Can Technology Replace Human Affection?

Syahrul Hidayanto , Billy Sarwono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physical contact, self-disclosure, and positive communication are important aspects in maintaining romantic relationships for young couples. However, sometimes the necessity of education forces young couples to go through long-distance relationships. This study aims to determine how communication technology affects young couples’ long-distance romantic relationships. It uses the theory of social penetration and adopts the online self-disclosure approach. This study also uses a postpositivist paradigm with a qualitative methodology. Data were collected through observation and in-depth interviews. Two pairs of participants were selected purposively. The results show that while online video call communication positively affects the long-term continuity of romantic relationships, face-to-face communication could not be completely replaced by technological advancements. Because of time constraints, even the frequent use of communication technology, such as chatting, is not yet enough for people to discuss a variety of issues. Likewise, the quality of relationships is limited to daily topics and does not consider the participants’ more personal romantic problems. In addition to these weaknesses, this research finds several factors that easily cause misunderstandings, which are trivial problems that do not occur in face-to-face communication, such as (1) photos with other friends of the opposite gender, (2) typos, and (3) unclear language or phrasing.


  • Long-Distance Romantic Relationship
  • Online Self-Disclosure
  • Young Couple


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