Long-distance couples are quite fortunate these days; technology has endowed them with a wealth of utilities to help close the gap and maintain a relationship. Social media, in particular, has been a great way for couples to keep tabs on their significant other’s day-to-day activities, which Cherrie Joy Billedo, Peter Kerkhof, and Catrin Finkenauerhas have made the focus of their paper.
Editor-in-Chief, Brenda K. Wiederhold, talked about the paper in a press release, saying:
“Social network sites are used more frequently by those in long-distance relationships. As long-distance relationships become more common, and continue to succeed, it becomes increasingly valuable to understand the role that technology plays in strengthening or damaging a romantic relationship.”
In the paper, published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, the researchers have found that social networks not only help long-distance couples maintain closeness, but also “it provides social and public contexts for relationship processes that are typically limited in [long-distance romantic relationships].”
They used an online survey to gauge how people who were in geographically close romantic relationships and people who were in long-distance relationships interacted on social networking sites. The researchers found long-distance couples utilized social networks more often than geographically close couples. But those in long-distance relationships used social networking sites as a way to keep tabs on each other, gauging involvement and commitment in the relationship (read: sniffing out infidelity). As a result, those in long-distance relationships were also more likely to become jealous of something on their partner’s social networking site.
The researchers said that social media sites play an important role in maintaining a long-distance relationship, however, she admits there are gaps in her research. The most important being, are the people who use social media in long-distance relationships happier? A topic they’re planning to explore in future studies.
Though, in another study, researchers found that couples who shared more on Facebook were happier. But their bliss was not a direct result of using the medium, they said:
“It may be that negative or positive effects related to Facebook use are not innate to the medium itself, but rather these effects are an artifact of how people elect to use Facebook.”