While intimacy is a complex concept that has been conceptualized in various ways (e.g., an individual disposition, a desired relationship feature, and a positive state of interactions; Laurenceau, Rivera, Schaffer, & Pietromonaco, 2004), this study considers intimacy as a dyadic and interdependent relating process whereby a personal, subjective sense of closeness develops through enduring interactions using a range of interpersonal media over time.
Drawing on the framework of the interpersonal process model of intimacy (IPMI; Reis & Shaver, 1988), the study specifically examines if LD couples indeed experience greater intimacy on an interaction-by-interaction basis, and if so, what relational dynamics contribute to such intimacy enhancement.
Romantic relationships are normally characterized by physical proximity, but even this type of relationship is often carried out in geographic separation due to educational demands, dual-career pursuits, military deployment, emigration, and other such factors (Stafford, 2005).
About 3 million Americans live apart from their spouses for reasons other than divorce or discord (Bergen, Kirby, & Mc Bride, 2007).
Geographic separation leads to restricted communication, reduced interdependence, and heightened uncertainty about the future of the relationship, all of which complicate relationship maintenance (Stafford, 2010).
According to the IPMI (Reis & Shaver, 1988), intimacy is derived from transactions of self-disclosure and perceived partner responsiveness.
Self-disclosure generally refers to the communication of personal facts, thoughts, and emotions to another.
If the model holds for both types of dating it will be a valid framework for comparing relational dynamics across GC and LD relationships.
Hence, we first predict that perceptions of partner responsiveness mediate the effects of self-disclosure and perceived partner disclosures on intimacy in both LD and GC relationships (H(a) The theoretical model of interpersonal process model of intimacy (IPMI; Reis & Shaver, 1988). The path coefficients for long-distance (LD) relationships appear first, followed by the coefficients for geographically close (GC) relationships.