Are Long-Distance Relationships Happier?

man-laughing-on-phoneThere’s no escaping the fact long-distance relationships are tough. From missing out on major events in your partner’s life to facing the daily ups and downs of life alone, people in long-distance relationships may struggle to keep their relationships going. But if you’re facing a move or already bumping up against the challenges of love across distance, a new study published in the Journal of Communication offers some hope. Researchers studied the communication patterns of 63 couples—about half of which were in long-distance relationships—and found that couples in long-distance relationships may actually have healthier communication patterns and more emotional intimacy.

The Study

To learn about the effects of distance, researchers asked all 63 couples to record the specifics of their daily communications, along with information about how the interactions made them feel. Although people in long-distance relationships communicated less frequently, they felt more positive about their daily communications. They were more likely to report high feelings of intimacy during communication and to appreciate the ways their partners interacted with them.

This is promising news for those working to maintain long-distance relationships. The study emphasizes that about 3 million married couples are involved in long-distance relationships. A large percentage of college students have long-distance relationships, with 75% of them reporting that they have been involved in at least one such relationship.

Why Distance Might Be Better

The study used a small sample and relied on participants’ self-reports, so more research needs to be done. It could be that people in long-distance relationships miss their partners and thus are more likely to overlook small communication problems and to report feelings of warmth and intimacy. The study couldn’t determine whether communication was objectively better. However, the researchers who did the study emphasized that distance may indeed make relationships stronger. Perhaps people in long-distance relationships work harder to stay together. Social networking, instant messaging, texting, and other relatively new forms of communication can help to keep long-distance relationships strong and increase the amount of communication opportunities people in long-distance relationships have.

Keeping Long-Distance Relationships Strong

If you’re in a long-distance relationship, it’s not enough to rely on this study and assume your relationship will remain strong. Long-distance relationships take hard work, and the study points toward couples involved in these relationships working harder. Some things you can do to keep your relationship strong when you can’t be together:

  • Take advantage of technological options you might not have had 10 or 20 years ago to stay in frequent contact.
  • Discuss your expectations about the relationships prior to moving away, and continue discussions about the relationship, meeting one another’s expectations, and managing challenges such as jealousy and loneliness.
  • Focus on maintaining positive communication. Rather than using your partner to vent about the stress of the day, focus on cultivating positive feelings and helping one another feel supported and loved.
  • Take steps to keep the romance alive by sending each other flirty texts, small gifts, or even old-fashioned love letters.
  • Don’t hit the pause button on your life during the separation. Having friends, a job, and other outside interests can help distract you from the loneliness of long distances, and will make you a more interesting conversation partner.

References:

  1. Castillo, M. (2013, July 22). Long-distance relationships may be stronger, more intimate. CBSNews. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57594916/long-distance-relationships-may-be-stronger-more-intimate/
  2. Gutierrez, J. P. (2013, July 18). Long-distance relationships can form stronger bonds than face-to-face ones. EurekAlert! Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-07/ica-lrc071513.php
  3. Long-distance relationship survival guide. (n.d.). EHarmony Advice RSS. Retrieved from http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/relationships/long-distance-relationship-survival-guide/

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • 5 comments
  • Leave a Comment
  • mika

    mika

    August 7th, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    Ach I see the good and the bad, but if I’m in love, I want to be with the paerson that I am in love with and not so far away. I don’t want to learn the hard way if distance really does make the heart grow fonder because I would be really sad to find out that it doesn’t.

  • melissa D

    melissa D

    August 8th, 2013 at 4:25 AM

    I have been in both types of relationships, and I am currently with a man who lives almost 300 miles from where I do. We have been together almost 2 years now, and you know what? this is what is working for us right now. I don’t know if this is how we will always want to keep things because I think that there will come a time when we will at least want to be able to see each other in person a little more than what we do now. but now with our jobs and careers and the amount of time that we want to invest in those this is what makes the most sense for us. I would never be so dumb to think that this is going to work for everyone because I know that there are people who need more from a relationship than that and there are even some days that I feel like I want and need more. But then I go home and I have the house to myself and I can breathe and text and email or even skype and things feel right. Call us weird but I think that the distance has actually kept this little thing going longer than it may have had we lived closer to each other. We actually have to make an effort to see each other and talk to each other and that is the one thing that I think that couples who live close to each other kind of forget about.

  • HarOLD

    HarOLD

    August 9th, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    “Are Long-Distance Relationships Happier?”

    Definitely is for my friend…casual hook ups while still in a LDR is a way of life for him.Its something I wouldnt do personally but seems to work for him.

    In general I dont think a LDR works well.You would rather quit than do what my friend does.

  • Anon

    Anon

    October 19th, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    I agree nearly completely with the results of this study. Though this is only one study, and a survey-based one at that, I feel this is pretty accurate. I think the higher rates of happiness is due to unhappy LDRs ending much earlier than, say, an unhappy local relationship. Of course, that’s only a hypothesis; I think with local relationships, there’s more pressure from society and your circle of friends to stay together, and if you’re farther away from each other it’s easier to be honest. I’ve been with a guy for over a year, and he lives nearly 7000 miles away from me (I’m in Canada, he’s in Argentina), and honestly, it’s worked amazingly. I’ve never felt him before or seen him in person, but we make it work. We have tense moments just like any other couple, long or short distance, but I feel like we’re doing a lot better than I can say (unfortunately so) for some of my friend’s relationships. I’m not trying to brag, I realise that I’m incredibly lucky to have something like this. I’m just saying that, from my *personal experience* (which I’m happy to concede to any empirical evidence that proves me wrong), bad relationships tend to last longer in person than online, which could lead to higher concentrations of happiness in LDRs.
    On another note, I disagree with “not using your partner to vent to about the stresses of the day”. I think there’s something that needs to be distinguished, and that’s that *venting* and *taking out on* have different meanings. The former is just talking, and the latter is allowing emotions to get the better of you. I think that you should be able to vent to your significant other, in order to remain emotionally intimate. While, yeah, it’s important to say happy, you shouldn’t force yourself to be happy if you aren’t. Your partner should be able to talk with you through good and bad.
    Anyway, just my comments.

  • Janis Turner

    Janis Turner

    October 24th, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    I think that this article made me more hopeful and made me believe that a long distance relationship can really be successful. Not that I have doubted my own relationship, but long distance relationships are really tough. Reading this article made me realize that it is indeed true that couples who are in the same situation as me and partner are make more effort than the usual due to the distance situation. Also, being in this kind of situation, somehow force us to be more creative. It also let us know ourselves more, like, our limits, and makes us push our boundaries.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.