….and it really can be painful.

 

Wait!  Not true, according to a small but growing number of social science studies. Long-distance relationships are, in many ways, stronger than relationships between couples who live together or close by, shows a new study published today in the Journal of Communication.

“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, an assistant professor of communication at City University of Hong Kong.

 

Jiang’s research suggests  that people in long-distance relationships reported feeling emotionally closer to their long-distance lovers than did people in relationships with people who were literally — geographically — closer. Long-distance couples also reported sharing more with their lovers, and feeling like their partners were really listening.

 

“You always hear people say ‘long-distance relationships suck’ or ‘long-distance relationships never work out,’” Jiang says. “Indeed, our culture, particularly American culture, emphasizes being together physically and frequent face-to-face contact for close relationships, but long-distance relationships clearly stand against all these values.”  Talking goes to greater depths.  It is easier, in some cases, to establish bonds of trust.

It’s especially reassuring to hear this now, as so many couples today are living apart.  My husband and I spend many months apart doing the year.   In fact, three million Americans live apart from their spouses (for reasons other than divorce or discordance), Jiang says. It’s a trend that’s has spawned the term “commuter marriages” in recent headlines reflecting the new realities of tough economic times — you’ve got to go where the job is, after all. And many college students, not surprisingly, live apart from their partners – up to 50 percent are in a long-distance relationship, according to one estimate in a 2005 report.

 

It gets harder to estimate how many non-married, non-college students are in long-distance relationships, but according to one estimate, 14 percent of dating relationships were long-distance, according to the Center for the Study of Long-Distance Relationships. (Yes, such a thing once existed; sadly, it has closed). And HEY!  I’m a college student, so this is interesting stuff! 🙂Continue reading “The Perils of Long Distance Love”