It is hard to believe that any generation would experience as much change in their lifetime as our grandparent’s generation did. It is hard to comprehend going from little to no technology, to being able to FaceTime a loved one from across the world. Imagine waiting on a letter from your sister in England for months just to hear how she is doing. We will never experience the emotions of wondering how someone is doing and hoping they are okay, thinking of them and wishing we could talk to them, wondering what their kids look. We do not have to experience these types of emotions anymore, (if we do experience this emotion it is only momentarily as we can connect instantly to anyone) which is wonderful, since I am sure the pure desperation to see your loved ones face and hear their voice after years of reading letters would be too much for our generation to understand.
The ability to connect people instantly is an incredible step forward in our lifetime. Not only to connect but to connect instantly. If I am thinking about my husband and I am wondering how work is going, or how he is, I can send a text and generally get an instant response. Even when we live together and talk every morning and night, I can still be connected to him all day.
Although our grandparent’s generation went through a lot of technological changes, it seems that our generation is going through a lot of social and communication changes. These changes seem to modify the type of relationships we have now compared to generations of relationships before us.
A study done in 2013 and published in the Journal of Communication found that people in long-distance relationships often have stronger bonds from more constant, and deeper, communication than normal relationships. This type of bond would have never been possible using letters as a communication method in long-distance relationships previously.
Crystal Jiang, City University of Hong Kong and Jeffrey Hancock, Cornell University studied individuals in long-distance relationships who used face-to-face, phone calls, video chat, texting, instant messenger, and email as modes of communication. Using these modes of communication, it was found that these individuals felt more intimate with each other.
There were two reasons suspected that intimacy was greater in these long-distance couples. One reason was that couples seem more comfortable speaking very openly with each other and disclosing more personal details about themselves. The other reason was that they idealized their partners’ behaviour. They found each other to be more flawless.
Previously, long-distant relationships were looked at negatively and unrealistically, which has been the mindset for a very good reason. It is very hard to keep a relationship going with very limited resources to communicate. If you can only call once a week and send a letter to each other, a romantic relationship seems to have no reason. Traveling to see each other was once not as easy as jumping on a plane either.
It seems we may have to take a step back and re-evaluate the possibility of long-distance relationships now technology has allowed for much easier communication. It is more common to continue a long-distance relationship than previously. Recent statistics show that 1.9 million Canadians over the age of 20 — more than seven percent of the population — maintain separate addresses from their romantic partner.
This is a relatively small percentage of the population, but there is no way this percent would be possible before achieving the modes of communication that we have today. You can feel more connected to your partner even when they are 600 miles away when you can instantly connect and feel comfortable enough to tell them exactly how you feel. It also helps to view them as flawless when they aren’t leaving their dirty socks all over the house.
It is amazing to see the impact new modes of communication have on long-distance relationships, but what about the impact on relationships where you see your partner every day? Is the constant communication annoying? Does it take the excitement out of a relationship? Does it cause more fights and less meaningful conversations? Next week we talk about constant instant communication on a relationship.