If you’re in a serious relationship, you know how easy it is to get too comfortable (read: boring) when it comes to your social plans. You go from living the single life—dates at cool bars at night, exploring your city by day—to living in sweatpants and surfing Netflix with your partner, practically overnight.
But it turns out those long relationship-fueled Netflix binges may actually be a good thing for your relationship.
In a new study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers found that watching a TV series can actually help to achieve the same kind of closeness that having a group of mutual friends would provide. So for all you winter hibernators, the characters of your new fave show could actually act as stand-ins for your warm-weathered friends.
The study, conducted at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, followed 259 students who were all in committed relationships for an average of 17 months. The researchers found that those who shared media consumption—as well as those who had a close group of shared friends—reported the highest level of satisfaction in their relationship. (And because research is always thorough, the researchers made sure that the couples bonding were in fact bonding over the media they consumed, rather than just the time spent together.)
They found that this was because the shows and characters watched showcased a range of emotions and allowed the couple watching to discuss, debate, and actually bond, over what was happening on screen.
“Previously, sharing a social world with a partner has been conceptualized in terms of sharing real-world social experiences,” the researchers write. “However, creating these experiences may not always be possible. When people’s need for social connections are undermined, they turn to a variety of social surrogates that provide alternate pathways to meet this need,” namely Netflix.
So next time your S.O. suggests “getting out of the house,” tell them you want to work on your relationship—and snuggle up for the night.
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