Absence makes the heart grow fonder

‘Out of sight’ is believed to be ‘out of mind’. But, according to new findings, absence does not spur separation, instead it makes relations deeper.

The new study, published in the Journal of Communication, found that couples in long-distance relations who video-chat, instant message, telephone or text regularly are more likely to have a stronger bonding than couples in ‘normal’ face-to-face relationships.

The study
Absence is thought to have negative effect on relationships. However, researchers at the City University of Hong Kong and Cornell University wanted to probe the positive side to long-distance relationships.

For the study, they picked up 63 heterosexual couples, average age 21 years. While half of the couples lived in face-to-face relationships, others were in long distance relationships who were separated geographically for an average of 17 months.

All participants were required to maintain a diary of one week of interactions with their beloved.

The diaries of couples in long distance relations reflected more satisfaction and deeper thoughts. The partners were more likely to record each piece of conversation with self- disclosures and idealizations.

On the other hand, diaries of couples in normal relationships lacked such effort and were more realistic about their partners’ responses.

“Long-distance friends focus more on mutual understanding and trust while geographically close friends value practical help and consider ‘being there when needed’ an important feature of close friendship,” the team highlighted.

“Indeed, our culture emphasizes being together physically and frequent face-to-face contact for close relationships, but long-distance relationships clearly stand against all these values. People don’t have to be so pessimistic about long-distance romance,” study’s lead researcher, L. Crystal Jiang from the City University of Hong Kong said.

“The long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy, and their efforts do pay back.”

Researchers believe that geographical distance between partners forces them into more intimate conversations and leaves out on trivial day-to-day issues that surely take the joy out of a relationship.

They suggest that using more frequent and longer communications, like Skyping and phone calls, rather than texting and quick emails are more helpful. According to the researchers, e-mailing was the least romantic form of communication.

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