Long-distance love isn’t what it used to be

By: Dr Anna Martin

Can distance really make the heart grow fonder? With the seemingly endless methods of communication now available, maintaining a long distance relationship may now seem easier than ever before.

Like most aspects of our life, technology has changed the very nature of long distance relationships. While once upon a time couples communicated through handwritten letters, often waiting weeks or months to hear back from a loved one, they can now remain connected in real time.

So how do you stay connected to your partner, regardless of the distance between you?

Communication is key.

Ciana, a 17 year old high school student in Auckland, has been dating her boyfriend for over a year. The challenge is the geographical distance between them. He is living at the other end of the country, completing his first year at university in Dunedin.

Ciana and her boyfriend keep in touch through various social media platforms and apps including WhatsApp, messenger and FaceTime. Their ability to connect instantly through these apps allows the couple to maintain their important connection and minimise the distance between them.

Video calling in particular has made long distance relationships easier to sustain. Apps such as Skype and FaceTime help to close the geographical gap so you feel closer and more connected to your partner.

It may be even more important to prioritise some time for each other and the relationship when living in different parts of the world. Scheduling in time to connect when needed by your partner helps them feel valued and loved.

Although thoughtful gestures might remind your significant other that you are thinking of them, feeling validated, heard and connected is what enriches the relationship. Even letting your partner know that they are the last person you think of before you go to sleep, with a quick text or phone call, can keep intimacy bubbling away and helps establish trust and security.

Interestingly, some studies cite advantages to long distance love affairs. Time apart can enhance and deepen your relationship as it encourages you to establish communication on a more intimate level which can help keep the relationship strong. It is easy to take each other for granted when living under the same roof and potentially miss out on more meaningful conversations. It’s much easier to emotionally check-out of intimate communication when you have a belief that there is plenty of time another day.

Distance may allow for more independence and ‘me time’, which is valuable for any relationship. And, of course, the anticipation of seeing your loved one after time apart makes the time you do spend together even more special.

It’s important to be mindful that technology and smartphone usage in particular can have a negative effect on our relationships if we’re not careful — the #GoodChat survey by 2degrees found that many Kiwis feel their partners’ high smartphone use makes them feel insignificant. However, when it comes to long distance relationships, it’s clear technology is hugely valuable as it can help enhance and maintain healthy relationships, keeping us connected with the important people in our lives no matter the distance between us.

To learn more about Ciana’s story, and to hear other Kiwis have a #GoodChat with Dr Anna about how they communicate with their loved ones, listen to our podcast here.

Dr Anna's Blog

#Goodchat Relationships

We’ve enlisted the help of psychologist Dr Anna Martin to put the findings in context and shed light on how we could be communicating better with the people closest to us – from our partners and best mates to our children and relatives.

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