WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — People in long-distance relationships often have a deeper, more intimate connection than couples who see each other on a daily basis.

A new joint study from Cornell University and the City University of Hong Kong analyzed the positive parts of long-distance relationships. The study found that men and women in distant relationships were more likely to share meaningful thoughts and feelings than those who were geographically closer. The long distance couples also tended to idealize their partners’ behaviors, adding to a greater sense of intimacy.

“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,” said study coauthor Crystal Jiang of the City University of Hong Kong. “People don’t have to be so pessimistic about long-distance romance.”

Distance between the couples also created more intimate conversation, avoiding more mundane discussion of more bland daily issues. However, the enhanced positive feelings in these relationships can cause problems when the two reunite.

“The positive illusion goes away when they spend more time together,” said Jiang.

As a whole, the 63 heterosexual couples were just under 21 years old, had been in their relationships for nearly two years and had been living apart for 17 months. The partners both recorded their communications and feelings over the course of a week.

Technology was cited as a major factor in the proliferation of long distance relationships. According to data cited in the study, nearly 3 million Americans currently live apart from their spouses for reasons outside of divorce or problems, and almost a quarter of college students are in long distance relationships.

The study authors suggested that consistent communication is key for these couples.

“Use more frequent and longer communications—Skyping and phone calls, for example, rather than texting and quick emails—and don’t forget to express your affection and commitment,” Jiang said. “The long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy, and their efforts do pay back.”


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