Sunday, January 17, 2016

Virtual Book Club: More Than Two // Topic: "The Sushi Effect"

I decided to pick up "More Than Two" after a few months of leaving it on the coffee table (or on my bedside table, or wherever I moved it to) with a bookmark lodged somewhere in Chapter 3 or 4. I have no idea why I decided to stop reading it. Nothing really irritated me about it, it's not written in a way that makes it painful or slow to read. I just... didn't want to read it. And so it sat.

As part of my "Seven Things," I decided to make it my January book. A little extra motivation is good for kicking my butt in gear, but I digress. This isn't really a post about my Seven Things, but more about discussing things that pop up in my head while I read.

I do plan on writing a review, and overall, I think it'll be a good one. The book makes many fantastic points (the chapters on "Tending Your Self" and "Communication Pitfalls" are great, and I'm not even halfway through the book), however, there are still the occasional tidbits that make me scratch my head, think a bit more, and wonder if we're just speaking a different language.

I'd love to encourage discussion (from mono and poly folks alike) on these points, sort of like a virtual book club. Although I do encourage you to read the book, it's probably not necessary for discussion. The more comments, the better - let's hear what you have to say!

Topic: The "Sushi Effect"

In Chapter 4, Franklin and Eve share a story about "Melissa" - a friend of Franklin's who tried for months to get her husband to try sushi with her (and was rejected each time). When her husband started dating, his new girlfriend asked him to try sushi. This time, he agreed, and discovered he enjoyed it, to Melissa's irritation.

The situation was used to illustrate that change can be beneficial. Why get upset about a change in your relationship that can benefit you, just because you weren't the person who brought about that change or "did it first"? Why do we feel entitled to being first?

I'm making the same face now that I made when I initially read this passage... something of a "hmmmmm..." face. I've certainly been through this scenario - almost exactly, except it was Ginger Chicken. My ex-husband steadfastly refused to order Ginger Chicken when we went out for Chinese, to the point of making "ukkk" noises when I'd suggest it. He took on a girlfriend near the end of our marriage (no. it wasn't really a poly marriage, but it got a bit wonky near the end), and one day, as we drove through a town I wasn't particularly familiar with, he blurted out, "That's <GF's> favorite Chinese place. The Ginger Chicken is really good there!"

It wasn't the "he did it first with someone else" thing. It was the continual rejection of MY suggestion, only to say "Sure!" when the same suggestion was made by someone else. I'm going to rename it the "Scooby Doo Effect" (bear with me): Shaggy would make a suggestion and the girls would pooh-pooh it. Then Fred would make the same suggestion, and suddenly it was, "Great idea, Freddie!" At least Shaggy would go hang with Scoob and let it all roll off his back with a couple Scooby Snacks. I just found it irritating as fuck.

Of course, it comes out looking like jealousy, or envy. "Why would you do that with her and not me?" Upon further reflection, though, at least in my case, it was more, "Why are we in such a rut that you automatically dismiss anything I suggest?" Getting ginger chicken with his GF simply highlighted that we'd established ourselves into a cycle of doing the things we knew we enjoyed and not leaving that comfort zone. With someone new, there is no comfort zone. It may seem easier to try new things when you don't know what you enjoy doing with that person. It's nothing personal against the "tried and true" partner, but it sure feels like a smack in the face when seen from that person's point of view.

So, the point? I think there's some misinterpretation of the rejected partner's feelings. It may come across looking like envy that we couldn't do this thing with our partners first, but in my case, it was more a feeling of being repeatedly turned down as a matter of course over something that really wasn't a "no" after all. It's getting upset with my partner saying "no" as a knee-jerk reaction, rather than thinking it might be fun to try something new once in a while. Why shouldn't I get annoyed with that?

To me, the solution isn't, "I need to be the keeper of all 'firsts'," but more, "please give my suggestions the same consideration you'd give someone else's." Not too much to ask, in my opinion.

I'm definitely interested in hearing other people's thoughts and opinions on the matter. Please feel free to discuss in the comments!

Now... back to the book!