"Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is one of a number of idiomatic expressions that is found in a variety of cultures. The underlying sentiment of this particular saying has to do with the way many people feel when a loved one is away for a period of time. During that period, it is possible to focus more on the good things that are connected with the missing loved one, rather than his or her faults. As a result, the sense of love for that person seems to increase over time, effectively leading to a stronger feeling for that individual than was present when he or she was in close proximity.
The phenomenon of absence making the heart grow fonder has been experienced by a number of people in many settings. When a loved one must be out of town for several months due to work or some type of military assignment, chances are strong that those left behind will begin to idealize the loved one. This is particularly true when the opportunities for communication are somewhat limited, perhaps to only short online chats or to the occasional exchange of letters through the post. Over time, yearnings for the return of the person may increase significantly, especially just before the scheduled return.
While "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is normally associated with love or family relationships, the expression is sometimes applied to friendships and even the relationships between pets and owners. For example, an extended separation from a friend may prompt the one left behind to ponder on what that friendship means and discover that the absent friend contributes more that previously realized. In like manner, a family away on vacation may find they miss the family pet more than they anticipated. In both scenarios, absence leads to a joyous event when all the parties involved are reunited.
While the phenomenon of absence making the heart grow fonder is very common, there are exceptions. Depending on the circumstances, the period apart may prompt one or both parties involved to reassess the value of the relationship, and find that being apart is preferable to being together. This can sometimes happen with romantic relationships, especially when one or both parties find new interests during that period of separation. For this reason, it is important to note that absence will not always lead to stronger emotional connections; under certain circumstances, it may actually lead to the end of the relationship.