Letting Go of a Toxic Relationship: How I Dumped Netflix And Never Looked Back

I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions, so I don’t make them.  But, as the calendar year draws to a close and a new one dawns, I can’t help but think about certain goals or intentions.

On January 1, 2012, I mentally took stock of the relationships in my life: which ones were feeding me? which ones were draining my life force?  Looking at the 12 pristine months ahead of me, I hoped to enrich my life by letting go of relationships that no longer served me.

Now, I can’t help but notice that we are passed the half-way mark of 2012, and I have a success to report!

I have finally broken up with Netflix once and for all. No more booty calls late at night, no last-minute scrambling for a movie delivery company like a single woman scrounging for a date to a wedding.  There will be no make-up sex.  Netflix and I — WE. ARE. DONE. 

Red envelope: A symbol of dysfunction (image courtesy of www.technobuffalo.com)

Red envelope: A symbol of dysfunction (image courtesy of http://www.technobuffalo.com)

I finally let go because I was sick of the painful cycle, that always went like this:

I join.

I gleefully set up my queue.

The movies start coming.

I pretend I have plenty of time to watch 3 movies per week.

We A cleaning lady dusts around them as they sit on the counter.

“Gotta watch those movies,” I tell myself when I tune into re-runs of Little House On the Prairie.

Six weeks go by; Netflix continues to charge me.

I finally sit down to watch a movie, say, that documentary about Justin Bieber’s life.

I realize I can’t watch more than one movie per week.

I adjust my account and swear I will watch my one movie each week.

Artsy friends with too much free time suggest movies that I dutifully put in my queue.

My queue starts to mock me as it grows beyond 200 selections.

My husband asks, “What’s up with Netflix? Should we cancel?”

“Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo,” I protest.  We. Can. Watch. Movies. “Let’s try harder!”

I resolve to watch more movies.  Or at least a movie. Or at the very least the previews before the movie.

My husband takes over the queue.

We return An Inconvenient Truth and Whale Watcher after they have sat idly for 6 months.

“What we need is a fresh start.”

The Curious Life of Benjamin Button arrives.

I have a heart attack: I can’t get through a 12-hour movie.

I accuse my husband of setting me up for failure.

I declare, “If we don’t watch this movie within 2 weeks, we can cancel.”

Apparently, we’re not that curious about Benjamin Button’s life.

I ask for “one more, just one more” chance.

My husband relents.

We order Iron Lady.

The Iron Lady arrives quietly 2 days later.

I decide it sounds boring, and I don’t “get” the British accent.

Plus, Meryl Streep gave a horrible speech at the Oscars.

I tell my husband, “Ok, seriously, one more –”

He cuts me off, “No.”

I assume begging posture, “Pleeeassssseeee, just–”

“No. We’re done.”

So, we Jeff cancels Netflix.

* * *

I am happy to be relieved of the burden of those red envelopes.

I sometimes miss it, especially when I think about the movies I want to see: That Katy Perry documentary or Au Revoir Les Enfants or The Artist and anything with Ryan Gosling Sir Anthony Hopkins.

I vow to white-knuckle the rest of the summer re-run season.  I feel healthier everyday. I accept I am not a “movie” person.  If I can keep this up, maybe I can deal with my toxic relationship with Zappos.


173 thoughts on “Letting Go of a Toxic Relationship: How I Dumped Netflix And Never Looked Back

  1. This was so us! Now we do the streaming only. It actually is great. It’s only $10 month (of course if you watch none, it’s expensive). Honestly, I use it mostly to watch TV shows while I’m on the elliptical (House is next in the queue now that it’s over!). A one hour show without commercials is perfect for 45 minutes). But good for you for breaking out of a toxic relationship!

    • Streaming is great. No more having watching shows “on the hour” or rushing to get the kids in bed to watch our stuff. Of course, as a result my kids think all TV is on demand, but at least they have no idea iCarly exists. Win!

    • wow this has made me think twice about getting netflix because if i am not able to watch a movie during my week it will be charging me for nothing. thank you for posting this it is great

    • We only do streaming, too – and for us, with a night-shifter and a daytimer, it becomes super useful when one of us is asleep! I mostly watch TV shows, too – catching up on Mad Men or re-watching Firefly… But this way I don’t have/need a $100/mo cable subscription, I can watch my shows whenever I want to, no commercials, and apparently they even have workout DVD’s for streaming. Now if I can convince the people below me that Zumba is healthy… 😀

  2. I am proud to say we are 8 months sober, having cancelled when my daughter was 9 months and actually wanted to do things OUTSIDE the house. Not that I watched them before that, I just had a justification and a raging sense of PPD so who was going to argue with me. We are thinking about going back — JUST FOR STREAMING — because Ian and I are in fact movie people (or at least we used to be in former lives).

  3. Good for you!! Sean and I decided we (meaning I) are not movie people. Watched Ben Button – definitely thought it felt like 12 hours! We no longer have Netflix. Now I have a similar struggle with the DVR. I see that list of recorded shows as assignments hanging over my head that need to be completed. It stresses me out! I know, I have issues.

    • Oh yes!!! The DVR that haunts me like a mid-term exam I am not studying for. I have every single episode of the now-cancelled Rosie show on DVR. I can’t let go but I also don’t watch them. Torture!!!!

      • Yes, but the DVR also makes up for Netflix. I like to go through the next weeks guide and record all the movies that are playing that I have always wanted to watch. Yes, I have to once in a while go through all the recordings when I run out of space and delete those that I no longer care about, but my DVR is my favourite machine in the house. And I can forward through commercials, while getting an HD experience, which is much better than streaming.

  4. I can relate. We stopped getting the envelopes after having them mock us for weeks, but we still pay for the streaming. Well worth it for the commercial free, on demand, kids programming.

  5. I can’t imagine when you have time to hide in the bathroom let alone watch movies! Mike and I use Redbox on those rare occasions we watch movies. We definitely are movie people, but the girls are up too late these days for us to even zoom thru a Modern Family rerun before we’re asleep. I’m liking your partnership with Jeff on this!

  6. I am a big netflix guy and love movies. We go through spurts where we will see one a week and times where one will sit for 5 weeks. I feel like it evens out in the end.
    It sounds like you made the right choice for you. Congratulations on the break up.

  7. Oh my gosh, we do the same thing! Either that or we use the streaming and decide we want to watch a scary movie, then spend an hour and a half trying to pick one before giving up and going to bed. Stupid Netflix!

  8. Netflix really is a toxic type relationship. If you want a TV series there tends to be “long” waits for the 1st and last discs…kinda like foreplay with no ending, or the end with no foreplay. Makes me sad:(

  9. We use streaming. Nice thing about netflix streaming, you can log in using several devices. So….we share an account with my in laws. They pay and let us use it. So they use it, we use it and then my bro in law in Portland, Or also logs in. Best 10 purchase a month they can make. We no longer have cable (we broke up with cable 4 years ago) We can still see tv shows we want…my kids can watch their fave shows…er…I can turn them on when I have chores to do or needing a “quiet time” activity that is messless. It’s fab! Plus, now there is a lot more new movies on it so…we are enjoying that aspect as well. 🙂

    • Oh breaking up with cable is next on my list! It sounds like you have a great system. I may try that after my detox. But my husband may not let me for obvious reasons.

      On Aug 13, 2012,

  10. Like an unused gym membership, guilt kept me renewing. But I couldn’t go cold turkey, so I cut myself down to the two-a-month plan. Sometimes they sit collecting dust, other times I’m cursing the fact that I ONLY am allowed two-a-month. You can’t win.

  11. Omg! This post is speaking to me! At this very moment I have one of those “red envelopes” sitting on my desk and it’s been there for MONTHS. I keep saying I’m going to cancel it because I’m a broke student and I really can’t afford it, considering how scarcely I use it, but I still don’t really want to give up the possibility of watching a movie if I want to see one. *Sigh*

  12. Netflix beats paying for rip-off cable and satellite. I refuse to be suckered into either of those relationships. Netflix, Apple TV and basic tv with digital antenna is inexpensive tv viewing. Cost per month =$8.00

    • Interesting. Someone gave us Apple TV, but we haven’t figured out how to use it or work it into our routines. Cable is so wrong! Ugh. Don’t get me started.

      On Aug 13, 2012,

    • When we moved we gave up cable. Best decision ever. My husband in moments of weakness wants to get cable again, but I’ve held firm in keeping it out. Between our antenna, Hulu, and Netflix we come no where near the cost of cable. And we don’t find ourselves just surfing channels looking for something to watch. We only watch when we want. It’s great!

  13. I have felt your pain. I cut the cord long ago. Now if I could just get my husband to let go of cable. It will never happen. They just don’t show Philly sports in NC every week. That’s a game I can’t win. Congrats on FP!

  14. I have free satellite because I don’t wanna pay for TV service, I’m not big on TV shows or movies. But I’m single so it’s used for background noise. 🙂

  15. lol I found this so funny. I have Netflix but it Canada it’s instant streaming so there’s less to choose from and it’s still only $7 a month. Although in the beginning I felt like I had to watch a lot to warrant paying the $7. I felt as proud as you when I cancelled my cable. I did it because my roommate wasn’t paying her half. Now that I’m back on my own, my friends keep asking if I’ve hooked it up again. I really don’t miss it but I still have my Netflix!

  16. Oh yes! I was just thinking this week that I need to do the same…as soon as I find those two DVDs that have been floating around my house, unwatched, for the last 6 months. (I don’t even remember what they are!) Thanks for writing this and congratulations on Freshly Pressed!

  17. This would fit perfectly in my blog. In fact, with 51 weeks of quitting stuff left, it wouldn’t shock me one bit to find my Netflix or Blockbuster subscriptions (yep, I have BOTH) on the chopping block. Bravo to you. Bravo. And thanks for the idea. 🙂

      • I’ve only quit Facebook and that was just this past Thursday. I thought I’d kick it off with a bang. It’s not been the challenge I expected, but I won’t be surprised if it gets harder a little further down the road.

  18. This problem is the whole reason I started my blog. I had way too many movies to see, a subscription I was paying for, and never using. I’m about three weeks into my commitment to watch one movie each day, and it’s been an interesting experience. I’ve still got a ways to go before the dent in my queue becomes a dent worth mentioning, we’ll see if I keep it up that long.

    Of course, it helps that there’s not much else in the way of distractions for me right now.

  19. This is hilarious. I can totally relate–this happens with so many things in my life–magazine subscriptions, blog subscriptions, classic novels I tell myself I need to get around to reading. Kudos to your husband for ending the cycle. Hopefully you won’t feel so guilty about all of those unwatched red envelopes now. Oh, and—“Apparently, we’re not that curious about Benjamin Button’s life.” That made me laught out loud. Thanks!

  20. LOL! I can’t stop laughing. You’re hysterical. I so totally can relate, like other before me. Congratulations on finally getting rid of Netflix! And thanks for the laugh…

  21. Didn’t realize that Netflix did the physical DVDs as I’ve only done the streaming version. We do/did a version of Netflix called Zip. Red envelope, DVDs mailed to my house that would take me 6 months to watch. Then movies would come available from the Library that I only had for a one week loan and those would take priority. Finally cashed in all my free reward points in return for free months of rentals and now, reading your post, have realized I forgot to actually cancel our subscription. So I have been paying for last 2-3 months on a movie I don’t even want to see.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  22. I want to see the Katy Perry movie. Wanna meet halfway between Dallas and Chicago and watch it with me? And yes, I own the Justin bieber movie but don’t tell any one. CONGRATS ON FRESHLY PRESSED!!! You so deserve it!!!

  23. I have Netflix streaming, and no cable. I think it’s great. It’s a fraction of the cost of cable. The only draw-back is that streamings releases aren’t quite as ‘new’ as the mailed ones. There’s still PLENTY to watch while you wait for them to be added to the selection.

    I get to watch shows I really like from cable channels (like Comedy Central, History Channel, A&E, Food-network (the kids like Disney stuff, nickelodeon, and cartoon-network)) with no commercials at anytime of the day or night. If I shut it off, it picks right up where I left off. Sweet!

    I’ve watched; Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Workaholics, American Pickers, Pawn Stars, L.A. Ink, Hoarders, Archer, Portlandia, and many many more… I’m talking seasons and seasons of these shows. And SO many cool documentaries. (I’ve never had cable, so all these shows are new to me even if they’re old.)

    And every TV or device that is hooked up to the router can be watching something different on Netflix at the same time.

    I recommend it!

  24. You are fucking hilarious! Netflix gives me lots of problems and anxiety too. I thought I was going to “watch movies I’ve never seen, but should’ve seen”, so…The Godfather has been sitting on the kitchen counter (from the day I got the mail) for about 3 weeks now. And Godfather 2 is next on the queue! I don’t have 8 hours to spend watching movies. I need a Xanax.

  25. Same deal as some of the other comments – I pay the $8.44 total monthly bill and get the Netflix streaming. Haven’t watched a movie on there in awhile besides a few health/nutrition documentaries. Otherwise, I watch plenty of tv series. Whipped through Sons of Anarchy in a few weeks haha. Plenty of good options!

    Sorry that you had such a tough time letting go – not all relationships are meant to last. Things happen for a reason 😉

  26. I’ve never tried the DVD delivery model, but I don’t think I could handle letting go of my Netflix streaming. I give it 48 hours before I go into convulsions from withdrawal.

  27. Funny post! But, oh, man, I cannot live without Netflix. (When someone asks me what 3 things I’ll take with me to a deserted island, “An unlimited Netflix rental” has to be one of my answers.) Receiving one in the mail is like a present.

    But to each his/her own!

    “I finally sit down to watch a movie, say, that documentary about Justin Bieber’s life.”

    ^ Saw that. I’m not even embarrassed… Nope… Not at all! (uh…)

    • I was fascinated because it’s only a matter of time before fame and riches hurts him. Don’t you think? Will he go the way of Lindsay Lohan?

      And my movie standards are low… I only see 4 per year. Less now!

      On Aug 13, 2012,

  28. haha.. great blog. I think its great that you got rid of it. I have a few services that I HAVE to cut off soon.. I have just been procastinating coz i feel that I ‘might’ need them.

  29. I don’t know if I should say this so loud, but I don’t rent movies, or even pay for delivery or streaming, because I find them online for free very easily these days *looks around with paranoia*. You can even find whole movies on YouTube now, since they lifted their limit on video length. It saves a lot of money! Considering most of the things I like to watch are ridiculous to find on the shelves anyway, I know for a fact how much money I’ve saved, without missing out. It also helps me save a lot of money when it comes to buying DVD’s – I only buy the best things I’ve seen, which I do as a token of respect 🙂 So of course, I’m very happy you let this go. Whenever the both of you feel like a movie, now you can watch it for free 🙂

  30. Great post! I shared your experience w/ the mailer DVDs (minus the spouse to keep me realistic). I was never home enough to watch the movies and by the time, I did have time home to sit and catch up, I scoffed at the synopses wondering how I’d even chose them.

    Streaming is the best move Netflix could’ve made. Now, they’re getting better at adding new shows and recent seasons of shows. I’ve spent the last month catching up to the hype around Breaking Bad, and just finished the AMC show Missing. Plus on the indie scene, they have some real gems that are streaming. For the price, you can’t really beat it.

  31. I find it extremely hilarious (appropriate?) that the ad space between your Netflix post and the like/ comment section featured… HuluPlus. 😉 WordPress is trying to suggest your next addiction for ya.

  32. I love the streaming for Netflix, though never tried the hard-copy delivery service. I don’t think it’s even available in Canada. But the streaming is fantastic. There’s television series, movies, etc. Honestly, I’d rather get my television online than pay for cable. Everything that’s great is accessible – or can be purchased (thinking HBO).

  33. You should be curious about Benjamin Button. It was an interesting movie. Yikes….forgot that now I can watch HULU too, now that I’ll be back in the States. Can’t wait to restart my Net Flix streaming here in the US – more choices than in Canada. Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  34. Netflix streaming is worse. There are so many choices, but somehow the movies you want to see are amissing. You spend time flipping through options, not being able to settle, and 27 minutes later you might just as well go to bed. Or worse, you get hooked on some tv series and loose 20 hours of your life you should have spent sleeping/working/cooking/cleaning/gardening or whatever.

  35. I actually came on to WordPress to document my recent change in status with Netflix, so your post was both timely and hilarious! I’ve kept the streaming option, but even with just 2 discs at a time, I wasn’t watching them enough to justify the cost, and 90% of the time my body took advantage of my near constant sleep deprivation to knock me out cold for 3/4 of a movie. I had to watch Inception twice because the first time I lost 45 minutes and woke up totally disoriented, which considering the film, was a bit fitting.
    I have substituted my addiction with amazon streaming, with it’s dangerous “one click” purchase option. Baby steps I guess 🙂
    Congrats on breaking free of the red envelope menace!

  36. Haha! I do the blockbuster thing. They don’t send me a movie till I’ve already sent the previous DVD back, so I don’t feel the pressure! Plus it’s only like $8 a month.

  37. This was the exact reason why I stopped our delivery service, too!! GAH The pressure, it was just too much. Then we got a Hulu and have Netlifx streaming and I allow myself to feel a little more accomplished. 🙂 Plus, even more instant-er instant gratification!
    Congrats on the FP!!

  38. Haha! My break-up with Netflix had the same elements—greed, guilt, confrontation, and fallout. The fallout was that I kept the streaming option (still do), which is worse. It teases you with its gazillion options, and offers you nothing that you actually wanted to watch. I end up spending 30 min of my time just settling on a movie/show I wouldn’t have watched half an hour ago.

  39. awesome! i too love netflix. i will never dump netflix…i hate on it sometimes because it’s one of those things that has every movie but the one i want to watch. i still love it though. forever netflix!! wooo!

  40. Great post! Loved your break-up “chronology.” I am amazed, however, at all the folks who don’t know (or who forgot) that public libraries lend DVDs free of charge (your library card is also free). So that’s at least one alternative to the NetFlix thing. Of course, you must usually return a library-owned DVD within a week (not just any ol’ time, like six months later), or the overdue fines don’t make it a bargain. Procrastinators Beware! (Otherwise, it’s a great resource!)

  41. I have the cheapest plan on Netflix.. 2 movies a month, but I only get one when I return one..and that’s hard enough. Sometimes, we’ll have the same un-watched movie for a month. Ok everyone, let’s watch this damn movie before my kids have kids. Love the post. Great humor.

  42. I understand and appreciate your view. For me, I will stick with Netflix. Only because the cable rates are so high. Between Netflix and the free level of Hulu, I can cover most of my viewing needs at 1/4 the price of cable. So it is worth it. If only Cable would enter the ‘real’ world of consumer affordablility. Same reason I will never have a smart phone. I refuse those prices so I’ll stay with Net10 and get 6 months of service for what I used to spend in one month.

  43. I applaud you, I don’t think I could give it up. Addict over here! *waves* Although I don’t order the movies through mail ( I would lose them all), so I have a no commitment/browse movies when I feel like it relationship. Fun read, congrats on being Freshly Pressed 🙂

  44. This is definitely me. Though I haven’t completely cut ties with Netflix, I only pay for the instant streaming feature and use it primarily for TV series. Wouldn’t we all LOVE the time to watch 3 movies a week, though?!

  45. I only do the streaming because I had the same problem with Netflix when DVDs arrived – I had one for like 8 months – like really? Okay, now I could have owned like 10 copies. I too have cancelled and restarted a few times – but I think Netflix knew I was questioning our relationship because I was somehow not charged for a few months of service…. Well, good luck with the Zappos situation, currently trying to break up with Nordstrom.com and it sucks. Congrats on FP 🙂

      • Could not agree more. I’m in Arizona, and we have Last Chance which is the step below the Rack for all of Nordstrom & the Rack’s overflow, retuned items, damaged items, etc. It is craziness and you have to dig, but it is soooo worth it. Latest purchase there this weekend was a brand new Trina Turk strapless dress for $49.99, and then 40% off!

  46. I never ordered movies through the mail with Netflix I just have it online. I guess I would have to cut it off too after letting movies lay around and collect dust for so long and STILL get charged.

  47. OH MY GOODNESS! I didn’t even know that they did mail-order movies. We just do the streaming thing. I can pretty much ABSOLUTELY guarantee that if I had the movie sitting on my counter, I would have the same experience as you had.

  48. Ah this is why I TIVO everything. Then it can just sit and sit there until you’re finally ready to buckle down and watch without worrying about the Netflix pile…but congrats on breaking old bad habits!

    • I do love our TivO. Last night we watched all the pre-Olympic specials, which was a little heartbreaking where we knew how it was going to end (for LoLo Jones, for example).

  49. This is our house, except husband has now taken over the queue and has a propensity of ordering movies We’ve Already Seen. The guy has a mile-long list of movies he can watch over and again.

    But the dust-gathering part? Definitely us.

  50. I have also broken up with netflix for the very same reasons. we got back together a few times, but ultimately, i just was too busy to commit to our relationship. i understand.

  51. Hilarious post! I’m one of those annoying friends who regularly watches movies, and even I have temptation to quit Netflix. Also, I loved Meryl Streep’s Oscar speech… though you made the right choice about Benjamin Button – you didn’t miss anything there!

    • I thought her speech was awkward because she was saying, “Everyone is so mad I won….they are groaning because it’s like ‘her again'”. Something about that rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed like a missed opportunity to say something grander. Then again, maybe I didn’t like it because it was so raw and honest. It hurt to watch her “know” that some people are sick of seeing her win.

      • I see what you’re saying, and I had that initial “huh?” feeling as she started her speech. Yet, I think she was attributing the “her again” thought because of how many times she’s been nominated, and because this is only the third time she’s won (1980 for Kramer v. Kramer; 1983 for Sophie’s Choice; 2012 for The Iron Lady)…and she followed it up with humility, grace and the big kudos to her family. I’m fairly biased though – I love everything she’s done (that I’ve seen) and pretty much think she makes the best role choices of any actress alive.

  52. I’m so bad about getting my movies watched in a timely fashion! The longest I’ve kept a dvd is about 2 months. I think Netflix was starting to give up hope of me returning it. 🙂

  53. My dad just canceled Netflix. I wasn’t mad or angry. I think I knew my time ran out with Netflix. However, as I sit at home, I realize I have nothing to do. Now, it’s getting a bit frustrating that I can’t watch something interesting. Netflix=An addiction.

  54. I’ve found Netflix for streaming is a deal. The (unused) DVDs, especially since the price hike disguised as a “separation” between streaming and DVDs, not so much. Kudos on the adorably written scenario of which many of us can relate!

  55. Streaming is the option for us. Cheaper adn no waste sice we more often than not did not watch them. By the way, iCarly is a Nick series. We, parents and our girls, like it better than Disney series. If we want a newer movies we go to the local Redbox.

  56. Me and Netflix go wayyyy back. One of my good friends got me on the Netflix-crack. At first I had the DVD and the Streaming, but then Netflix decided to split those into two separate services so we got rid of the DVD. We mostly watched the streaming anyway as it gives you more of a room for a queue that you can watch any time. My biggest problem with Netflix is how they choose what movies to cancel it’s streaming and put it on DVD. There was a couple of series I was almost finished with until Netflix yanked it from my streaming queue. 😦

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