Researchers have warned that getting too invested in on-screen relationships like the back-and-forth of Ross and Rachel in hit TV show ‘Friends’, could be bad for your real-life relationships.
A study of 392 married individuals by psychologist Jeremy Osborn from Albion College in Michigan, showed that the more people believe in unrealistic portrayals of romance on TV, the less likely they were to be committed to real-life partners.
The couples were questioned on their relationship, including their feelings of satisfaction, expectations and commitment, as well as how much they watched and invested in soap opera and sitcom relationships.
Those with a higher ‘belief’ in TV romances were more likely to be drawn to alternatives than their current partner - including a preference for being single.
Those with a higher investment also felt their real relationships ‘cost’ them more in personal freedom and time alone, and also made them more aware of their partner’s flaws.
“In this study I found that people who believe the unrealistic portrayals on TV are actually less committed to their spouses and think their alternatives to their spouse are relatively attractive,” the Daily Mail quoted Osborn as saying.
“My hope would be that people would read this article and take a look at their own relationships and the relationships of those around them.
“How realistic are your expectations for your partner and where did those expectations come from?” Osborn said.
However, on the flip side, those people also reported the same levels of satisfaction.
“People with higher belief in television portrayals might see their relationships as more costly than their lower belief counterparts do, but because they also expected higher costs they are no less satisfied,” Osborn said.
“We live in a society that perpetually immerses itself in media images from both TV and the web, but most people have no sense of the ways those images are impacting them,” Osborn added.