Long distance relationships have been prevalent among students in my University. These are typically intimate relationships that take place when a considerable distance separates partners. However, uncertainty has always surrounded the possibility of success in long distance relationships. An estimated 4 to 4.5 million college couples in the US are in non-marital long-distance relationship. Today, statistics in America indicate that university students face different challenges in long distance relationships. (Brain, 2012) In this research project, I would like to examine how long distance relationships work among college students in my university. The main focus of my study will be finding out from different students on whether they have been in long distance relations or not. I will also find out the likelihood of cheating on their partners. My research project is significant because it will provide the rationale or demerits of college students having a long distance relationship. This is significant because it will provide college students with a basis for making decisions on engaging in long distance relationships with regard to its impacts. The research will also be essential in revealing the impacts of long distance relationships on college students. This can inform further sociological studies. This will add to pertinent information for public sociological research.
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My research will be both descriptive and explanatory. The questions I will seek to
address in my research are how frequent it is for a long-distance relationship to exist and develop throughout the University. I will investigate the prevalence of long distance relationships in students. I will find out whether those relationships work out and why students like to engage in long distance relationships. I will also document the impacts long distance relationships have on students’ social lives. Another question that would interest me is the level of difficulty when having a long-distance relationship, and if it is lonely to be in such a relationship. The major objectives of my research project are to find out how frequent and recurrent it is for a long-distance relationship to exist and develop throughout college. I will also investigate whether it is more or less likely for a long-distance relationship to work out. I will also find out the level of difficulty and loneliness when having a long-distance relationship. I will attempt to find out the motives as to why people choose and persist in having long-distance relationships. Another objective of my research is to explore the effects that long distance relationships can have on social lives of people involved in a long-distance relationship. My preliminary hypothesis is that long distance relationships do not work out in college students. There is a temptation for couples to cheat, and it ends the relationship. Long distance relationships affect students negatively because of social loneliness. The innovation of my research project is that it addresses thematic concerns in college education. More often, long distance relationships restrain college students from performing well academically because of feeling social loneliness. My research will add considerable value to improving college students’ social life. I believe it could supplement the existing literature on social research in a number of different ways.
It is quite common for students who come from different countries or states to hold on to a romantic relationship that they had prior to joining college. I have friends who come from many different countries. Since I am also an international student, it is fascinating to see how common or rare it is for people to maintain a long distance relationship. People tend to be critical when it comes to long-distance relationships. That is one of the bases as to why I would like to find out if they work. College provides students with a new experience. I would like to explore the likelihood that people would cheat on their long-distance partners. I will also find out the effects that long distance relationships can have on students’ social lives. Finally, I aim at concluding on the significance and worthiness of engaging in a long distance relationship. I will review background literature that is relevant to my research question. I will tackle literature on how college students manage long distance relationships. For instance, I will review Johnson’s study on “College students’ use of relational management strategies in email in long distance and geographically close relationships.” (Cameron, 2007) I will also review literature on how long-distance relationships affect college students. On this, I will review Maguire’s study “Will it End? A (Re) examination of Uncertainty in College Student Long Distance Dating Relationships” (Maguire, 2007). In addition, I will review literature on theoretical perspectives about long-distance relationships in college students. To reveal different theoretical perspectives on the subject, I will review Pistole’s article “Long Distance Romantic Couples: An Attachment Theoretical Perspective” which also presents attachment theoretical perspectives of long-distance romantic relationships. (Pistole, 2010) The phenomenon of long distance relationships in college students has been rising due to increased migration of people in search of education and better livelihoods. The migration separates partners as they move to different geographical regions. In most cases, betrayal has been a feature of long distance relationships. However, interaction through the use of technologies such as Skype has kept some long distance relationships going.
The previous researches and findings related to my methodological approach are “College students’ use of relational management strategies in the email in long distance and geographically close relationships” (Cameron, 2007), “Will it Ever End? A (Re) examination of Uncertainty in College Student Long Distance Dating Relationships” (Maguire, 2007) and “Long Distance Romantic Couples: An Attachment Theoretical Perspective” (Pistole, 2010). These articles reveal that interpersonal relationships changed as they go through several stages. The studies sampled college students to exhibit on how much face-to-face relationships change when they switch to reduced personal relationships. They also recount on how useful the Internet is in maintaining long distance relationships. The studies explore the uncertainty that might be present between people in long distance relationships. They present different theories that could be applied in terms of uncertainty levels, and they evaluate whether long distance relationships affect distress, satisfaction and communication. These research papers which I have reviewed reveal the fact that uncertainty defaces long distance relationships among college students. However, I have found that the papers leave a knowledge gap on examination of whether these relationships work. In addition, the studies fail to relate the effects of the relationships on social life of college students. The strength of these research projects is that they have established a comprehensive relationship between the variables they are studying. The methodology of the study seems to be well organized. The questions are also appropriate. However, some open-ended questions would be useful in learning more qualitative factors that create the differences between long-distance romantic relationships and geographically close romantic relationships. People would get valid results when they use open-ended questions. This is so because the participants could express their thoughts and feelings regarding the research questions freely.
I found out that the narrow methodology of data collection limits credibility of research papers. It exposes them to incorporating invalid data. For instance, it is obvious from the article “Commitment Predictors: Long Distance versus Geographically Close Relationships” that the article mentions only several limitations that the study had. The authors acknowledge that the “hypothesis testing the research is underrepresented” and that they “used the mean to substitute missing values to maintain power” because there were no studies that had similar hypotheses regarding long distance relationships or geographically close relationships (Michael, 2010).
My research project will answer these challenges by using mixed methods when investigating my question. I would like to use a survey and interview in order for my results to be valid. I will try to use a representative sampling technique in order to be able to generalize the results. (Paul, 2011) I will try not to have such a limited sample. Moreover, I will also try to make my sample more diverse in terms of ethnicities because a representative sample is extremely valuable when conducting a study with reliable and valid results. I will also combine quantitative and qualitative questions in the study. A combination of both quantitative and qualitative questions makes the research results valid and reliable.
Much of the literature on long distance relationships in college students has been pointing out that long distance relationships do not work out. Carole Pistole’s work, “An attachment theory interpretation” focuses on explaining the social context of long distance romantic relationships through a theoretical interpretation. The paper recounts that partners maintain relationship and pursue each other when they are living close. However, living geographically apart compromises the stability of the relationship. I found out that the paper reviews different theories that explain the implications of long distance relationships. The theories include the attachment theory, relational uncertainty theory, and a theory of idealization. They explain the idea that relationships gather strength when partners are within close geographical distance (Pistole, 2006) .The literature points out on a number of critical issues. Firstly, partners are willing to pursue each other in a relationship when they are close to each other. Secondly, long distance relationships weaken because of loss of an attachment bond and thirdly communication is fundamental in long distances relationships and can lead to different impacts. However, the postulation of the theories that reduction of uncertainty in a long distance relationship can strengthen it limits them. There has been criticism about it because reduction of uncertainty is not a driving force of the interaction. The strands relate that when the partners are in close geographical distance, there is an interaction that increases their desire to pursue each other. However, in a long distance relationship, reduction of interaction increases uncertainties. This reduces the stability of the relationship (Fanny, 2012). This limitation can be overcome through studying long distance relationships as a complex system from their background. I will use different variables to measure the prevalence of long distance relationships. I will interview those in long distance relationships on their background and note why they have chosen to be in those relationships. I will then find out what makes some partners cheat in long distance relationships and how such relationships affect their social life.
I have derived a working hypothesis that I will use to test the study. My primary hypothesis is that long distance relationships do not work out in college students. I find myself attracted to positivist philosophy of deductive thoughts because the general idea that dominates is that long distance relationships do not work out in the end. That idea is also one of the key motives as to why I wish to conduct this research. I have laid my research orientation and priorities to help me in qualitative data collection and analysis. The variables that I will use in my research include gender of student, age, nationality, and his/her class year (Guilder, 1996). I will inquire for the length of the relationship and how it had been going on before it became a “long-distance” one. I will clarify if they have cheated on their partners, thought of giving up but did not, and whether they already had a long-distance relationship, but it did not last. I will also inquire for how often they see each other and how much it has affected their social lives in college.
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My research design and proposed analysis consist of the variables I will use, when I will measure and define them and my research study methodology and how I will actualize it in my study. In my research, I have selected different variables as the units of analysis. I will find out the gender of students in order to find out how it affects partners’ commitment to long distance relationships. The unit of observation is either male or female. To define my study population, I will inquire for the age of a student because it plays a vital aspect in terms of maturity when maintaining a long distance relationship. The age is in terms of a number, and I will simply ask the students how old they are. The length of the relationship before it became a “long distance relationship is significant to examine the attachment between the partners and the role it plays when remaining faithful”. I will find out how long the long-distance relationships have been going on in order to find out the seriousness and commitment of the partners. It is necessary to find out whether they are faithful. Partner loyalty should be examined in order to see if students’ long distance relationships are strong and functional. In order to study the effectiveness of long distance relationships, I will find out if they have ever been in a long distance relationship before. I will also find out how long the relationship lasted (Lucier, 2013). I will inquire for how often they see each other, either through Skype or face-to-face in order to examine the helpfulness of technological advances, and if the individuals in long distance relationships have a sense of satisfaction by having a geographically detached relationship. I will also investigate on how much the long distance relationships have affected their social lives in college in order to find out if long distance relationships affect “distress, satisfaction and communication.” (Aleman, 2013)
This research will rely on sampling as a method of data collection. I will select a number of Northeastern students, and the size of the sample will depend on several factors, especially on the population size. Selection is from 500 students of Northeastern University since it is a college with a big number of undergraduate students. I will use random sampling to interview my friends who have had a long distance relationship. I could also talk to people on campus, at classes, or in my apartment building and find out their opinion on long distance relationships, and if they have ever been in such a relationship. After I finish interviewing my sampling population, I will put them in groups depending on their sex, age, and their commitment levels, for instance, whether they have been faithful or not. This will enable me to interpret my results accurately.
I will ensure that I conceptualize and adopt plans to enable measurement of variables to ensure high validity and reliability. I will conduct cross triangulation to ensure I validate the information. In addition, I will use the measurement methods used in Pistole’s paper, “Commitment Predictors: Long Distance versus Geographically Close Relations”. The measurement methods include attachment prototypes, which make use of the relationship questionnaires and a self-report measure. All the participants select one out of the four attachment prototypes on the basis of brief paragraph descriptions. The prototypes, along with sample sentences, are: Secure “I feel comfortable relying on others and having other people rely on me”, Dismissing-Avoidant, “I am content without close emotional relationships”, Preoccupied-Anxiety “I want to be close with others. However, I often find that others are hesitant to get as close to me as I would like them to be”, Fearful-Avoidant, “I find it challenging to trust others entirely, or to rely on them.” (Pistole, 2010)
I will also use attachment dimensions method to measure variables. It is a 36-item instrument that measures attachment avoidance with 18 items (for instance, “I prefer not to cheat on my long distance partner”) and attachment anxiety with 18 items (e.g., “I worry about being abandoned by my long distance partner”). I will also use commitment/relationship persistence, an investment model scale that examines relationship persistence and predicts commitment and persistence. Satisfaction -“I feel satisfied with our relationship.” Alternatives – “My alternatives are attractive to me.” Investments – “I have put a whopping deal of investment into the relationship that I would be a loser if the relationship was to come to an end”
I will also make use of demographic information. The students will provide their dating status, age, marital status, ethnicity, and education (Michael, 2010). I have laid a strategy regarding operationalizing, analysis and how I will test my hypothesis. I plan on interviewing groups of people in a long distance relationship and of those who have not. However, for the first interview I will only examine attitudes and perspectives of people with experience on the subject. I will avoid selective observations or interviews when selecting individuals. I will ensure that I have seen the questionnaires that I distribute. I will also find out the details of people that have responded positively to my question. For my first interview, there are people who will help me with my research question. I will maintain sensitivity in my research. I will value both the opinions of people who have had a long distance relationship as well as those who have never had one, but in order to investigate my research question to get realistic and valid responses, I will interview these groups separately. Therefore, when selecting the individuals that I will interview I have to group them and ask them different questions.
I will use a comprehensive process in identifying the hypothesis. I will use 3 introductory biographical questions in my intensive interview. I will inquire for the students` experience on long distance relationships, what they enjoy most about it and what they enjoy least about it.
I will also use 5 grand tour questions that I will use in my intensive interview. I will find out when they thought of the relationship, their rating of the relationship and how it has affected any kind of their social life in terms of distress, dissatisfaction or problems in communication. I will ask them to describe the ways in which long distance relationships can affect partners. I will ask about the difficulty they face, their opinion on the role of faithfulness in a relationship and how likely they think that long distance relationships are to work out in the end.
I will use 6 different probes in my interview. I will find out further about their experience and why they have such opinion. I will probe on why they made the decision to continue being with their long-distance partner. I will ask what they would do differently in their relationship when distant unlike when they were close. I will find out what other people think about their decision to be involved in a long distance relationship. I will find out how they compare their long distance relationship to other geographically close relationships they have had in the past. Lastly, I will probe on the reasons why they are in a long distance relationship.
In order to get a clear picture of the interviewees’ responses, I will conduct a set of follow up questions to get further clarification about matters that might not be clear. People might feel comfortable to share personal information and experiences after they have talked about a subject. Follow up questions will make the results of the interview more accurate.
Two follow up questions that I will ask are on the aspects of the relationship that they consider most crucial. I will also ask whether the relationship is harder or easier than they first thought. I will also try to find out what the initial reactions were to the change of a geographically close to a long distance relationship and whether the perception has changed. I expect to understand clearly what people who have had (or currently have) a long distance relationship think about this phenomenon.
In order to do a qualitative content analysis, I have to interpret and compare all of the responses that I will obtain from the interviews. I will then find patterns across different responses. I will then be able to know whether new patterns are emerging from the observation. I will be taking notes during interviews for later review. The ethical concerns that may rise from the research are that some people may be unwilling to discuss their personal relationship and demographic aspects. To minimize the subjectivity and bias in the collection and analysis of the data, I will employ informal discussions to break any unease on human subjection issues such as racial matters. I will also include women and minority groups in my sample population. In addition, I will avoid selective observations or interviews by ensuring the random sampling is used.
I expect my research to show that it is challenging for students to maintain long distance relationships. However, they are willing to pursue their partner and keep the relationship going. They believe that geographical distance compromises the stability of the relationship. The basis of my expectation is on an interview I had with my friend who has had a long distance relationship. Such findings would qualify those of previous researchers. Previous researches have postulated that long distance relationships among college students often fail.
My completed research project will build on a public social research. It will also add value to knowledge on the prospects of long distance relationships among college students. The research will also contribute to understanding of the effects of long distance relationships on college students’ social lives.