Larry James' BLOG

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Emotional Support for Long Distance Relationships (in a Digital World)

Filed under: Long Distance Relationships,Love Letters — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Being in a long-distance relationship with someone you love – whether it’s a spouse, a sibling or a child who has gone off to work, to study or a soldier to fight in a war – can be very stressful, especially for the person who is far away from home.

ldrelationshipSince it’s the 21st century and we have all sorts of incredibly fast technology at our fingertips, it may seem logical to use, say, video chatting, online instant messaging or cell-phone texting to stay in touch.

But here’s a surprise. A new study suggests that something else actually brings the most comfort to the person who is away from home – a regular old e-mail message or, yes, an honest-to-God old-fashioned letter, written on paper, and physically mailed. You may remember such things from the last century! But why would this be?

The research was done at the University of Denver and the University of Colorado Denver and was published in June 2011 in Journal of Traumatic Stress. To learn more, study coauthor Ben Loew, MA, graduate research assistant at the University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies contributed the following.

loveletter1Higher-quality content: Letters and e-mail allow more time for thought than instant communications. People who write them, said Loew, are more likely to think carefully about each word and possibly even edit themselves before sending the note. Writing out one’s viewpoint allows each person to complete a point without interruption and enables a better understanding of each others perspective.

The content tends to be more deliberate and calm – it’s a lot easier to fire off an insult or respond too quickly if you’re calling, texting or using instant chat, since with those forms of communication, there is more pressure to reply in a rush. Loew added that the person receiving the communication also may recognize that writing a long e-mail or letter or taking the time to buy a gift or create a care package requires more effort than more “instant” forms of communication – so “delayed” communication may feel like a sign of greater support.

Permanence: We don’t tend to record our phone calls or purposely save our instant chats or text messages and re-experience them over and over again – but we often will do that with an e-mail message or a letter. When the content makes us feel happy or calm or just more connected, we can stuff a letter into a pocket and reread it any time – ditto for a printed-out e-mail message.

Anticipation: Past studies on happiness have shown that when you know something exciting is coming in the future and you’re forced to wait for it, that period of looking forward to it can bring you comfort and a sense of joyful anticipation.

Before you call or text your loved one who is far away, you might want to pick up paper and pen to write a letter or turn to your computer and carefully craft an e-mail that expresses how much you care about that person – and do it often!

BONUS Article: Love Letters Straight From the Heart

ldrelationship3CLoveLOGOCopyright © 2012 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – and

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.


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