Thoughts/Ideas/Responses

Relationships, Loss, and Netflix

Over the course of my life, I’ve learned a couple of things about myself. One of them being that I am terrible significant other. I won’t buy you presents, I won’t have a job, I’ll wear cigarette smoke like a cologne, and I’ll drink too much. So when my girlfriend and I broke up after two and a half years, I was surprised that I was surprised. I learned that after spending a certain amount of time with someone, in this case two and a half years, I get unhappy and break up with the person. Through our post-breakup environment, I’ve told her plenty of times to move on and be happy. That’s all I want for her and I know her happiness shouldn’t stem from someone like me.

After hitting a certain point in a relationship (usually determined by how long you’ve spent together) you start sharing everything. Sometimes it’s passwords to Facebook or Twitter and other times it’s the TV shows you watch. In our case, we shared almost everything. We trusted each other with different passwords, with our clothes (I’m sure I still have a lot of her tee-shirts), and the most recent thing we shared was my Netflix account.

The ability to instantly stream TV shows and movies is one of the things I still try and wrap my head around. Having entertainment at the tip of my fingers makes me wonder why owning an actual television makes any sense. I remember when we first started “watching Netflix” together. During the day, we’d catch up on TV shows we weren’t able to watch (either because they were older or because our real life schedules were so demanding that we didn’t have time to catch them when they were “new”) and once the sun went down we’d pick a movie and make a night out of it. Sometimes, we would just browse through the selection offered to us for hours and plan out what shows we were going to watch next.

Through the times we spent browsing different TV shows and movies, we’d made an unspoken promise, not to watch any of these movies or TV shows without the other person present. We’d go through Lost together, watch the first season of Heroes, and go through all the classic movies together. In a way, it gave us something to do with our time when we didn’t have money to go out on dates.

One of the many shows we picked to watch together was Battlestar Galactica. Both of us are “closet” nerds, closet is in quotes because I think she was deeper in the closet, while I stood closer to the doorway. We spent weeks going through the series together, she would watch episodes from her apartment in Purchase, while I would watch via my Xbox back in our hometown. We’d talk about what happened on each episode and when we were together, we’d watch them on the couch. Pretty soon, she started to get ahead of me. The show only had four seasons and she made it to the last one when I was still struggling to watch the second season. Before breaking up, she promised to wait for me to watch the last season.

During our post-breakup period, a lot of things happened. Many too personal to relive through a blog post, but one of the things worth mentioning is how crazy I became afterwards. I checked her Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr daily. I wanted to check up on her without getting too close. I wanted to know that she was going to be okay even though I ended things. I wanted to make sure she was alright, even though that wasn’t my role anymore.

Then the unthinkable happened, she deactivated her Facebook and stopped posting on her Twitter and her Tumblr. For days I didn’t know what to do. I was worried about her, but I was too scared to call her and ask how she was. I needed to be weird. It wasn’t until weeks later that I remembered she still had the password to my Netflix account.

I don’t know what I was looking for, but the first thing I checked was the “Recently Watched” list on my account. Then it was all there. She had spent the past couple of days watching the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica and some episodes of Parks and Recreation among other things. Immediately, I smiled. I wasn’t upset that she was watching a show without me, or that she was starting other shows without me. I took it as a sign. A sign that she was moving on. The “Recently Watched” list did something for me that status updates, tweets, and long winded blog posts couldn’t do. One short list stopped my ex-girlfriend obsession and, in turn, helped me move on. It let me know that she was doing okay enough to get over the “TV show/Movie promises” we made.

The whole experience was eye opening for me. It made me wonder why I felt the need to “check up” on her everyday. Even though it’s fairly common to wonder what your ex-significant other is doing after your relationship, it usually doesn’t result in something positive. Seeing new Facebook photos of her with other people wouldn’t have given me the sense of closure I got after looking at that list and her tweets wouldn’t either. The subtlety of that list gave me something more than any obvious statement could have, it gave me the answer without making me jealous or upset.

Isn’t that all we really want after breaking up? To know that the other person moved on, without know with who or how? It’s all I wanted and strangely, I have Netflix to thank for that.

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