Does distance make the heart grow fonder???


| 7 Comments

Call me crazy but I'm in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Yes, my boyfriend goes to school 5 hours away from Penn State. Along with this, my best friend, sister and family are all 3+ hours away from me during the school year. Since I'm a sophomore this year, it was really nice having the whole summer to be with these special people after being apart for the first time last year for my freshman year. But, as August came around I was so ready to come back to State. When you're with the same people 24/7 you're bound to need a little space from them. Now that it's already mid-October I miss them all more than words can explain!!! So this got me thinking... Does distance really make the heart grow fonder??

Studies show that 75% of college students have been involved in long-distance relationships at some point. But...a study done in 2010 said that these relationships typically fail because it is necessary to have face-to-face contact to have a healthy, successful relationship. BUT...for us long-distancers there is hope! Just recently released by a research done at Cornell, "the long-distance couples contacted each other most often, about three to four times a day. But the researchers also found that this frequent contact may have forged stronger bonds between the partners." From personal experience, communication is KEY in a long-distance relationship. A lot of couples that do see each other every day, lack this communication because it's so normal for them to not go out of there way to text or call or video chat or send mail to or there significant other, because they know they'll just see them later. This "seeing them later" gets old and they end up not doing these more special, intimate acts. "'In some ways, long-distance relationships are a bit easier, at least for desire, perceived satisfaction, and not having to deal with day-to-day life,' explains Kristen P. Mark, director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab at the University of Kentucky." (CNN)

Video chat these days is so accessible. I really think this is why long-distance relationships are no longer looked at as epic fails. It's as close as we can get to having a personal, face-to-face connection when hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away from your significant other.  One woman that took part in the Cornell study stated, "'...you're seeing someone's face and having those facial expressions really makes a big difference...'" This is so true!

No question, there are factors that were not considered in this Cornell study that reveals long-distance relationships having more, or equal, intimacy and romance than couples that live together. I think a big part to look at is the degree of loneliness the couple feels. Some people do well on their own, and I'm sure are content with the distance, and others are more dependent and always need/want their significant other right there. No matter the type of person it doesn't make their love or romantic engagement, more or less, but it does have a large impact on how successful a long relationship would be for them. "'[Rachel Sussman, a licensed psychotherapist], acknowledged that as a relationship therapist, she sees couples when they're already experiencing problems, but in her experience, couples in long distance relationships second guess their relationship when they're apart, and often feel lonely'" (Huffington Post).  It's important to factor this in because are people in these relationships are feeling lonely, they will want to find ways to rid of this feeling. Then, like Sussman said, they will question being in the long-term relationship and clearly that is not healthy or beneficial for the couple! 

It certainly is complicated, especially at the young age of a college student. It's a choice to make and I feel like it depends on the personalities of the individuals and the nature of the relationship to begin with. It's good to hear long-distance relationships are only getting better with time!

And here are even more cute reasons why long-distance relationships aren't as bad everyone may think!!

7 Comments

Rebecca,

I was in a long distance relationship since freshman year of college and I am now a senior. It really can work if both people are on the same page. Unfortunately, my boyfriend and I broke up after four years when I came to school this summer. I lived with him the entire summer, so coming to school after being together literally 24/7 was too much to handle. My advice for you is to not spend every waking second together when you finally do receive the chance to be together for a longer period of time. I know it may seem like crazy advice and it's super hard to do, but I believe spending too much time together, then separating is what ended in my break-up. I hope you and your man can continue your relationship throughout college!

I am not personally in a long distance relationship but I'm happy to hear it is working for you! My sister and her boyfriend, who have been together for six years, have been in a long distance relationship during school for 4 of those years. I think it's absolutely true about growing a stronger bond because you do your best to keep in such close contact with the person while you are away so you're putting more effort into your relationship and keeping good communication. I definitely see that with my sister and her boyfriend, but in talking to her I also know that it is hard to always listen and be able to relate when they are in different cities, making different friends and experiencing different things. I know one of my other friends in a long distance relationship also video chats with her boyfriend and they try to do things "together" even though they are apart. These are things like watching tv and trying to keep goals for eating healthier. Long distance seems to be a lot more manageable and popular today.

I am also in a long-term relationship, and I have to agree that distance does "make the heart grow fonder." I think it's possible to spend too much time with someone that you begin to take it for granted, and being apart definitely makes the time that you are together more special. Another issue arises when couples in long-term relationships become "bored" of each other - which can cause a sticky situation when determining whether to end things or not. Love is actually very psychological, and making a relationship work long distance relies a lot on communication and keeping things "fresh" and fun. You can read more about falling into a "boring relationship" here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201208/are-you-tired-him-or-her

Rebecca,
I am also currently in a long distance relationship! I completely understand how you feel. My boyfriend goes to school 4 hours away and he is on the rugby team at his school so we do not really get to see each other that much but when we get to video chat about once every week I always get so excited to see his face and his smile and to have the chance to actually talk to him instead of sending a few texts everyday. I am very much a believer in the idea of "distance making the heart grow fonder" because when I do get to spend time with my boyfriend it is just that much more special. However, in terms of actually being able to measure and test if distance makes the heart grow fonder, I think the phrase should be distance makes the brain grow fonder. Everyone thinks that our heart is where our emotions are when, in fact, they are within our brains. I feel like if this were to be experimented or measured, researchers would have to measure something in the thalamus (the part of the brain responsible for desire) when someone sees someone that they are romantic with that they haven't seen in a long time(the experimented group) and the thalamus of someone who sees someone they are romantically with on a daily basis(the control group).

Rebecca,

I think the part of your post that stated that "some people do well on their own, and I'm sure are content with the distance, and others are more dependent and always need/want their significant other right there" is really important when talking about long distance relationships (if not the most important). I truly believe that for long distance relationships to work both of the people need to be the independent type and both need to thrive when they are on their own. Like many people, when I went off to college as a freshman I was still dating my high school boyfriend, who was still living at home when I left to go to school all the way in North Carolina. That relationship was doomed to fail but not because of the distance, it was doomed because my boyfriend at the time was very dependent while I on the other hand am very independent. I think its great that you've been able to keep your relationship going and good luck! You both must be the type of people that do well on your own!

Hey, I'm in a long distance relationship and my girlfriends name is Rebecca too! I really do believe you that they can work. I think one of the most important things to do is to talk. I know it may seem weird coming from a guy but I think that's what has gotten me through mine so far. It can be so easy to not talk about things since you're so far away and I think that can kill the relationship because you'll always be wondering what the other person is doing. If you have the slightest of trust issues, then it will show because you'll always think they're doing something wrong/bad. Also, I think the most important thing to do when you do have the chance to be together is to not make high expectations for what it's going to be like. Chances are, it won't live up to those expectations and you'll end up upset and everything just goes downhill from there. Welp good luck with your boyfriend!

Hi Rebecca! I have heard before that long distance relationships are the one's that don't work out. I think there is a balance that has to happen. It would be really hard to have a long distance relationship with someone you see once every six months or less, because I do think you need to have some sort of interaction that is not just over the phone or over video chat. Me and my friends were just talking about this - out of the people we know, the long distance relationships where no one thought it would work out have actually been together the longest and worked out the best. I think in every relationship there needs to be a balance, and to some extent when the right personalities are together I would even say long distance relationships have the advantage because partners can appreciate each other and the time they have with one another more. They also learn to better communicate with one another.

Here is an article about long distance relationships and their necessary keys to success:

http://www.umaryland.edu/counseling/z_archive/old/selfhelp/longdistance.html

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