Science Has Good News for Couples Who Read Together
The benefits of reading go way beyond boosting your brain and reducing stress.
It turns out that couples who read together are doing a solid for their relationships. Reading actually has the power to bring partners closer together, psychologists say, turning a solitary act into something beautiful for two.
After all, it can't be a coincidence that some of the most romantic scenes in film have involved couples reading together. Who didn't swoon just a little as Carrie and Big cuddled in bed reading love letters to one another? Who didn't want to be the oh-so-brainy Oliver and Jenny curled up on the couch in Love Story? Even Carl and Ellie shared their love of books in Up.
Here's why all the book-nerd couples out there have the right idea.
Reading together gets you talking about stuff that's actually interesting.
Reading jolts the brain — and the conversation. "Research shows that people can grow closer by revealing and sharing new thoughts, ideas and fantasies with each other, [and] reading a book and then discussing it is a fun and entertaining way for couples to grow closer," said relationship expert and psychotherapist Ken Page.
That doesn't necessarily mean reading to each other aloud, or even reading the same book (although experts point out that reading a single tome together has its perks).
It can also mean simply reading together, each person focused on his or her own volume of the moment. "Putting forth 'special' time in your relationship to read and talk about books can be a bonding experience emotionally, mentally and spiritually," said Francine Lederer, a Los Angeles-based clinical psychologist.
Book choices reveal sides of a person you may have never known.
What a person reads can speak volumes about them as a person. After all, who hasn't sneaked a peek at a potential partner's bookshelf and judged? We're looking for someone who shares our cultural tastes, including literary ones, because we want someone who can keep up with our in-jokes and share our excitement. "A relationship is much more likely to be successful and long-lasting when couples share common interests and hobbies," said Lederer.
Even if you don't like exactly the same books as your S.O., you might be intrigued by their interests and passions that differ from your own. And that can bring a couple closer together, too.
And you might find those newly revealed sides to be seriously attractive.
Reading can also highlight a level of intelligence in your partner you don't always get to see, and that can be a turn-on.
"Reading allows us to see what's under the surface of someone and realize that this hot guy might be more than what he seems. In a society where we become jaded, as we come to believe everyone is the same, books offer the promise of something different, another world opening up to us," writes blogger Nico Lang.
Someone's literary intelligence can even be one of the qualities that attracts us to a potential mate. There's even now a term for that kind of attraction: sapiosexual.
To put it bluntly, reading is sexy. Even Tumblr agrees.
Reading is one of the last activities that doesn't involve a screen.
It's not all that uncommon to see a diners checking their phones in the middle of a meal. And that can deplete the intimacy of the activity.
As Liana Satenstein of Vogue writes, "Reading is a charming reminder that not every relationship requires a keypad to communicate." Sitting together with a good book offers uninterrupted time with your loved one without a screen in sight (well, except for Kindles).
If you're cozying up with good books, you could end up cozying up with each other.
Not everyone reads at night before bed. But for those who do, it could benefit your sex life. Reading together in bed means you're probably on the same sleep schedule, and couples who go to bed together are more likely to have sex than those who don't. Going to bed together allows for the spontaneous cuddling that can lead to sex; plus, mismatched sleep schedules have been shown to negatively affect a couple's daytime interactions. Getting in bed together, each with a good book? There's a good chance you'll wake up happy (and satisfied).
To all the book-loving couples out there, follow those nerd instincts. "One of the joys [of reading together] is that you discover new aspects of each other, or you may rediscover a connection you had," says Ella Berthoud, bibliotherapist at School of Life in Bloomsbury, London.
As Vogue put it: Reading together might just be the sexiest date night of all.