How Netflix Binges Can Repair Your Relationship

How Netflix Binges Can Repair Your Relationship

Could watching a show together be the secret to saving your marriage?

When my husband and I were first dating, I got him hooked on the reality TV show Survivor, then in its first season. We planned our weeks around it, never missing an episode.

Some of the most memorable moments of our relationship are bound up with that show. The last night I spent in my nearly-empty apartment before we moved in together, we took a break from packing to watch Survivor and eat sushi while sitting on the floor, swigging ice-cold beers. And the night I came home from work utterly exhausted and took a pregnancy test just for kicks, we watched in disbelief as two pink lines appeared, stared at each other wide-eyed, then agreed to watch the new episode of Survivor before we talked about it.

In later years, we got caught up in the show Lost, and I can track our relationship by how we watched: with a nursing baby curled up in my arms; amid the remains of my 30th birthday party eating leftover cake; in our Brooklyn apartment, after moving thousands of miles away from our families, sitting on the sofa the movers had just delivered that day, glad for something familiar on the screen when everything felt new and scary.

Sharing a fictional world

Turns out, it’s not so strange that these shows provided an important point of connection in my marriage. A study headed up by psychologist Sarah Gomillion and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships concluded that watching TV together has real benefits for couples, especially when juggling careers, kids, friends, aging parents, and other priorities seems to pull partners in different directions. “When watching a favorite show together, couples can enter a new fictional world, creating a shared social experience that brings partners closer,” Gomillion writes in Scientific Am Scientific American.

Ideally, says Gomillion, new romantic partners cement their bond by sharing their real lives – getting to know each other’s friends, families, and co-workers, merging social networks, and making new, mutual friends. Gomillion calls this process “expanding the self” to make room for your partner and form a shared identity. This is how couples go from a “you and me” to a “we.” She explains that sharing social connections “makes couples feel closer and more satisfied with their relationships…Couples with more shared social connections are less likely to break up over time than couples with fewer shared connections.”

However, when life makes it difficult to fully merge your worlds, such as in a long-distance relationship, or when your schedules conflict, preventing you from joining each other’s family and social events, watching a show together might not be such a bad substitute.

Netflix as couples counseling

Okay, so your shared passion for Game of Thrones or The Good Place might give you and your SO something to talk about and bond over when things are going well between you – but could you could actually mend a broken relationship by watching TV together? Sure, my husband and I had good times watching Survivor and Lost, but it didn’t divorce-proof our marriage: he’s now my ex-husband. If you’re not feeling great about your relationship, then a night of “Netflix and chill” with your partner may not sound so appealing.

Forget the “chill” part, however, and it seems that bingeing on some Netflix could actually help keep your marriage together. Researchers at the University of Rochester assigned couples to watch a relationship-themed movie and talk about it afterward, and found that, over a period of three years, watching and discussing movies was just as effective as clinical intervention in preventing divorce.

What’s not clear, however, is whether sharing other types of activities might be just as effective as binge-watching TV shows and movies. “Sharing video games or sports-viewing as a couple might have a different impact because it allows couples to engage in a more active shared experience,” Gomillion writes in Scientific American. She says the research also didn’t pin down whether couples actually need to talk about what they’re watching, or whether they can simply watch side-by-side and not engage with each other and still get the benefits of shared viewing.

Whatcha watching?

When I was younger, going to the movies together was the de rigueur first-date activity. These days though, it’s usually drinks, followed by dinner if drinks went well. But maybe we should go back to that first-date movie tradition and get things started off on the right foot. In their research, psychologists found that shared media viewing is especially helpful for couples who don’t have mutual friends with their partners – which is more often the case with new couples who haven’t “expanded the self” yet to include each other in a shared world.

As for those of us who are already in a relationship that could use a little help – although researchers don’t have all the answers yet, some couples therapists have already started recommending that their clients start watching shows and movies together in order to improve their union. It might not fix everything, but what’s the harm in trying? Gomillion calls mutual viewing “one tool couples use to connect and to navigate challenges in their relationships,” and hypothesizes that it really does seem to bring people closer together.

So, next time you and your partner are feeling disconnected, or on the verge of launching into another fight you’ve had 37 times already, maybe pop some popcorn and fire up the new season of Jessica Jones. After all, it’s cheaper than couples counseling – and it might work just as well.

This story originally appeared on SHE'SAID', a global women's lifestyle website, and was written by Elizabeth Laura Nelson.

Liz lives in Brooklyn with two daughters, occasional mice and innumerable to-do lists. She runs a nine-minute mile, bakes a mean chocolate chip cookie, and can always be persuaded to sing at a karaoke bar.

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Literally, so hot RN

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An Open Letter To The Girl In A Toxic Relationship Who Doesn't See The Signs To Let Go

"it took letting go to realize that I was holding onto nothing" -R.H Sin


Dear you,

I hope you're doing well. I once thought I was too. I once thought that if he would just change, for me, everything would work. However, my sweet girl, you should not have to change people, you should not have to push people to be better, for you. You cannot help anyone, that does not want to help themselves.

In the movies, we learn to love a bad boy that needs changing. However, it isn't always your job to be boys saving grace. However, his shaming and emotional abuse is not just something you should put up with so that you can love him. That is not loving.

Love is not a constant competition of who could belittle the other one first. Love is not asking for a hug and being told no. Love does not make you feel stupid for bringing up things that hurt your feelings.

Love does not grow angry because you talk to your mom about your feelings. Love does not body shame. Love does not constantly change the passcode to their phone.

Love does not laugh when you find out they're unfaithful. Love does not tell you that you are not smart enough to accomplish anything. Love does not force their hand up your thigh when the words "no" slip out of your mouth.

Love is the warmth of a hand on your cheek when you get anxious. Love is getting your backpack out the car for you. Love is turning around when you need them. Love compromises.

Love is encouraging. Love is proud. Love is forgiving. Love sees you for who you are. Love knows you are worthy.

God is your Father and you are His daughter, so do not believe for one second that this abuse is the love you think you deserve.

Love will not always be easy. Love will be challenging and a constant prayer to not anger so quickly.

However, do not mix up challenging with the abuse. If you are losing the good pieces of yourself, then it isn't love. I know that you put a lot of time and effort into this relationship, but it is no good, you are holding on to someone whose heart is not in the right place to love you.

I connected with a poem from R. H. Sin, once I left my toxic relationship which reads, "it took letting go to realize that I was holding onto nothing."

Darling girl, you are so loved by so many people, do not let this relationship hold you back or make you feel less worthy than you are. I have always been the girl with her nose stuck up in the air smelling for smoke, to follow the trail to a burning house to find a boy that needed saving, but it is more than likely a boy that lit the fire in the first place and needs changing.

So, do not be me, be better. Be the girl that lights her own world on fire, for her work, for her family, for God. You are you and you are amazing, so do not fear being without him.

You will feel as if you have come up for air after drowning in an ocean that you had no idea you were swimming in.

The emotional abuse that this boy has put you through and maybe even physical abuse will leave you building walls around your heart. It will make other relationships hard, but you are so so strong.

You will meet someone that makes you so happy and feel so easy to love, you will never understand how you stuck around with the one that hurt you for so long.

You deserve to grow from this, and I promise you will.

Let go.


The girl who learned from a toxic relationship

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Being Far Away From My Boyfriend Actually Strengthened Our Relationship Instead Of Forcing It Apart

While we were apart, we became closer.


Before I really start this article, I just want to say that my relationship isn't truly a long distance relationship. We are both college students at the same university eight months out of the year, but the other four months we live quite a distance apart. Even during those four months, we are only about 150 miles from each other as the bird flies, but really about three hours from each other.

Being in a relationship where I'm not able to see my boyfriend every day or even every week has been a real challenge. But it's been a good challenge. It hasn't been a challenge because I've felt unfaithful or fallen out of love with him in any way. It's challenging because I miss him. We both work jobs and our schedules aren't the same and oftentimes we aren't able to talk to each other unless it's early in the morning or late at night. There are times when all I want to do is talk to him and tell him about how my day went and get a big bear hug from him. Unfortunately, I'm not really able to do this.

I firmly believe that being apart from each other for days, weeks, or even months have brought us closer than we could've ever imagined. We knew that this would be difficult, and we knew that there would be bad days, but we decided to power through it. It has made each time that we are able to see each other so much more special and meaningful.

Seeing each other has become more of spending time with each other than just laying around on the couch playing around on our phones. It's become really getting to know each other better and catching up on all the things we had missed. It's become a time for us to simply be in each other's presence and enjoy being able to talk face to face without a phone in the middle of us. We go on more adventurous dates, we take more pictures, and I think we would both easily say that we fall more and more in love with each other after each opportunity we have to spend time together.

Spending time together is no longer a daily activity, but it has become a right to be earned through hard work and several paychecks as travel can become expensive. We no longer take opportunities to see each other for granted, and it has made us grow closer because we aren't able to spend time together often. We look forward to the days when we won't have to worry about being apart but know that this is only a stepping stone in our relationship.

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