With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many students that are in a long-distance relationship feel the void of being away from their significant other.
Distance makes the heart grow fonder, yet does that hold true with college students? A recent study says yes.
According to a study by Crystal Jiang with the Journal of Communication, “about 25 to 50 percent of college students in the United States are in long-distance relationships. Around 75 percent have been in one at some point in their undergraduate careers.”
They determined that those involved in long-distance relationships have more meaningful interactions through technology and insightful communication than those who see each other on a daily basis.
This, in turn, leads to higher levels of intimacy and a level of trust, as well as confidence. The couples feel like they are becoming closer than just sharing basic information on a daily basis, according to the study.
For senior Demie Warner, a long-distance relationship is something she knows all too well. She and her boyfriend, an athlete at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have been together for over four years and have made things work.
Warner is a full-time student, and is involved in club tennis and intramural sports. She believes communication is the most important part of a long-distance relationship.
“We text constantly and Skype on the weekends,” said Warner. “We are both busy with school and sports, but we always make time to talk.”
Communication, senior Matthew Miller agrees, is essential in a long-distance relationship.
Miller recently ended the long-distance part of his relationship when his boyfriend of 10 months moved 2,000 miles from Arkansas to Spokane.
”You only have communication and you have trust,” said Miller. “If we have a problem with each other than we have no problem talking to each other.”
“FaceTime dates were really important,“ said Miller.
Michelle, owner and founder of the website, Loving from a Distance, made a long-distance relationship support website after she realized that there were not a lot of websites specifically on long-distance relationships, seeing as she was in one herself.
According to Michelle, relationships in college are already difficult to begin with due to the course load and extracurricular activities.
“Having a long distance relationship while in college is a little different because you have the added stress of not being able to physically be with your partner for weeks and months,” said Michelle.
According to Rán Henry, a counseling and psychological services psychologist, agrees that technology adds a whole dimension to long-distance relationships.
“With Skype, FaceTime and other means of digital communication, it’s easier to connect when he or she is a state away, across the country or even on the other side of the world,” said Jiang
However, Warner admits that it is not always easy being on the opposite side of the country from your best friend.
“It’s tough, but we make it work,” said Warner. “Everything is more fun with him.”
“It seemed like [time] went by so slow when you didn’t have a countdown,” Miller said. “But when it’s like, ‘I know I am going to see you in two months,’ … it makes it a lot easier.”
According to the ICA study, the couples in a long-distance relationship felt more committed to each other, even though some of them only saw each other in person one to three times a month.
“Long distance couples have so many ways of interacting compared to what was available to long-distance couples of the past and that’s thanks to the internet. It’s the reason why long distance dating has actually become doable,” said Michelle. “In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for couples to break up because one was going across the country to college and the other was
staying behind. Now, couples are able to feasibly give a long-distance relationship a try.”
So, does absence make the heart grow fonder?
“I think if you want a lasting relationship there has to be some sort of plan or idea of when you’ll be together,” Miller said. “It can’t be infinitely ‘someday.’”
“Whether it is a long-distance relationship or someone just down the street,” said Miller, “you want to be in a relationship where that person makes you feel unlike anyone else.”