Would you do it again? Relationship skills gained in a long-distance relationship

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Authors: Sara Mietzner and Lin Li-Wen
Date: Mar. 2005
From: College Student Journal(Vol. 39, Issue 1)
Publisher: Project Innovation (Alabama)
Document Type: Article
Length: 3,341 words

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This study examined if experienced long-distance relationship (LDR) participants would be willing to be involved in a LDR again. In addition, although positive and negative outcomes have been reported in LDRs research, very little research investigated relationship skills gained during a LDR. Students in a Midwestern university completed questionnaires assessing individual experiences and relationship skills gained in LDRs. Major relationship skills reported were trust, patience, and better communication. Experienced LDR individuals who considered to be in a LDR again reported to gain skills of time management, independence, and non-physical intimacy. These results may have implications for college students considering becoming involved in a LDR and college counselors who wish to develop a stronger working knowledge of the student experiences.


Most romantic relationships inevitably face periods of geographical separation, ranging from a few days to several years. These separations may affect both the relationship and the people involved. Research on long distance relationships (LDR) has focused on factors related to relationship quality and stability (Dellmann-Jenkins, Bernard-Paolucci, & Rushing, 1994; Schwebel, Dunn, Moss, & Renner, 1992). Satisfaction in a distance relationship may be difficult to maintain due to the proximity of partners. With the lack of physical contact, individuals involved in geographically separated relationships encounter unique stressors and challenges unfamiliar to geographically close couples. Without face-to-face interactions, individuals in a LDR miss daily conversations, shared free time, and physical intimacy (Schwebel et al.). Additionally, participants in long-distance relationships reported seeing their partner less often, writing to their partner more, being less satisfied with the amount of face-to-face contact with their partner, and talking more about a wider variety of topics on the telephone than geographically close couples (Dellmann-Jenkins, et al.).

While negative outcomes were found to be associated with long distance relationships, potential positive outcomes were reported as well. Although separation can produce psychological stresses, depending on the nature of the separation and on the individual's capacity to adapt, it can also allow for the development of autonomy and individuation (Guldner, 1996). People in a long distance relationship tend to "not take their partner for granted" and "develop a stronger connection through non-physical communication" (Arditti & Kauffman, 2003). Likewise, research has found that long distance relationships are not necessarily associated with problems (Holt & Stone, 1988). Individuals in LDRs demonstrate levels of relationship satisfaction, intimacy, trust, and commitment almost identical to the levels demonstrated by individuals involved in geographically close relationships, regardless of the amount of time spent together (Guldner & Swensen, 1995). Dellmann Jenkins et al. (1994) also reported that while individuals involved in long-distance relationships might talk on the phone less than those in geographically close relationships, they were more likely to talk about their relationship and their future. They also wrote to their partners more frequently than individuals in geographically close relationships. In addition, long distance relationships may provide a context whereby people are free to view themselves, their partners, and their relationships via different perspectives (Arditti & Kauffman).

Although the positive and negative outcomes have been studied extensively,...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A131318259