We’re opening our Communication Hacks: Booster Pack! The Multiamory crew walks each other through a communication tip that we recently discovered and thought was super awesome. Learn how switch-tracking, bids, and micro scripts can take your relationship communication to the next level.
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You can order Dedeker's book, The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love by clicking here.
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Multiamory was created by Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and Emily Matlack.
Our theme music is Forms I Know I Did by Josh and Anand.
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This document may contain small transcription errors. If you find one please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will fix it ASAP.
Jase: On this episode of the Multiamory Podcast, we're opening our communication hacks booster pack. The three of us are going to walk through and, walk each other through, a communication tip that we recently discovered and though was super awesome. Also, Dedeker's sick.
Dedeker: I'm sick.
Jase: It sucks.
Dedeker: I'm sorry.
Emily: We're about to go on tour, so get better now.
Dedeker: I'm doing my best. I'm glad that I'm sick now rather than while we're on tour.
Jase: Yes, seriously.
Dedeker: I'm going to try my best to not be too snifflly in your ears-
Emily: Thank you.
Dedeker: -and to your listeners. I can't make any promises though, I'm really sorry.
Jase: I'm sure they appreciate it.
Dedeker: Wait, appreciate what? My sniffling, or my lack of sniffling?
Jase: You trying not to sniffle. Your attempts.
Dedeker: My attempts. My trying not to-- That's good. That's good.
Jase: It's the thought that counts.
Emily: Yes, at the very least, it's the thought that counts.
Jase: Even if you fail. Yes, the idea for this episode; there are a few different things that have come up that are like communication, hacks or communication tools that weren't quite big enough to fill an entire episode until we said, "Hey, why don't we each take one of these and share them with each other for all of you all?"
Emily: Yes, because communication, as everybody who's polyamorous knows is probably the number one thing that we say that you need.
Dedeker: That you also know.
Emily: Communication, communication.
Dedeker: You also know, that on this show we love hacking things, we love shortcuts and we love tools and we love acronyms. We don't have any acronyms for this episode.
Dedeker: We do love that shit.
Jase: We do love acronyms a lot and alliterative of names for things.
Emily: That's true.
Jase: Yes. Who wants to start us off today?
Emily: I'm the first one. Josh, my partner, told me about an NPR podcast that he was listening to which was the Hidden Brain. On it, they talked about this amazing thing called switchtracking and just came up with a bunch of different names for it.
Dedeker: Is that the thing that they do with railroads?
Emily: Yeah, no exactly/
Dedeker: Is that track switching? That's track switching, right?
Emily: Well, switchtracking-
Jase: I thought that was trainspotting.
Emily: No, that's a Ewan McGregor movie.
Dedeker: I thought that was crosshatching.
Emily: Yes, that's an Ewan McGregor movie, moving on. Also, Danny Boyle. No, what it is is that it's a thing in communication that causes a breakdown in communication. Someone may give you feedback and then your reaction to that feedback just completely changes the subject. The conversation starts on one track and then because of somebody's emotional reaction or some feedback, it changes to an entirely different track. Then people are, essentially, talking past each other at that point.
Jase: I'm confused. You go ahead.
Dedeker: Okay. Is this something that people do intentionally, as in you bring up some kind of criticism about me, so I intentionally try to fog the issue by bringing up something else or is this an unintentional thing that people do?
Emily: I would say, usually, it's a completely unintentional thing.
Dedeker: Oh really? Okay.
Emily: It's a thing that I think happens a lot in communication where you end up saying completely different things. It's as though you're talking to each other but at each other and nobody's actually getting through anything that they're speaking about because you are both on completely different wavelengths. I created, yes-
Jase: I just want to clarify something.
Jase: This is different from changing topics. This is something else.
Emily: It is essentially changing topics but also changing the subject in the middle of the argument that may be happening. But, you may not think that that's what's occurring. You may think, "Okay, I'm addressing an issue that I think needs to be resolved." Then your partner may be, "Well, I have an issue that I think is related." Yet, you two may be speaking about something completely different and then, therefore, talking past each other.
Dedeker: It's like you bring up an issue and my response to that issue is to bring up a different issue that, in my head, I think is the same thing but maybe not actually the same thing and then we're both arguing actually-
Emily: In circles, yes.
Dedeker: -in circles and then maybe for entirely different issues not realizing that-
Emily: We're doing that.
Emily: -we're doing that. I see.
Jase: Can you give us an example of this?
Emily: Well, I created an example for you and you two are going to say the example.
Dedeker: You made a script for us?
Emily: Yes, I did and I colored coded it.
Dedeker: You mean you wrote the script?
Emily: I colored coded it and everything.
Dedeker: You're a screenwriter? Wow.
Emily: I'm not good, just so everybody knows.
Jase: Is this the first Multiamory radio drama.
Dedeker: Radio drama? [laughing] You need to get some Folley up in here.
Emily: The two of you are going to be the radio dramatists.
Emily: You both have been actors in your day.
Dedeker: We both have gotten into some arguments too.
Emily: Yes, so I expect greatness.
Dedeker: Just a handful.
Emily: I expect real, human drama right now.
Dedeker: Okay, gosh. Doing it cold-
Emily: You're cold reading.
Dedeker: -right now.
Jase: Cold reading.
Emily: You took a bunch of classes on this.
Dedeker: Yes, I've take cold reading classes.
Emily: Yes, there you go. Come on, give it to me, baby.
Dedeker: My instrument isn't at 100%.
Jase: Okay. Can you set the scene for us?
Emily: Okay. The scene is set. A kitchen table, two people quietly eating their dinner, a couple, and, gently, a person places his fork down. Ding.
Jase: I'm going to do some Folley.
Emily: Exactly, and then he clears his throat-
Jase: [clear's throat]
Emily: -and says the following.
Jase: Honey, I want to talk to you about something. I really feel like our time together has been limited and when we do see each other, it hasn't been the quality time that I need when I'm with you. You're generally on the phone texting your other partners. You seem pretty spaced out when we're together.
Dedeker: I take a long drag of a cigarette.
Dedeker: [inhales and exhales] I guess it will explain my husky voice this week.
Emily: There you go.
Dedeker: See, I don't understand why you aren't appreciative of the time that we spend together. Now that Ann and I broke up, I see you three times a week pretty regularly and you aren't appreciative of the time that I spend with you or the things that I do for you during that time. Instead, I feel like you're always focusing on the negative and what you're not getting.
Jase: I really just think that the time we're spending together hasn't felt that special or fulfilling and I think that we need to focus on that right now.
Dedeker: I know, and I'm saying that if I'm with you and I'm around you then that should be appreciated. You're always nitpicking me with all the ways that I'm failing you instead of focusing on the positive. I never feel like that anything that I do is right in your eyes.
Jase: I just want to feel like we're getting the best possible time together that we can.
Dedeker: I know, and I want to feel like you appreciate the time that I do spend with you and what I do do for you.
Emily: End of scene,
Jase: It was too real.
Emily: No, exactly. Oh, man. This scene illustrates Jase, he really feels he's not getting the best quality time. Again, when we've talked about things like what our love language is, maybe Jase's is quality time.
Dedeker: Jase's complaint is, in this situation, is, "The time that we spend together, is not quality time."
Dedeker: You're checked out-
Dedeker: -during that time and I want you to be present.
Emily: Yes, essentially. Dedeker is saying. "Oh my god, you're always nitpicking me, you're not appreciative of the time that I am giving you and all the things that I feel like I am doing for you."
Dedeker: I'm moving my schedule around, I prioritize time together. I feel like you're nitpicking about me being on the phone. Okay.
Jase: I think it was interesting that this is from the point of view of my character here. From my point of view, the conversation is about our quality time and how I don't think we're spending it. To me it just sounds like she's avoiding the issue, or she's getting defensive, or she doesn't want to admit to it because she must know that she's wrong or something. That's how it feels from my point of view because I think the conversation is about our quality time that we're spending together and how it hasn't been as quality that I'd like.
Jase: Then from your point if view, in that story-
Dedeker: For me, it's about you always criticizing me or you not appreciating me. I see, it's the fact that I hear your criticism and my response to it is to bring up a new issue, not intentionally being, I'm going to throw him off the trail, just being this feels relevant to this but actually it's an entirely different issue.
Emily: Yes. Instead of staying with his issue and trying to address that specifically, you're saying, "Well, you always do this to me and you're always nitpicking me or not being kind to me or being aversive this way."
Dedeker: I feel like I've done this a billion times.
Emily: Sure. I certainly have.
Dedeker: A billion times also in arguments, in relationships.
Emily: I absolutely feel like I have as well.
Jase: What's interesting about it is that unlike when I was asking before, is it changing the subject. Kind of, but the two people are both talking about a different thing back and forth to each other. It's not like someone
Emily: Exactly. Nothing ever gets resolved.
Jase: -brings up something else and now we're talking about that. It's like we're just, like you said, talking past each other.
Emily: Yes, One person's stays on one track the entire argument and the other person's stays on the other track and never the two shall meet.
Jase: They both feel like the other's is not admitting or not being there and having the conversation because, in the other person's mind, we're talking about something different.
Jase: Yes, I've definitely seen this a lot.
Emily: Yes, and a lot times neither person is willing to give way or really even address the fact that, "Hey, we're talking about two different things here." Honestly, they may not even see that in the moment.
Something the podcast talked about is the idea of hierarchy in a situation such as a boss and a subordinate relationship. The thing is a person who's the boss can talk about, "You're doing this wrong and this wrong and this wrong." Then the subordinate, even though they're sitting there being silent, they can be switchtracking in their mind and saying, "Well, you, the boss, everybody exactly hates you and that you're a micro-manager and blah, blah, blah." They may not even be hearing the criticism that the boss is giving them, and instead, switching to another thing altogether in their mind.
Jase: Like you're criticizing the source in your head rather than listening to the content of what's being said.
Emily: Correct, exactly. We could even do that in our own relationships. Say we're sitting there and being silent, but in our head we're being like, "You're being ridiculous. This is stupid."
Dedeker: Either you want to talk or like, "Why is he bringing this up now?"
Emily: Yes, exactly.
Jase: Yes, what's the motive behind this.
Dedeker: What's the motive, what's he trying to say.
Jase: Yes, totally.
Emily: Something that they also talked about is that it's often one way easier to hear a criticism or to even hear a suggestion from somebody who's not actually really involved with you like someone who's not even your best friend, just some stranger or especially someone who's not a loved one. They gave an example that some stranger told a man at his work, like, "Hey, maybe you should think about doing this." He came home and told his wife and his wife was like, "I've been telling you to do that thing for 10 years."
Emily: Yes, I think the thing is a highly insightful comment might be threatening to someone who we're in love with. If Dedeker you were even to say something to me, I may feel threatened by that just because I care about you and because I really care about your opinion, but some stranger, I might be like, "Oh, my god. They're the second coming. They know what I mean."
Dedeker: [laughs] One thing about that with-- I think that for me there are some things that are uncovered in therapy, that like partners have said to me, or maybe our parent has said to me, or a friend has said to me, but it's not until I'm in therapy that the therapist says and then I'm like, "Oh yes, now that makes total sense. I totally do that all that time."
Jase: Yes, that's super objective viewpoint.
Dedeker: Yes, depending on who the source is that you're more likely to be, I guess, doing that switchtracking in your mind. It gets you out of the mood actually being able to hear that feedback or that thought or that opinion.
Emily: Totally. This is something that they said, and I'm not entirely certain if I agree with it. They said the people who love us the most are also the ones who want to change us the most. I'd like to think that that's not necessarily the case, but if we are in these situations like this where we have a habit that happens over and over again, and then our partner is that one who's saying, "Hey, I don't want you to do that anymore", that is a behavior that they are in essence trying to change.
Jase: Yes, I think depending on the context. If you just say they are the ones who want to change us the most, it sounds bad. If you did think about it, like, "Emily, I keep seeing you do this thing that makes you unhappy and I want you to change more than a stranger does, because I care, because I'm invested." It's not like I want you to change who you are as a person, but more like I want you to change for the best for yourself.
Emily: No, I agree and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Jase: I can see it in that context, yes.
Emily: Yes, exactly. It's something to be aware of within that connotation in the context of the question we have.
Dedeker: I think it makes sense like when you're in a relationship. When you're with someone that you love, that's the person you're going to be most likely asking to change something, even if it's not changing who you are, but if it's like this behavior that you do really upsets me or this way that you communicate really doesn't work for me, and so can you change that? Can you try this? Can you do this differently? That's when we get into feedback, maybe critical feedback. That's when we get into the switchtracking loop, I suppose.
Jase: Yes, makes sense.
Dedeker: Is there any way to avoid this? Because I'm trying to think about it and I just can't even--
Emily: Yes. Well, there's a couple, they talk about mindfulness. When I look this up, Psychology Today had a great article. There's a man named Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is the creator of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. He operationally defines mindfulness as the awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally, which is really difficult to do in real life, but it's something to be aware of and should try to do.
Dedeker: It's not impossible.
Dedeker: I feel like if we talk about mindfulness, technically a lot on the show. It's definitely not impossible to do.
Emily: Again, it's something like through meditation you can just practice and become much better at obviously. In addition, it doesn't avoid emotions, but it just holds them in attentiveness. You can recognize your own emotion, but then not necessarily need to act upon it at all times.
It also talked about bias recognition. We have talked about cognitive biases on the show and just to be aware of them within this and to also know that your partner may have a cognitive bias as well and that might be affecting the things that they're saying to you. That might also be affecting the things that you're receiving or what you're saying to them.
Jase: It feels like this could be one of those things that even just knowing that this thing exists mixed with a little bit of mindfulness and awareness, might be enough to-- when you're in that conversation and you're frustrated with like, "Why are they not acknowledging what I'm saying to them," especially if you've been able to talk to them, talk about this with them before, I could see it being like, "Hey, I think we're doing that switchtracking thing. Let's talk about both. What's the thing you want to talk about? Cool, let's write that down and we'll get to that, but can we first talk about this other thing," or vice versa, right?
Emily: Yes, if you can compartmentalize each different thing that you're speaking about and talk about it in a logical manner, then I think that that would be best.
Dedeker: Jason and I, one time we did a mini emergency radar around one particular very emotionally charged issue that ended up being a number of smaller issues that I think we found the we had to be like, "Okay, let's actually have a mini radar. Let's make a little mini agenda like all the different pieces of this and just tackle them one by one." Then do the normal steps of action points and then appreciation at the end of things like that.
Emily: I also think what we've done with radar, again, like compartmentalizing like sex, health, just anything like family, all of those things that also makes-- Obviously, there can be many arguments within each of them, but I think that that leaves space for those specific things to talk about them in a safe environment.
Dedeker: Right, so that it's not like, "Well, I feel frustrated that you keep turning me down for sex. You never do the dishes."
Emily: Yes, it's like, "Okay, is this really about this?"
Dedeker: I think I see that a lot and I've definitely personally experienced this a lot when you have arguments where the past keeps coming into play as well. That feels like huge example of switchtracking, where everything is attached to everything else in the past. That's why it can come up and be really hard to stay focused on what the actual issue is in the present moment.
Emily: Yes, totally. Just the last thing I was going to say is, to try to focus on the positive motives of your partner. Come into every situation, and even if somebody feels like they're talking pass you with the idea that they are putting a positive spin on it, that they want the best for you and that they want the best for that situation and just to hold space and make your disagreement come to a place where you both can agree on something.
Even if in the moment it seems like they're talking past you or getting defensive, maybe take a second and look at that and then put your own arguments aside and then be like, "Okay fine, we'll talk about this for a moment."
Dedeker: Of course, easier said than done, but with practice. With practice, definitely possible.
I think also, especially if you can get your partner or partners looped in to this concept. Again, it's an awareness thing that it's something that you can and it'll be like, "You know what? I think we're switchtracking right now. Can we reset, or sit down and make a list of what other things that we need to hit here?" To be able to have stop button in the middle of an argument, when things are starting to get heated or cyclical or things like that.
Emily: Yes, that comes with mindfulness as well.
Dedeker: Yes, definitely.
Jase: Yes, but I think just to acknowledge like, "Hey, the fact that you brought up something different than what I was trying to talk about, means that's probably worth talking about too." It's not just like, "Hey, stop that, I'm--"
Jase: That's cool though. I think that's definitely a useful one.
Emily: Yes, definitely something to talk about.
Jase: I'm going to be on a lookout for this one.
Emily: I know, right?
Dedeker: Now I see the cross hatching, switchtracking.
Emily: Cross hatching. [laughs]
Dedeker: I mean trainspotting.
Jase: What do they call it? Switch backing?
Emily: Yes. [laughs] I'm like--
Emily: Yes, and then we said Nickelback and then we talked about Christian magazines. [laughs]
Dedeker:And then we said Nicleback and talked about Christian magazines.
Jase: It was a long tangent.
Dedeker: That was a wild ride. Anyways, speaking of tangents, let's go on a quick tangent to talk about the best place that people can support our show.
Jase: Yes, before we get on to our next two sharings, we want to talk to you about that. The first one is our Patreon. If you like what you get out of this show and you also want an opportunity to support it while joining a really amazing community, you can go to patreon.com/multiamory. There you can pledge a certain amount of money every month to keep us doing this show and able to do things like the tour that we're just finishing up, as well as some other events that we have planned for later in this year that we were also really excited about. That is 100% possible because of the contributions from our patrons. Really there's no other way that we could do that. We would love that so much.
If you contribute at the five-dollar a month level, you get access to our private, invite only Facebook group, which is an amazing place to get to talk about these things. There's a discussion group after every episode comes out, discussing what came up in that episode, as well as a place for you to share what's going on in your life, get advice or just share stories or share your successes. Also, at the seven-dollar level, we have
ad-free episodes that come out a day early on your own private feed and at the nine dollar month level we have a monthly video discussion group. It's really cool. Go check it out at patreon.com/multiamory.
Dedeker: Another way that you can support us is you can go to iTunes or Apple podcasts or whatever it's called these days and leave us a review.
Dedeker: It helps us show up higher in search results, it helps us know what are the episodes that you like, what's the kind of content that you like, it helps people who are looking for podcasts that are about alternative relationships to know what they're getting into, and what they're getting into is some good stuff.
The other thing is if you don't have time to sit down to write a review or if you don't feel like you're gifted in writing reviews, I don't know, you just go to iTunes and just hit like five stars and then be done and that's it. Just give us a good rating, that also helps us as well. Again, go to iTunes, might take you less than two minutes, leave us a rating or write out a review.
Emily: We all love brushing our teeth. I know I do.
Jase: It feels so good.
Emily: I do like three to four times a day.
Dedeker: I love it now. I love it now.
Emily: Oh good. That is because of this amazing thing called Quip. Quip is a wonderful kind of acoustic electric toothbrush.
Emily: That's what we like to call it.
Dedeker: It's pretty apt, actually.
Emily: Yes. It's an electric toothbrush but it's not like one of that crazy gigantic Sonicare things that--
Dedeker: It doesn't plug into the wall.
Emily: No, it just has a cute little battery and really stylish-- just the long handle and stuff and it's quite beautiful looking. I love my brush, the gold one that matches my computer.
Dedeker: It's about the size of your regular toothbrush. That's the ridiculous thing about it, is it's electric but it's really not that much bigger than a normal toothbrush. It is great especially for travel to just toss it in your bag and you're good to go.
Jase: Even if that's just travel to a partner's houses.
Emily: Totally, but we all used it on the tour and it's really, really portable. I take it to work a lot and it's amazing. When you use our promo code which is actually a promo link, tryquip.com/multiamory you'll get $10 off of your first refill. It's a refillable head essentially that comes every three months, so you'll just get a free one of those the first time that you order with our promo link. Then also you'll get a nice kick back to us which we really appreciate. Again, go to tryquip.com/multiamory and get your quip on today.
Jase: All right, so I'm next.
Dedeker: What you got for us?
Jase: I'm going to talk to you about bids.
Dedeker: Like bidding on cattle? [crosstalk]
Emily: One dollar, two dollar, three dollar--.
Dedeker: [makes garbled sound]
Jase: Yes, you think that--
Emily: No, not on cattle.
Jase: You'd make a great auctioneer.
Dedeker: They're auctioning them off to farm sanctuaries.
Jase: [laughs] Good. Good, yes.
Emily: Thank you.
Jase: Right, so bids. What I mean by that is a bid is any attempt from one partner to another for attention, affirmation, affection or any other positive connection. This is something that was discovered and codified by the Gottman Institute. We've talked about the Gottman Institute.
Emily: Quite a few times.
Jase: They are the ones who came up with the four horsemen of the apocalypse of our relationship, they're also the stuff we talked to you about in our episode on The Science of Happy Relationships, a lot of that was from the Gottman Institute. They've done some really interesting things. It's very--
Dedeker: They're relatively heteronormative.
Jase: Heteronormative and mononormative, so these just study specifically marriages with the assumption that the only good outcome is staying together and the bad outcome is not being together anymore. Given that, there's still a lot of really cool research that's come out of this.
This particular one came out of a study where they interviewed couples right around the time they had just gotten married. Then six years later they followed up with these couples. What they found is that the couples who stayed married after those six years, were still married after six years, they reacted positively to each other's bids around 86% of the time.
The couples that had divorced averaged only 33% of the time, so pretty huge difference in terms of how often. The term they use is turned toward each other rather than turn away. If someone comes in for some sort of affirmation, affection or attention do you acknowledge that, do you engage with that or do you turn away from that?
Dedeker: My question is, they codify bids as like particular interactions, right?
Dedeker: Like what?
Jase: Is that because you have a question? [chuckles] Okay. This can look at number of different ways. The basic example that they start with are verbal things are actually things you say, and there's also nonverbal ones. We'll talk about the verbal ones first.
Basically, the way they break it down is there is things that you can say to your partner, but then there's actually another meaning behind it. The first example that they give is how do I look? The actual subtext is, can I have your attention. It's not that I want to answer to a question but I want you to pay attention to me for a moment to get your opinion on something.
Dedeker: It's just like, look at me.
Emily: Not like tell me I look great.
Jase: That would probably be good too, but the subtext there is I want your attention. Or let's put the kids to bed, the subtext there is help me put the kids to bed. Right, like say I want your help with something.
This one's a little interesting, is starting off with something like I talked to my sister today, or I talked to my mom today. The subtext there is I want to have a conversation with you about that.
Dedeker: Like will you talk to me.
Jase: Right. Like will you chat with me about this-
Emily: About it, yes.
Jase: -because otherwise it's just like, "Cool." That's the difference-
Emily: And it was great.
Jase: -between the not turning toward your partner, not accepting the bid is to be like, "Cool, honey." I feel like we've all done that in some extent at some time where you're just kind of in your own zone and you're not acknowledging that.
Dedeker: I feel like it can get very subtle because it could be something like, "I really want to show you this YouTube video I saw today. Or there's a show on Netflix that if you really wanted to check out. That is actually like- it could be multiple, it could be like, can I have some of your time? Can we cuddle on the couch together? Can we laugh at this show together?
Jase: It's the time, and attention, and affection and all those things that are part of it that are the important part of this transaction. Maybe it's bad to call it that, but the important part of this bid--
Dedeker: Communication is transactional it is a back and forth.
Jase: A more subtle version of this would be something like I had a really terrible meeting with my boss today. The subtext there is like I want to process this with you.
Emily: Yes, I want to decompress.
Jase: Right, and--
Dedeker: I want some kind of triforce around this.
Jase: Exactly. In their example here they say the subtext is will you help me distress. I'm like, "Well, knowing the triforce a little better, yes, maybe", but let's be clear about how they want you to help them do that. In either case it's acknowledging that and going for that.
I think something that we were talking about too is how can you do this in a way even if you can't say yes to that bid right then. Say you're right in the middle of something and it's like, "Oh my gosh, have I shown this YouTube video, or did you see this meme?" It's that question of whenever possible, can you say yes to that? Can you be like, "Okay, sure. I'll take a moment to look at that."
If you can't, at least do what you can to turn toward that bid and acknowledge it and be like, "Oh, that sounds amazing. Can I watch it in 20 minutes once I'm done with this?" The difference between that and, "Honey, stop bugging me. I'm busy."
Emily: That's very big.
Jase: Pretty huge.
Dedeker: I have to say as soon as I learned about this whole bids thing it really changed the way that I looked at these kind of interactions with my partners. I saw them as much more significant than I ever did before. Realizing when I say to someone, "No, I'm not interested in that", or "no, that's not my type of show I'm never going to watch that", or whatever, actually realizing that impact of that being--
Emily: It's not necessarily about the thing.
Dedeker: Right. Exactly, about being about the thing of it being about-
Emily: Yes, care about me in this moment.
Dedeker: Yes, about turning toward my partner instead of away. Again, it doesn't mean that I have to watch every single Netflix show that my partner recommends.
Emily: Yes, you do.
Dedeker: It is about finding a way that's not just shut down.
Emily: With bigger things too like sex, for instance. That can be like a cumulative effect if you constantly say no, no, no, no, no. That's the way.
Jase: That's the other thing I wanted to get to, is here's the other side of it, is being a better bid offerer.
Emily: Bid better.
Dedeker: Who's a better bidder?
Jase: Right, because with things like sex or any of these examples, something that seems very small and simple like how do I look, I just want your attention I want you to acknowledge me for a moment, that's seems pretty reasonable that you could take a moment to say yes to that and give that. However, with something like sex or doing a specific chore at a certain time, or going out to do something. That can be a little harder because maybe you don't have time. Maybe you just really don't want to. That it can become a little bit trickier.
What I think they don't address as much in this, but I think is incredibly important, and this is something that we've all talked about a little bit earlier, is this idea of these couples where they see them accepting each other's bids much more often. I think that part of that is because they're better at knowing when to make the bids.
Dedeker: When to make the bid also, interesting.
Emily: That's a really good point, yes.
Jase: I think sex is a good example of that, where it's getting out of your own head of just, "I want this thing right now. I'm in the mood for this thing right now", to combining that with, "What am I seeing how my partner's feeling? How do I know from interacting with them before, when they're more or less likely to be interested in this? Have they even told me specifically? Like, "I don't like doing that in the morning.""
It goes back to the mindfulness thing. Can you take a little step outside of just your own thoughts and your own desires to go, "Is this something that I think they'd be receptive to right now?" Then approaching it then, or being like, "Okay. I'll wait and maybe talk about that more, later." Obviously this is something, like with sex, hopefully you're having those conversations in your relationship radars, and can get better with that. I think that's a good example.
Dedeker: We had a big discussion about this before this episode, about how do you say no to a bid still in a way that's turning toward your partner. I think for me when it comes to something like sex, if I have a partner who pitches sex, or tosses-- If you don't know what it is. Is it offering a bid? Is it giving a bid? Places a bid?
Jase: We should figure out the terminology.
Emily: Place a bid.
Dedeker: Places a bid on sex.
Jase: I'll wager $5 on the sex.
Dedeker: If I don't want to have sex at the moment, of finding out what's the way of making sure that the message is still, "I think you're sexy. I do enjoy having sex with you. Just not right now."
Jase: There's a big difference between just outright saying, "No", or saying, "I am interested in something with you. Maybe not necessarily that, but let's, perhaps, have an intimate moment. Whether that just be being affectionate towards each other like words of affirmation, or laying in bed naked and together being kissy kissy."
Dedeker: Right. So it's like-- I know I've definitely, as far as the sex one goes I've definitely been really bad at rejecting the bid of being really rude, or being really impatient, or just pushing their hands off my body. Feeling, ugh. Definitely more destructive rejecting of bids, versus being able to be like, "Oh I do really like when you touch me that way, but can we do something different?" Or, "I'm not feeling great, could we do this at such and such time instead?"
Jase: Yes. I think that example you gave is really interesting. I've definitely had times where I'm working on something, and a partner would come up behind me and put their hands on their shoulder, and maybe kiss my ear or something. When I'm really focused on something, to me that's like a, "Ugh. God. Get off of me. Stop touching me because it's distracting."
Dedeker: Because you're in the zone.
Jase: Yes, because I'm in the zone. I did have a realization with that one a few years ago where I noticed that I was doing that and being like, "Why am I reacting this way to something that normally I would like?" Getting to that place of being able to combine-- taking myself out of where I'm focused for a moment, just long enough to appreciate that and be like, "Hey", and give a little bit of that affection back, and be like, "I'm really focused on this though right now so please let me stick to this. We're going to have dinner in an hour, let's talk then and see how we feel afterward." Rather than being like, "Well. Okay do you want to make out for a little bit, instead, right now?" That just doesn't seem reasonable to me as an alternative.
Dedeker: I guess it depends on the context.
Jase: That's the example that comes up that I know has happened in my life. Your example of just pushing them away, versus, "Aww, that's really sweet. I like that but I'm working on something else right now." That's hugely different.
Emily: Yes. Again, having mindfulness over the situation, on both ends, I think is really important.
Dedeker: I will say it's definitely made me a lot more likely to watch people's YouTube videos.
Dedeker: I think once I realized that it was like, "Oh. This isn't about the video. This is about having this miniscule moment of connection, and that's whatever, even if I'm not"-
Emily: That's why you guys watch all the YouTube videos I send you. All the figure skating videos.
Dedeker: Exactly. Even if I'm not interested in the subject, or maybe this isn't my favorite thing to watch. It's more valuable to be like, "Okay. I've chose to connect with you for this two minutes of this video." Rather than, I'm really not that busy of a person that I can't take two minutes just to have this micro moment of connection with you.
Jase: That's interesting, though. I was trying to come up with an example of a different situation that's not sex, that involves turning down a bid, and how you can do that while still giving that interaction, and making it a positive one. I think that YouTube one is a good one because Emily sends us a lot of figure skating YouTube videos.
Dedeker: They are great. [crosstalk]
Jase: And other things. Sometimes-
Dedeker: They are wonderful.
Jase: -they are cute animals. Both of you guys send a lot of cute animal videos to our group thread. A lot of times when I'm at work I'm like, "No, I really can't take two minutes to do this, or I don't feel like that would be appropriate right now for me at work." With this idea of bids I have tried to at least acknowledge the fact that you posted it, rather than just let it sit there in silence.
Emily: I appreciate that.
Jase: I'd be like, "Oh wow that looks really cute I'm excited to check that out later."
Emily: Aw. I like that.
Jase: I feel like you guys have probably seen me respond with something along those lines. That's kind of that meeting in the middle. The other example I came up with here was, person number one says, "Do you want to go--"
Dedeker: You didn't write a script for us, did you?
Jase: I did. It's right here if you want to-
Emily: Wait, where?
Jase: No, I didn't write a script for you. Person number one says, "Do you want to go clothes shopping with me today?" Now you are person number two and you really don't want to do that. You have other stuff you want to do today. Maybe it's not even that you can't, you just really don't want to. You could either be like, "I really don't want to do that." Or like, "I'm busy." Not only is that saying no, but it's also not engaging with the person, with the subtext of what they're trying to say.
An alternative would be to say, "That's cool. Did you have something that you want to get?" Have a little bit of conversation where you can say, "I can't go today", or like, "I really don't feel like going, but that's really cool that you want to get something. I'm excited to see what you get." Giving them at least-
Dedeker: It's still kind of like I'm giving you my attention, I'm still seeing you, I'm still engaged.
Jase: Right. Even if I'm not able to do the thing that you want.
Jase: At least not just being like, "No. Stop bugging me about going clothes shopping." Instead seeing, they want me to go clothes shopping because they want to connect with me, they want to talk about these things with me. Trying to find a way to give some of that.
Emily: Now I'm never going to send you all YouTube videos again.
Jase: No. I love them, I do watch them later.
Dedeker: No. You should, they're great.
Jase: I do watch them later.
Dedeker: They're great. I watch them later too. Actually, I usually watch them in the moment.
Emily: Yes. You do. You're better than him.
Dedeker: Especially if it's a cute animal video.
Jase: I'm more likely to watch the figure skating ones than the cute animals, actually.
Emily: Interesting. I'm surprised.
Emily: Maybe I should send them to your private thread.
Emily: All right. It's Dedeker's turn.
Dedeker: Okay, now it's my turn. This is something that I came up with a name for it. I don't know if there's an official name.
Emily: No. We-
Jase: We collectively came up with it.
Dedeker: We came up with it. We collaborated when we came up with a name for it.
Emily: It's okay. Dedeker is the alpha.
Dedeker: [laughs] Oh my God. The recurring in-joke of Multiamory. We collaboratively came up with a name for this. I don't know if there's a set name for this phenomenon, or not. If you, listener, have heard of something like this please send us an email and let us know. We decided to call this micro script. This goes in line with some of the other communication hacks that we've come up with previously. Like radar, like the triforce of communication, like movies. Which, by the way, if you haven't listened to those episodes go back and listen to them so you can understand all of our references that we make.
Jase: Do it now.
Dedeker: It'll change your life I promise. I definitely have a huge thing about ritual. I don't mean like pagan rituals, though those are fine. I have a thing about incorporating ritual into communication. Which is like the hack, or the tools that we develop. Which is finding a codified way to communicate that can transcend your absurd emotions.
Dedeker: Essentially. That's why we came up with radar, and with the triforce, and all these things is the idea that we know that communication can get messy. When emotions get involved it can get even messier. Figuring out a formula, something that you and your partner can follow together to find a way--
Emily: To make you a Vulcan.
Dedeker: To make you a Vulcan, which is always my ultimate goal for everyone on this planet.
Jase: Oh my God, stop. No. Seriously though, it's something to lean on when things get difficult.
Dedeker: Exactly. Something to lean on when things are starting to get heated, or difficult, or things like that. This micro script thing, I think the triforce counts as this as well, it's kind of like this. Almost like a code phrase.
Emily: One, two, three.
Dedeker: Exactly. It's a code phrase essentially that sums up a lot of meaning in a very short phrase. I think micro scripts are very helpful if you are finding that you and your partner get into a lot of repetitive communication breakdowns.
Kind of like the switchtracking thing, or repetitive argument, or a repetitive script in general of like a particular argument always plays out the same way that you bring up this and then your partner brings up this. Then inevitably you bring up this. Then it goes to this point. You're starting to have the same argument over and over, or the same little fights cropping up about the same things over and over.
It does take some self-awareness to recognize your patterns, to be able to sit down with your partner and be able to recognize I notice that we keep arguing about chores for instance or we keep arguing about who is going to make dinner or whatever. Those are relatively small things.
It does take the willingness to actually sit down and figure those things out or radar or some regularly established check-in is great for this, of being able to sit down and actually take inventory of these are the things that we fought about in the past month. This is something that keeps coming up in our conversations and how can we resolve this.
I think the most important part, and we did talk about this in our Conflict Crash Course episode, is that it requires changing the mentality around particular points of conflict so that it's an us versus the problem dynamic, as opposed to you versus me. Does that makes sense to you all?
Jase: It does. I feel like I'm going to be the audience member right now who's going, "Cool, all this stuff sounds great but what the fuck are micro scripts?" Please tell me what this actually is.
Dedeker: I think that it's easier to explain with examples. For instance, I'm going to use the example of my sister in her marriage. My sister and her husband have been together for like 200 years it feels like.
Emily: The have some chitlens.
Dedeker: I have to say they are actually are honestly one of the few examples in my personal life of people who've been married for a long time that I actually really admire.
Emily: Oh, lovely.
Dedeker: I've seen them through thick and thin through arguments and times and things feel good and I actually really admire them. What she shared with me is they were finding that they kept getting into a lot of fights about nothing just because they were crabbing at each other. An example would be like maybe she'd be like, "Hey, can you go outside and bring the trash cans back in?" He would get up from the couch and be like, "Ugh, fine."
Then she would see his negative reaction and be like, "Well, why are you all cranky?" Then he'll go, "I'm not cranky, I just don't want to do this." Then it just gets into this back and forth and them just like crabbing at each other because they're both tired and cranky. It turns into a fight about nothing, a totally unnecessary fight not a fight that's having productive communication, just them crabbing at each other.
I've definitely experienced that many times in my relationship also. They sat down and realized this was a problem. They realize it was a pattern. They decided like okay we got to figure out a way to have a different script essentially for this fight or this argument.
What they do now is they decided if one of them asks the other for a favor, which is a bid to a certain extent, one of them asking for help then the other person even if they're in the middle of something or even if they're annoyed, even if they don't want to go out and get the trash cans, instead of it being this like, "Ugh, okay fine", the other one just says, "Ready." Then goes and does the thing.
The way this looks in their house is that my sister will be like, "Hey, can you help me with something really quick?" He'll be like, "Ready." That's it. Then she'll be like, "Will you go do this thing?" He'll be like, "Okay."
Jase: That's good.
Dedeker: That's it. Then for some reason in their household their children are in Spanish immersion school so it got changed to saying listo instead.
Emily: Now it's listo.
Dedeker: Now, it's just "Listo." I know Jase and I have tried to incorporate this a little bit.
It's the kind of thing where it's like you showing up with your sighing and your crappy energy it just really doesn't help, and so it just gives you a script to follow.
Jase: It's an interesting one too because I could see the criticism being, "Well come on, how fake can you be?" It's like, well, yes.
Emily: Fake it till you make it.
Jase: But you both acknowledge that it's fake. I think that's the thing. It's not some script where you're trying to fool the other person that you are excited to take the trash in.
Dedeker: Yes, you're not trying to put on an Oscar winning performance that you are super excited to do this task.
Jase: By doing it, by doing the micro script, you're acknowledging like, yes I'm ready to help you. We both know I probably don't want to do this thing.
Emily: But I'm going to, goddamnit.
Jase: I'm going to and I know it's not your fault that we have to take the trash in.
Dedeker: Exactly. It's not your fault that we have to adult.
Jase: It's not your fault we have to vacuum or whatever, right?
Emily: Totally. What's another one?
Dedeker: One that Jase came up with, this is like a little bit different is-- I think this came up actually in our radar was when we came up with this particular micro script is that we found like one of us would complement the other. Maybe I'd say to Jase, "I can't really come up with anything." [laughing]
Emily: You have very nice teeth.
Dedeker: The haircut you got looks really good. You look really handsome today. Jase's response would be like, "No, I'm not."
Dedeker: I was guilty the same thing where like Jase would be like, "You look really nice today." I'd be like, "I don't feel nice. I don't feel sexy. I don't feel attractive." Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh. Then sometimes I--
Emily: That makes the other person be like, "Okay."
Dedeker: Sometimes we would end there. Sometimes it would end in this back and forth of like one person be like, "Oh, no I'm not attractive." The other person would be like, "No, You are." The other person be like, "No, I'm not." That's just not a fun conversation to be in really. We finally we made up a micro script to follow of, if one of us gives a compliment and the other person's not feeling it not feeling like they can take the compliment, instead of being like, "No, I'm not." They just say, "Why, thank you."
Emily: That's good.
Jase: Sometimes it's like, "No-- I mean, why, thank you."
Jase: At least it's, like I said, it's not like you're trying to fool anyone but you're acknowledging I should accept this compliment rather than just trying to tell you why you're wrong.
Dedeker: Right. You can think of these also as code words. I really love encouraging my clients to come up with some ritual and attach it to a code word which is very much like the triforce where it's like, triforce number two. Okay, I know what that code word means. I know it means that you need like a hug and support and encouragement and things like that. Jase, wanna do this one?
Jase: I was just going to-- No, I was just going to say that even something like cross hatching-- Wait, switchbacking.
Jase: Switchtracking. Switchtracking, even something like that like having a label for a thing is kind of another example of a code word. It's not quite a micro script like we're talking about but it is a code word to be like because you and I have already talked about what this phenomenon is. We can just--
Emily: We're Nickelbacking right now.
Emily: Totally gonna, use that.Holly shit.
Dedeker: If you're saying Nickelbacking helps you to laugh a little bit in the argument, use it. Use it to break that tension and get you all out of it.
Jase: Damn it, I really really badly wanted to make a joke by singing a Nickelback song and I realized I don't know any Nickelback songs. I probably do but I don't realize. [crosstalk]
Dedeker: Thank goodness, no. You don't need to explain that right now.
Emily: No, just don't.
Jase: I probably do but I don't realize what they are.
Dedeker: You don't need to explore that right now. Can I go to my last two micro scripts.
Another one that we came up with was, there will be times-- Again, this is another thing that came up in the radar when we were willing to sit down and examine our communication patterns. When I found that Jase would have like some new idea for something to do with Multiamory or something to do at work and he would start processing it out loud because he's also a spewer.
Would be like, "Oh gosh, but I don't know how I'm going to do this. I'm really not sure how I'm going to do this. Maybe I could do it this way but then I'm not entirely sure. Like maybe I could do this."
Jase: It's like, "Yes, I know this."
Emily: Well, I do this too. Not exactly like you do.
Jase: We have different styles of spewing.
Dedeker: I think Emily does it too.
Emily: I do, yes. I do it about like, "This is going on in my life right now and I got to talk about it."
Dedeker: Exactly. Anyway I would--
Emily: You get all the blowback from both of us. [laughs] Sorry.
Dedeker: I, the cheerer, the internal processor, sees that and I start getting immediately stressed out of like, "Oh gosh, he's really stressed out. He's freaking out. I need to help him somehow. What do I need to do? Oh my God." I go into full on panic, like what do we need to do to help you? Do I need to answer all these? Do I need to give you all this advice? I don't know what to do.
Jase: Then when we talked about it, what I explained was from my point of view, that's not me freaking out and being overwhelmed by all these problems. It's more just like I'm excited about something so I'm thinking about it a lot. For me it's like a fun excitement and not like, "Oh my God, I'm so stressed." Whereas to her it seemed like I was in oh my God I'm so stressed mode.
That was the recurring pattern. What we came up with is that I explained it to her as I was like, "No, I'm just excited like a puppy dog gets really excited about something." It kind of works itself up over this thing that it's very excited about and that's not because the dog is stressed out, it's because it's excited about something. Our code word for that was, she's like, "Are you stressed about this or whatever? Or are you just excited? I can just be like, "Woof, woof."
Dedeker: As soon as it comes up in conversation where it's like you're talking about something and if I'm starting to be like, "Well I don't know what you're going to do, yada, yada, yada." That you'll be like, "No, no, no baby. Woof, woof."
Dedeker: Then I'm like, "Okay, you're just a puppy, that's okay."
This last one, this comes from a blog post that was posted a little while ago in the Multiamory Patreon group that was called The Honesty Exchange and was specifically, I think, aimed at people who are polyamorous, trying to figure out communication, trying to figure out honest disclosure.
It was about ways to graciously give honesty to your partner and also ways to graciously receive honesty from your partner so that it's just easier and safer to be honest in the relationship in general because that's such a major problem with communication that I think we all struggle with it to a certain extent of wanting to be honest but also fearing hurting someone or fearing somebody's reaction.
That makes it really hard. At best it just means that it's an uncomfortable conversation, at worst it means that we're hiding things or not being honest because we're afraid of a reaction.
Jase: No, it's similar to the bid thing.
Dedeker: Yes, definitely.
Jase: If you set up an expectation that your bids all get turned down or that you're always having to turn down bids because their timing is bad at asking them, that's going to negatively impact your relationship. The same thing if any time I make myself vulnerable to be honest with you I get a bad reaction, that's going to make me less inclined to be honest with you or it's just going to be harder to do.
Dedeker: In this blog post The Honesty Exchange they came up with a micro script. They didn't call it that, but it is what it is.
Jase: That's our trademark.
Dedeker: TM, TM, TM, TM. [laughs]
That is what it is. It's basically like if your partner tells you something, maybe they come home from a date, and they reveal we went to this restaurant and then afterwards we went back to their place and we had sex for the first time. Maybe that's totally within the bounds of your relationship but maybe it's still uncomfortable to hear. We've all been there. Instead of that being the moment where you have your big reaction or you process it right then, all the things that are coming up, the script that you follow is just thank you for your honesty. Start there.
Maybe it's thank you for your honesty, let's sit down and just cuddle and watch Netflix and that's fine, or maybe it's thank you for your honesty. I'm going to go take a walk around the block and then come back and then maybe we can talk about the way I'm feeling. Or thank you for honesty I'm going to go take a shower and be in the bathroom by myself for half an hour and then you'll see me after that.
The idea of starting from that point, just that little script of thank you for your honesty, so that your first reaction to honesty isn't a punishment on your partner. Even if you don't intend for it to be a punishment on your partner, you can still be perceived that way. [crosstalk]
Jase: Make you feel that way.
Emily: Yes. I like that because it's not completely stepping away from the situation right then either, it's giving some feedback and then perhaps taking a moment for yourself.
Dedeker: Yes. That script can either be-- Maybe that's just something you decide for yourself that you're going to use, like when you're feeling something but you don't want to dump all over your partner right in that moment, or something that you and your partner can talk about so that your partner knows when you say, thank you for your honesty. The partner knows okay, I know you need a little time to go on process but I know that things are okay but that you just need a little time for emotions to settle. That's another way that it can be used as well.
Jase: I feel like another example of something very similar to that that I found myself starting to do that has been really helpful is, in times when I'm receiving criticism, whether it's from one of the two of you all the time.
Dedeker: [laughs] Oh jeez.
Jase: Whoops. [laughs] Or even if it's at work in a professional context of depending on how I'm feeling at that moment, how my self-esteem is at that moment, how I feel about the thing that you're saying. My reaction could be that's a great point, or what the fuck are you talking about? It's fine. Who are you to tell me this? Why would you tell me this right now?
All those things we've talked about before is doing a similar thing of having a micro script for myself of thank you for letting me know or thank you for telling me that, sometimes often followed up with I need to think about that for a little while. It's like--
Emily: A lot, yes.
Jase: -to me, gives me this sort of-- I'm acknowledging and I'm appreciating the fact that you were honest with me. It's similar where it's like that might not have been easy for you to say, I'm acknowledging that. By saying I need some time to think about that or I'll think about that saying I acknowledge it, I'm taking it seriously doesn't necessarily mean I'm saying you're right or you're wrong but just I'm going to think about it I will take it seriously.
It also carries with it the like but I don't want to talk about it right now or may I need a moment before we do-
Dedeker: We're all theater kids. Do you know TTMFN?
Emily: Talk to you later for now?
Dedeker: Talk to you later for now.
Jase: I always heard it as TTFN.
Dedeker: We always do TTMFN, which is take the motherfucking note.
Jase: I thought it was TTFN: take the fucking note.
Dedeker: I don't know if this is necessarily a good example that applies to romantic relationships but it's a good example of micro script. The idea was that you do rehearsal and then after you do rehearsal you get notes on your scene or on your performance or whatever where the director is like-- It could be anything of, I don't think that you're projecting enough in the scene, or it can be you messed up the blocking in this scene, or it could be we need to try a different emotional angle on the scene, any number of things.
The idea is that when you get notes you write it down and you just say thank you, thank you, thank you. You don't sit there and you argue it, you don't sit there and defend yourself. If you really feel a note is in the wrong, you go to the director privately afterwards instead of wasting everybody's time and talking about it. I think actually-
Emily: In the moment just take it-
Dedeker: -that applies to, I think, Jase what you're talking about with the work situation with getting feedback, that you can still just be like thank you and then have some time to think about it. If you really feel the feedback is not warranted or there's nothing you can get from it then you can bring it up later or have that conversation in a different space instead of getting defensive in that moment.
Jase: This is fun guys.
Dedeker: Yes, this is great I wish I could keep on going. I love stuff like this.
Emily: No, we learn something different from each of us and hopefully you all out there learn something too.
Jase: Yes cool. Thank you so much, and thank you to everyone who came to our live shows all over the country. We still have our LA show coming up on-
Dedeker: May 9th. [crosstalk]
Jase: -May 9th-
Emily: May 9th.
Jase: -so we hope to see you there. That's going to be a really exciting show too, so get your tickets now if you haven't already. Nice big venue downtown LA at a brewery, super excited about it.
Emily: Oh yes, it's going to be freaking awesome. If you'd like to have your question or comment played on the show you can call 678 M-U-L-T-I 05 [singing].
Jase: M-U-L-T-I 05.