Newsflash: “Netflix And Chill” Is Not A Date

The rise of at-home movie and television streaming has made it much easier for people to text the person they’re interested in and ask them to “come over and watch a movie.” Of course, in modern dating, this is a not-so-thinly veiled way to see if someone wants to come over and hook up. While some people are totally into “Netflix and chill” don’t be fooled: it’s not an actual date.

  1. Netflix and Chill is the same thing as a booty call. Eating leftover Thai food in some dude’s apartment while you watch half of some campy movie before having sex is basically just a rebranding of the old player standby: the booty call. And if a booty call is what you’re looking for, then go for it! Just don’t have any illusions that you’re on an actual date, because you’re not.
  2. Real dates involve conversation. Netflix and Chilling is by its very nature a non-verbal activity. You show up, lie back on his musty futon that smells like weed and Hot Pockets, and watch three consecutive hours of Jessica Jones. This can indeed be very fun and relaxing! Just don’t try to engage him in conversation about how spiritually fulfilling your year in the Peace Corps was, because he’s not going to care.
  3. You shouldn’t have to meet his roommates on a first date. Netflix and Chilling frequently involves an inadvertent appearance by his creepy roommate who always has corn in his beard. This roommate thinks nothing of  popping his head into the room and asking you to keep it down because he has an ultimate frisbee tournament first thing in the morning. You can avoid being subjected to this horror by insisting that you and your guy meet up somewhere that’s not his apartment for a first date.
  4. An actual date doesn’t have to be expensive. Proponents of Netflix and Chill may cite budgetary concerns as a valid reason for sitting slack-jawed through an entire season of Family Guy in lieu of actually getting to know you as a person. But a stroll through the park, volunteering together at an animal shelter, or a nice long bike ride on a sunny day are all fun activities that are virtually free of charge. And if you really want to try that hot new restaurant, go ahead and make a reservation, and then offer to go dutch on the check. It’s only fair.
  5. A real date involves effort. Netflix and Chilling is low risk, but it’s also low reward. If the two of you are content to hang out in sweatpants eating frozen pizza and ironically binge-watching Cheers reruns instead of putting on real clothes and discussing your hopes, dreams, and plans for the future, then don’t expect romantic sparks to fly.
  6. Netflix and Chill isn’t even original. Players throughout history have been proposing some variant of Netflix and Chill to get out of actually making the effort to go on a real date. It’s entirely possible that the first draft of Romeo and Juliet involved Romeo convincing Juliet that they should just stay in, have a few beers, and keep things casual without having to worry about “labels.” And if you’re not into serious dating right now, then Netflix and Chill might be ideal for you. But if you’re looking for a relationship, don’t let a guy convince you that Netflix and Chilling is a new, innovative, no-pressure way to get to know each other. It’s not.
  7. He’s not necessarily a bad person just because he wants to Netflix and Chill. One of the more frustrating aspects of Netflix and Chill is the possibility that you may in fact be dealing with an otherwise nice, caring guy who doesn’t yet have the confidence to go on a real date with someone he’s interested in. For him, movies on the couch are a safe alternative to heavy conversation and emotional vulnerability. If you have hope that he may one day join the ranks of recovered Netflix and Chillers and be willing to hang out with you in public, then by all means save his number — but keep living your life in the meantime and don’t wait for him.
  8. Netflix and Chill is a waste of your time. If you’re looking for a long term, meaningful relationship, then in all likelihood Netflix and Chilling is just going to be a waste of your valuable time. You’ll be left feeling confused, annoyed, and emotionally unfulfilled, and he’ll come away feeling like you have unrealistic expectations. And the thing is, neither one of you is wrong — you both just want different things. Either make your peace with Netflix and Chilling and enjoy it for the low-stakes, casual enterprise that it is, or adjust your standards and insist on going out on actual dates that don’t involve staring at a computer or television screen.
  9. Netflix and Chill should be earned. You know who should get to fully embrace Netflix and Chill privileges? People who are involved in a long term, committed relationship. They’ve weathered some hard stuff together and seen each other at their best and their worst, so they’ve earned the right to veg out in their pajamas, shovel nachos into their mouths, and watch Stranger Things before partaking in some hot sex. Netflix and Chill can actually be an intimate, awesome aspect of a serious relationship, but it shouldn’t be rushed. If you want to go out on a real date with someone you’re interested in, then stay true to yourself and insist on being treated the way you deserve — but don’t be surprised if you eventually want to stay in bed, watch movies, and chill on Saturday night.
Stephanie Seabrooke is a freelance writer based in Baltimore, MD. She enjoys wine, felt tip pens, and staring out of windows in a melancholy stupor. Tweet her at @StephSeabrooke