How binge-watching TV could be great for your relationship

Posted by
Harriet Hall

Netflix and chill? Not just a euphemism… it turns out, binge-watching TV box-sets and films could be just the tonic your relationship needs to go the miles.

According to a study conducted by scientists at the University of Aberdeen and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, couples who hit the sofa together and plough through a box-set develop a stronger bond.

Titled: Let’s stay home and watch TV: The benefits of shared media use for close relationships, the paper concludes that watching TV shows together can “enhance interdependence,” bringing a couple closer.

If the couple does not share a social group, this effect can be magnified, compensating for a lack of mutual friends as the on-screen friendship groups are ‘adopted’ by the couple.

Researchers measured the amount couples shared programme viewing, how many mutual friends they shared, and how highly they rated their relationship.

The more the couple watch together, the more highly they rated their commitment to one another.

500 days of summer

Binge-watching could be the answer to a happy relationship

This, the paper concludes, is as a result of a process called “self-expansion”, which is when people embrace aspects of their partner’s personality into their own, via common interests or friendships. This process, the paper says, “fosters closeness and feelings of love,” and it can be imitated when people share the fictional worlds of television and film.

Study leader, Dr Sarah Gomillion, concludes that:

“What these results suggest to us is that when people have a hole in their social network that they share with their partners they might become more motivated to share media as a way to compensate for that deficit.

“Watching TV with a partner or watching a movie you both like is a really easy way to improve relationship quality.”

The study quotes Orange is the New Black’s protagonist, Piper Chapman, who says to her fiancé before going to prison: “Promise me you’re not watching Mad Men without me ... that when I get out of here, we’re going to binge watch it, together, in bed, with take out.”

“Although Piper’s longing to watch Mad Men with her fiancé… might at first seem shallow, the the experience that Piper desired may actually have profound benefits for her relationship,” say researchers.

So, there we have it: couples who binge-watch together, stay together. 

Having said that, scientists also recently told us that Netflix was ruining our sex lives, so perhaps it's a fine line...