Netflix and Chill: How Netflix can benefit your relationship, studies say

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The latest mobile gaming sensation, Pokemon Go, has been encouraging the masses to head out for long walks, and enjoy the fresh air. Another upside to the game? It’s allowed more players to bond with their family and friends through hunting together for those elusive monsters. While online entertainment platform Netflix encourages plenty of indoor couch time, a new study published in the Journal Of Social and Personal Relationships showed that similarly, binge-watching television shows together with your partner can be good for your relationship because of the new, shared interest. Fresh air or not, it doesn’t seem to matter.

What the study showed is that couples may consider Netflix as a date option should they seek to bond, and be more emotionally and intellectually connected to each other. So next time, don’t just watch hit television shows like Stranger Things, The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Modern Family, and Bones by yourself. Instead, enjoy them with your partner, and see if it makes you two feel closer to each other. And how, you may ask, does watching Netflix together benefit your relationship?

The study surveyed college students who have been in exclusive relationships with their partners for four months. The questionnaire asked these students about the number of friends they had in common with their partner, how much time they spent on shared activities with their partner, and what their relationship quality was like. The results of the research found that those who shared the same social circles as their partners had the strongest relationships, while for those that did not, having a shared media experience helped them have closer relationships.

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The study found that when couples share an interest, be it in the same shows, movies or books, it increases intimacy between them. This is especially valuable in relationships where couples do not have the same circle of friends, unlike couples who met in school or at work. So if two people don’t know enough of the same people to have long conversations about them, the world within which a movie or television show is set can serve as a topic that they can wax lyrical about.

For example, the characters in Modern Family, a comedy series about a dysfunctional family, can become the fictional world that you and your partner think about, pass comments on, and basically have lively discussions or friendly arguments about. Is this character right or wrong to do this or that? What is on this character’s mind? Doesn’t this character remind you of someone we know?

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In a nutshell, being invested in the same fictional worlds as your partner provides the same experience as sharing a real-life social circle. This shared experience will in turn increase intimacy, and lead to stronger bonds between you and your partner. So if you find that there is little to talk about because you are not familiar with your partner’s colleagues or friends, and he/she is not familiar with yours, try heading to the fictional worlds in television.

The lack of conversation topics can be extremely detrimental to a relationship when couples have been together for a long time. Binge-watching television shows together is fun because after the show is over, conversations will naturally start about the show’s plot, character development, and how the show may progress in the next episode. If you and your partner find yourselves rooting for different people or plot predictions in the show, then expect a passionate debate to ensue.

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Bottom line: Rather than having nothing to say to each other, or accepting the monotonous humdrum of a long-term relationship, go nuts enjoying a friendly quarrel. Not only will you get an idea of how each other’s minds work, you will also start to understand more about what your partner cares about, what he/she finds important in a person, and just how creative or intelligent he/she is. Through increased engagement with each other’s emotions and minds, couples may end up finding a much deeper connection with each other.  

For people desiring a no-frills date, meaning a date where they don’t have to spend much money, Netflix might be the way to go. Investing in a Netflix account, and eating at home is certainly more affordable than going to the movies and a fancy restaurant. If money is the source of friction between couples, then perhaps saving money together may already be one way to increase happiness in a relationship.

So are you convinced that Netflix and Chill-ing may help you and your partner bond? Why not try it out and see for yourself? The first hurdle is trying to get your partner to watch the same show as you. Good luck!

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