Jonathan and I have been asked by at least two different journalists how or if Soylent has impacted our relationship to each other. It’s an interesting question, albeit a loaded one. The short answer is yes, but not to the extent I’d expect it to impact others’. Our relationship is very unusual, we’ve found!
For example, Soylent has reduced the time we used to spend shopping for, preparing, and eating regular food. For us, that’s fantastic! It makes us happy and if we’re happy, we’re happy! We also are in better health overall, have more energy, and travel is easier (don’t have to forage for food on the road or in flight).
But some families really enjoy or at least someone in the family enjoys and wants to maintain food as the basis of domestic togetherness. If there is a chef in the relationship who will now feel less necessary, that could be problematic. (Whether they actually are necessary or not is irrelevant; it’s about how they feel.) It could also spark stupid arguments about how it could break up the family, when it’s not the Soylent that’s the problem; it’s the arguing that’s a problem! Similarly, if one partner is against processed food or sees Soylent as a fad and the other is willing and even eager about it, that could also end badly. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it could split some couples.
Our partnership isn’t like that and never has been. We’ve heard stories and observed how other relationships are and ours is rather in a class by itself. In our home you will never hear:
“You can’t say you don’t like it until after you’ve tried it.” (Wrong!)
“We have to eat the same things at the same time if we’re a couple.” (Please!)
“You better have dinner on the table when I get home.” (We’re already home, and we don’t demand that either cooks for the other.)
“You don’t need [fill in the blank with whatever kitchen gadget or serve ware you like] anymore if you’re not cooking.” (We need whatever we please; we don’t have to use it every day or even sometimes. So put away your sledgehammer; the stovetop stays.)
“You have to eat your salad as a good example for other people.” (Neither of us has to eat any specific thing. We don’t care about setting an example for anybody. If someone skips salad on account of seeing us not eat it, that’s their prerogative.)
“If I have to cook, then you have to do the dishes. I did them last time.” (Neither of us ever has to cook. And we don’t have a formal division of domestic labor. The dishes get done.)
“We’re going out to dinner with ________ so you have to eat ________ to not offend them.” (We don’t have to. We don’t care. We have the options to decline, to go but order what we want, or to order nothing.)
“Oh, you’re a challenge.” (Actually we’re not. We’re the opposite of a challenge: very straightforward, take it or leave it. If we leave it, nothing will get us to eat it, so any bickering is DOA.)
“What am I going to DO with you?” (If anyone is so exasperated by their partner’s not partaking of certain food that they could be so insulting, how could they even stand each other?)
“I have to work on you so you’ll learn to eat ________.” (We’re partners; not each other’s project. We don’t have to learn to eat anything. Either we like to eat it or we don’t.)
“If you don’t eat _______ it will hurt [fill in with mother’s, brother’s, friend’s names) feelings.” (We don’t care. People close to us know that we don’t eat anything out of obligation. If they want to be close to us, and they’re fortunate enough to be in our home, they’ll learn it soon enough.)
I was raised in a home wherein my mom cooked two separate meals most nights: one for my dad, one for herself and us three kids. She never complained; it was never weird. We never had to eat anything we didn’t want. Never had to try something to prove we didn’t like it (what if that condition were applied to sex? what you put in your mouth is totally personal, and has consequences). Even as young kids, we ordered whatever we wanted at restaurants. To me, the idea that two adults in a love relationship would bicker over food preferences is stupid.
We’re also not in the situation of having in laws come over for holidays, or going to regularly recurring events that focus on food wherein anyone is noticing or caring what we eat. Between the two of us, Soylent is a wonderful thing. Our biggest joy of togetherness is seeing the other’s face light up with happiness, and Soylent provides that.
We can see where the decision to make Soylent a temporary or permanent addition to one’s diet could cause domestic strife or even tension between dating couples who don’t live together. In such cases, I think it very well could put the brakes on courting and even tip the scales in favor of divorce. Couples have split over much less.
One woman’s husband threatened to sue her for divorce because the fridge didn’t have Orange Crush in it when he got home from work (he didn’t, but she got the silent treatment for several days). An instructor I had boasted that she threw her husband out after learning he had eaten steak (she had an anti-red meat policy), a long time favorite of his since before they met. Steak is old school; Soylent is the new kid on the block. Imagine the uproar that could cause in a household wherein everyone’s supposed to eat the same thing and now someone wants to include Soylent.
So you have the long answer to your question. It has impacted us in a wonderful way, because we’re us. Kids, if you’re going to try this at home, realize your outcome may be different because people are different! Tread carefully!