Does Absence Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

I’m sure that everyone knows the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Coming to college I’m sure evabsence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder-46eryone also knows someone who is in a long distance relationship. Now from witnessing multiple long distance relationships, some end up well, but some could be described by words that are far from “fond”. I decided to look into if there was any truth to this old-fashioned saying.

Personally I think that relationships are hard to judge because each one is unique and different, so I feel that I would lean toward the null hypothesis in this situation. The null hypothesis is that nothing is going on, so absence would have no effect on fondness. The study that I focused on was mentioned in this article. The study gathered information from surveys regarding the quality and quantity of the communication they had with their significant other. The results showed that these long distance relationships were actually quite stable and loving compared to the ones where the couple resided in the same place. The researchers attributed a good amount of this to huge changes in the way that we use technology. Years ago these studies may have prompted a very different result because people then did not have the means of communication that we have now. In the survey, most couples shared that they usually have constant communication through text, Snapchat, FaceTime, etc. This ends up feeling a lot less like “absence” then it may have a while back. I think that this brings up a really interesting point about how science has to change with society’s changes. If you had seen this study a few years ago, it could have found such a different answer than the one that these researchers have found today. This is the importance of making sure that science always keeps checking itself and why things have to be looked at repeatedly.

The researchers found that not only did the couples who were long distance increase the frequency of their communication and the channels of their communication, they also changed the seriousness and intensity of the topics they talked about. This leads to a heightened amount of psychological intimacy, in the place of a lacking physical intimacy. While this latest study is certainly heartening and gives hope to many couples who are trying the whole long distance thing, this study can and has been contested by others. One study  even goes as far to say that relationships REQUIRE regular face-to-face contact in order to succeed. One thing that stood out to me in the study that gathered their data through survey and saw that distance was actually beneficial for the relationship was that it was only a study of sixty-three couples. I think that in order to get a more solid answer to this question it would be vital to involve more couples in the study.

So I guess there is no clear conclusion to this question but if you want to look on the bright side there are plenty of researchers and couples who will agree with you, and if you’re a little bitter about how your long distance relationship ended, there’s claims to back that up too.

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1 thought on “Does Absence Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

  1. Kateryna Okhrimchuk

    Randall,
    Your final conclusion that there is no clear conclusion is definitely correct. I believe that this is the case because a lot of x variables definitely go into the question of whether or not “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. First, it would definitely depend on both peoples’ personalities. If both parties are resilient enough to overcome the challenges that come with being in a long distance relationship, like the distance (duh), the possible temptation to be with other people, and the miscommunication issues that often happen when using text messages to talk, for example, then they can make it work. Another x variable could be how much the two people love each other. Since there’s no way to quantity love, though, it would be very hard to conduct an experiment to prove or disprove if a “strong love” is enough to keep two people together. Personally, long distance does not work for me and the distance actually makes it a lot harder for me to care about a person. My best friend, though, has been in a long distance relationship for over two years now and it’s actually made them grow closer. I find it very interesting how it varies from person to person.

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