Compersion: Merged Threads, General Discussion

I have felt it at times when I like/trust my metamours. As of yet I haven't experienced it if I don't like or know them, not that I've actually had any metamours I don't like so far, but I am guessing I would find it much harder to do if that was the case.

That's a good point. I've certainly felt compersion, so I know it's real. But I get along great with my wife's metamour, and we all have a policy of being open with each other when we're feeling bad or have unmet needs. We've helped each other through rough times, look out for each other, and consider the three of us as family. My wife has felt compersion for me as well.

But if I felt neglected, ignored, lonely, worried, or didn't know or get along with her metamour, then I'm certain I'd feel bad rather than compersion.

Compersion exists in a non-poly context as well. For example, when a divorced partner is genuinely happy for the ex finding a new love interest (and it's not just because they don't have to pay alimony anymore ;)), that's compersion. It's just that polys can feel compersion without having to get divorced first. :)
Not quite the same thing but close.

And it can be cultivated

These guys have been at it for 2500 years, it' just not been part of our inherited European culture.

Not saying it's the only way or the right way, just a way.

Er, speak for YOUR "inherited European culture."

Compersion is and always was very strong in Celtic and Scandinavian cultures, and in indigenous Finno-Ugrian ones. Sounds like your mileage has varied...or you're out of touch with your culture...but kindly refrain from laying such globalized generalizations on all of us.

In the roots I arose from, polyfidelity is the norm, and it was only a very specific sort of urban/agricultural religious neurotic that tried to move this miracle of human love into the abstract realm, then remove it from the earth altogether.
kindly refrain from laying such globalized generalizations on all of us.
Didn't mean to offend.
Guess I had my colonial hat on and was talking about the cultures exported from the old world to the new.

Compersion is and always was very strong in Celtic and Scandinavian cultures, and in indigenous Finno-Ugrian ones.

Interesting. Sources?

Are you saying compersion IS a very strong part of contemporary Scandinavian cultures?
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Compersion is and always was very strong in Celtic and Scandinavian cultures, and in indigenous Finno-Ugrian ones.

So, you are saying that compersion -- feeling happy and joyful when your partner finds happiness and satisfaction with their other partner(s) -- is "strong" in the cultures you mentioned? That would mean they have a polyamorous history, then. I assume you are saying it is part of the heritage and history. Or are you saying it is strong in contemporary culture? Can you explain this and cite examples?
Poly without compersion, possible?

Hi all--

(I'm very grateful for an internet that makes such communities as these possible and accessible right now, so thank you in advance for any thoughts you have to share.)

Could someone here offer any wisdom from your experiences-- have you been able to maintain a long-term poly partnership in which one or both of you rarely or never experienced compersion? (Assuming everyone is respectful and nice to one another as a baseline, of course).

My partner and I are discussing whether or not this is a sustainable dynamic in our relationship, since compersion comes easily for one of us, and not the other. I can offer more context of my own situation if desired, but I'm really interested in your experiences and tools for managing a dynamic like this (successfully or unsuccessfully, however you define(d) it), if you'd care to share?
Hey there.

If I take my men as a reference here, I won't say that any of them is feeling something like compersion (for me translates to "being happy that I am with the other"). They are generally happy that I am happy but that hasn't got anything to do with my other relationship for them. We are stable, they accept and respect the other and we get along well.

I don't think it is neccessary to be happy about the other partner(s) or relationship(s) the partner has. You have to be OK with them and maybe be on friendly terms with your metamours but that's it. Compersion is some kind of bonus from my point of view. Nice to have (obviously) but not mandatory.

We aren't that long in a poly configuration (one year and some months), maybe this will change with time, but compersion was never a topic in our case.
I experience compersion for my husband (and did for my ex too) when I like the people he dates or don't hear anything about them that ticked any flags for me. I feel compersion for my boyfriend, when he talks doing things with his wife or girlfriend, and really want them to be happy >>> him happy >>> me happy because the company is more likely to be pleasant. I haven't interacted with either my metamours on that branch for over a year, but that hasn't diminished my feelings of wanting them to have wonderful times together.

In no case have I ever felt anything positive when a partner was dating somebody who I thought wasn't treating them nicely, or causing drama or acting in a way that was negatively affecting my partner. I am guessing if I ever manage to transcend my desire to feel bitchy at people when they make somebody I date sad, I'll be impressed.

My ex husband seemed to have compersion when I dated the guy I am married to now, he was happy for me, totally relaxed when I feel in love with him (and recognized it before I did) greeted me with hugs and breakfast when I came home from dates, and was always happy for me when I was having a good time. It DOES feel good to see a partner happy for you instead of unhappy. On the other hand - my current husband, well he's glad I am happy, but I am pretty sure he isn't feeling anything near the definition of compersion, and that is OK, he's barely acquainted with my boyfriend and isn't ever going to be more from what I gather. I get the feeling for a lot of people its much easier to be happy for your partner when they are dating people who you also like as people.

So although I think it's nicer to feel compersion, I am OK with indifference about metamours from my side or my husband's side, as long as there's not unhappiness.
My bf accepts my relationship with my gf and is chill about it but he definitely couldn't be said to feel compersion. And it's fine, I just don't share details or force him to think about the fact that we have a sexual relationship more than is necessary. Like, he's very aware that she and I are a thing and I'm not going to refrain from mentioning her if it's relevant, but I also don't bring her up just to sigh over how pretty she is in front of him.
I still don't find myself feeling happy that my lover has someone in her life that she loves, so in that sense, I don't *get* compersion either. But when I step back and look at it differently, it makes sense. I'm happy that she is happy, just like I would be happy if she was enjoying a tv show or an activity that didn't appeal to me - even though I don't have to be happy that she has another lover who makes her happy - I'm just happy that she has *something* in her life that makes her happy. Her happiness is the point, not how she achieves it.

For me, it is central to how I deal with my jealous feelings that I allow myself to not just stop feeling miserable, but to also translate some of what is happening into happiness for her. :)
In one relationship I didn't. I didn't really care if she saw her other boyfriend or not, but I did want her to make things well with her husband (it didn't happen). In another, I did. Her other boyfriend offered her things she wanted that I didn't give her (Grateful Dead, weed) and I was happy she saw him and felt like she was having her needs met, even though I didn't feel anything for the guy. She came back happy and relaxed and it made our relationship stronger.

So, yes and no. I don't think it's necessary, but it's better.
Of the 4 people my husband's had relationships with, I've felt compersion for one.
As best I can tell he does not ever feel compersion for me regarding my outside relationships.

My boyfriend feels compersion for me with my husband.

I've got 3 years into this. :rolleyes:
Thanks for sharing

Hey everyone--

Thanks much for your insights and experiential knowledge. I'm new to the forum and seeing the replies and getting support from you all is really reassuring, as I don't have much of a real-life community to discuss these questions with at the moment.

It sounds like the theme is that compersion is a good bonus, though not a mandatory requirement of your healthy poly relationships. Compersion being easier around metamours we genuinely like anyway makes sense to me, tho I can also appreciate it just being about seeing my partner happy, regardless of who it's with (assuming that person meets the requirements of being a mature, respectful, caring person). At the moment, my partner's girlfriend *is* someone I genuinely like & could easily be friends with if we lived closer....yet I still feel guarded, not compersion-y, when she comes up or is around. And then I feel bad about that, because he so easily feels excited for me about any respectful, caring, mature person I date.

I feel small and "mean" about not responding to his excitement around her with my own excitement for him/them. I want to be the transcendent poly partner who rises above envy (of their time together; i'm the one who lives far away at the moment), jealousy (of his affection for her-- even tho i feel affection for her too!), and possessiveness ("but *i* want the bigger slice of affection, mine!" says the fearful inner voice).

I realize lack of compersion is not necessarily the same state as what I've just described, which is more negative than indifferent. I usually do just feel neutral about their situation, but then I feel bad about not being excited, which kind of reminds me to feel jealous or something. Not sure how much sense that makes, but in any case, it was helpful for us to read your responses, as it challenges the framework of compersion being the standard/default option and me being the inept one who's bad at a thing everyone else is skipping along merrily doing. At least takes some of the pressure off and gives us some more time and space to consider other dynamics.
Also, LR, thanks for your posts and links. I came across your "Just LR" post and was moved by it. Then I perused the links in your signature and added them to my virtual pile of helpful reading i'm doing on poly dynamics/models at the moment.

i already knew this, but [poly]realtionships are hard emotional/mental work sometimes....
mesalenalas: Thanks so much for starting this thread!

I'm a bit like you in the way that I get a bit insecure about my lack of compersion and it's really nice to hear from people that doesn't mean eventual death of said relationship or that I'm doing this wrong.
It had been a little niggle in the back of my head that whilst my partner feels compersion for me (to the point he's probably more excited about my love life than I am), I have trouble feeling the same way for him. I still am happy when his like for others is making him happy but I can't quite get that excitement or rush like he does. It's nice to know that not feeling compersion can be somewhat normal in poly.
I suspect my men have compersion for each other, but it's more like they're happy I'm happy. They love each other dearly, but I think both of them prefer to pretend that I'm not actually with the other. CBF is a little more inclusive of FBF (when I'm with CBF he talks more about FBF, and more often engages in talk about my relationship with FBF)(FBF tolerates discussion, but doesn't generate it, and prefers, I think, to imagine that he's not actually sharing~and that's mostly my conjecture).

But I wanted to post, because reading this thread made me think on it all. And I think that they both thought I would pester them less if I had both of them; and they have both found out that's not the case. I still want more attention than either of them is truly interested in providing. :D go me. :D
I suspect my men have compersion for each other, but it's more like they're happy I'm happy.

Thanks - that kind of sums up what I was saying earlier in this thread. I don't give a damn about her other lovers' happiness, but I am happy knowing that she is happy. So, I'm not sure if this is compersion or not. :confused:
I realize lack of compersion is not necessarily the same state as what I've just described, which is more negative than indifferent. I usually do just feel neutral about their situation, but then I feel bad about not being excited, which kind of reminds me to feel jealous or something.

Is it possible that in your inner self-talk when you talk to yourself inside your head you overuse "should" language?

"I should this" or "I should feel that" type?

Rather than "I could this" or "I could that" or even "What do I feel? I feel X." More of what IS rather than what it should be. :confused:

When I was a hinge I didn't expect anything from the metas other than basic polite. I gave the basic contact info and let them sort it out to whatever they wanted it to be. It naturally fell at a polite/distant thing. Each knew about the other but neither had any desire to be friends or get tight or anything. I let them deal with it on their tier of the polymath.

Those rare moments when I have managed to be happy for my lover have generally been achieved by putting myself in my lover's shoes. I know that I've had sex with other people, and come back to the relationship happier and stronger than when I left. I know that, while I was in the middle of having sex with that other person, I felt no less love (and maybe even more) for my partner. If I face my fears and try, I can get excited for her, knowing that she's probably having a good time. Loving someone means wanting them to be happy.

I think compersion starts with trusting your partner's love. Which is of course inextricably tied to your self-esteem. That's the foundation. Once you kill jealousy and insecurity, then compersion becomes possible. I don't think it's necessarily that linear, though. I find that trying to be happy for my lover often also reduces feelings of jealousy. But I think compersion is possible to the degree that you are able to slay the green dragon. Of course, that's easier for some than for others.

But confidence can be gained. Jealousy can be slain. Compersion can be achieved. I know, because I've made progress on all of these fronts. You can too.
Bumping this thread because it's interesting.

I think compersion is generally defined as feeling good when someone you love feels good (or is happy, etc). A lot of the posts here seem to be about whether you are happy for your metamour's happiness, which isn't in the original definition. It's an interesting question, but seems different from compersion.

In any case, for me compersion has become easier as I have experienced the same happiness with other partners. I'm not proud that is what it took, and I definitely DID feel some compersion before that. But I have to admit I also felt jealousy. However, once I experienced having a loving partner (beyond my spouse), I was better able to appreciate how great that must be for my spouse. She's not currently in such a relationship, but each time she dates someone, I HOPE she finds that.

As Arius notes above me (from a decade ago!) self-confidence and confidence in your relationship also plays a big role. I love my wife. I love my other partner. Neither detracts from the other. They add. I KNOW that, and so now I know that if she experiences the same thing, it will (or can, if I let it) do the same thing. That allows compersion (for me).
Hello Openbook23,

Thanks for that bump, compersion isn't required for polyamory to work, but it is highly fortuitous whenever one can feel it. I generally think of it as the opposite of jealousy, or at least, as a counter to the existence of jealousy. I guess one can feel compersion for one's metamour, but mostly I think compersion is about how one feels for one's partner.

Just some thoughts,
Kevin T.