You’ve heard of Netflix n’ chill, but what about Netflix and… actually watching the show you just put on? Apparently, it can have major benefits for your relationship — and so can binge-watching shows in general. In a study of college students in relationships, researchers discovered that streaming a show together can actually help improve your bond with your significant other, and, at the same time, it’s just a really fun, low-key way to spend your Friday night.
Let’s face it: after a long week at school or work, sometimes the last thing we want to do is go out, socialize with people and have to be “on” again the way we’ve been all week. Sometimes, the makeup needs to come off, the yoga pants need to come on, and the couch starts looking very appealing. And if that’s how you want to spend your downtime with your S/O, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it — it can actually have a really awesome positive effect on your relationship in a few different ways.
According to the study, which was published in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, watching TV together helps people in a relationship open up to one another more and share parts of themselves and their lives that they may otherwise have not. By sharing those kinds of things, you create a shared identity between the two of you, and that’s what helps your relationship last — and what gives you that closeness you crave with the person you’re dating.
Of course, there’s also that closeness that comes naturally when you’re sitting close to the person you care about whether you’re cuddling, laughing at the same jokes, or just sharing a love of the same show and the characters. Right now, Netflix is killing it in the original series game, so you have more options than ever to find a show that you both like and can bond over. Sharing an interest with your S/O is the best – even if it’s just the same show – and it’s even better when it leads to a better relationship for you both.
Interestingly enough, it’s not just that having a common love of the same TV show that can make you closer, forming bonds with the same characters can make you feel closer, too — especially if you don’t have many friends in common. Socializing is a big part of creating lasting ties between you and your partner, just like any other experience you might share, but you might not love hanging out with their friends and they might not love hanging out with yours. That’s where the fictional characters from your favorite show to watch together come in.
“Our findings showed that when people lack shared friends with their romantic partners, sharing media predicts greater relationship quality and people become motivated to share media with their partners,” the study said. “These studies show that shared media can enhance interdependence and allow people to compensate for lacking a shared social network in the real-world.”
And as one of the scientists who conducted the research, Sarah Gomillion, mentioned in her Scientific American article about the study, forging social connections (even with Crazy Eyes from Orange is The New Black) will decrease your chances of breaking up. Pretty fascinating, right?
The only thing you want to avoid is watching too much TV together and completely neglecting the other things you love to do with your partner, because that can have negative effects on your relationship, and it can even make one person feel like they’re not important to the other, which you definitely don’t want. Like everything else, moderation is key.
“Watching TV as a means of bonding only becomes a problem if one party starts feeling bored, unimportant, like all the other person wants to do is watch TV, or worse, like the other person’s using TV to avoid talking or connecting on a deeper level,” therapist Kayce Hodos told Rewire.
But as long as you remember your limits, if you and your S/O have more fun binge-watching TV together than partying over the weekend, you shouldn’t feel bad at all. Not only is it an inexpensive date idea, but it can also help strengthen your relationship while watching The Office (again). Honestly, what better news could you ask for?