Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder, Behaviors Adaptive And Perceptions Idealized: The Effects Of Geographic Separation And Interpersonal Media On Intimacy Process
Many people assume that it is challenging to maintain a romantic relationship when the partners are separated by a considerable distance. Recent research on long-distance relationships, however, suggests that long-distance romantic relationships are equally or even more intimate and satisfied than geographically close counterparts. The present study examined whether the everyday intimacy process unfolds differently in long-distance versus geographically close dating relationships and whether the use of interpersonal media interplays with geographic separation to affect intimacy in specific interactions. Drawing on the Interpersonal Process Model of Intimacy (IPMI; Reis & Shaver, 1988), the study tested an intimacy enhancement mechanism in which long-distance couples engage in more adaptive self-disclosure behaviors and form more idealized relationship perceptions than do geographically close couples for the pursuit of intimacy across various interpersonal media. These predictions were examined with a novel electronic diary method. Long-distance and geographically close dating couples completed a 7-day diary study in which both members of the couple independently reported their interactions that took place each day. The results provide support for the behavioral adaptation and perceptual idealization effects proposed, and suggest that the two effects vary along the media dimensions of cue multiplicity, synchronicity and mobility. These findings offer a contextual extension to the IPMI and advance the understanding of communication and relational processes in long-distance and mixed-mode relationships.
intimacy dynamics; long-distance relationships; mixed-mode communication
Hancock, Jeffrey T.
Shapiro, Michael A; Fussell, Susan R.; Regan, Dennis Thomas
Ph. D., Communication
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis