Good news, binge-watchers! We potentially have one more reason for you to feel good about binge-watching TV with your significant other.
A new study from the University of Aberdeen concluded that binge-watched shows effectively fills in for time the couple might spend together with mutual friends. If a couple doesn't have many mutual friends, spending time binge-watching can compensate. Binge-watching a TV show can also bring couples together and make them feel closer.
The results of two studies are included in the paper, each of which took place at a Northeastern university. One experiment took 259 students in exclusive relationships for an average of 16.7 months and examined their shared social relationships and their shared media use. They compared those numbers to their assessment of those relationships. The second study had 131 participants (later reduced to 128) in relationships averaging 19.22 months. The couples were asked about the number of friends they shared, had to write about experiences they shared and didn’t share.
The study offered the conclusion that binge-watching with your partner was akin to other ways of meeting social needs, such as food, photos, and pets.
“Previously, sharing a social world with a partner has been conceptualized in terms of sharing real-world social experiences,” the researchers wrote in the study, which appeared in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. “However, creating these experiences may not always be possible. Fortunately, humans are remarkably flexible in finding ways to fulfill their social needs…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.”
While the study provides a fascinating insight into binge-watching habits, it might not be indicative of all couples—or even all couples in the U.S. The study took place at one college with the majority its participants identifying as caucasian.
At the very least, it could help support anecdotal evidence that binge-watching TV with your partner is very serious business.