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The New Long-Distance Relationship

The pressure to live apart

In the past, couples were more likely to accommodate only one partner's job - mostly the man's. But today, couples have dual-incomes, are well educated, professionally minded, and pursuing careers in separate places. It is contributing to the rise in long-distance relationships.

The pressure to live apart for work is worse for younger couples who are still establishing careers.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The New Long-Distance Relationship

The New Long-Distance Relationship

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/05/long-distance-relationships/589144/

theatlantic.com

5

Key Ideas

Couples living apart

In 2000, a government survey showed that about 2.7 million married Americans lived apart from their spouse. The number rose to about 3.9 million in 2017.

Long-distance relationships today are different from 15 years ago. Economic and technological developments are making couple's love lives more closely resemble those who live together.

The evolution of romantic communication

  • Before video-chat and long-distance phone calls, written correspondence was used to exchange meaningful information. The goal was to write about the most important things that had happened since the last letter.
  • Although the telephone was invented in the mid-19th century, it was only used for long-distance relationships in the 1970s, when the cost of phoning for pleasure instead of just business became affordable.
  • The next major development in romantic communication was the internet. Email, instant messaging, and video-chatting were affordable for couples to share even the smallest details.
  • Many couples today do "background Skype" where everyday living comes to the surface and add to a level of intimacy.

The pressure to live apart

In the past, couples were more likely to accommodate only one partner's job - mostly the man's. But today, couples have dual-incomes, are well educated, professionally minded, and pursuing careers in separate places. It is contributing to the rise in long-distance relationships.

The pressure to live apart for work is worse for younger couples who are still establishing careers.

How well long-distance relationships work

Living apart is not a guarantee the relationship will come to an end. Long-distance relationships have powerful emotional and intimacy dynamics.

  • Research found couples living in different places have more stable and committed relationships, but when they do start living together, they're more likely to break up than couples who lived together all along.
  • Long-distance couples were more likely to idealize each other.
  • They tend to fight less since there was less to fight about and less time to fight.
  • They were also more likely to avoid conflict and withhold their real opinions.

When technology creates more opportunities

Communication technologies cannot reproduce the physical touch. It is also not suited for seeing how a partner treats other people.

However, studies show that the technological shift gives couples more opportunities to address potentially charged subjects and reduce idealization. Living apart over a long period gives some couples tools that help them deal with future conflicts.

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