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Relational Maintenance in Long-Distance Dating Relationships: Staying Close
Kauffman, Melissa Hope
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This study addressed the relational maintenance strategies and the meaning 23 to 35 year old students attributed to their long-distance dating relationships. Ten participants completed in depth interviews exploring the thoughts and feelings individuals held about their current long-distance partner and relationship. Also, commitment and quality of alternatives were addressed including the strengths and weaknesses of the respondent's relationship. Common themes of strong friendship, absolute trust, commitment to one partner, and using the technique of reminiscing were all dominant issues that emerged from the interview data. Social network approval as well as positive role models in the form of older siblings was also instrumental in lending support to the success and general positive attitude felt by participants about the geographic separation. Methods of communication included the telephone and e-mail, which was substituted or supplementary when high phone bills created financial concerns for the respondents. Variation in physical visitation was due to the intersection of academic schedule, affordable transportation, attitude towards work disruptions, geographic distance, and a general willingness to travel. Participants told a story of the geographic separation as both a temporary and necessary inconvenience, rather than a major obstacle or focal point of the relationship. Future directions for studying long-distance dating relationships include collecting couple data and examining gender differences to determine if sex has an impact on how geographic separation is viewed.
- Masters Theses