Another friend of mine has had many, many dates flop when guys try to hook up with her during a movie; she has a graduate film degree. This appears to be a common problem.
Multiple times I have tried to explain to her that if someone invites you over to “watch a movie,” they do not really want to watch a movie, and that she might want to adjust her expectations, but to no avail.
Then there are partners who spoil every moment before it happens. People who watch you watching the movie they picked out—the worst, right? On the flip side, there’s also the incredibly hacky vein of jokes about women asking too many questions during movies.
Other people complained that their partner always falls asleep during movies—especially irritating if they picked the movie. And some people really can’t stand if their partner is on their phone while watching a movie; frankly, I think it’s draconian to expect me to watch only one screen at a time like it’s 1954, but I’ve come to understand this is yet another source of disagreement.
Then there’s the etiquette of when to pause when you get up to do something— do you pause it? Do you expect the other person to? Are you upset if they don’t? (I come down firmly on the side that you should communicate whether you want the TV paused or not, but recognize this could be annoying in its own right.)
One of the biggest issues with these little annoyances is that they can spiral out into mutual irritation. For instance, changing the TV settings can read as incredibly passive aggressive. If I rewind If I rewind to go back and hear something my boyfriend talks over, he often says (playfully!) something along the lines of “I guess I’ll just shut up!” Which would solve the problem, but also, look, pal I’m adjusting to your behavior now so I can still watch TV the way I want. It’s compromise, not passive aggression.
But perhaps the bigger issue is that it feels pretty silly to have a big fight over how you particularly prefer to consume streaming media—especially since this would mean pausing to have a Talk. It falls perfectly into a minor conflict category: important enough to care about sincerely, but ridiculous enough to feel stupid having a fight about it. So if communication isn’t really an option, sometimes not-at-all-passive aggression is in order: You just turn up the volume on an over-talker, accept that that they’re going to get a little miffed, and enjoy the rest of The Bachelor in peace and quiet.
*Names have been changed.
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