This page contains synopses of recent research with relevance to long distance relationships.
A compendium of research on long distance relationships follows the featured article.
Love Lives at a Distance: Distance Relationships over the Lifecourse
Mary Holms, Sociological Research Online, Volume 11, Issue 3, August 30, 2006
Distance relationships may be increasingly undertaken by dual-career couples at some point in their life course. Although this can make it difficult to quantitatively measure the extent of distance relating, qualitative analysis of distance relationships promises to give considerable insight into the changing nature of intimate lives across the life course. This paper indicates the kind of insights offered via analysis of exploratory research into distance relating in Britain. What begins to emerge is a picture of distance relating as offering certain possibilities in relation to the gendered organisation of emotional labour and of care in conjunction with the pursuit, especially of professional, careers. These possibilities might be more realistic, however, at certain points in the life course. Nevertheless, this new form of periods of separation between partners, tell us a considerable amount about how people approach the challenges of maintaining a satisfying and egalitarian intimate life, involving caring relationships with others, within contemporary social conditions.
OTHER ACADEMIC/RESEARCH ARTICLES
- How to Use this Database
- Separated Marriages and Families (Civilian)
- Miscellaneous Separated Relationships
- Separated Students
- Military Separations
- Cumulative Citations (References)
Table of Contents
How to use this database
First, select the group you are researching – students, military separations, civilian (non-student) separations, or miscellaneous. Then you can scan through a brief synopsis of each article. If you are interested in the article, note the reference number listed at the end of the article title. Then go to Cumulative Citations and find the complete reference.
Separated Marriages and Families (Civilian)
“The Corporate Executive Wife’s Coping Patterns in Response to Routine Husband-Father Absence,” by Pauline Grossenbacher-Boss, Hamilton McCubbin, and Gary Lester.128
A pilot study examining the ways families and wives deal with work-related separations.
“Commuting Married Faculty Women and the Traditional Academic Community,”by Irving Allen and Jane Wilkie.129
Reviews the difficulties associated with women in academics and the choice to maintain a long-distance marriage.
“Children’s Reactions to Temporary Loss of the Father,” by Frank Crumley and Ronald Blumenthal.130
An older article that may be helpful to those with children.
“Ending the Commute: Communication Strategies of Couples During Reintegration (Doctoral Thesis),” by Pamela Dunkin.131
A difficult to find source (write to the University of Oregon), but a good example of the difficulties that come with reunion after an LDR.
“So Near Yet So Far: The Non-Resident Father,” by Carol Michaels.132
Aninteresting review, useful for those fathers involved in a separated marriage.
“Commuter Marriages: Personal, Family and Career Issues,” by Melissa Groves and Diane Horm-Wingerd.43
A study of issues surrounding separated marriages including ways of coping with the distance.
“. . . Until Careers Do Us Part: Vocational and Marital Satisfaction in the Dual-Career Commuter Marriage,” by Kathrijn Govaerts and David Dixon.13
A nicely done study comparing dual-career couples who live together with those that have geographically separated. Factors that predict satisfaction with the relationship are also explored.
“Commuting,” by Agnes Farris.32 Asmaller study of intense interviews with couples in long-distance marriages.
Easy reading that may generate good conversation with your partner.
“Dual-Career Couples Who Live Apart: Two Types,” by Harriet Gross.133
Discusses the results of interviews with separated couples and compares younger couples who are still adjusting to those who are more established.
“Commuter Marriage: Couples Who Live Apart,” by Naomi Gerstel and Harriet Gross.134
A review of separated marriages with an entertaining description of the commuting experience.
“Living Apart: A Comparison of Merchant Marine and Commuter Couples,” by Naomi Gerstel and Harriet Gross.135
One of the very few articles looking at marriages separated for reasons other than academic or military reasons.
“Commuter Marriages: AReview,” by Naomi Gerstel and Harriet Gross.34
Another good review from these two researchers.
“Two-Location Families: Married Singles,” by Betty Kirschner and Laurel Walum.52
Adiscussion of separated marriages with a focus on how career development issues now affect women’s decisions to undertake an LDR.
“Effects of Work-Related Separation on Children and Families,” by Chaya Piotrkowski and Lisa Gornick.41
Areview of the literature examining the effect of work-related separations on the family, along with a few hints on coping strategies.
“Marital Non-Cohabitation: Separation Does Not Make the Heart Grow Fonder,” by Ronald Rindfuss and Elizabeth Stephen.1
A large intriguing study looking at census data to determine if couples living apart later divorce. Unfortunately, the study cannot differentiate between marriages that were physically separated because they were having relationship problems, and those that were simply long-distance. The study’s conclusions, that LDRs are associated with divorce, is likely a result of including many couples whose relationships were already on the rocks.
“Attachment Theory as Applied to Wartime and Job-Related Marital Separation,” by Julia Vormbrock.136
An outstanding, albeit technical, review of the process of attachment and separation for marriages.
“Dual-Career Couples and Geographic Transfers: Executives’ Reactions to Commuter Marriage and Attitude Toward the Move,” by Ann Taylor and John Lounsbury.137
An interesting study designed primarily for executives and human relations administrators, looking at how managers integrate issues of commuter marriage into geographical transfer decisions.
Miscellaneous Relationship Issues
A comparison of offline and online friendship qualities at different stages of development, by Chan DK, Cheng GH.179
Although not looking specifically at romantic relationships, this research suggests that relationships that develop entirely online have the potential for being relatively intimate.
The Psychology of Separation and Loss: Perspectives on Development, Life Transitions, and Clinical Practice, by Jonathan Bloom-Feshbach, Sally Bloom-Feshbach, and Associates.138
Although it does not focus on LDRs, this book provides a good framework for understanding all sorts of various stresses related to separation.
“ ‘Secret Tests’ Social Strategies for Acquiring Information About the State of the Relationship,” by Leslie Baxter and William Wilmot.139
A fascinating study of the ways people test their relationships. The article briefly discusses how physical separation is sometimes used as a test to determine the importance of the relationship.
“Separation as Support,” by Elizabeth Douvan and Joseph Pleck.31
An uplifting article focusing on the advantages of LDRs.
“Prisoner’s Families,” by Donald Schneller.140
Asomewhat older article examining the effect of prison separation on families.
“Flying Apart: Separation Distress in Female Flight Attendants,” by Jim Jupp and Paul Mayne.141
Astudy of 36 flight attendants and how even short separations can cause problems, especially during reunion.
“Doesn’t Anybody Stay in One Place Anymore? An Exploration of the Under-Studied Phenomenon of Long-Distance Relationships,” by Mary E.
An excellent review of the literature on long-distance romantic relationships and long-distance friendships.
“Love at First Byte? Building Personal Relationships over Computer Networks,” by Martin Lea and Russell Spears.173
This is a detailed but easily read review of relationships that take place predominantly via the Internet. Probably the best place to start if you’re looking to untangle the mysteries of online LDRs.
“Relationship Maintenance of College Students Separated During Courtship,” by David Carpenter and David Knox.17
A study that attempts to find out what factors help maintain college LDRs. I discuss a couple of the issues with the study design earlier in the book, as I disagree with some of their conclusions. They also report on some interesting gender differences that may prompt discussion with your partner.
“Does Distance Make the Heart Grow Fonder? A Comparison of Long-Distance and Geographically Close Dating Relationships,” by Mary Dellmann-Jenkins, Teresa Bernard-Paolucci, and Beth Rushing.16
One of the larger studies of separated college students, and relatively well designed.
“Long-Distance Romantic Relationships: Prevalence and Separation-Related Symptoms in College Students,” by Gregory Guldner.2
The largest study of college students, designed to estimate how common LDRs are in the college setting, and to quantify the types of stress and hassles related to separation.
“Time Spent Together and Relationship Quality: Long-Distance Relationships as a Test Case,” by Gregory Guldner.11
Another large study comparing relationship qualities of those in LDRs with those in geographically close relationships.
“Long-Distance Romantic Relationships: Sex Differences in Adjustment and Break-up,” by Vicki Helgeson.57
Astudy of 97 students in LDRs followed over three months focusing on gender differences related to the separation. A useful addition to the dearth of quantitative research on LDRs.
“The Effects of Self-Beliefs and Relationship Beliefs on Adjustment to a Relationship Stressor,” by Vicki Helgeson.142
A study of college students in LDRs and how their beliefs about themselves, and their relationships, impact their ability to cope with the separation. A good study to show the utility of positive attitude.
“Needs, Coping Strategies, and Coping Outcomes Associated with Long-Distance Relationships,” by Paul Holt and Gerald Stone.18
Astudy of college students in LDRs that tries to look at the differences between visualizers and verbalizers. There are a few problems with the study design (that I discussed in the text) but this is still one of earliest studies on students in LDRs.
“Coping with Moral Commitment to Long-Distance Dating Relationships,” by John Lydon, Tamarha Pierce, and Shannon O’Regan.143
Asomewhat technical article examining types of commitment in relationships that are undergoing the stress of geographical separation.
“The Medical-Student Spouse Syndrome: Grief Reactions to the Clinical Years,” by David Robinson.144
Adiscussion of the emotional processes that occur when one partner becomes intensely committed to work at the expense of the relationship. Although not technically examining LDRs, this paper describes several of the common reactions to separation.
“Factors Associated with Relationship Stability in Geographically Separated Couples,” by Andrew Schwebel, Ryan Dunn, Barry Moss, and Maureena
A study of 89 college freshmen in LDRs examining how intimacy, satisfaction, self-esteem, frequency of contact, and other variables interact.
“Communication and Interdependence in Geographically Separated Relationships,” by Timothy Stephen.15
An interesting study looking at university LDRs as a test of a theory of relationship dynamics. Much of the information is technical, but the author describes a great deal of information about separated couples that may prove helpful.
“Idealization and Communication in Long-Distance Premarital Relationships,” by Laura Stafford and James Reske.5
A fascinating examination of the process of unrealistic expectations within LDRs.
“Physical Distance and Interpersonal Characteristics in College Students’ Romantic Relationships,” by Roger Van Horn and Colleagues.4
This study, comparing roughly 80 people in LDRs to 80 people in geographically close relationships, found that the two are more similar than different. Anice review and discussion.
“Coping with Long-Distance Relationships,” by John Westefeld and Debora Liddell.145
A very brief discussion of the author’s experience with a mini-workshop for college students in LDRs.
“Communicative Strategies Used to Terminate Romantic Relationships,” by William Wilmot, Donald Carbaugh, and Leslie Baxter.85
These researchers wanted to study the process that occurs during relationships that end, so they chose LDRs, thinking they would break up more so than others. A somewhat technical paper, but still important given the dearth of research available.
“Depression in the Wives of Nuclear Submarine Personnel,” by Karen Beckman, Anthony Marsella, and Ruth Finney.146
One of a handful of studies looking at the wives of Navy submariners, who are a somewhat unique type of LDR, given the long-stretches with very little contact.
“The Returning Veteran Syndrome,” by Douglas Bey.111
A psychiatrist discusses the symptoms related to wartime reunion. A slightly less technical article than many, with a psychodynamic bent.
“Personal Transitions and Interpersonal Communication Among Submariners’Wives,” by Kathleen Boynton and W. Barnett Pearce.147
An excellent, although somewhat outdated, review of separation in general, and the additional stress that comes with submarine deployment.
“Waiting Wives: Women Under Stress,” by Douglas Bey and Jean Lange.65
This paper discusses the normal range of reactions that the wives of servicemen report during their separations. Most of these are applicable to nonmilitary LDRs as well.
“Family Readjustment of Veterans,” by John Cuber.112
A post–World War II article discussing the problems of reunion.
“Coping with Sea Duty: Problems Encountered and Resources Utilized During Periods of Family Separation,” by Kathryn Decker.36
A fairly extensive review of Navy families separated during non-wartime deployments.
“Navy Families in Distress,” by William Dickerson and Ransom Arthur.37
An older article discussing Navy separations.
“Persian Gulf Sojourn: Stereotypes of Family Separation,” by Richard Dukes and Janice Naylor.148
A study of how society perceives separation. Participants describe how they would react to several different vignettes. The only study of this kind to date. Very interesting with regards to the stereotypes that those in LDRs face.
“Loneliness and the Serviceman’s Wife,” by Evelyn Duvall.35
AWorld War II article that still is pertinent to many military separations.
“The Psychological Adjustments of Returned Servicemen and Their Families,” by Coleman Griffith.149
Another post–World War II paper discussing the difficulties of reunion.
“Families of Prisoners of War Held in Vietnam: A Seven-Year Study,” by Edna Hunter.51
This study focuses on families in crises examining the emotional processes and coping techniques over 7 years. Although it’s based on a very specific type of LDR, many of the conclusions are applicable to all.
Families Under Stress, by Rubin Hill.45
An extremely detailed early study of families separated due to World War II.
“The Submariners’Wives Syndrome,” by Richard Isay.150
One of the earlier studies that looked at the range of severe depression and anxiety connected with wives separated from their husbands on submarines.
“American Families and the Vietnam War,” by E. James Lieberman.151
Adetailed discussion of the impact of wartime separation on military families.
“The Returned Prisoner of War: Factors in Family Reintegration,” by Hamilton McCubbin, Barbara Dahl, Gary Lester, and Beverly Ross.152
An in-depth study, by this prolific research group, of families trying to adjust after prolonged separation.
“Coping Repertoires of Families Adapting to Prolonged War-Induced Separations,” by Hamilton McCubbin, Barbara Dahl, Gary Lester, Dorothy
Benson, and Marilyn Robertson.153
Another well-done study by McCubbin’s group looking at styles of coping with catastrophic war-related separation.
“Adaptation of the Family to the POW/MIA Experience: An Overview,” by Hamilton McCubbin, Edna Hunter, and Philip Meters, Jr.154
Adetailed study of over 200 families dealing with prolonged separation from military family members. There is a great deal of information about symptoms during separation, how people coped with the stress, and wives’ perceptions of their marriages.
“Family Separation in the Army: AStudy of the Problems Encountered and the Care Taking Resources Used by Career Army Families Undergoing Military Separations,” by Frank Montalvo.40
Another good review of the issues facing military couples during separation.
“Prolonged Family Separation in the Military: A Longitudinal Study,” by Hamilton McCubbin and Barbara Dahl.155
A review of military separations focusing on changes over time as the family and couple adapts to the distance and reunion.
“Separation Problems in Military Wives,” by Houston MacIntosh.24
An early study of psychiatric symptoms in military wives separated from their husbands.
“The Families of U.S. Navy Prisoners of War from Vietnam Five Years after Reunion,” by D. Stephen Nice, Barbara McDonald, and Tom McMillian.156
A fascinating study of couples as they attempt to adjust to reunion. This has one of the longest periods of observation, looking five years after the separation had ended.
“World War II and Divorce: A Life Course Perspective,” by Eliza Pavalko and Glen Elder, Jr.120
A well-designed study examining the effect of World War II on marriages looking at several factors and following the relationships over time.
“Separation Reactions of Married Women,” by Chester Pearlman, Jr.28
Apsychiatrist discusses his experience with 485 women separated from their military partners.
“Social Support, Family Separation, and Well-Being Among Military Wives,” by Leora Rosen and Linda Moghadam.39
A large study examining military couples and the role of social support during separations.
“Stressors, Stress Mediators, and Emotional Well-Being Among Spouses of Soldiers Deployed to the Persian Gulf During Operation Desert Shield/Storm,” by Leora Rosen, Joel Teitelbaum, and David Westhuis.44
Astudy of 981 families of Gulf War veterans exploring issues related to military separation. Avery important piece of research showing the critical importance of social support.
“Marital Adjustment of Army Spouses One Year After Operation Desert Storm,” by Leora Rosen, Doris Durand, David Westhuis, and Joel Teitelbaum.157
Alarge study of families of GulfWar veterans andhowthey coped with reunion. Also includes a good discussion of the literature on military separation and reunion.
“The Dynamics of Grief of Wives and Families of Military Personnel Missing in Action,” by Ludwig Spolyar.158
A psychologist discusses the emotional processes of wives dealing not only with separation, but also the uncertainty associated with a husband missing in action.
“The Homecomer,” by Alfred Schuetz.159
Written in 1945, this discussion makes excellent reading, and provides great material to discuss with your partner prior to or just after reunion from deployment.
“Intensive Case Studies of Attachment Utilizing a Naturally-Occurring Separation in Marital Relationships (Doctoral Thesis),” by Stephen Stratton.27
A difficult to find thesis (write to Auburn University) that interviews five Army wives about their coping with separation. The material highlights several of the concepts I discussed in this book and reads very well.
“Children’s Single-Session Briefings: Group Work with Military Families Experiencing Parents’ Deployment,” by Jane Waldron, Ronaele Whittington, and Steve Jensen.106
A rare look at methods of integrating children into coping strategies during deployments.
“Marital Satisfaction, Job Satisfaction, and Retention in the Army,” by John Woelfel and Joel Savell.12
A somewhat technical article looking at how separation impacts career satisfaction in the military.
Cumulative Citations (References)
1. Rindfuss, R.R. Stephen, E.H. “Marital Noncohabitation: Separation Does Not Make
the Heart Grow Fonder.” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 1990; 52:259–270.
2. Guldner, G.T. “Long-Distance Romantic Relationships: Prevalence and Separation-
Related Symptoms in College Students.” Journal of College Student Development,
3. Guldner, G.T. “Propinquity and Dating Relationships: Toward a Theory of Long-
Distance Romantic Relationships Including an Exploratory Study of College
Students’ Relationships-at-a-Distance.” Department of Psychology. West Lafayette:
Purdue University, 1992.
4. Van Horn, K.R. Arnone, A. Nesbitt, K. et al. “Physical Distance and Interpersonal
Characteristics in College Students’ Romantic Relationships.” Personal Relationships,
5. Stafford, L. Reske, J.R. “Idealization and Communication in Long-Distance Premarital
Relationships.” Family Relations, 1990; 39:274–279.
6. Stephen, T.D. “Symbolic Interdependence and Post-Break-Up Distress: A Reformulation
of the Attachment Process.” Journal of Divorce, 1984; 8:1–17.
7. Hill, C.T. Rubin, Z. Peplau. L. Anne. “Breakups Before Marriage: The End of 103
Affairs.” Journal of Social Issues, 1976; 32:147–168.
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