Washington – "So when are you going to delete her name?" I asked my boyfriend.
I knew he was going through a divorce – and I trusted him. But her lurking presence on his streaming account was turning our Netflix and chill nights into Netflix and anxiety.
What sounded like a reasonable request in my head now felt like a jealous inquiry, spoiling our date-night spread: a nice, sharp cheddar, a bottle of Malbec and Silence of the Lambs on deck. Was I being childish? Highly possible.
We’d been dating on and off for over a year when I asked if he was going to sever streaming ties. Our relationship began like a playful new streaming series, like The Great British Baking Show – recommended by someone at work that I’d added to my queue but kept putting off watching.
"I’m getting a divorce," he’d said within minutes of our first date. Whomp whomp. A loud symphony of out-of-tune trumpets, dating distress signals, played in my head. It doesn’t matter if he has a warm smile, a 6-foot-4 swimmer’s build and a quick wit, I figured. I’d probably never see this guy again.
"I wanted to tell you in person," he added.
"That’s nice," I said with cryptic sarcasm. We’d been talking for about a month on a dating app before this date. Why didn’t he mention this earlier?
I’m not opposed to dating a divorced man. Becoming involved with someone "getting a divorce," though, in the midst of a legal and emotional separation, sounded risky.
Despite my hesitations because of his relationship status, I kept accepting his invitations.
Our viewing tastes were aligned, too. Snuggling on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and a documentary about serial killers, a Portlandia episode or anything narrated by David Attenborough had become part of our dating routine.
As we binged, my commitment-phobic tendencies melted away. He remained patient and kind and chivalrous, in a refreshing, almost surprising, way – reminding me that gentlemen do still exist. Here was an adult man who enjoys eye contact, the art of conversation and prefers real emotions over emoji.
Before I entered the picture, he was very much separated from her heart and her Zip code. He had his own digs. But there she was on his Netflix account: "Em."
Seeing the cute, one-syllable nickname on his flat screen made me nauseated. I wondered what was in her queue and what quirky films or epic series they watched together. Having her there didn’t bother me – until all of a sudden it did.
Hypothetical narratives sprouted up in my head: Was I the naive rebound chick, passing time with the emotionally unavailable protagonist? Or worse, what if the main character reconciles with his wife and cuts all contact with his new love interest?
But I was smitten.
When his divorce was final, I was shocked. Not because I didn’t believe it would happen, but more so because somewhere midseason in our relationship, I’d become seriously invested. I’d moved from guest-star appearance to recurring character.
Maybe I was overreacting. Maybe joint custody of Netflix was part of the alimony agreement.
"I honestly don’t even notice it." He responded in a such a blasé way that I wanted to dissolve into the floor. "But I will delete it," he added.
I exhaled, realizing that his actions were more important than the numerous hypothetical story lines I’d been drafting in my head for months, and more important than his ex’s name on the screen. He eventually erased her account and I moved past the reruns of my fears.
Now I’m so excited for our upcoming seasons in our relationship – and in our queue.
The Washington Post