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Long-distance relationship may strengthen couple's bond

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FRIDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Does distance really make the heart grow fonder? Maybe so: According to a new study, people in long-distance romantic relationships can form stronger bonds than those in normal relationships.

Dating couples in long-distance and normal relationships told researchers about their daily interactions using different methods: face-to-face, phone calls, video chat, texting, instant messaging and email.

For a week, the participants reported to what extent they shared about themselves and experienced intimacy, and how much they they felt their partners did the same thing, for the study in the June issue of the Journal of Communication.

Long-distance couples had greater feelings of intimacy due to two factors: They disclosed more about themselves and they idealized their partners' behaviors, said study authors Crystal Jiang of City University of Hong Kong and Jeffrey Hancock of Cornell University.

Long-distance relationships are increasingly common and people use many kinds of communications technologies to maintain their romantic bonds, a journal news release noted. Recent figures show that 3 million married couples in the United States live apart. Between 25 percent and 50 percent of college students are currently in long-distance relationships and up to 75 percent have had one at some point.

Even so, many people believe that long-distance relationships are challenging.

"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. People don't have to be so pessimistic about long-distance romance," Jiang said in a journal news release. "The long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy, and their efforts do pay back."

More information

Oregon State University's Counseling and Psychological Services offers advice about long-distance relationships.

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