Sure, you could find more imaginative—and intimate—ways of spending time together. But if at the end of the day you find yourself camped out in front of the TV watching a favorite show with your partner, that's probably OK for your relationship, too—at least according to research out of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland that appears in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Researchers found that, especially for couples without a shared social circle, the characters in these shows can compensate for that hole and serve as surrogates through which couples bond.
"Watching TV with a partner or watching a movie you both like is a really easy way to improve relationship quality and anyone can do it at any time," study head Dr. Sarah Gomillion tells the BBC. Her team based its work on previous findings that couples can deepen intimacy through shared experiences thanks to a process called "self-expansion," which is when one's sense of self begins to include aspects of others and "foster feelings of closeness and love," explains Quartz. To test this with TV, they followed 259 students in committed relationships for 17 months and found that the highest relationship satisfaction was among two groups: couples with more shared friends or couples with fewer friends but greater shared media consumption. (But also, put your phone down.)