Why long distance love can actually strengthen a relationship

BY: Arku Jasmine

Couples in long-distance relationships have stronger relationships in many ways than those who live closer together, new research shows.  

The study in the Journal of Communication found that couples who lived further apart reported feeling closer emotionally to their partners - and sharing more - than those nearer each other geographically.

'You always hear people say "long-distance relationships suck" or "long-distance relationships never work out,"' Crystal Jiang, an assistant professor of communication at City University of Hong Kong, told Today.

'This research provides compelling support for the opposite side.'

Around three million Americans in solid relationships now live apart from their spouses - a trend that has spawned the term 'commuter marriages'.

Though Jiang points out that American culture puts a high value on being in close proximity to our partner,  the 63 heterosexual dating couples from the study who had been separated for an average of 17 seemed to suggest otherwise.

For months, they tracked interactions with their partners through phone calls, video chats, IMs, email, texting or face-to-face conversations.

Those in long-distance relationships interacted with each other a bit less often, but - crucially - they reported 'experiencing greater intimacy' than couples who were geographically closer.

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Last January, Nicole Kendrot, who’s now 26, moved back to her home town of Rochester, NY and started dating boyfriend Richard Smith. But just two months into their relationship, Kendrot was offered a web designer job in New York City, 333 miles and a six-hour driveaway.   

The couple has been dating long-distance ever since.

'It hasn’t been as hard as I expected it to be,' Smith tells today, pointing out that he talks to hisi girlfriend at least once a day via Google Hangout.

For some people, an annoying temporary arrangement becomes a 'Living Apart Together' permanent lifestyle change. Celebrities like Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter have famously lived in separate homes for the majority of their relationships, and reaped the benefits.  

There are downsides to distance: Experts say that time apart makes us more likely to idealize our partner, rather than facing reality.

But when reality is a 400-square foot apartment, space has its benefits.

Jiang adds that 'if being geographically apart is inevitable, people should not despair', because long-distance relationships 'are not doomed to fail.'  

Source: Dailymail.co.uk