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Believing in TV romances could hurt your real-life relationship

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If you love tuning into televised romance, a new study finds that your guilty pleasure could spell trouble for your own romantic life. The Ross and Rachel effect? 

A belief in television romances may stir up trouble for your own romantic life, a new US study finds. ©NotarYES/

A new study announced Tuesday from Michigan's Albion College in the US finds that the more you believe in televised portrayals of romances (and not just the sappy variety, but any show featuring couples), the less likely you are to be committed to your own relationship.

"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," said  lead researcher and psychologist Dr. Jeremy Osborn. "How realistic are your expectations for your partner and where did those expectations come from?"

In the study, researchers had 390 married couples respond to survey questions about their satisfaction with their current relationship, relationship expectations, commitment, and television habits and beliefs.

Those subjects who had a higher "belief" in romantic stories on television, as well as those who spent more time watching TV romance, were found to be less committed to their spouses and thought their alternatives to their spouse, including being single, were attractive options. They also felt that their real relationships "cost" them more in terms of personal freedoms and time spent alone -- and they were more aware of their partner's flaws.

"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 said.

The study is published online in the journal Mass Communication and Society.

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