As any fan of Seinfeld or Sex and the City can attest, it’s easy to get invested in TV shows to the point where you feel like you’re actually friends with the characters. But according to an interesting new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, these fictitious social connections can actually serve as a binding factor for couples IRL.
Called Let’s Stay Home and Watch TV, the study sought to understand the “benefits of shared media use for close relationships.” The researchers asked college students who had been in a monogamous relationship for four months or longer to answer survey questions pertaining to the quality of their relationships, how many mutual friends they shared, and how much time they spent together on certain activities.
As predicted, the couples who shared a social circle had the strongest relationships while those who didn’t share any friends had something else in common: TV and movies. According to the abstract, “Shared media can enhance interdependence and allow people to compensate for lacking a shared social network in the real world.” Essentially, couples without a common social circle in real life can use friend groups depicted in TV shows as a replacement. These “shared media experiences” even led to healthier relationships overall for those lacking a shared group of friends. The future is officially here.