Please don’t invite me to a restaurant with three Michelin stars and make me try the latest amuse-bouche that’s fancy celery. I will meet you at Starbucks (don’t even ask about your pretentious local brew), but you’ll probably make me regret the three dollars I spend on hot chocolate by mocking my drink choice. And if you want to ride horses into the sunset, I recommend you go with your best friend, Carl.
I am a “Netflix and Chill” kind of girl (woman?). This does not make me vapid or boring, and it certainly doesn’t mean I’m whatever word you choose to use for promiscuous. I just get my kicks elsewhere, and that’s okay. Girls need to hear that adventures can be had alone or with friends. They don’t always require a Dev from “Master of None” flying you out to Nashville, as wonderful as that might seem onscreen.
But before we dive in about freedom and independence, let’s be clear: I don’t intend to give a false impression of myself as some virginal workaholic. My friends compare me to Gretchen from “You’re the Worst;” it’s not a complimentary parallel, but if the shoe fits. Mind you, I haven’t always been so emotionally stunted. Last year, I had the pleasure of dating (word choice?) one of the most horrific human beings on this planet, and his twisted mind games left me doubting even the slightest potential for goodness among our species. Since we broke things off, I have been very careful to keep a safe distance from catching feels. He serves as a daily reminder that you can’t trust everyone, or most people, because they’re generally terrible. I would not recommend that anyone model her personal sphere on mine — my current philosophy is that of someone who’s been very hurt, and who’s trying to find a way to cope with that.
But “Netflix and Chilling” has very little to do with my commitment-phobia and relative disinterest in vulnerability. Really, it’s more a testament to my schedule. In her viral Thought Catalog article, Marisa Donnelly forced a contrast between those of us willing to eat pizza from a box at 3 AM., and those who take selfies at pricey locales to show what a cool, hip couple they are. It’s the classic virgin/whore dichotomy, which I’m frankly sick of after years of writing topical papers for Literature and Women’s Studies courses. First of all, I’m not a fan of labels, especially ones that condescend. But more immediately, enjoying nights in doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get to know the person you’re with, or that you’re only interested in sex. I’m fully aware that “Netflix and Chill” is a euphemism for hookups, but that’s not really what Donnelly’s advocating against in her piece. She doesn’t like downtime, or a lack of plans. Despite the fact that she’s “not a needy girl,” she’s looking for an adventure — to Miami, or South Beach, or Minnesota. She doesn’t want your money, not always. But she does hope to be spoiled by a guy. What she’s pleading for is a life filled with exploration and excitement, and apparently she needs a boyfriend to have it.
So what about those of us who have a never-ending whirlwind of adventures and who just want one bloody night off?
Here’s a look at my routine, in a nutshell. I’m an undergraduate in New York City and a journalist who covers the arts and entertainment beat. I have college classes all morning and afternoon and usually try to throw in some exercise. Maybe ballet, maybe zumba, maybe yoga. It’s basic but fits the bill. Then, I toss on a dress and go to a press event. Sometimes, it’s a gala and I have to wear Spanx, so effectively, I can’t breathe for about four hours. I get out at 10 PM, at which point I eat a real meal for the first time all day (so far, my diet’s consisted of mainly power bars, because you can eat them on the go). I leave for a late-night walk, to freeze myself awake. Usually, some creeper hits on me and gets angry because I’m not warm to his advances. Then, I get in bed and start reading, or writing, or doing whatever’s due at 9 AM. I’m up until 4 or 5 AM and set my alarm for 7:30 AM.
Over the weekend, I may jet set for work, or else stay at home and review three dance or theater shows back to back. If I have a second to spare, I try to catch dinner or karaoke with my most important friends, the ones who really matter. But truly, all I want is to be under the covers watching a standup special.
Now, does this seem like the schedule of a woman who looks forward to going on dates and making “memories?”
The thing is, I love my work, and my friends, and my school. I’m so privileged to have found a niche. My experiences are mine, and I don’t have to share them with someone I probably won’t talk to in a few months. Instead, I choose to give the bulk of my energy to people who will stick around, and job opportunities that could mean achieving my dream — the one Donnelly plans to chat about during pillow talk. I exist separately from any coupling, and I don’t have to be cheek to cheek with a man to feel whole.
None of this is to say that I’m opposed to caring about someone romantically. But the time I have to share with them is going to be off-hours, sometimes even at 3 AM.
As I change out of my gut-sucking gown and climb down from a pair of heels manufactured by the Inquisition, I don’t want to go out to that hot Cuban restaurant on the Lower East Side that you’re dying to try. I’ve done those things — you weren’t there — and now it’s my moment to relax and forget about propriety for five seconds. We can go another evening if you give me fair warning, or feel free to take someone else. Tonight, I plan to strip to my bra and thong, for comfort’s sake. Then, I’ll Netflix and Chill with or without you. If you really want to steal my heart, have “Master of None” cued up and something Italian or Thai waiting with a plastic fork courtesy of Seamless. Chances are I’m pretty hungry. I’ll go splitsies with you if you ask; I get that delivery can be expensive.
As we lie in bed, let’s talk about Nietzsche, or how Foucault was probably a huge pothead. Let’s stay up laughing because of silly things, things that would make no one else laugh. And please, let’s watch Aziz. All the Aziz.
So yeah, I am a “Netflix and Chill” kind of girl. There’s nothing wrong with craving adventures, and I applaud Donnelly for knowing what she likes and demanding it. Just don’t judge the other side of the coin before you know the context. The women who Netflix and Chill are going to bed exhausted and waking up (mostly) renewed, too. We just have different reasons.