Saturday, June 15, 2013

Long distance relationships and online communication

Maintaining a good relationship is hard.  Relationships have to grow through physical and emotional connections. Relationships that require one person to be physically separated from another due to different circumstances can be hard on any relationship. These circumstances could be because of work, school, or necessities in life. This distance may occur for a few days, weeks, months, or maybe even years. However, having distance with your partner could be a scary thought, right? Anyone facing this situation could have mixed feelings; however, we are going to focus on a more positive outlook in how communication through technology can actually maintain and strengthen a long-distance relationship if used properly.
Communication has changed dramatically over the years thanks to technology. These changes have affected the way individuals in romantic relationships communicate and interact. Think about it! During the Stone Age communication was only done by word of mouth, and they were limited to an audience and mates of only walking distance. If any male wanted to court or marry, he could only look for a mate within his tribe. Once married the husband could not communicate with his wife and family when he was out looking for a score. Many years’ later, writing letters became an addition to communication. Even though it did aid those who lived long-distance from each other stay in touch, it took weeks to receive the message depending on the distance it had to travel. Moreover, when the telephone was invented, it opened up a whole new avenue of faster communication with anyone that had connection to a telephone. This became more efficient than any other method because of how quickly anyone could reach someone and share information by holding a conversation. In addition, this was the most personal way of communicating (Tong & Walther 2010, Walther 2011) from a distance due to being able to hear the voice and recognize verbal cues.  Fast-forward to today, this generation has the ability to instantly communicate with anyone in any part of the world through more than one platform of technology. Most high- school and college students have smart phones that keeps them interacting to a digital world filed of friends, followers, and contacts. Because of the cyber influence in communication, it has become a game changer in how couples in romantic relationships interact and communicate with each other as well. 
Couples in today’s society have to acknowledge the influence that Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) has on their personal relationships (ICA 2012; Tong & Walther 2010).
For example, the “social penetration theory” states how relationships only develop through stages depending on the exchange of personal information and the depth of that information (Allensworth 1996). Social networking sites (SNS) not only violates the social Penetration Theory because of the massive personal information disclosed through the profile, but it also verifies the seriousness off a romantic relationship (ICA 2012). SNSs like Facebook have the potential to control, confirm, maintain, and deteriorate the relationship status between you and your partner.  Moreover, the common role that all SNSs and CMC share is their ability to interact through that channel and share information. The CMC will aid in maintaining a long-distance relationship (Tong & Walther 2010). The key is becoming knowledgeable as a couple in how to use it properly. Here are five different tips that will help both as a couple. 
Tip number one: As a couple always be considerate of each other when choosing the CMC. According to the Social Presence Theory, people need feedback when communicating in order for the interaction to be a satisfying experience (Walther, 2011).  The way you communicate and how you communicate are crucial to your love one. Get to know their schedule; this way you can expect less/more conversational cues or what CMC to use. This eliminates many misunderstanding and arguments on subjects like, “why didn’t you answer the phone when I called you an hour ago?”
Tip number two: Schedule phone or online dates with each other regularly. Since both parties will have their own life going on it can be hard to find time to just call and hold a conversation; therefore, it is important that you both make time for each other even though you’re apart.  Moreover, using SNSs like Skype, Oovoo, Facetime, or Tango would be a great to use for the online dates. Assistant Professor of Communication Studies in the University of Richmond, Erin M. Sahlstein (2005), states that couples who established daily communicating routines were much more successful than those who chose the random method. In other words, set phone or online dates with each other frequently.
Tip number three: Be creative and thoughtful utilizing CMCs. For example, send each other random videos or pictures to let them know you’re thinking of them.  If you don’t have smart phone create the video on Skype or Oovoo and send it to his or her email. Just be creative.  Media richness theory indicates that the more information given when communicating through media (fewer limitations), then the communication become more satisfying in interpersonal relational building (Walther, 2011). Video clips would be considered media rich because he or she has access to more interaction, and he or she is able to experience non-verbal gestures, facial expressions, and voice tone all at once.
Tip number Four: Be conscious of your activity on SMS. Many couples find SMS as stressful, and a threat to their relationships because of the problems that can appear. Individuals depend on SMS for “online stalking” and “information seeking (ICA 2012).  In other words, be aware that your page is being watched. Personal statuses, picture uploads, and activity on wall should not be flirtatious or offensive to your partner. Even though this applies to couples that are not geographically separated, partners in long-distance are more sensitive due to CMC is the only channel to building and maintaining trust (ICA 2012). 
Tip number Five: Tackle any problems as they appear.  Addressing and discussing issues right away is important while in separation (Matsumoto 2005). When away from your partner, it is crucial that partners are open and willing to resolve any concerns one may have. It could be very easy to weaken a relationship if partners ignore or negatively communicate with each other. Plus, this will avoid having to spend large amounts of time addressing issues in “meeting up sessions.” Meeting sessions should be used to excited and enjoy each other as a couple.
Couples in committed relationships have or will experience geographically separations at some point of their relationship. This is very common in both young and older couples because of the today’s traveling availability. Visiting a family, career opportunities, missions, internships, or educational advancements are all popular examples of why most partners might find themselves in distance from each other. Many could argue that a long-distance relationship can weaken a couple’s relationship because of the lack of intimacy they gain when physically together. According to the article by Matsumoto (2005), Romancing the Phone, research showed that when couples are apart the individual has the ability to focus more on their individual goals and reflect objectively on their relationship. Nevertheless, if couples take advantage of the different types of channels of communication through technology, then the relationship could benefit from the separation rather than weakening. As a couple you and your partner could gain a different type of intimacy while advancing in other areas of your life.

Allensworth, N. J. (1996). Social penetration theory: A description, research, and evaluation. 1-
Matsumoto, N. (2005). Romancing the phone. Health (Time Inc. Health), 19(4), 132.
Tong, S. T., & Walther, J. B. (2010). Chapter Six: Relational maintenance and CMC. In K. Wright
& L. Webb(Eds.), Computer-Mediated Communication in Personal Relationships (pp. 98-
118). Peter Lang.
International Communication Association (2012).The Role of Facebook in Romantic Relationship
Development: An Exploration of Knapp's Relational Stage Model. (2012). Conference
Papers -- International Communication Association, 1-32.
Walther, J. B. (2011). Chapert 14: Theories of computer-mediated communication and
            interpersonal relations. In M. Knapp & J. Daly (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of
            Interpersonal Communication (4th ed., pp. 443-479). SAGE.


  1. Response to Long Distances Relationships and Online Communication
    Long distance relationships like any relationships are going to be hard. There are lots of positive outcomes from having a relationship long distance that benefits both partners greatly. Also with all of the technology that we have it is easy to allow couples to talk face to face where you can see your partners face and read their nonverbal cues in response of what you are saying. Rocio mentioned in her blog above that technology greatly benefits long distance couples and makes it possible to hear each other’s tones and how important it is to constantly ask your partner questions. I would like to add on how to maintain a long distance relationship by giving a few more helpful tips and advice to help you and your partner understand things you might experience. Imperatix. (2013).

    • Tip #1: It is very important to avoid jealously and maintain trust on a daily basis. This means getting familiar with your partners schedule like mentioned above and avoiding temptation from other people around you. Show your partner that you are dedicated to them by making time for them daily to talk about their day, or take time to send them a few kind words showing them that you are thinking about them. This will build trust and commitment.

    • Tip #2: Take special care of the way you interpret your partner’s words. Fights always arise due to miscommunication in relationships. Be confident that fights are apart of every relationship and will require you to stay positive and learn to compromise. One advantage of being long distance is that you have more time to interpret what your partner is trying to say rather than flying off the handle in a fast response. It important to know that words hurt no matter the distances. Sylvia Shipp.(1966). Patience is very important in any relationship. During long distance know that things will only get better with time. Always think things through before you respond to a message of any kind.

    • Tip #3: Visit your partner as often as distance allows. Consistency helps a relationship survive and your time spent together physical in the same room will be a huge aid to the relationship. Talk about when would be a good time for both you and your partner to see each other and make it a priority to stick with those dates.

    • Tip #4: Talk about your future together. This shows that you eventually want to live together and break the distance giving both of you a hope of actually being together. Talking about family and location moves the relationship into a deeper level giving the relationship a goal to work towards.

    • Tip #5: Be there for your partner in their time of need no matter the distance. If tragedy happened or an illness occurred measures need to be taken that might actually require you being physically there for your partner.

    In conclusion, take advantage of the benefits of having a long distance relationship by spending more time with your friends and family. Spend time focusing on you individually, and grow into the person and partner you’ve always dreamed. According to Maslow’s Theory we have five basic human needs: physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness needs, esteem, and self- actualization. Adler,Rosenfeld,Ronald B.,Russel.(2012).According to all the tips I listed above all of the human needs can be met in any relationship. Therefore, the distance should not matter, and technology is important to maintain the relationship.

    Works Cited

    Ronald, B. Adler, Lawrence B. Rosenfeld and Russel F. (2012). Interplay: The Process of InterpersonalCommunicating. Edition 12. January 13, 2012.

    Imperatix. (2013). How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work. WikiHow to do anything>Relationships.

    Shipp, Sylvia. (1966). The Long Distance Relationship Guidebook: Maintain and Strengthen Your Relationship From Afar. 1st Ed.

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  4. Technology has opened up many doors for communication that we would otherwise not have. It now literally takes seconds to send and receive a text message. This makes it easier for those that are in relationships that are separated by land or sea. This allows individuals to communicate while they are separated. But what happens to a relationship when one of the individuals is deployed? Communication and technology advancements have now made it possible for those that are in this situation to communicate with their loved ones.
    During previous wars the only form of communication for loved ones at war and in the United States was U.S. mail. Sometimes, soldiers would receive letter two months or more after they had been written. And depending on where they were stationed, it could have been longer. Most soldiers didn’t know what was going on in the United States unless it was written or told to them by their commanding officers. Waiting on the letter made it more special to get one and soldiers cherished these letters from home. Now because of social media sites and new technology advancements like video calling and Skype soldiers are able to communicate with their families and partners frequently during their deployment.
    According to Mike Chalmers, social media is now allowing family members to have a deeper connection through technology while a family member is deployed (Chalmers 2011). This allows families to stay connected and share with each other what they did during the day. For Katelyn Rowley, video calls and Facebook allowed her to stay in touch with her family during her deployment. This allowed her to feel like she was not missing out on daily activities her family was involved in. She was able to grow her relationship with her fiancé as well through her deployment (Chalmers 2011).
    According to Kareem Ruth, technology has now created new outlets and has made it easier for families communicating with loved ones during deployments (Ruth 2011). Video chat has allowed families to communicate with one another while being able to see one another. This allows family members to feel more of a physical connection even though they could be a thousand miles apart from one another. Seeing the other person can put a family member or service member at ease. The use of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites, have also enhanced the communication between those deployed and their loved ones. Because of these outlets service members are able to communicate with others daily. This can ease their anxiety about war and being deployed due to them being able to communicate with those that are still in the United States.
    It is very important for family members and loved ones of military service members to communicate with them while they are deployed. Technology has created wonderful tools that have now made it easier for families to deal with anxiety and stress of deployments. Instead of waiting for a letter that could take four months to be sent to the receiver, one is only a video call or social media message away. In a long distance relationship it is important to communicate with one another.

    Works Cited
    Chalmers, M. (2011, November 24). Social media allow military families a deeper connection. USA Today. Retrieved from
    Ruth, K. (2011, November 01). How to stay in touch: Three tools to help military families communicate over long distances. . Retrieved from