At this point, everyone has heard the term “Netflix and Chill”. It’s just as much a part of the Millennial vocabulary as fleek, fire, salty, and woke. Some people even appear to be using it in the form of a question. “Hey, Netflix and Chill?” So, what could be wrong with watching movies and hanging out? How could this simple sentence symbolize so much of what Millennials are struggling with today and what can we do to fix it?
First, we should plant a few flags where everyone can see it. Not every guy is just looking to smash on the first date and then go MIA immediately after. In fact, a recent study by Match.com of over 5,000 people found that only 6% of guys “expect” to have sex on the first date compared to 1% for women. Also, I don’t believe there is anything morally wrong with watching movies or wanting to hook up on the first date. With the introduction of effective birth control methods in the 1950’s, it’s now much safer to “hook up” and not wind up with an unwanted baby or STD. And finally, the “Netflix and Chill” I’m referring to is the hypermasculine, locker room style, “hit it and quit it” attitude that pervades men’s minds through hypersexual marketing tactics, misinformation about sexual complexity, and faux heroes in the media.
Second, let’s address what is really happening in Millennial culture today. A study by the University of Greenwich found that 86% of Millennials reported feeling lonely and depressed in 2011. Wow! Let’s face it. It can be uncomfortable and difficult to directly connect with other human beings. With the new wave of social networking, we have defaulted to this form of relationship because of its safety and convenience. So, what do we do when we actually have to be in the same room with someone we’re wanting to connect with? We turn the lights off, look away from each other, put on some background noise, and maybe take the edge of with some drinks. Then, when the mood is right and we’ve run out of words, we do the awkward “how far is this going to go” dance. And they say chivalry is dead!
Moving onto the third item, let’s talk about safety. I know! That word just sounds weak. All I can think of is college RA’s, goofy bicycle helmets, and that 16-year old lifeguard that used to scold us for jumping into the shallow end. It’s somewhat of a taboo topic; however, it’s actually worth talking about. Sure, we “know” how things work. You’re supposed to use protection, get tested, and ask questions, but many Millennials don’t do this. And they especially don’t do this in the heat of the moment. Add social pressure, hormones, and a dark room into the mix on a first date, and you’ve got a recipe for a potentially regrettable sexual encounter.
Number four, how did “Netflix and Chill” turn into what it is today? To figure this out, we need only open our eyes. The not so subtle messages are all around us. Look at those confident, well-dressed celebrities with their thin, sparkly, doe-eyed models clinging to their arms. You may think, “They’re killing it!” Or, what about famous social media tycoons like Dan Bilzerian who flaunts at least ten drop dead gorgeous models around him at all times. You could even look no further to how you act with your friends and gym partners. Do you ever quietly snicker to each other about that chick over there on the thigh master? Or secretly judge your friends based on the attractiveness of the women they date or how many people they’ve hooked up with? If you do, it’s okay. What do you expect given the idea of what a successful man is in today’s society? It’s possible that you could try to act out this fantasy in the real world due to boredom, loneliness, or a lack of understanding, but let’s be honest with ourselves guys. The feeling you get after you hooked up with someone who you didn’t even like is not good.
So, how do you date like a real man? We’ve already established that self-control is not to be relied upon after you’re deep into a “Netflix and Chill” sesh. Put yourself in a position where you actually have to use your brain. You have one. It probably works pretty good and women like when you use it. So, how many dates should you go on before you set up to get down? How about more than one? How about you go on at least one date, out in the open, face to face, without distraction, and really get to know each other before you turn the lights down low and put on a movie? You may find that it’s even more fulfilling then the one-night stand, that there are more interesting things to do than watch a movie, or you may not end up wasting so much time and energy on someone that you aren’t really into. You could also not go to a bar so that you can each see what the other is like when you’re 100% you?
Again, the problem isn’t “Netflix and Chill”. The problem is our fear of connecting, the distractions we use, and our cultural programming. We spend enough time in front of screens. Sex is a complex interaction that should be approached thoughtfully, and hyper-masculine programming is a real thing we’re battling. These are all things that we can become aware of and change. What we stand to gain is deeper connection, more fun, and more trust with our potential partners. You can do it guys!