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Technology in long-distance relationships
by Horsefeathers. February 2nd 2014, 06:05 AM

Technology in long-distance relationships
By Traci (Traci)

Technology has affected the way that we communicate in a variety of relationships. From reconnecting with old friends on Facebook to making new friends around the web, technology has changed the way that we interact. Technology allows long-distance relationships, from two lovers split apart by necessity to a couple that met over a dating site, to survive just as a normal couple would. Which apps are best for you and your partner? What are the concerns and benefits of different types of technology? This article offers the opinion of somebody experienced in a long-term, long-distance relationship, and outlines how different technologies continue to support long-distance relationships.

Video chatting
There are a variety of different apps that allow for video chatting via computer or mobile devices. Skype, Oovoo, Google Hangouts, and iMessage are just a few of hundreds of options that a long-distance couple can use to be able to have that face-to-face connection that they miss.
  • Benefits: Nothing compares to having date nights where you can both cook some food, get on video chat, and virtually stream a movie together. Video chatting offers a way to not only talk over the phone, but to be able to spend time with your partner and see the face that you miss. These applications improve drastically every year; such refinements include better video and sound quality and the ability to use your phone or tablet, which improves accessibility for more couples.
  • Concerns: Overusing video chatting is one of the most prevalent problems among long-distance couples and often results in breakups. Having a daily conversation or weekly date night over Skype is a positive use of video chat; spending hours a day stuck in front of your computer can take time from living your life and building upon other relationships. While it's important to spend an adequate amount of time with the person you love, it's also important to live your life. Video chat can also be glitchy and slow, which can be frustrating for couples.
  • Final opinion: Video chat is a long-distance necessity. It is the prime way to "hang out" with a long-distance partner. However, it shouldn’t take over your relationship. Video chat should be supplemented with other types of technological communication and, if they are available, visits.

Instant messaging and text messaging
Along with the classic SMS feature on mobile phones, free instant messaging (IM) apps such as Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, KIK, and Viber are widely used. Many email services and social networks such as Facebook also offer mobile sites or apps, which are simple, easy to use and provide a free alternative to text messaging.
  • Benefits: Text and instant messaging is probably the easiest way to keep in touch with someone who cannot physically be with you. This cheap method of communication is portable, straightforward and becoming even easier with new, improved apps and technology facilitating SMS/IM constantly in development.
  • Concerns: Sadly, text messaging or instant messaging simply cannot replace seeing your partner's smile or hearing their voice. It is perhaps too simplistic, and it can be difficult to express emotions and feeling to the extent you wish to express them. As handy and easy as text messaging may be, it is very difficult for a relationship to survive solely on a number of words on a screen.
  • Final opinion: Though a perfect replacement for times when video chatting is not available, it would be advisable for you to have another way to interact with your partner, and instant messaging or text messaging should be used along with the other methods of communication mentioned in this article.

Picture Apps
Sending picture messages allows for a fun alternative to text messaging. Applications such as Snapchat have grown in popularity over the last year. This type of app allows pictures to be exchanged without the build-up on your phone's memory. Instagram is another example of a more public picture app that allows you to share moments with your partner and others; it also recently started offering the ability to send private pictures as Snapchat does.
  • Benefits: Many couples are initially skeptical of Snapchat, as it doesn't seem as appealing as a video messaging, but it is commonly a favorite among long-distance couples. Instead of having to take time out of a busy schedule to sit down and have a conversation, Snapchat allows couples to share moments from their every day lives with each other. From their workload, to their friends, and their meals, these apps allow couples to share all of the silly day-to-day moments that they might otherwise miss out on in a long-distance setting.
  • Concerns: Some of these apps are often misused as a way to "sext" (send sexual pictures to partners). While it's natural to miss your partner sexually, it's important to keep in mind that where these pictures go is uncontrollable, even in the most trusting relationships. There are also issues with legality due to age, and the terms of service of these applications. Make sure that you're using these apps appropriately.
  • Final opinion: Picture messaging is the way of the future for long-distance couples. Instead of having to plan out lengthy calls or video sessions, it's a great way to send quick pictures to include your partner in your daily life. As long as you make sure you're using the applications properly, they're a great way to keep in touch with loved ones.

The best way to use technology in a long-distance relationship is to use a variety of types for appropriate situations and remember to live your own life! Having weekly video chat dates supplemented by daily messaging allows you to have a normal relationship while not letting it interfere with your daily life. Your long-distance partner should be part of your life, not your whole life, and technology can help to facilitate this so you can be in a long-distance relationship and be sustainable in a busy life.
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