Friday, August 26, 2011

The "Sushi Factor".

This is something that has come up in many relationships I've been in, observed, or heard about, so perhaps there is some value to be gleaned by putting it out there. In our house, we call it the "sushi factor". Here is how we discovered the S.F.: I'm a fan of sushi, and had invited S to go on several occasions. He pleaded off with, "I just can't stand fish, and raw fish particularly, so that's a no.". Fast forward some number of months, insert a new love interest he was seeing, and suddenly, there is S eating sushi with new person. Color me less than thrilled.

Now, with a "normal" mono relationship, you can go with the, "People change, and maybe they just like it now." theory when you see your ex, who was virulently opposed to xyz now engaged happily in it. Within poly, when you've made a request of partner, gotten a no, and then see them doing that with another partner, it can be a bit tougher to run with that theory.

Oddly enough, there seems to be strong anecdotal evidence that men are at higher risk of stepping in this particular mess. In every case I've directly observed, it's been the guy that said he wasn't interested in (fill in the blank), then proceeds to do it with new partner. Things like a shopping venue, type of food, activity, a sex act, or relationship style.

S and I were talking that over at lunch the other day, and his supposition, which may not be particularly flattering to our male audience, is that the desire to bag a new partner often trumps existing boundaries/preferences with current partners. Hunting instinct.

Now, there are a great many poly folks out there that will say that everyone is entitled to enjoy, or not, whatever types of activities and cuisine they wish to with whomever they want. They'd be right too. However, in practical applied terms, this may not be the best policy to run with.

Real life example from personal history: Back in the swinging days, I was out on a full swap evening with my partner at the time. Things were ramping up sexually, and the man I was playing with went down on me, and began to stimulate me anally as well. After a short time, I noticed that his partner seemed a bit upset, and took a break, grabbing her on the way out of the room to chat. She was embarrassed to admit it, but she was upset because she really enjoyed oral sex with anal stimulation, and asked for that several times, getting a no from her partner. What's the first thing he does out with someone new? Go down on her and stick his finger up her ass! Seriously, does anyone out there reading this think that's a winning strategy for domestic tranquility?

Now, some of you may be inclined to just write this off as NRE insanity, and while there may be an element of truth to that, NRE isn't an excuse for a lack of consideration or sensitivity. In the event that you are out with someone new (or in with them), and they bring up/you have this great idea you've heard before...somewhere...pause for a moment and consider where it originated. If it's with an existing partner, I respectfully suggest that it might be worth holding off on doing with the new person, and giving your existing partner first shot at it.

Now, am I unhappy that I can now sometimes cadge S into going to have sushi? No, I'll leverage that NRE-induced experimental bent for all it's worth! However, it would have been much nicer and possibly built more trust and intimacy in our relationship to have that level of willingness to try something extended my way without the need for NRE intoxication.

Note: This whole concept applies only to those things that everyone is willing to do/try. There is no suggestion that anyone should "take one for the team", or feel pressured to do something they don't want to do.


Kasi Alexander said...

This is a great conversation and yes, probably something that nearly every poly group goes through. It's very similar to the monogamous couple where one party refuses to believe or try something until hearing it from a source other than the partner. Very frustrating and angering.

You have a very nice writing style!

polyfulcrum said...

Thanks, Kasi, both for the compliment, and the comment!

lynelle said...

i understand your point, and i think that would be hard to swallow. yet i also wonder if there might be context that matters?

if i wish for/want/ask for x,y,z and encounter a "no", only to learn that x,y,z is happening with my partner and someone else, i'm not disagreeing that it would be nice if there was a pause point where it was *also* offered to me, once he notices that he's actually willing to try it after all.

i don't need to be first, just because i asked first. yet perhaps, it's not so much that he'll do it with her but not me, as much as perhaps i planted the seed, and watered it with my wishes/hopes/reasons? and perhaps the seed sprouted when someone else added more water? we tag teamed him...?

even if i asked first but am not first to receive x,y,z, it would be nice to be acknowledged for the seed planting ~ hey.. you suggested x, and i said no. my other partner also suggested x, and i let myself do it, and you know... it was pretty cool. thank you for planting that seed. wanna have sushi tonite? perhaps acknowledgement and appreciation of the idea, and an overt invitation that comes from him ~ so it feels invited, instead of nagging him, can go a long way towards not necessarily "waiting" to do x with me first.

either way... there might also be context of a,b,c that he never did until he was in love with me. he might never have shared an initial "no", so i might not be in a position to know that my requests *already* led him to do things he'd declined before. and with new love, there may be more. and maybe that's a chain where first isn't really the issue....? perhaps it's about realizing i already was the catalyst for him to try new things, and his relationship with his other partner(s) will also have that facet.

and a delayed invite is still a good thing, even if he grows some experiences and boundaries first with other people, just as he grew some new boundaries and experiences with me. maybe...?

polyfulcrum said...

@lynelle: Yes, I agree with the ideas you brought into the conversation as well.

This isn't an issue that usually moves in the direction of "huge fight", but it is often one of those things that gets brought up in the future. Repeatedly. Usually, TSF comes up because someone isn't aware it's likely to be a feeling-bruiser, so I think it's useful to consider in advance, rather than doing repair work later.

lynelle said...

yes, advance always feels better than repairs. : )

love your blog.

quinky_girl said...

It is often easier for a person to try out new activities or to try on new roles with an alternate partner. This isn't an always sort of thing, it's an often sort of thing. Rather than focusing only upon your own disappointment about sushi, maybe you could take joy that your love finally exposed himself to it at all. Maybe in the future, it will be easier for him to share sushi with you. Your need to be first in the sushi may not mesh with his need to experience sushi for the first time in a neutral setting.

What reasons can you think of that may have made it easier and more enjoyable for him to enjoy sushi with another? Maybe because he knows how much you love it and didn't want to disappoint you with a negative reaction?

In the swinging scenario, I'd lay money on the man in question being doubtful about his ability to perform a new skill well the first time out on his wife and that he was using you as a learning tool.

KDaddy said...

It makes sense to me and in a very odd way; the reason you can get someone to eat sushi when they wouldn't do it before is how attractive you make it to them, or, if you don't sell them on it, they won't do it... but the next person might.

So, the missus sees her man doing something to another woman that he wouldn't do with her - and the same thing applies, although, hah, he's gonna have some explaining to do later. I know that one of the reasons why men are in the life so they can do such things to someone else more than making sushi at home. Oddly, this is a behavior that makes sense... but doesn't.

So, in my poly relationship, there were things I would do with each other three women in it... depending. Like the anal stimulation during oral sex; two of them liked it, my real wife didn't - but when she saw me doing it, she got in my ass about not doing the same to her, totally forgetting she had made it clear to me - and before we got married - to leave her ass alone.

So figure. I learned the biggest mistake anyone can make in a poly relationship is trying to make everyone uniformly happy with stuff when, in fact, it's their individuality that's the spice in the whole thing. Sometimes, it's just about how you present something to a partner that'll make all the difference, I think.

AirenWolf said...

In our triad we also had this discussion. My husband thought I was grooming myself differently for my life partner and got very hurt. I explained that I wasn't and had meant for them both to enjoy and it lead to a very deep and meaningful discussion about what we do for each other and or other partners.
For us it's all about making sure that partners that have longevity aren't feeling left out or ignored.
Generally, if we are suddenly interested in trying something we may have said no to a partner about we discuss it and our partners are very understanding about the time it may take to actually do the activity. Or we experience the activity and then invite our partner's into it enthusiastically, usually with a "OMG you were RIGHT! This is AMAZING" It seems to soothe the potential wounds and can even draw our new potentials closer to the existing relationship.