This popular genre of TV could be harming your love life, says study - and here's the surprising reason why

Is it time to switch up your TV habits?

A couple cuddling on a sofa and pointing a remote at a TV
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fans of Friends and How I Met Your Mother might want to consider introducing some more romantic TV shows onto their watch list...

As many parents know, keeping the spark alive in a romatic relationship while juggling the demands of parenting is no easy task. After you've got the kids washed, dressed and fed there's not much time left for romance, so you're certainly not alone if you've been wondering why you've gone of sex and are looking for ways to connect with your partner after the kids have gone to bed.

But it's not just busy family life that stands in the way of a happy and healthy relationship - it turns out what you're watching on TV could be to blame too. We know that many mums and dads love to collapse on the sofa and watch a feel-good TV show after a long day of parenting, but it might be time to consider swapping out your series of choice for the sake of your love life.

That's because a study in the scienific journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture has suggested that people who watch sitcoms have a more cynical view of love and romance. So, if you're a fan of classics like Friends, How I Met Your Mother or The Big Bang Theory, this might spell bad news for your relationship.

In the study, University of Michigan researchers asked participants how regularly they watched sitcoms, rom-coms, and marriage-themed reality shows, and also how strongly they endorsed statements like "When you meet the right person, you know it almost immediately," or "My 'true love' will be nearly perfect."

While sitcom fans had a weak belief in romance, those who watched reality shows like The Bachelor or The Bachelorette tend to be more romantic and believe in the idea of true love.

The researchers suggest that TV can be influential on a person's belief system, and the reason for these differing views on love is because relationships on sitcoms rarely last and, when they do, they're far from perfect. While this might be more realistic than TV shows portraying whirlwind romances, your favourite series could become a self-fulling prophecy, as romantics tend to report happier relationships.

With that in mind, if you're partial to an episode of Friends after the kids have gone to bed, remember that romance is just one of many markers of a happy and successful relationship - trust, respect and shared values are all equally important.

In related news, a sexless marriage isn't destined for divorce - we talk to the experts about the most common reason couples stop having sex. Elsewhere, a maternal health expert has shared her top tips for a fulfilling sex life while breastfeeding and, if you feel like your relationship is stuck in a rut, a psychologist reveals how to stop your relationship becoming ‘predictable and boring’.

Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.