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Compersion - A New Word In Alternative Relationships

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You never know what a feeling is unless you’ve experienced it. So here is my story of experiencing compersion. It was not the first time I had it, but it was this very moment that has branded into my memory as the brightest one. Now I’m sharing it.

…Dressed in white bikini, Ann is swaying in a hammock while I’m drinking mojito sitting next to her. The sun is setting, and on the horizon the red solar disk vanishes into the sea. Red – just like Ann’s hair. The Ann who’s telling me about a brawny animator she met at aqua-aerobics class.  

- There were some saucy vibes about him. He was very well mannered and his conduct was correct, but his eyes were bewraying his desire to play around.

His strong hands gently helped me do exercises in the water. Every motion of his was filled with vigor and composure … There was some magnetic attraction between our bodies. And I didn’t even notice moving to his den…

- I’m so glad for you to have enjoyed him. I’m happy to see your eyes shining with excitement. Come to me, baby…

Ann moved her red head down closer to me and the taste of her hot lips got mixed with mint mojito freshness. We’ve been married for 6 years. And all this time together we’ve proceeded to rejoice at each other’s adventures and share our new sexual experience. Her happiness is mine as well. This is what I call compersion. Want to know more about this magic word? Read the article ☺

Compersion vs jealousy

“Compersion” is a notion that can be thought of as the opposite of “jealousy”. It is a positive emotional reaction to relations of the other one in that he or she enjoys sexual desire experienced with another partner. It is probably close to a feeling that we have when a person we love attains the goals he has set in the professional field, or the way best friends rejoice at each other’s success.  Compersion as a concept is used in the framework of alternative relationships (polyamorous relationship, open relationship, non-monogamy relationship) in that partners can in open and aware manner afford having a diversified range of feelings to more than one partner.

If one from the couple happens to have sexual and (or) romantic drive to a third one, this can trigger jealousy or destructive emotions on the part of the second partner. In such a case it is essential that we divide negative emotions from those genuine we have in respect of the partner, try walking in his shoes or empathizing the sensations he or she had at that moment.

Dr. SerenaGaia Anderlini-D’Onofrio considers the capacity for compersion to be an essential component of ecosexuality (love that goes beyond sex, number, age, identity, race and species) and defines compersion as the ability to turn jealousy’s negative feelings into…enjoyment for a lover’s joy.  Peter J. Benson, the author of The Polyamory Handbook: A User`s Guide, draws parallels between compersion and empathy, because your love for your partner means that you genuinely want your partner to have a joyous, rich life: “Your partner is in your life not just for your own self-gratification – not just to scratch your itch. Compersion is thus a type of empathy”.

Contrived in polyamorous relationships

The notion of “compersion” was first used by members of Kerista Commune that existed in San Francisco within the period from 1971 to 1991. And though we know the author of the term, the etymology of the word is unclear. They suggest it to have stemmed as a telescoping of two words: ‘compassion’ and ‘person’, and except for Urban Dictionary there isn’t any other thesaurus database in that it can be found. But being flexible and responsive, the language is open to borrow things and notions from real life. In non-monogamous open relationships where they practice threesome or sex with other partner the participants feel sincere joy and openness to sharing this experience with each other. Hence there came an urgent need for contriving a new word to denote openness to new experience and sensations from relations, to designate joy from the pleasure the partner gets, and to replace negative emotions by good vibrations. Compersion!

Аlternative relationships - enjoying the pleasure of the other one

We’ve been since childhood accustomed to the idea of ‘two halves of one whole’. When a prince comes to rescue a princess from the “durance vile” and they live happily ever after. However when it comes to actual relationship things don’t always appear to be that archetypically simple. Usually instead of going beyond their illusory castle lovers start putting up new walls to surround their relationship. Every breath of wind is taken for an attack, any interest in respect of other person is treated as a treason. We are sincerely happy with our loved one’s promotion, yet we fail to rejoice at his or her sex with another person. Fancy reconsidering your attitude to your loved one’s desires?

Compersion in alternative relationships is a new way of thinking. Why should couples maintain status quo if it does not please the partners? If one partner wants to enjoy the pleasure of the other one notwithstanding the way this pleasure is taken from?

Polyamorous KatieDiamond (“I`m a compervert” – she declares proudly) believes compersion to admit there can be still some jealousy occurring in relationship. Katie suggests that one listens to what there is inside and discusses with the partner every feeling that one gets, since be this butterflies or ‘squicky-stomach-feelings’ that you have, it is better that you understand the origin of this emotional experience and tell your partner everything about it. Because it is emotional sincerity, not self-sacrificing, that compersion implies.

Trying to 'unhand' the partner, set him or her free to derive delight from someone else’s embrace and discuss with him the feelings you get – these are the key components of the “new” ability. Maybe this feature is worth experiencing in order to set your relationship open for new emotions? Compersion!:)

More about relationships - in our article "From A To V: Alternative Relationships Glossary".

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