Many of us have been there before- we meet somebody, fall in love, and everything is going great. Until one day, you get some sad news- your lover has to move for their job, school, or other reason. If it hasn’t happened to you, chances are, it’s happened to someone you know. When they are separated, what happens to that couple? Are they destined to break up?
In the past, the common belief was that the couple was doomed and would not survive this relationship. Luckily, new studies show that this is not always the case. Let’s look at this recently published research, which indicates that long-distance relationships can work out for the couple. Emma Dargie is a psychologist and the research team leader from Queen’s University behind this new research.
She states, “Contrary to popular belief, young unmarried people in long-distance dating relationships do not report lower relationship quality than those in geographically close relationships.” She also says that, oddly enough, the researchers found that couples who live far away from each other report “better functioning in several areas” compared to traditional relationships.
They based their research on a study that featured 243 males and 474 females in a long-distance relationship and 111 males and 314 females who lived near their lovers. According to Dargie, researchers recruited these couples from the local community, Ontario University, and North America. They had all been in their relationships for at least three months during the study. No couples were living together or married in their research.
What Did The Survey Look Like?
The survey consisted of questions concerning commitment, sexual satisfaction or dissatisfaction, intimacy, psychological distress, and communication. The individuals involved in long-distance relationships had additional questions like how far apart they lived from their mate and how often they saw each other. So what was the final result? The researchers discovered that there were only a small number of differences between long-distance relationships and close ones.
“The two types of couples were doing equally well,” states Karen Blair, a psychologist for the University of Utah. She is one of the authors of the paper for this study. She says, “the further apart the couple was, the better they were doing concerning satisfaction, intimacy, and communication.” Blair is referring to individuals who were in a long-distance relationship.
So what explanation do the researchers have for these surprising results? She states that “being further apart from your partner changes how you interact with them and forces you to work on some of the areas of relationship maintenance that geographically close couples may take for granted, and often overlook.”
She adds that if a couple isn’t physically near regularly, they must “engage in other activities to establish the relationship. Otherwise, there would be no relationship.” Usually, engaging in other activities involves having more profound, meaningful conversations. That turns into better and more effective communication, which takes intimacy and the relationship to a new level.
There Are Downsides Though
Of course, there are downsides to long-distance relationships that close proximity relationships don’t experience. For example, long-distance couples could discuss sex better, but their counterparts could have more sex physically. “There are pros and cons to each type of relationship,” says Blair. “But in the end, they even out so that both types of relationships can produce happy and satisfied couples.”
Though the study didn’t keep up with the couples over a more extended period, they could still make several deductions. For example, they could tell that the individuals in long-lasting, long-distance relationships weren’t that different from their counterparts who lived close to each other and were dating for the same amount of time.
“What appears to be more important than the actual length of the relationship is the certainty one has that they will eventually be together with their partner,” writes Blair. “If you’re absolutely positive that you’ll be together eventually, that certainty could potentially sustain a very long-distance dating relationship- even one that spans many years.”
This study tells us there’s hope for your relationship if you ever have to move from your partner. As long as you’re honestly committed to each other, living on different continents shouldn’t make any difference to your relationship. You may also learn from the whole experience. When you and your partner reunite, the communication skills you acquired can make your relationship even better than before.