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SALT LAKE CITY -- USA Today reports that as many as half of all college students are in a long-distance relationship, and that number could reach 75 percent at some point.
What is it about the long-distance relationship that appeals to so many people? Relationship coach Matthew Townsend says these relationships tend to heat up quicker than the traditional kind.
"You still have the same thoughts and when you think about that person, it actually may create a chemistry that lasts a little bit longer than the normal relationship. In the normal relationship, you might burn through your chemistry faster," he says.
A long-distance relationship forces the couple to get to know each other in what can become a deeply personal way. But Townsend says the people involved may not be getting the whole picture.
"It might give it some depth because we're talking and having deep, specific conversations," he says. "But we're missing a lot of the non-verbal cues which can make up anywhere from 70 to 85 percent of our conversations."
The people involved in the relationship aren't seeing how their significant other interacts with other people, or how messy their homes are. These are things that could lead to problems once the long-distance relationship crosses over into the face-to-face kind. Plus, when a couple communicates over Facebook or Skype, Townsend says the people involved may be trying to make the best impression they can instead of just being themselves.
"We're much more likely to audit or censor ourselves than we would be in real life," he says.
That's not to say the long-distance relationship should be avoided. Townsend says they can be very successful, as long as the two talk to each other about what their expectations are from the other person and if they are very clear on what they plan to do when they see each other.
"You don't have a lot of time [with each other], so you've probably got to over-communicate before you are together and that will manage your relationship a little bit better," Townsend says.
He says it's also best for the daters to manage their expectations.