Adaptive communication and perceptions in long-distance dating : Evidence from self-reported and behavioral data

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2964–2987
Number of pages24
Journal / PublicationJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number9
Online published2 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


Romantic partners in long-distance relationships tend to adapt their communication and their perceptions of the relationship to suit their relational goals. Guided by this premise, the aim of this study was to provide a more nuanced understanding of how communication and perceptions are adapted. For this purpose, self-reports and behavioral data pertaining to 61 heterosexual dating couples were gathered, who all kept a diary for a week, while communicating via a texting platform. By comparing the daily communication and perceptions of the relationship of couples in long-distance relationships to those of couples in geographically close relationships, the study offered solid evidence of behavioral adaption, as the former self-reported greater self-disclosure and greater self-responsiveness to their partners. These findings were supported by human coding and linguistic analysis results. Moreover, while relative to geographically close partners, long-distance partners demonstrated larger differences between partner perceptions and the partner’s self-report for both self-disclosure and responsiveness. The effect of long-distance status on perceived differences was mediated by relationship uncertainty and one’s own adaptive behaviors. The findings suggest that long-distance relationships are maintained through behavioral and perceptual adaptations, which are also meaningful for maintaining geographically close relationships.

Research Area(s)

  • Adaptation, behavioral coding, daily diary methods, linguistic analysis, long-distance relationships, responsiveness, self-disclosure