Although to the uninitiated, long-distance relationships may seem doomed to failure, a recent study has looked at how communication media — video chatting, phone and text-based — can affect the intimacy of couples who don’t live near each other.

Some 3 million Americans live apart from their spouses because of work, education or other situations. Earlier studies have looked at the issues that plague these kind of relationships, like jealousy, loneliness, and stress, but now researchers are also looking at the brighter side of not sharing a home.

As the study notes, the public and even many scholars firmly believe that geographic proximity and frequent face-to-face contact are necessary for developing mutual understanding, shared meanings, and emotional attachment in romantic relationships. But researchers from the City University of Hong Kong and Cornell University wanted to expand on previous work that examined happiness in long-distance relationships. To do so, they recruited 63 couples from an American university — approximately half were in a long-distance relationships – and collected data about their communication and how they interact.

The students reported on how much they divulged about themselves, how they experienced intimacy and how they might idealize their partners — and the extent to which they felt those things were reciprocated.

The findings, published in the Journal of Communication, revealed that the long-distance relationships are of equal or even more trust and satisfaction than their geographically close counterparts.

"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 coauthor Crystal Jiang. "People don't have to be so pessimistic about long-distance romance."

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

Long-distance relationships more meaningful than conventional ones, study finds
Research suggests that long-distance relationships encourage more communication and that couples try harder.