The Quest for Compersion

I get jealous.

ALL the time.

I get jealous of my exes when I see them with new partners.

I get jealous when I hear about my partners being with their other partners (OP) with whom I have given completely consensual non-monogamous blessing.

I get jealous when I see my partners and their other partners being sexual.  Even if I’m there.  And fucking both of them.  At the same time.

It’s easy to get upset by the idea of your partner being with someone else, under ANY circumstances.

I always encourage people to work around being upset.  But some say there is a way to circumvent those feelings entirely.  Hell, to turn them into positive feelings:

Compersion.

PolyOz defines it as The positive feelings one gets when a lover is enjoying another relationship. Sometimes called the opposite or flip side of jealousy.

This word is not in Webster’s Dictionary, though it is in The Urban Dictionary, and there’s a Wikipedia article if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

Yes, the word was created by a now-inactive religious commune in California that idolized that girl who wrote the song “I Love Rock’n’roll“.  But questionable origins aside, the idea has some very practical use amongst us secular polyamorists.

As a guy, naturally, I have bros.  My bros and I are steeped deeply in the rich, decadent waters of the brocean.  One of the many ideals I hold dear for my bros is the active assistance I put into their harvest of booty.  Sure, I hope they do the same for me.  But it makes me feel good to see my bros building a good relationship with somebody, and I want to help with that in any way I can.

I feel good when my bros hook up, but not my partners.  Why can’t I feel the same way when my romantic partners hook up with others?

I can tolerate them having other partners, sure.  I expect the same from them, I better be able to.

The reason why I can only tolerate it civilly, not celebrate it, is one of which I am not particularly proud.  I don’t think I can comperse because of fear.

I want my bros to hook up, I am more than happy to help them do it.  Part of the reason I like it is because I feel less fear of their new partner if I helped arrange it.  When my mates start dating someone I don’t know, I already begin accusing them of all the awful things that sometimes happen when people start dating someone new:

  • They won’t have time for me because of the huge commitment of starting a relationship.
  • They will find me boring compared to the exciting foibles of a new romance.
  • They are going to become somebody totally new (as people often do to accommodate a new romance) and they are going to become somebody that doesn’t like me…or that I don’t like.

This obviously doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens often enough that it has instilled a sense of fear in me.  I’ve had many falling outs/burned bridges with friends because of this, but I have also had it happen with lovers and it was that much worse because of how close I let them into my heart.

This fear draws me right back to either victorian poetry or action movies from 10 years ago.  When I am sharing a partner with another person, I have a relationship with them.  After all, you can’t date half a couple.  In my relationship with these people, I sometimes never even meet them.

Ergo, most times, I have very little to give my partners’ other partners.  I’m not giving them my time, my praise, my body, or my heart.  But I’m certainly giving them something: my dreams.  I’m giving them the hopes that I have been building with somebody and risking that those will be shattered so that they can build something with them too.  They are on more than just thin ice.

I spread my dreams under their feet.

I hope they tread softly.

Hoping is the standard.  My partners’ other partners get that by just not being a dick.  How do I upgrade from hope to celebration?

This is done with my partner.  This is done with somebody for whom I have the most profound trust.  Because I do not stop to question and give into my fears.  I know my place in their heart is secured, no matter who they are with.  I know they always want to fit the space I have carved out for them in my heart.

For me, I give my partners and their other partners tolerance by default.

Compersion is something you earn.

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