Why long-distance relationships aren't as bad as we thought

Jul 22, 2013 at 9:00 p.m. ET

A new study published in the Journal of Communication finds that long-distance relationships can be better than in-person relationships.

Dating study has surprising results
Happy woman talking to boyfriend on phone

Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Yes — at least according to the results of a new study by psychologists Crystal Jiang and Jeffrey T. Hancock.

According to the study, couples together over long distances have more meaningful interactions and higher intimacy levels than those together all of the time. The reason? Their face-to-face interactions are limited, so they have deeper conversations about love and the future when they do talk.

"Besides communication frequency, they also adapt their messages, for example, by focusing on more limited but relationally intense topics," Jiang told USA Today. "The intimacy developed here is a psychological closeness — it doesn't include physical or sexual intimacy."

The study asked 63 couples in their early 20s to fill out a week's worth of daily online surveys about the quantity and quality of their interactions with their significant others. Researchers learned that most of the interactions were via text, video chats and phone calls.

"As a researcher, I'm not surprised with the results because it can be explained by the adaptive nature of human communication," Jiang told the newspaper. "But for the general public, I bet they are surprised. One of the reasons is that they strongly believe long distance relationships are challenging."

Well, they are challenging — especially when it comes to trust. However, this study shows that it's possible to have a successful relationship even with thousands of miles between you and your S.O.

Still worried about the physical side of your long-distance relationship? There's always Skype — and we've heard that it can be more exciting than regular skin-on-skin contact!

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