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!


  1. This happened to me, in a way, oddly enough, it involved the book, "More Than Two".

    We were having problems adjusting from mono to poly, and I suggested we read "More Than Two", or that he at least look at their website with me. His response was that he didn't think it would tell him anything he didn't already know. About a few weeks later, we're still having issues, and his new girlfriend suggested he read the book. So what did he do? Borrowed a copy from her and suggested he and I read it. I was pissed. It made me feel like he thought I wasn't as intelligent as her, or that he didn't respect my opinions as much as hers. I explained this to him, and he said that it was just that he began to realize he was wrong about not needing outside help, and she just happened to be the next person to suggest it.

    1. I think there is some validity to the idea that some people need to hear things multiple times before they'll consider them. If only one person is telling me I need to read/do something, it's an outlier. If more than one person is telling me the same thing, then maybe I ought to consider it. Understandable once you see it from that point of view, but irritating as heck to the first person to suggest something, and easy to misread as "clearly, my opinion doesn't count."

      I'm glad you were able to discuss it, and I hope the conversation helped.

    2. It did help to talk it through. And I also realized that he's done that sort of thing to me before, except with platonic friends being his "second opinion". I realized my irritation with him was probably exacerbated by my feelings of jealousy and insecurity, so I let it go.

  2. I wanted to add this after some discussion on (in a thread titled "The Sushi Effect")... I have an example that seems to better illustrate Franklin and Eve's point while also illustrating my own:
    Whether you're ignored because it comes across as "nagging", or whether you're ignored because it's easier to do other things and ignore new suggestions, it still sucks.

    I bring up the "nagging" thing, because the other example of this that came to mind was when my ex turned to me one day after doing some housework and said, "GF thinks I should help out around the house more." I had been asking for his help for months because I was working full-time, and my weekends had become the "take care of all the housework" time. I felt like I was stuck in a rut. However, nothing ever changed until his GF mentioned it. It just floored me, and I was extremely irritated (although happy he was starting to share the load with me).

    This is probably an even better example of Franklin and Eve's point. I *was* happy to have had the help after his GF's suggestion, but boy was I bent that he had ignored me for so long when I would talk about it.

    In this case, there really was something to be happy about (the additional help around the house), but I still think it highlighted a huge problem within our relationship (my ex's ignoring or dismissing my concerns out of hand).

    The change is good; the action is still a problem, and that problem still needs to be dealt with (or not, which helped to lead to the dissolution of my marriage).

  3. This was part of the reason we eventually broke up-- not the only or primary factor, but a factor nonetheless. It was as if B could not hear a new idea if it came from me: My role was to be the stable, unchanging one. New ideas came from friends, or from Other Sweetheart.

    That pattern ran directly counter to my desire for acknowledgment and appreciation, and it continued after I said, "Hey, I am not cool with this pattern."

  4. I had a very similar situation. My OSO said he wanted to show my wife a good time and get her drunk. Neither of us have ever really been drunk before. We drink a glass of wine here and there. When we were younger I had suggested frequently that we should try getting drunk one night to see what it was like. Especially after one of her friends had told her (and she shared with me) that drunk sex was the best. She never seemed very interested so eventually (years later) I stopped asking.

    He brings it up and it is something that sounds good or interesting. Really didn't make me feel good and she had forgotten I had asked in the past until I reminded her what her friend had told her.

    Just wanted to share my story. I very much enjoy reading you blog and look forward to each new post.


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