Date of Award

August 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Erin M Sahlstein Parcell

Committee Members

Sarah E Riforgiate, Erin K Ruppel


conflict, face, facework, long-distance friendships, technology


When conflict arises in long-distance friendships (LDFs), the friends might use technology-based channels to communicate about these conflicts. Given the distance, when the friendship partners want to address challenges that arise, they must use channels available to them to discuss these problems. The goal of this study was to understand how these LDFs address and manage conflict when using technology as their primary means of communication and what common approaches they have when negotiating these conflicts. To gather perspectives of how individuals should communicate about their conflicts, focus groups were conducted. Four focus occurred which consisted of college students at a large Midwestern university and averaged three people per group (N = 12). These focus groups allowed data to be collected about LDF technology use regarding conflict, conflict management experiences, and communication expectations. Data were thematically analyzed using sensitizing concepts from face theory (Goffman, 1967), politeness theory (Brown & Levinson, 1987) and face-negotiation theory (Ting-Toomey, 2005). The findings from this study indicated that these LDFs chose richer communication channels (e.g., phone calling, video calling) when the conflict was more severe and leaner channels (e.g., texting) when the conflict was minor or when they just wanted to check in about a potential conflict. Additionally, participants in these LDFs had a heightened awareness of relationship image management during conflict, and that LDFs would try to save the relationship because of their shared history, and also not wanting to give up a relationship that has been able to survive time and distance.

Included in

Communication Commons