A research conducted by the University of Aberdeen in Scotland has found that watching various TV Series, or watching movies and reading books with your partner can have the same effects as having a shared group of friends. In a relationship where the couple does not have many mutual friends, the characters in the TV Series or Movie or a book can take on a similar role which, according to the researchers, increases the closeness between the individuals and helps them feel connected.
In an article published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers concluded:
“Previously, sharing a social world with a partner has been conceptualized in terms of sharing real-world social experiences. 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.”
These social surrogates can be things like photos, food, movies, pets and TV Shows.
Researchers came up with a study which involved 259 students who were in committed relationships. These students were studied for 16.7 months (on an average). These students were broadly divided into Two categories, ones with more number of mutual friends, and the ones with lesser number of friends but ones who watch a lot of media (TV series, movies, books) together. The ones with lesser friends and higher media consumption reported a higher relationship satisfaction.
The research was based on previous studies that linked shared experience to intimacy, which lets a person incorporate his/her partner’s aspects into his/her own personality. This process or experience is termed as ‘self-expansion’ and can bring couples closer to each other.