Being in a new relationship is great. Going on outdoorsy dates, learning about each other’s likes and dislikes, meeting each other’s friends for the first time… well, LBH — sometimes that last part isn’t so great. Yes, it can be totally validating for your relationship when your S.O. gets along with your BFF (and vice versa). But there’s no reason to stress out if you just don’t jive with each other’s social circles. When you can’t stomach the idea of another happy hour with their college roommate who only speaks in movie references, there’s another thing that can strengthen your relationship: sweet, sweet television.
Research has shown in the past that a shared “social identity” — mutual friends and connection with family members — is *huge* when it comes to boosting the quality of a relationship. But a new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships shows that a shared interest in TV, movies, books and other media can foster closeness in a relationship just as well as a shared social network. So when you don’t have the same friends, you don’t have to worry that you’re missing out on a key area of bonding in your relationship. Instead, you can turn to (some different) Friends. Or anything else you feel like binge-watching together.
Researchers surveyed a group of college students who were dating exclusively on the quality of their relationships, their number of mutual friends and the amount of time they spent doing various activities together. And while couples who shared a friend group reported having the closest relationships, a pattern started to emerge showing that couples who lack a shared social network but have “shared media experiences” were just as close. Researchers believe that Netflix-binging together “leads people to feel a shared connection to the social world,” whether that be a Marvel world or Westeros.
It’s maybe not the most romantic story to share with your future kids (“Mommy and Daddy both loved Netflix very much, and so one day they decided to make it Facebook official”), but at least you no longer have to feel guilty about your binge-watch weekends. You’re not just working your way through every single episode of Buffy in one sitting. You’re working on your relationship! The only thing you have to worry about now is them watching the next episode without you.
Do you and your S.O. bond more together with the casts of your fave TV show than friends IRL? Tell us @BritandCo!
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