It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“The status of a romantic relationship could be in jeopardy if the couple or an individual in the relationship are frequent television watchers, according to a study from Albion College. ” (“When TV and Marriage Meet: TV’s Negative Impact on Romantic Relationships,” ScienceDaily.com 9/18/2012)
What does this have to do with friendship? Nothing specifically. Except that the same TV factors that are screwing up marriages are messing with friendship, too.
Listen. I’m not one to hate on TV. I lurve me some TV. (These days, Parenthood, The Voice, Grey’s Anatomy, and SVU are high on the list.) But I absolutely believe that my all-time favorite shows —Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Sex and the City— directly impacted my friendship expectations. According to this study, fans of popular shows like Burn Notice, True Blood and The Big Bang Theory are “less committed to their spouses and think alternatives to their spouses are relatively attractive.”
Similarly, TV portrayals of friendship make us think what we have isn’t enough. Why can’t we find our BFFs across the hall at a moment’s notice? Or go to McLaren’s Pub together, every day? How is it that I don’t have three ladies to eat brunch with every. single. Sunday?
It took me a year and an entire book to realize that the best friendships I adore on TV (Meredith and Christina, anyone?) aren’t necessarily realistic. That if I hold all my adult friendships to that standard I might never be content. So I certainly believe this marriage research — and I would encourage the researchers to look into friendship next. Dr. Jeremy Osborn, who authored this study, said: “I found that people who believe the unrealistic portrayals on TV are actually less committed to their spouses.” I bet those who believe in the TV friendships are less committed too, because they don’t realize that the relationships they have might be the real true BFF thing! It’s tricky stuff.
What do you think? Do TV relationships skew your expectations of friendship? Which TV friendship do you hope to emulate in real life?