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What Is Even Compersion? The Very Opposite Of Jealousy In Ethical Non-Monogamy

What Is Even Compersion? The Very Opposite Of Jealousy In Ethical Non-Monogamy

What Is Even Compersion
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It is only normal to be happy with your partner when they are doing something that brings them happiness, like, say, getting a huge promotion at work and winning a few games.

Who doesn’t like seeing their significant other be happy…right? But feeling really psyched that they are having a fantastic time with another person…sexually? Now, that honestly sounds way too weird.

This feeling is known as compersion, and it goes so much beyond just getting really jealous while sharing your romantic partner with another individual. It is when you begin to experience deep and authentic happiness for them that you know you, um…like it?

If you look at the sexuality spectrum, compersion is a feeling that is mostly associated with multiple polyamorous relationships. But it does not have to be so – more typically, it usually falls under the umbrella of ethical non-monogamy.

Even if you are not really a part of the sexual encounter, you can still be happy to share your partner with another individual. It is also possible that you might feel aroused.

The thing is, whatever sexual encounter or even experience your partner is having will be gratifying to you. Of course, not all of us can experience this in terms of sharing our partners with someone else sexually and emotionally.

It’s perfectly fine if you don’t feel this – it’s anything to stress about, especially since the society out there encourages us to give importance to monogamous relationships. But how will you even know if compersion is on your radar if it’s not even easily accessible to others?

And is it mandatory to feel compersion when it comes to experiencing non-monogamous relationships? Without wasting time, let’s break it down!

Remind Me Again: What Is Compersion?   

So, what does compersion mean? Again, it is sort of the opposite of feeling jealous when your significant other is having an emotional and/or sexual experience with another person. It is both joyful and gratifying to share your partner – in fact, sharing them can arouse you as well.

What Is Compersion

It is typically associated with relationships that are non-monogamous such as being in a standard open relationship or having sexual encounters with other couples or individuals, or polyamory, like having multiple romantic partners at the same time.

Compersion is an emotion – it’s a feeling, not a sexuality type, per se.

Where Did It All Begin: How Did The Word Come About?  

While you can now understand compersion meaning, what about the coinage? Where did it all begin, or rather, how did the word come about?

In the early 1990s, the word was first defined and coined by a polyamorous group based in San Francisco, also known as the Kerista community. The group has now disbanded, but the word stayed – the idea of being happy to see others you love be happy with different people stayed.

Compersion Is A Radical Concept But Why  

In the spectrum of ethical non-monogamy, compersion is a feeling of empathy that one experiences when their partner experiences pleasure from another relationship. While polyamorists coined the term initially in the sphere of the English language, the concept has existed for a long time now.

In Buddhism, sympathetic joy is considered to be one of the four vital qualities of an enlightened person, and it is called ‘mudita’ in Sanskrit. The other three qualities are equanimity known as upeksha, compassion, known as karuna, and lover of kindness, known as metta.

As per this tradition, mudita is a remedy for the illusory separateness that exists between others and the self – so this can be a powerful road to liberation.

Is It Possible To Be Non-Monogamous Without Feeling Any Compersion?  

The compersion definition is enough to explain that it’s a feeling – it’s completely the opposite of jealousy in ethical non-monogamy.

But it’s only normal to ask: is it possible to be non-monogamous without feeling any compersion?

Simply put, YES!

Is It Possible To Be Non-Monogamous Without Feeling Any Compersion

While Compersion is a rare feeling and experiencing it would be absolutely ideal, understand this, it’s not necessarily the GOAL, even when you, as well as your partner, are ready to be in a non-monogamous dynamic. Why?

Because it is not always a possibility, and feeling jealous is pretty normal, and we are only humans.

Basically, there is no point beating yourself up if you want to be in an open relationship but not feel compersion thinking about your partner being with another individual. It is fine! Being jealous is normal for humans, and most human relationships are complex.

According to Jenni Skyler (Ph.D.), AASECT-certified sex therapist and director of The Intimacy Institute on Cosmopolitan, “Some people feel compersion easily and authentically, while others have to work a bit harder toward getting there. There might be other reasons for sharing with your partner that aren’t related to the feeling of them being with someone else.

Also, it is not a possibility to never experience compersion, but that does not mean you cannot practice non-monogamy with integrity. Just think it through – you might share your romantic partner sexually when you are in a long-distance relationship just to spice things up as a one-time thing, as a part of a fantasy, and more.

Compersion Is A Radical Concept: But Why?  

Now that you know how to define compersion, you can understand that it is a radical concept – but why?

The concept entirely depends on looking at others as self-determined and intrinsically autonomous while celebrating their unique road to fulfillment. This might definitely not seem like a radical concept when we feel excited about a friend obtaining something simple like a promotion or a family member going on their dream vacation.

Compersion Is A Radical Concept But Why  

But what happens if your significant other were to feel happy and experience growth through an intimate relationship with another individual? Can you possibly rejoice in their happiness?

When you feel compersion in a situation where jealousy is a more conditioned or common response, you are stepping on the radical, outer boroughs of love. Anyone who can feel compersion is a pioneer of an impactful human potential.

Why Does Compersion Matter?  

Learning about emotional and sexual compersion can actually benefit individuals in different types of relationships. Whether you are in an ethical non-monogamous relationship, including polyamory, swinging, relationship anarchy, swinging, and others, or not, compersion basically conveys to your partner that you support them on their selected road to well-being genuinely.

Why Does Compersion Matter?  

This motivates authentic expression of emotions, which then, in turn, simply reinforces togetherness and being a part of the same team. At the end of the day, love begets love, and generosity begets generosity, creating a positive loop for emotional feedback.

Fundamentally, compersion is an expression of support and deep friendship – and it can definitely be cultivated as a way to strengthen any connection.

How Can You Work Towards Experiencing Compersion In Romantic Relationships?   

It is only natural to be curious and ask, how to feel compersion? While it is not possible to entirely access feelings of compersion, you can definitely try! Skyler, in this context, adds, “Compersion usually arises for people who have done a lot of deep inner work and don’t feel the threat of abandonment, or who don’t feel like they’re unworthy or unlovable.

How Can You Work Towards Experiencing Compersion In Romantic Relationships?

So in order to find out how to develop compersion, you will need to address your long-held thoughts and beliefs with an expert or a certified professional specializing in sex and relationships.

If you experience jealousy in place of compersion, you can try using it as a major opportunity for tapping into that particular emotion and understanding where it is really coming from. You need to ask yourself – what is making you jealous? Why can’t you access feelings of compersion?

It is possible that you are stressed or feeling unlovable about being abandoned by your significant other when you let them access other people sexually. In that case, you will really need to heal – heal your wounds, communicate with your significant other, and put faith that you won’t be abandoned.

So, how can you apply compersion in romantic relationships? Scroll down to find out now!

1. Acknowledge Jealousy:  

This might sound counterintuitive, but simply acknowledging jealousy is the very first step towards nurturing compersion. Compersion is the opposite of jealousy. Jealousy is a very common and healthy human emotion. Instead of feeling jealousy and subsequently suppressing it, it is always better to acknowledge the feeling.

People who can handle jealousy always tend to acknowledge the same instead of judging it as something negative. Normalizing the feeling and asking their partner what they need – quality time, affection, or reassurance – is healthy.

2. Practice With Non-Romantic Relationships:   

Hamilton actually suggests practicing compersion in non-romantic relationships initially. Society tends to look at jealousy as romantic behavior. Learning how you can feel compersion when a family member or friend is experiencing pure joy can be an easy entry point.

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Perhaps, a good place to begin is to spot the situations when you feel happy or excited for different other people – when you experience that warmth after watching your friend do something amazing, that is compersion.

You can foster compersion by just spotting the waves of joy and warmth occurring within you – and subsequently building on them. Just taking notice and naming the sensation is a big step towards inviting compersion in your life.

3. Notice The Bodily Sensations Of Compersion:  

How do you feel physically when you are happy with another person? When you start noticing these sensations, it will help you label the same as compersion, thereby increasing awareness about the concept.

You might experience warmth inside your chest, a softness in your shoulders and neck, a relaxed belly, a tingle in your finger(s), or just a myriad of different other sensations of joy and pleasure. Knowing the early signals of joy and pleasure in your body can help you when you are in a situation where compersion and jealousy can thrive together.

4. Let Compersion And Jealousy Coexist:  

While compersion is the opposite of jealousy, you can actually feel both at the same time, as per a study that was done in 2021.

Compersion does not require you to block those feelings of jealousy. Just like you can be sad and happy at the same time, you can also feel jealousy and compersion simultaneously.

Can Monogamous People Feel Compersion?  

Yes, Compersion originated initially in the polyamorous community. But that does not make the feeling absolutely exclusive to all non-monogamous relationships. Not necessarily!

Can Monogamous People Feel Compersion?  

In this context, Joli Hamilton (Ph.D.), who completed her doctorate research on compersion and jealousy and now is an expert psychologist in Westfield, Massachusetts, spoke to Psych central, “I have found many monogamous people can identify compersion once they know how to name it.

Currently, Hamilton’s working on how people who are monogamous experience compersion and jealousy.

But how can any monogamous individual experience compersion if their partners are not really dating anyone else?

The very same way monogamous people might experience jealousy even when their partner is not dating anyone else.

Every potential jealousy stimulus happens to be an opportunity for compersion. Monogamous individuals might feel happy that their partner,

  • has close friendships,
  • has multiple positive experiences, and
  • experiences professional success.

A Final Reminder: You Cannot Force Compersion!  

Janet Brito (Ph.D.), an AASECT-certified sex therapist and founder of Hawaii Center for Sexual and Relationship Health, told Cosmopolitan, “Compersion is not something you can force. It’s something that you can feel, and feelings come and go naturally. Don’t judge yourself. If you feel it, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s fine.”

If you don’t feel compersion sexually, you are not bad or broken or even wrong at practicing ethical non-monogamy. It is not something you can change or fix if you are not into it, even when you are in a non-monogamous relationship. It is not a requirement, really!

Someone’s ability to feel compersion has a lot to do with their genetics, familial upbringing, and lived experiences. These are all factors that are out of everyone’s control. It is actually multi factorial. It is also who you are involved with romantically, your immediate environment, and where you are at in your life in terms of age.

It is possible to feel a whole spectrum of emotions, and that too at different times. So the odds of experiencing this feeling every time your significant other is with another person emotionally or sexually is highly unlikely. Emotions and moods keep changing and evolving at all times.

FYI: If you can feel compersion or want o work on it by doing some much-needed inner work, then that’s perfect. But if you do not, then it is fine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you, really, and experiencing compersion is not really a requirement for any healthy and happy non-monogamous relationship.

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