Technology And Its Impact in Long-distance Relationships


By Raissa Baggio Freire

Long-distance relationship is when people chose to continue in a relationship even being far away from the partner, being so because of work, studies, or whatever reason. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to find people in a long-distance relationship; an estimated 75% of college students have engaged in a long-distance relationship during a period of their life, and 3 million adults in America live far from each other.

Relationships demands efforts by itself, and being in a long-distance relationship demands even more effort. People usually needs physical contact, talk face to face, and have the presence of the other person while in a relationship. In long-distance relationship, there are none of those things.

In the past, long-distance were supported by expensive calls, where the only possibility was to talk with the other person, but sometimes fast, since it was expensive, and didn’t provide a good way to express the feelings. Technology improved that a lot.

With creation of WhatsApp, FaceTime, Facebook, Instagram and another communication means, long-distance becomes easier. With these means, people can see each other through video, talk as much time as they like, send pictures in real-time, and as well video-chat whenever they want.

The features these communications means provide is essential in long-distance relationship, since they provide a way for the partners to feel closer to each other (by seeing through videos, for example), also improve the understanding process (if you talk by video you can see the expressions of the other person and also feel the tone in his/her voice so there is no misunderstanding, decreasing fight situations), and also by feeling closer to the other, because they can show what happens to them in real-time, and all of these with low cost.

An study called “Intimacy in Long-Distance Relationships over Video Chat” conducted by Carman Neustaedter and Saul Greenber talks about the impact technology tools in the relationship

‘The low cost and ubiquity of computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools seemingly lessen the limitations of distance. Email, instant messaging (IM), cell phone calling, texting, video chat, and social networking sites all create easy ways for LDR partners to communicate. Media is now increasingly rich, and multiple channels provide support for a range of communicative activities [9,22], including even intimate activities like cybersex [20]. Studies have shown that CMC can ease loneliness [1] and increase feelings of closeness [1], relationship satisfaction, trust, and commitment, while lowering jealousy [5]’

A research conducted by Allie Kirk analyzed a hypothesis regarding whether couples that spend more time using computer communication in long-distance relationship have a higher satisfaction in the relationship

‘Our first hypothesis stated that couples who spend more time using newer CMC in a LDDR are more likely to have a higher sense of relational satisfaction. The correlation between time spent on Skype and relational satisfaction is r = 0.28. Thus, our hypothesis is supported for Skype since 0.28 is positive. The correlation for both time spent on Facebook chat and Facebook browsing and relational satisfaction is r = 0.15. Therefore, our hypothesis is not supported for either Facebook chat or Facebook browsing since -0.15 is negative. All responses for time spent on Twitter were the same, thus yielding no correlation and no support for the hypothesis’

A post called “Long Distance Relationship Benefits Include Greater Intimacy, Study Says”, written by Chatherine Pearson talks about the impact of technology in long-distance relationship:

‘Rachel Sussman, a licensed psychotherapist and author of The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce (who has also blogged for The Huffington Post), said that the nature of long distance relationships has changed dramatically, not just because of the ubiquity of technology, but more specifically because of access to video chat programs.


The study’s researchers write that technology has been a major driver in the proliferation of long distance relationships. According to data cited in the study, some 3 million Americans now live apart from their spouses for reasons other than divorce or problems, and between a quarter and one-half of college students are currently in long distance relationships.’

The “What Science Has to Say About Long-Distance Relationships”, written by Shaunacy Ferro, in 2015, explore one topic regarding “how distance can enhance some types of communication”:

‘A 2013 study by researches from Cornell University and the City University of Hong Kong found that distance can breed intimacy. In analyzing people’s diaries of their texts, phone calls, video chats, and other communications with their long-distance partners, the researchers found that long-distance couples felt more intimate with each other compared to geographically close couples, in part because the LDR couples disclosed more about themselves in their interactions. Another group of researchers previously found that long-distance couples reported lower levels of “problematic” communication, including significantly less “minor psychological aggression towards one’s partner.” It’s hard to snap at your partner when you have to pick up the phone to do so.’

From these researches, we can see that the number of people that goes through a long-distance relationship is high, and this number is increasing for several reasons, such as working in different places, for example, and one thing that facilitates these long-distance relationships is technology.

The study that Shaunacy Ferro talked about points that long distance relationships can breed intimacy, because of several reasons, and this is also one positive point, since people would not hesitate to keep a relationship even if it is a long-distance one, and technology has been helping a lot this situation.

The research by Allie Kirk talks about the positive correlation between Skype and relationship satisfaction, and one of the reasons for that, in my opinion, is the fact that Skype allows seeing the partner, while communication in Facebook chat is through texts.

In this way, technology has a huge impact on long-distance relationship, since it ease the communication between the partners, and the video is the most crucial communication type, because it allows the person to feel closer and shows better results regarding making the relationship lasts.