Every relationship has it’s ups and downs, but from my experience, a long-distance relationship is significantly more testing. In one way, it’s lucky that we have the internet to rely on to keep in contact, as there is a comfort in knowing that your partner is only an iMessage, snapchat or FaceTime away. But is basing a relationship on social media exchanges healthy?
Has the internet changed the dynamics of a relationship?
Jiang, who is an author towards the Journal of Communication, states that over 75% of university students have experienced a long distance relationship whilst studying. I am part of that 75% statistic, as my previous partner went to a university about five hours on a National Express coach away from me. Unfortunately, the relationship wasn’t successful as the distance between us began to affect our happiness and social media affected our communication, or rather miscommunication skills. A researcher called Dainton describes how internet use was positively associated with trust in long distance relationships (LDR’s), however face‐to‐face interaction enabled greater commitment and satisfaction compared to couples who purely relied on social media.
With my personal experience, it is undeniable that being geographically far from your significant other can often put a strain on the relationship, which can make the journey of the relationship a cherished but painful experience. The need to stay in contact with each other constantly becomes the only method to keep them near and in touch with you as they are absent from your everyday life. This is where many of us turn to social networking sites (SNS) to keep up to date with what our partner is doing on a day to day basis, which can quickly become obsessive and toxic for both people involved. Persch describes how social media updates and interactions from your significant other, who isn’t in arms reach, can reveal a lot of information about their daily activities. Ironically, these updates which you would rely on for your daily catch-up with your partner could be what induces ‘the green monster‘ of jealousy, as you can see the new contacts that they are making in a location unfamiliar to you. On the other hand, Pearson also explains how as cliche as it is, absence can in fact make the heart grow fonder. Couples in a long distance relationships share more about themselves through different platforms of communications such as SNS, video and phone calls. As a result, each individual in the relationship receives a greater sense of self-disclosure and trust, which can therefore increase the sense of intimacy as suggested by Jiang.
Couples in a long distance relationships share more about themselves through different platforms of communications such as SNS, video and phone calls.
Obviously, these are all facts and figures from academics and researchers, but what is a long distance relationship really like with the internet being involved? is it a blessing or a curse?
With me, I found that it became addictive to always be talking to my partner, and seeing what he was doing online. Not in a stalker-ish way, but in a way that I just wanted to still be involved in his daily life. Looking back, it definitely wasn’t healthy because we both began to focus on what we were or weren’t doing on social media, instead of the real life aspects such as the love we shared. I found that social media made a facade almost; it blurred our connection as we only ever saw the best parts of our lives on Instagram or Snapchat, and we began to ignore the day-to-day struggle that we were losing touch. It was definitely hard to maintain a healthy relationship through the use of virtual messages and likes, even a FaceTime or a Skype was through our phones. We could never quite disconnect from the digital world without losing each-other, and slowly our relationship became mostly digital.
That was my experience, but obviously this isn’t the same experience for everyone. Long distance relationships have this incredibly negative stereotype “that it will never work out” which I found really demotivating, and I’m sure many others do to. But the reality is, if both parties of the relationship are determined to make it work, there really is no stopping you. Social media allows you to maintain the familiarity and comfort of the relationship, whilst also providing the opportunity for growth.
Thank you for sticking to the end and I hope you enjoyed it! Next Sunday we shall be discussing the new era of online ‘catfishing’, which should be interesting. Finally, I hope you all have had a very merry Christmas and have an amazing new year! I’ll see you on the other side, on the 6th of January 2019!