Does Absence Really Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

love lifts you up where you belong.

love lifts you up where you belong.

You’ve heard both these sayings before: “Out of sight, out of mind” as well as “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” So which of the two is true?

Apparently the latter; at least according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Communication that shows that couples who are in long-distance relationships tend to have stronger bonds and more substantial communication with their significant others than those who live near each other and spend more time together.

The study asked 64 heterosexual couples (half of whom live together and half of whom were in LDRs) to record their daily communications. The couples were an average age of 21 and the people in LDRs had been together for approximately a year-and-a-half. Their communication recordings consisted of keeping track of everything from their methods (texting, video chat, phone calls and so forth) to how much information they shared with their partner to the level of intimacy they felt, as well as to what extent they felt their partner did the same.

While reports showed that there was less overall communication between those in LDRs than those who lived together, it should be noted that those in LDRs reported feeling more intimate with one another because they would tell more about themselves to their partners. Those who live together and spend more time around each other tend to become comfortable and, on occasion, indifferent towards their partner due to constant exposure to one another, which often contributes to complaints about feeling disconnected and loss of passion and romance in a relationship.

Couples who are apart, on the other hand, don’t take each other for granted and make the most out of their opportunities to communicate, since their time is limited. According to experts however, being in an LDR for extended periods of time is not ideal, either. In order to get the most out of an LDR, there should be a specified end date for being apart. In most cases, couples are separated temporarily due to jobs – perhaps one partner has moved to another location because of their job and the other partner is planning to follow shortly after – or, one of the pair is away at school or on a job assignment or military deployment, and will be returning home eventually. One component that LDRs do lack is physical intimacy: while modern technology allows you to make make voice calls and video chat with your partner, there are certain things that it simply can’t take the place of, like cuddling, kissing and intercourse (inter-of-course?) – all of which are important ways to connect with your partner. After all, if there is no physical intimacy in a relationship, you may as well just be platonic pen pals!

Just like being together too much can be a bad thing, so can being apart. In the end, it’s all about finding the right balance. If you live with your partner and feel that the relationship is getting stale, it might do you some good to take some time during the weekend to participate in separate activities, whether it be designated ladies’ nights/guy time or simply taking the opportunity to focus on a hobby or activity that you like to do without your partner. The key is to have just enough space so that you and your partner will miss each other, but not too much so that you get used to them not being around at all. It’s a fine line to walk, but once you figure it out, the payoff will be worth it.

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