Home CommentaryStudent Life Love in the time of Netflix — trials for the modern relationship

Love in the time of Netflix — trials for the modern relationship

by Matthew Civico March 24, 2015
Love in the time of Netflix — trials for the modern relationship

You say you love them, but can you love what they watch?

Relationships are hard work. It is known.

If this fact is unknown to you, it just means you haven’t been in one long enough. I want to lend a hand to anyone who was, is, or will be in a relationship at some point, and I want to especially help the people who noticed the Game of Thrones reference.

Here’s our problem: what do you do when you snuggle up for an evening of Netflix and everything falls apart? Sure, there are more serious disagreements to be had, but disagreements about what to watch together are a problem for couples everywhere.

So, what was I supposed to do when my girlfriend told me about this new show that she loves, that she said I’d love? I had no reason to doubt her because our common interests brought us together in the first place. First we held hands at the final Harry Potter premiere, then swapped Harry Potter for Sci-Fi, and now, five minutes into this show, I’m thinking, “I do not want to waste my time on this junk. What does she see in this?”

When I shared these thoughts, in the interest of good communication with my girlfriend of four years, I noticed that she was not pleased. Soon a debate turned into an argument that ended in a silence in which one of us was left wondering what had happened, and the other knew exactly what had happened.

Of course, at this point I could’ve broken things off and started swiping through souls on Tinder, or whatever other misguided way people look for love in 2015. But when I said “I love you,” I didn’t mean “I’ll enjoy you until you displease me.”

So in the name of love I gave it a shot; I watched a whole episode. By the end of it I had learned absolutely nothing. I still didn’t like it. Having left peaceably and without breaking up, I did a bit of introspection on the metro ride home.

Why did it even matter if I didn’t like her new favourite T.V. show? Well, sure, no one was going to die if I didn’t watch it with her because I thought the writing was bad and the acting campy. As you can see, I offered up a lot of well-reasoned points in that argument. But I realized that there are many ways to kill a relationship without anyone dying.

Empathy kicked in at Berri-UQAM station. Hadn’t I felt the sting of rejection when, having shared a song that nearly brought me to tears, I looked over to see her face bathed in the harsh glow of her phone?

To a heart bursting to share its joy, an answer of “meh” may as well be a backhanded slap.

In my experience, empathy almost always leads to an epiphany, and this was mine: the T.V. show in question is irrelevant. What matters is that she was excited about it and enjoyed watching it. She just wanted to share that with me—to experience it together.

I pushed the offer away like a food snob pushes away oil-based pastries, as if time spent with someone you love could ever be wasted. The show was just the plate though, not the meal. The feast she was offering was my happiness, because our joy is only ever complete when we share it with someone else. You cannot be happy in a vacuum.

I know now that she wanted to complete her joy, to share it with me and have my enjoyment be the cherry on top of her own.

Needless to say, I’m going to give it another chance.

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