Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



Forgiveness is viewed as a major factor in maintaining healthy romantic relationships. But couples involved in long-distance relationships experience a different set of challenges than geographically-close couples when it comes to maintaining and enjoying satisfying and stable relationships. Many long-distance couples rely on increased empathy and intrapersonal communication – in the form of imagined interactions – to release tension, rehearse conversations, and review and analyze conflicts. While forgiveness has been studied extensively in a variety of interpersonal settings, it has not been explicitly studied in relation to the usage of imagined interactions or in maintaining long-distance relationships. Moreover, even though a correlation between empathy and forgiveness has long been established, the interplay between these two constructs and intrapersonal communication and relational satisfaction has not been explored. The overarching goal of this study is to bridge the theoretical and conceptual gaps between forgiveness theory, empathy, imagined interactions (Symbolic Interactionism/schema, script or cognitive theory), relational satisfaction and relational maintenance strategies (Dialectical Theory). This study sampled participants in either a long-distance or geographically close romantic relationship (n=181). Although proximity did not discriminate for forgiveness, imagined interactions (IIs), empathy, conflict management as a relational maintenance strategy or relational satisfaction, use of IIs did significantly predict forgiveness and relational satisfaction. Additionally, forgiveness and use of imagined interactions together significantly predicted relational satisfaction. Finally, IIs were shown to be positively correlated with empathy, a significant finding considering the lack of research into that area of the otherwise well developed field of IIs.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Honeycutt, James



Included in

Communication Commons