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Exploring Distance Transnational Couple Relationships Through a Gender and Sexuality Lens v. Rashmi Singla, Associate Professor, Department of People and Technology, Roskilde University, Denmark. rashmi@ruc.dk and Ambika Varma, Research Consultant, ambivarma@gmail.com

Transnationalism has not only enabled the movement of goods and services globally resulting in the increased movement of people across national borders, particularly since the late twentieth century with developments in the internet and mobile technologies, but it has also impacted humans more significantly at the micro-level. We see its bearings especially in the changing gender relations, intimate partner formation and family life. Popular notions that intimate couples stay under the same roof are being challenged and diverse forms of living arrangements are emerging where partners maintain separate residences, even across national borders, which further impact gender roles. While gender and transnationalism have been studied, investigation of intimate relationship formation and maintenance across geographical borders is rather limited. In this ongoing research project, relationship among distant transnational couples, i.e. intimate / married couples who are currently residing or have resided in different countries for a minimum of one year, is being studied. Using the theoretical framework of emotional reflexivity (Holmes, 2014), it seeks to explore the themes of gender and sexuality. How do couples negotiate gender, manage everyday intimacies, navigate sexuality and deal with the psycho-social aspects of togetherness and separation across space and time? Preliminary results from in-depth interviews, both face-to-face and online, conducted with over 25 individuals/couples highlight both the challenges of and the opportunities provided by distant intimacy dynamics and their negotiations. While on the one hand nationality, citizenship, gender, sexual orientation and identities may constrain mobility for some, living together apart is seen as liberating and enriching for others creating many possibilities. The research also aims to focus on the ‘good practices’ and contribute to the emerging body of study of gender and sexuality in intimate long-distance relationships.