Business, Economics and Jobs

Long-distance relationships just work better, say researchers


Online daters seem to be more satisfied with their partners and do better at marriage than those couples who met in a more traditional way.


Frederic J. Brown

Although couples are always complaining about long-distance, a new study shows that those relationships tend to do better than face-to-face ones.

Researchers from the City University of Hong Kong found that long-distance couples were more intimate with each other than their closer counterparts.

The study looked at 63 heterosexual couples attending university in the United States.

It used surveys to track the couples and their relationship status, with some doing long-distance and others not.

They were asked to measure the amount of meaningful interactions whether face-to-face or via telecommunications from phone to social media.

Each was asked how intimate they felt with the person after the interaction. They were also asked about relationship satisfaction and their level of commitment.

Long-distance couples came out on top.

Why? Two reasons, say researchers. The first is that conversation was easier and partners tended to volunteer more information about their day or their preferences.

The second is that long-distance couples tended to idealize one another and take their volunteered information as a way of becoming close - not just filling up the time.

The research throws into question beliefs that couples need to be near one another to develop a romantic relationship. Indeed, the study may also confirm what Manti Te'o seemed to have been telling us - one can still love an online girlfriend you've never met.

 "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," said study co-author Crystal Jiang, of the City University of Hong Kong.

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

The findings were published in the Journal of Communication.