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Removing the seeds of antagonism early on: an example

Setting Up Collaborative Relationship

This is an example of setting up collaborative relationship by removing the early seeds of antagonism and one-upping.

In this example, I turned what was a frame of one-upping into an opportunity for framing the relationship as a collaborative one.

The Pillow Talk Frame Control

After sex, I ask women what position/phase they liked the best (both for general learning and for learning about them specifically).

Well, this is how it went recently:

Her: I like XYZ, and what about you?
Me: Well, frankly, I liked them all
Her: (deflated) Oh see, it's always better to answer second

I already knew where she was going with this.

She was interpreting and framing the interaction from a win-win honest conversation about sex and intimacy, into a one-upping contest where I had "won" and she had "lost".

But before addressing it properly, I had to surface the issue:

Me: What do you mean by that

So I keep going and helping her answer until we finally get to the bottom line: she felt my answer was "better".
My answer, she felt, made me come across as "better" and that, in turn, made her look bad (such as: I had one-upped her, and she had lost).

This is scarcity mindset applied to a relationship: if one partner does well, that devalues the other.
It can give rise to:

  • Lying (and loss of honesty): if you feel like you're in a race, you will not give honest answers, but answers that sound good. That's kinda of expected in dating, but it's better to minimize in relationships
  • One-upping: if you feel like you're in a race, you will seek to exploit your partner's mistakes, or seek to "win" against them
  • Defensiveness: if you feel like you're in a race, you will be on the defensive, looking for anything can make you look bad, and being overly reactive to any feedback or criticism (thin-skin)

Overall, it just makes for a poor, value-subtracting relationship.

So after I surfaced the issue, I delivered my micro speech of "there is no contest here between you and I, we're a team".
This was not the only reason why today we're enjoying a highly collaborative, supportive, and value-adding relationship, but it was a big step in that direction.


Matthew Whitewood, John Freeman and 3 other users have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodJohn FreemanStefOliTransitioned
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Removing seeds of antagonism V.2: Avoiding "my culture VS your culture"

Same girl, second reframing.

Some days ago we were picnicking at a beautiful parc, with wine and takeaway salads.

I had almost finished my salad, and it was getting difficult to pick up leaves and condiments with the chopsticks. So I nonchalantly commended that "this is the time when you miss a fork".

She picked up the salad, used her own chopsticks, and as she collected the last leaves and condiment to feed me, said "you don't need a fork, and I'll prove it to you".

Very service-oriented and value-adding of her.
BUT... There are even better ways to support a partner. Indeed, you can notice again the seeds of antagonism in there.

The fork is a handier tool to gather and collect small bits of food, and there was no one-upping meant whatsoever.
But she had entered into a frame of "cultural battle" where fork=West=me, and chopsticks=Asia/Korea=her. And she had to "prove to me" that her culture -and she- were not inferior.

I suppose that certain men would be very happy with the woman "proving herself to them".
I get it: it can be a form of ego boost and it increases his power.
But it increases his power against hers.
That's a form of value-taking leadership. This is not pre-sex dating anymore, the sex is already a given, this is more "relationship phase", so you truly have no need to keep playing that type of game.

Value-adding folks and more internally confident men do not want or need a woman to "prove herself to him". They want a collaborative partner who's equally confident in herself, as well as confident and "bought-in" in the collaborative and value-adding nature of the relationship.

So you can guess how I answered to that.

How to handle it

I went meta:

  1. explained the type of defensive mindset she was in
  2. linked it to the previous "your answer was better" instance
  3. explained how the two were connected
  4. explained why it was a poor way of relating to each other, since we're not in a race
  5. made fun of this idea of "cultural confrontation", with the fork/chopsticks supposedly representing us
  6. then introduced the collaborative frame, both a cultural level and, most of all, at our individual level

She agreed she had fallen in that competitive frame, and that my approach was better. Then, we cemented the new frame with a cheer, and moved on.


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KellvoMatthew WhitewoodStefTransitionedselffriendMaya88Jack Les
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I agree almost 100% with this helpful thread. Just want to share some delayed short comment (opinion) on the second interaction. I don't have the full information on the second interaction so I can only comment it as a stand-along, objective, verbal only interaction rather than a personal one:

Boy: We miss the folk (implying chopstick is less useful, in a non-chalant tone)

Girl: No, chopstick can do it.

There are three interpretations of this interaction:

  1. Lucio's POV: the boy's line was not one-upping. The girl was defensively one-upping.

Well, I think the first part is the fact. It is possible that from the girl's perspective, everything was like the second POV:

2. The Korean girl's possible POV beliefs: the boy's line was one-upping. The girl was one-upping back.

3. An alternative POV is a bit different: both parties were having joy and fun. The boy was giving a simple comment without pressuring. The girl was value-giving by demonstrating a new piece of knowledge for him.

Well, it is possible the girl first hold the frame of third "alternative POV", then the boy reframes her frame to the second POV through:

Explained the type of defensive mindset she was in

And finally reframe and impose the collaborative frame (which is good).

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