You have probably heard the saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and wonder if this is true. You may have written it off as something Granny used to say to console herself or to try to make you more independent. On the other hand, you may live by this slogan, but wonder why it works.

Every relationship is different and what works for one may not work for another, but research shows that even small amounts of time away from your partner can improve your relationship.


Psychologist Crystal Jiang at the City University of Hong Kong and psychologist Jeffrey T. Hancock at Cornell University studied couples who are in long-distance relationships. The results of their findings, published in The Journal of Communication, confirm that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

The couples who participated in the study were more likely to have better communication and deeper conversations than couples who saw each other daily. The reasons behind this may be that the long-distance couples have limited communication time, so they avoid confrontations and delve deeper into issues such as future plans, trust and intimacy. Long-distance couples keep their hearts growing fonder by making their communication count. The intimacy these couples experience is not based on physical touch or sexual intimacy. It is purely an emotional or psychological connection, which makes the heart yearn to be close to its partner.


If you are in a new relationship and one that is in close proximity, you can still use absence to strengthen your bond. This should not be used as a manipulation technique or in an emotional response. For instance, if he does not text you back for hours, you avoid texting him out of punishment. That is not the same thing as waiting slightly to return a text message. Instead of responding immediately, let him anticipate your response with excitement and eagerness. That type of absence leaves him wanting more and being excited to hear from you.


Whether you are in a new, or long-lasting relationship, it is healthy to spend time apart. This may be an hour or two in which you go to the gym every evening, or a few hours of shopping with your girlfriends on the weekend. He, in turn, may want a night out at the ball park with his buddies, or to go to a concert with his brother. Try not to see these breaks as flaws in your relationship, or wonder if he would rather spend his time with people other than you.

When you spend a little time away, you’ll return feeling more like yourself. Plus, you have new stories and experiences to share with each other.


In the case of a long distance relationship, absence makes the heart grow fonder by creating an idealized image of your partner. You do not have to see his mood swings, nor does he have to see yours. During the limited time you spend with or communicating with your partner you, essentially, are on best behavior. You present your happy, carefree, upbeat self, so your partner looks forward to talking with you – try talking and being sexy over Skype.

When you live with someone, they may not see the fun side of you. They see all your ups and downs and may want a small break from the emotions. 

Psychology Today agrees with this and also points out that trust in long-distance relationships is very strong. Those couples have to trust one another, which increases their intimacy.


When dating, you can increase his interest in you by creating space in a few ways. You do not want to threaten the relationship, or make him think that you do not have time for him, but you also do not have to always agree with his suggestions. If he offers to take you to a movie, but you would rather walk through a museum, let him know that you want to postpone the movie for another time. Again, this should not be used as a manipulation technique. He will soon get annoyed if you never want to do anything he suggests, but if once or twice a month you make a different suggestion, he will come to welcome these and look forward to hearing your wants and desires.


If you are in a permanent relationship, a weekend get-a-way may be just the thing you both need. When you spend time away from your partner, you forget about his little irritating quirks and focus on all his good qualities. Instead of being the guy who chews with his mouth open, you remember the man who pulls out your chair and opens doors for you. You see him in a different light and being away from him will make you miss him.

This works for him too. You will notice that his communication improves as he tries to maintain a connection with you. He misses his partner too and will be waiting with a smile and open arms when you return.


The reason your partner was attracted to you is because of the unique things you do. Time apart gives you time to flourish and concentrate on those things that build your character. This lets you be both independent and interdependent. You are fine on your own and do not need him to get through the day, but you are also secure in your relationship and learn to depend on him.

If you do not take alone time to remember your personal strengths, you lose some of your independence. Fear of losing yourself can cause you to jeopardize your relationship.


If your partner does not feel that absence makes the heart grow fonder, you may have some convincing to do. You should not feel guilty for wanting time away from your significant other. Once he sees that your relationship is not in jeopardy and he realizes that these little breaks add to the strength of your relationship, it is easier.

Remember to request time away for the right reasons. Do not manipulate your partner or avoid seeing him out of anger. Use this time to focus on your personal interests and strengthen your independence. If you do not know where to begin, try an exercise class or an art class for starters. These are good places to meet people with similar interests which can also increase your social life.

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