I recently learned something fairly unexpected: In the context of romantic relationships, absence may in fact make communication grow fonder – but there are some steps you have to take.
Long Distance Communication, According to Science
Many people assume that it’s challenging to maintain intimacy in a long distance relationship, and that’s true – but it’s also not the end of the story. According to a study titled “Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships” (Journal of Communication, 2013), there’s more to it.
The study, conducted by researchers with Cornell University, talked to 63 heterosexual couples. Roughly half of the couples disclosed that they were in long distance relationships and, on average, had been living apart for 17 months. Researchers asked all the couples – close distance and long distance -- about their typical communication. What they found was pretty surprising.
Data suggested that long distance romantic relationships can garner equal -- or even greater -- trust and satisfaction than their geographically close counterparts *if* long distance couples share more meaningful thoughts and feelings than those in close proximity. There also was a (necessary) tendency to idealize their partners’ behaviors, which was an artifact of communication that also helped enhance the greater sense of intimacy.
How in the heck can long distance be more intimate?
Science is important, but real life isn’t conducted in a lab. Being apart is definitely trying at times, even for couples with a relatively strong foundation. So, how do you get through it?
Writer Brittany Wong gathered insights from people currently managing long distance relationships, some of which are really insightful. Here are two broad suggestions.
Make Everything a “Bonus Point”
It might seem strange, but you can make long distance intimacy into a pretty interesting game – and what’s more thrilling than a little fun and games? (Answer: Almost nothing.)
Wong’s curation of insights suggests getting a credit card that earns airline miles and celebrating everything.
Via racking up airline miles, “I was able to get complimentary flights almost every other month this way from my American Express card. Make sure to pick a card with an airline component so you can rack up the points,” reported one model/blogger.
Another person who was in a long distance relationship when her husband was stationed overseas said, “Celebrate everything, even if you can’t be together in person. Life is too short not to and that’s especially true when you’re in a long-distance relationship.”
This is actually great advice for any relationship. We often get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget to focus on – and celebrate – what’s really making us happy.
This seems like a no-brainer in 2018, but make sure to call and text each other throughout the day and schedule regular Skype dates.
“You have to call and text each other during the day and share what’s going on. In other words, don’t wait to do it all in a phone call at the end of the day when you are tired. Make your partner part of your daily life,” one writer suggested.
A blogger added, “It’s really essential that you and your partner have a schedule for when you’ll talk... To maintain a strong relationship, you need to talk on the phone, but preferably something like Skype, as often as you can!”
Obviously, making your partner part of your daily life should include physical intimacy – and technology like FaceTime or Skype coupled with technology-infused adult products can really help make virtual time as “real” as possible.
Take the Motorbunny LINK for instance. The Motorbunny LINK is an app that allows you to control your Motorbunny remotely, from across the room or from across the country. Buzz, Twirl, and Reverse Twirl functions each have independent controls in the LINK app, meaning one partner can be controlling Motorbunny while another partner enjoys.
The remote LINK control is obviously a great way for people to stay connected over long distances, with the tactile aspects of both the Motorbunny LINK app controls and the Motorbunny itself minimizing feelings of distance in many ways. Combine this with a visual aide like FaceTime or Skype, and long distance intimacy might not be so bad.
Back to Science...
If intimacy can be enhanced over long distances on the basis of the quality of your and your partner’s exchanges, then quality exchanges are worth working for. Sure, some days may just be for updates about the weather, but really working towards intimacy in tougher circumstances has the added impact of demonstrating your relationship’s importance. It’s less casual, less taken for granted.
In this way, it actually makes sense that intimacy can be enhanced over long distances. The evidence of how much you needed to work for it is always right there.
- Dr. ChauntelleP.S. You can sign up for Motorbunny’s newsletter right here to get regular updates and notifications when new blogs come out. You can also send in your questions – and trust me, if you have a question, there are others out there wondering about something similar. We can talk about them here. (Anonymously, of course!)