A recent study published in the Journal of Communication states that long distance relationships can work, with the help of modern communication technologies, like video chat. This makes a lot of sense, and, in fact, the Journal’s findings back previous studies that have investigated rapport in distance communication.

It’s a myth that long distance communication is impersonal.

Telephone:

Telephone communication is highly personal, as the person you’re talking with is perceived to be just millimeters from your ear. Because of this, in some ways you can have a “closer” conversation by phone than you can in person.

Also, it’s normal to feel safe and comfortable over the phone, and persons will often share things by phone they might be too embarrassed, or shy, to disclose in person.

This can deepen the closeness of a relationship quickly.

Letter / Email:

There is a reason that the love letter exists. The written word can have an emotional punch that in-person communication lacks. First, with letter/email communication, a conversation never ends; it’s always ongoing with just spans of time between each exchange. This unbroken connection has a positive psychological effect on those “in conversation”.

Second, the one who is writing the letter (or email) has unlimited time to craft his or her words to communicate the heart of what he or she wants to say. What’s more, there is no physical consistency necessary to back up those claims.

It’s easier to write “I love you” than to show living proof of that love day-to-day. In person, you can have a romantic evening, but that romance dies when sorting bills from the daily mail or when taking the garbage out. Distance relationships are exempt from daily monotony or even from a partner’s occasional doldrums.

Video

Of all the ways to communicate from a distance, video conference is the closest to in-person communication, but some studies show that video might not be the best method for building closeness.

In a study investigating how rapport develops through distance communication, subjects participated in video conference communications, some with a time-delay distortion, and some without. Researchers guessed that as time-delay worsened rapport would suffer.

Findings: while no difference occurred in male participants, researchers found that increased delay actually improved rapport (that is, closeness) for female participants (and video without delay ranked higher than an in-person communication control group).

Researchers assumed the higher rapport is because female participants felt more comfortable and safer with distance communication, than in person communication. (Nowak, K. L., Watt, J., Walther, J. B., Pascal, C., Hill, S., & Lynch, M. (2004, January). Contrasting time mode and sensory modality in the performance of computer mediated groups using asynchronous videoconferencing. System Sciences, 29-38.)

Last Thought:

There is the old adage that you should never meet your heroes. Is is possible that in some ways that same principle might also hold true for your beloved?

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Anthony Centore

Anthony Centore Ph.D. is Founder and CEO at Thriveworks--a counseling practice, focused on premium client care, with 240+ locations across the USA. He is Private Practice Consultant for the American Counseling Association, columnist for Counseling Today magazine, and Author of How to Thrive in Counseling Private Practice. Anthony is a multistate Licensed Professional Counselor and has been quoted in national media sources including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and CBS Sunday Morning.

Check out “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book” written by AJ Centore and Taylor Bennett."