I recently had a rather challenging conversation.
It was full of harsh words and plenty of awkward stammering. I wasn’t quite sure how to address the issue, but I knew it had to be done. When the time was right I looked the person square in the eyes. Even though it was painful I knew it would be worth it so that we could better understand each other.
“Mom,” I said, “Netflix and chill doesn’t actually mean watching a movie and hanging out. You see, when a man and a woman don’t really love each other that much they like to…”
And thus began my explanation of our generation’s newest euphemism: “Netflix and chill.”
For any moms currently reading this blog I want you to know I’m so sorry. I’m sorry we had to ruin something as innocent and wonderful as Netflix and turn it into something scandalous. I’m sorry you had to find out this way. I’m also not sorry that I’ve spared your poor children the embarrassment of you asking if they would like to come over for “Netflix and chill.”
If you haven’t caught on I’ll simplify a bit. Netflix=Netflix. Chill=SEX.
Again, moms, I’m so sorry it had to be this way. But you can thank me later. I prefer chocolate. And ice cream. Really anything free will suffice. I am very poor.
But in all seriousness I think it’s time to talk about Netflix and chill. It has managed to permeate every facet of the millennial generation: from Pinterest signs to memes to gifs and even t-shirts. Netflix and chill is everywhere. You can’t escape it.
In fact, I’ve actually had relationships end over Netflix and chill. Not necessarily the chill part though. But in a world teeming with activity for some reason or another my boyfriend and I would always manage to end up on the couch. It was our de-facto date. Rather than take the time or energy to actually plan something that we would enjoy our nights frequently consisted of turning on the TV and mindlessly watching a show.
Netflix and chill is, without a doubt, the laziest dating construct our culture has ever produced.
There’s absolutely no whimsy, no pursuit, no effort necessary. The most challenging aspect of the time spent together is deciding which show or movie to watch. And trust me, it’s no easy task. Do you know how many shows are available? You could mine the depths of Netflix and still not even scratch the surface.
So no, I don’t actually want to Netflix and chill. I want you to call me on the phone and pick me up. I want you to ask me out. I want you to plan something for us to do and it doesn’t have to be elaborate but it does need to be intentional. I want to go somewhere and see how you interact with the world around you.
What makes you tick? What frustrates you? What are you passionate about? How do you treat the waiter and will you open the door for me? Are you spontaneous or a planner? Do you like Mexican or Japanese food?
How will I ever know these things, or therefore parts of you, if we never get off this damn couch?
Dating isn’t convenient. In fact, it’s really awkward and frustrating. I think in an effort to make ourselves more comfortable we’ve migrated towards a Netflix and chill culture. It’s supposed to feel less intimidating and therefore more relaxed but instead it feels as cheap as the network subscription itself. I would prefer to not feel like $7.99 worth of a good time you know?
So no, on the surface I do not like to Netflix and chill.
But on a deeper level I totally get it. Our migration towards Netflix and chill says a lot about us. Whether we want to admit it or not, Netflix and chill shows the very deepest and most vulnerable desires we could possibly have.
The fact that we crave Netflix and chill shows we crave intimacy.
Netflix and chill asks the fundamental question, “Do you like me?” I think the reason we’re so drawn to it is because we want to look at another person and see if we have to impress them. Everything about us wants to be able to sit in our sweatpants one minute and then have a genuine and physical/spiritual connection to someone the next. Netflix and chill is actually the most exposing thing we could possibly do.
I’m not saying it’s the healthiest, but I am saying I get it.
I don’t want to feel the need to impress. I would like to impress and put my best foot forward, but I also want to know that you accept me just the way I am. I want to know that it’s okay for us to simply sit in the same room and be together for you to want to, ahem, be together. None of us want to have to hide behind makeup or elaborate dates. We want to be able to be our most raw and most genuine selves.
We are the loneliest people I've never met.
The sign of a healthy relationship is the ability to be naked and unashamed together. Adam and Eve did it once upon a time. Before sin messed up the way we interact with each other these two people were able to see each other for who they truly were. And they weren’t intimidated by it. It actually brought them together. We're so drawn to Netflix and chill because we have this fundamental desire to be naked and unashamed. We’re clawing at the way things were always intended to be.
So no, I don’t necessarily want to Netflix and chill. But I do want to sit and be still with someone and have him accept me for who I am. I want the intimacy and the ability to simply be myself. Rather than feeling the need to trick someone and hide behind smoke and mirrors I want to be the greasy-haired, pizza-eating, self that I truly am.
But I also want to be better.
I want to be sincere but I also want to be sanctified. I need someone who says that Netflix and chill is okay, but we can also put in the hard work to genuinely get to know each other. I’m looking for someone who will change and grow so that I can be pushed to do the same.
And then we can sit on the couch in our pajamas. And then, to be honest, we can take them off. Regardless of whether we’re at a fancy dinner or watching Friends re-runs we will still look at each other with admiration and respect. We’ll still want to know each other, and I mean really know each other. We’ll still be okay with the messes we’ve made. We’ll still want more from the person sitting across from us and we’ll be willing to work hard for it. We’ll be okay with the stillness and the silence and the fake audience laughter in the background.
Because at the end of the day we know that there’s enough space for us to challenge each other and to accept each other.
So yeah, maybe I'm okay with what Netflix and chill stands for.
It stands for intimacy and humility and a desire to be naked and unashamed. What I'm not okay with is the passivity and complacency it tends to usher in. So as long as we're using Netflix to really get to know each other and create an environment where we're free to be ourselves, or to watch every season of Gilmore Girls, then maybe it's not so bad after all.
P.S. When Netflix asks if we’re “Still Watching” I hope he gets fundamentally pissed at Netflix’s shame tactics. That is all I ask. The end.