6 January 2011
Can long distance love survive?
Does absence really make the heart grow fonder and how do you make a long-distance relationship last?
by Amy Strachman, Ph.D
Internet dating means that in today’s world, many couples are now facing the challenges of long-distance relationships. But do they last? Daily, face-to-face communication is thought to nurture and sustain a relationship and help a couple understand each other, yet, some long-distance relationships stand the test of time. So, why is this?
Research suggests that one reason long-distance relationships last is because couples are prone to ‘romantic idealisations’ about each other. If encounters are rare, couples are likely to reminisce in unrealistically positive terms, believing they have more in common than they really do. They are also likely to be on their best behaviour so certain character traits and incompatibilities remain hidden.
When the distance finally closes, these idealisations can lead to a break-up. A relationship may be happy and steady while apart but these false idealisations can lead to disappointment when the couple is together.
So, how can you be sure you don’t succumb to these idealisations and give your long-distance relationship the best chance of surviving and thriving? Research suggests that frequent levels of quality communication can raise a relationship’s chances of survival. These days the internet can make long-distance dating run more smoothly. Everything from webcams and emails to text messaging and phone calls can help.
To make a relationship last, you need to be a good communicator, so be willing to express how you feel. Be sure to talk about everything, just as you would if you saw your partner every day. It’s important to create intimacy with them, even if this can’t be physical. Couples that are proactive about getting to know each other and keep a grounded perception of their relationship will be much more likely to make it survive.
- References: Stafford, L., & Merolla, A.J. (2007). Idealization, reunions, and stability in long-distance dating relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relations, 24(1), 37-54.