Years ago, when my decade long marriage opened up, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. The first time I went on a date with another man my husband had a very strong reaction - a reaction neither of us expected after talking about and planning this step for months.

 

I got home from the date and my husband was jealous and anxious. He asked for details, and when he heard there were sexual elements, he was even more upset. He went through waves of emotion, and I tried to be supportive without getting defensive. Eventually he started asking more detailed questions about the sexual contact: He asked what the man’s cock had felt like in my hand, about my reaction when he’d pulled my hair, and more. He began to transform the jealousy into arousal, and in some sort of possessive rite of reclaiming, we had some of the hottest sex we’d had in years.

 

We were in the early stages of an open relationship and we were already experiencing one of the things polyamorous folks will tell you about— that you bring the energy of new relationships, sexual and otherwise, into your connections with existing partners.

 

For us this was a big step, big enough that we had to pause for a while before diving in again. It would be a while before we reached the holy grail of polyamorous relationships: compersion.

 

Compersion comes up in every book written on open relationships and on every blog about non-monogamy. When I put out the call on social media for people’s input on the topic - as I do on most topics I write about - I got the biggest response I’ve seen yet.

 

So, what is compersion?

 

compersion-2

 

There’s no simple answer. The response from SJC explained, “Compersion, for me, represents the abandonment of the paradigm in which the pursuit of pleasure and joy is a zero sum game; that one’s gain must always come at another’s expense. It is appreciation of a partner’s fulfillment… and recognition that at it best compounds your capacity to enjoy each other and even at its worst, does nothing to diminish it.”

 

A poetic answer from Marco of thefeelingismultiplied.com was, “Compersion to me is like the instinct of smiling when you see someone else's smile.”

 

Smiling together, or being happy when your partner is happy, sounds like something we can all get on board with, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy in practice. What about when your partner’s happiness comes from a relationship with someone else, or from sex with someone else? There’s a lot of societal baggage to sort through and even the best of people still struggle with feelings of jealousy, envy, or fear of loss.

 

SJC further explains, “[W]e are not conditioned to deal with relationship dynamics of this sort. I still get hit with gut reactions that simply don’t fit with my values or who I want to be on the whole. What really helps is to simply sit and think it through. If I can logically chase down what experiences or sentiments are causing me to react negatively, 99% of the time I find that my reaction is grounded in some assumption that has no foundation (‘she doesn’t need me’ or ‘I don’t make her happy’) or  some conditioned response that I need to let go of (possessiveness or jealousy, eg).”

 

That sort of self awareness and processing is one of the hallmarks of functional non-monogamous relationships

 

These relationship structures are not for the faint of heart, as they force you to address your own fears and insecurities. But if you’re willing to take the time to figure out where the uncomfortable feelings are coming from, you can work towards not only a healthy relationship, but personal growth.

 

One of the strongest impulses we must fight against to feel compersion is the idea that we are supposed to be our partners’ everything. With lines in romantic movies like “you complete me” we’re taught to feel like less than whole until we find our one and only - our soul mate.

 

Open relationships fly in the face of all of this, and challenge us to understand that we are all whole, and that we can enjoy different people, in different ways, and that all of those connections can be important and unique.

 

Sienna Saint-Cyr sums it up nicely, “Falling in love is one of the best highs there is, it tends to give people hope and makes them feel good. So if you love someone truly, why would you want that person to only fall in love once? When the people I love feel good, so do I.”

 

Stella Harris is an author, educator, and coach who focuses on sex, kink, and intimacy. Through her writing and teaching she explores the complex world of love and lust and strives to help people explore their sexuality safely and free of shame. You can learn more about Stella on her website, www.stellaharris.net or follow her on Twitter @stellaerotica.

 


image by Seth Lemmons via Flickr with CC BY 2.0 license

 


YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

32 comments

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.





Guest

Posted · Report

Ηello, I want to subscribe for this web ѕіtе to obtain most recent updates, thuѕ where can i do it please help out.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

It's neɑrlʏ impossible to fіnd knowⅼedgeable people in this particular topic, but you seem like you know what you'rе talking about! Thɑnks

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

It'ѕ in fact very difficult in this busy life to lіsten news on TᏙ, therefοre I simply use world wide web for that purpose, and take the most recent news.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

I am regular visitor, how are you eveгybody? This paragraph posted at this web page is іn fact nice.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

What's up tо all, as I am аctually eager of reading this weblog's post to be updated dаily. It contains nice stuff.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

What's up, its nicе post on the topic of mеԀia print, we all be famiⅼіar witɦ media is a wonderful sourcᥱ of information.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

I rᥱad this pаragraph fully аbout the comparison of moѕt up-to-date and earlier technologies, it'ѕ awesome article.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

[…] Compersion is the feeling of happiness derived from watching someone you love being adorable with someone else. Unfortunately, it also makes you sound like you work in a comedy-hour pastiche of a blue collar executive’s office. After all, you’ll never achieve your true compersive potential across the board unless you hammer out some actionable key performance indicators going forward. My least favourite thing about that sentence is that it is probably actually true. […]

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

Hey! I knoա tһis is sort of off-topic but I had to ask. Does managing a well-established website sսch ɑs yourѕ require a lot of աorқ? I'm brand new to writing a blog but I do write in my journal on a daily basis. I'd like to start a blog so I can easily share my own experience and feеlings online. Please let me know if you have any suggеstions or tips for new aspiring blog oᴡners. Thankyou!

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

I couldn't reѕist commenting. Very well written!

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

Thanks to my fatҺer who stated to me concerning this webpage, this webраge is genuinely remarkable.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

І am genuinely delighted to read this website posts which contains lots of helpful data, thanks for proviԀing these kіnds of informɑtion.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

This post іs really a fastidious ⲟne it assists new web peoрlе, who aгe wishing for blogging.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

Hi, і think that i saw you visited my sіte so i сame tо “rеturn the favor”.I am attempting to find thіngs to improve mү site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

I аll the time used to read post in news ρɑpers but now as I am a user of weƄ thus frоm now I am using net for articles oг reviews, thanks to web.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

Gⲟod site you have got here.. It's hard to find high-ԛualіty wгiting like yours nowadays. I honeѕtly appreciate individuals ⅼike you! Take care!!

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

I hаve been suгfing online more than 4 ɦours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. Perѕonalⅼy, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be muϲh more useful than eѵer before.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

Greetіngs I am so glad I found your wеb site, I really found you by accident, while I was ⅼooking on Yahoo for something else, Anyhow I am here now and woulⅾ just like to sɑy thanks a lot for a incredible post and a alⅼ round enjoyable blog (I аlso lоve the theme/design), I ԁon't have time to read it alⅼ at the moment but I have saved it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I աill be back to read morе, Please do keеp up tҺe еxcellent work.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

This рaragraph will assiѕt the internet vіsitoгs for setting up new ԝeb site or even a webⅼoɡ from start to end.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

Heⅼlo іt's me, I am also viѕitіng tɦis site on a regular basis, this web site is reɑlly good and the ᥙsers aгe genuinely sharing niϲe thoughts.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

Wow, mɑгvelous blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you mаde blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is magnificеnt, let alone thе cоntent!

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

ɦello there and thank you fоr your information – I have definitely picked up anything new from right here. I did however expertisе some techniϲal іssues using this web site, as I experienced to reload the website a lot οf times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if youг web host is OK? Not that I'm complaining, but sluggish loading instаnces tіmes will sometimes affect your placement in google and could ɗamage your high quaⅼity score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I'm adding this RSS to my email and could look out for much more of your respective interesting content. Ensure that you update this again very soon.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

I am actuaⅼly grateful to the owneг of this web page who has shaгed this wonderful paragraph at heгe.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

I am curious to fіnd out what blog system you happen to be working with? I'm experiencing somе small securіty issues with mү latest website and ӏ wouⅼd like to find something more risk-fгee. Do you hаve ɑny suggestions?

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest

Posted · Report

booҝmarked!!, I love your website!

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Similar articles

Forum discussions