Compulsory Compersion

opalescent

Active member
I am pissed and this is a rant. It's not fair or balanced or any of those bullshit Fox News slogans. You've been warned.

In another forum, I just got called one of 'those type of people' and a 'shitty person' because I suggested that compersion is lovely, but not everyone experiences it and that's ok. I've mentioned a few times here that I don't feel compersion. I don't get the warm fuzzies when a partner is out and about with one of their partners. I don't get jealous or angry either. I just get on with my life. (I do experience jealousy but jealousy is not the opposite of compersion. It's much more complex than that for me.) The closest I have gotten is gratitude that a partner is happy. The post on another forum suggested that making a partner feel secure would result in that partner then feeling compersion. They gave good suggestions for actions to help someone feel more secure - and IMHO these were good ideas. Nothing particularly new and nothing that would surprise regular readers here. I want my partners to feel loved and secure and I will do what I can to create that. Ultimately I cannot do that for a partner. Security is an inside job. I will do what I can to support this but I know I cannot create this for them and offer it to them on a plate. i could do 'everything' right and still have an insecure partner. I experienced this with Beaker to a degree. I am generally a pretty secure person. But I don't experience compersion. The connection of secure partner and compersion is not an automatic one. I can see it playing out this way, absolutely. It could foster an atmosphere where compersion may be more likely. But there may be no direct connection between working to make a partner feel more secure and that partner feeling compersion as a result. It is not a direct 'input in, output generated'.

It's not a requirement of polyamory to experience compersion. I think it is a great thing that people have these feelings of joy and warmth when their partner is having good experiences with another partner. I believe it is one of the great ideas of poly - that joy in a partners happiness with other partners is a possibility - and one that has the potential to really make all relationships better and healthier. I do think the idea of compersion could contribute to an overall less controlling styles of relationship for many people.

Compersion is a lovely side benefit - not the reason to be polyamorous. It's the delightful dessert after a healthy, satisfying main meal of loving relationships. It's great that people experience this positive set of feelings. Really!

But I am so goddamned tired of some folks declaiming that feeling compersion is what every right thinking red blooded poly person should feel. I do very poorly when told what to feel. Fuck that. I am not defective because I have not experienced compersion. My poly is just as healthy as compulsive compersion assholes. In fact anyone who thinks telling people what they 'should' feel needs to do some self-reflection.

Rant over.
 

Inyourendo

New member
Yeah I don't get that way either. Im only happy when he's not in a funk. It doesn't necessarily have to be about him finding a new sex partner.
 

bookbug

New member
While I do experience compression - to me, it's the same as being happy for any reason someone I care about is happy: a good day at work, hearing from an old buddy, etc. - not everyone experiences joy for their partner in those circumstances either. I expect that it has to more with temperament than anything, provided the relationship is healthy.

I was involved in a an unhealthy relationship in which my compersion died as the other female actively sought to exclude me. So I can see where people are coming from in making the assumption that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. For those of us who do experience it, it does take a relationship issue to kill it.

But yeah, if you don't feel it you don't feel it. And nothing wrong with that.
 

YouAreHere

Well-known member
Hear hear.

As a bonus, I occasionally see things like, "If you don't experience compersion, then you're clearly not ready to be in a poly relationship." Yup. Thanks. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

You be you. The people calling you "shitty" for being honest and realistic (when it comes to understanding yourself and your relationships) need to take a look in the mirror.
 

Atlantis

Active member
While I do experience compression - to me, it's the same as being happy for any reason someone I care about is happy: a good day at work, hearing from an old buddy, etc. - not everyone experiences joy for their partner in those circumstances either. I expect that it has to more with temperament than anything, provided the relationship is healthy.

I agree with this and this...( I haven't worked out how to do 2 quotes )

I don't get the warm fuzzies when a partner is out and about with one of their partners. I don't get jealous or angry either. I just get on with my life.


If am home with kids, laundry, homework and making dinner, I am highly unlikely to feel any compersion whatsoever. ;)
 

KC43

New member
Right now, I consider myself lucky that neither Hubby nor S2 has another partner. If one of them did, I would *want* to be happy about it. I would definitely be happy for them if they were happy, because I like seeing the people I love being happy.

But I wouldn't feel all warm and fuzzy about it. To be honest, I would probably curl up in a ball and cry.

Hubby has only been with one other woman. The first time he was with her, I was with the man who became my first boyfriend, Guy. (That was the night he and I met.) Even though I was with someone too, and even though I knew Hubby was going to have sex with the other woman... when he and I got back together at the end of the night and he *told* me he'd had sex with her, the bottom dropped out of my stomach and I wanted to be sick. Same thing the second time he was with her, which was even worse because Guy and I were THERE.

Guy got together with other women while he and I were seeing each other, and I didn't deal well with that either. On the other hand, he and I were long distance for most of the relationship, so it wasn't quite as hard.

S2 has also only been with one other woman, on the same day as the last time I saw Guy before I broke up with him. Even though I was with someone else, knowing S2 was with another woman hurt. I put a smile on my face and told him I was okay if he chose to see her again, but I was lying through my teeth. (Because of something that happened a week or so later that had nothing to do with me, he chose not to see her again, and hasn't seen anyone else.)

So no... I don't experience compersion. And I do get jealous. Am I ready for poly? I think so... it's been almost a year and a half since I came out as poly and started living it. I don't think not experiencing compersion, or being jealous, or whatever, means you aren't ready or capable of living polyamorously. *Feelings* happen, and however you feel is okay. It's how you *handle* those feelings that matters. I consider myself capable of handling poly because, even though I do get jealous, even though I would probably want to cry or be sick if Hubby or S2 started seeing someone else-- I would still put a smile on my face and tell them that if they're happy, I'm happy.
 

JaneQSmythe

Well-known member
I do experience something that I consider to be compersion. It seems, to me, to be dependent on how much I like and care about the people involved.

So, when Dude was briefly seeing Jane2 - nope - I didn't find her attractive or interesting, so "Glad you had a good time" was about it. Same with CrazyGirl. But the thought of Dude and Lotus or Lotus and MrS does give me "warm fuzzies" - because those are combinations where I know that each person ALSO cares about me! So two people that I like sharing each other - I'm happy for each of them and not worried that anyone is going to get hurt, including me. So being secure in my relationships with each person involved is a necessary component for me (as I am generally an anxious person and very worried about someone getting hurt).
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
I HAVE experienced compersion.
But it's rare.

Fuck 'em.
They obviously aren't ready for the likes of you dear. :)
 

Candiedlove

New member
Compersion is a lovely side benefit - not the reason to be polyamorous. It's the delightful dessert after a healthy, satisfying main meal of loving relationships. It's great that people experience this positive set of feelings. Really!

Well, I'm spoiled in that my partner's DO feel compersion for me; and I doubt I could ever settle for being with a partner who doesn't feel that (like, I could have chocolate cake WITHOUT ice cream, and it's awesome, but....if I can have ice cream, too, why not have it all?)

However, I'm wondering if you're confusing arousal for comparison? I definitely need my partner's to feel joy in my happiness, regardless if it's a promotion, a new date, etc. But there's difference between getting turned on and feeling happy.

When my partner told his ex that I loved him, her reaction was anger and hurt, rather than, "Wow, that's so cool that someone cares about you!" To me, that is utterly unacceptable. But I also didn't need her to be like, "Oooh, is she hot?" Or to express strong feelings for me, or need to get to know me, or really anything at all. For me, that was "compersion" enough.

Is that the sort of thing you could feel for your partner?
 

Leander

Member
You feel what you feel. Seems a little disappointing that people who would cherish compersion wouldn't also cherish a little more compassion for you.

Incidentally, never heard of compersion until now. I definitely get that. I also feel uber-friendly to any guy/girl who makes a partner or ex happy in a relationship.
 

opalescent

Active member
Well, I'm spoiled in that my partner's DO feel compersion for me; and I doubt I could ever settle for being with a partner who doesn't feel that (like, I could have chocolate cake WITHOUT ice cream, and it's awesome, but....if I can have ice cream, too, why not have it all?)

However, I'm wondering if you're confusing arousal for comparison? I definitely need my partner's to feel joy in my happiness, regardless if it's a promotion, a new date, etc. But there's difference between getting turned on and feeling happy.

When my partner told his ex that I loved him, her reaction was anger and hurt, rather than, "Wow, that's so cool that someone cares about you!" To me, that is utterly unacceptable. But I also didn't need her to be like, "Oooh, is she hot?" Or to express strong feelings for me, or need to get to know me, or really anything at all. For me, that was "compersion" enough.

Is that the sort of thing you could feel for your partner?

I don't think I am confusing arousal for compersion. I think getting an exhibitionist/voyeuristic charge when a partner is with another partner is very common for many poly folks. It is one of the most common kinks generally. But I am neither an exhibitionist or a voyeuer. (Nothing wrong with either when ethically pursued as far as I am concerned.) I generally don't want to hear details of a date. I want to know what is relevant to me and our relationship, and if my partner was happy, had a good time etc. I want to know if things are not so great too so I can be supportive.

I do feel joy when a partner gets a new job, achieves something and so on. I'm not an envious person and I rarely compare myself to others so my joy in their accomplishments isn't feigned. I love celebrating my partners. I feel gratitude that they are happy and doing their thing to work towards a better them. I am pleased that they are getting needs met even if not with me at that moment. But I don't get that sappy overwhelming joy, warm fuzzy feelings that some describe. For me, joy for a lover experiencing another lover is different than joy for a partners accomplishments or goals met. It is just not the same for me.
 

Candiedlove

New member
I do feel joy when a partner gets a new job, achieves something and so on. I'm not an envious person and I rarely compare myself to others so my joy in their accomplishments isn't feigned. I love celebrating my partners. I feel gratitude that they are happy and doing their thing to work towards a better them. I am pleased that they are getting needs met even if not with me at that moment. But I don't get that sappy overwhelming joy, warm fuzzy feelings that some describe. For me, joy for a lover experiencing another lover is different than joy for a partners accomplishments or goals met. It is just not the same for me.

*Shrugs*

I don't think you need to be overwhelmingly excited for their new relationships. It's not like you're miserable over it. Just...mildly happy but mostly indifferent. Fine.

For me, compersion deepens over time. I felt a a deep happiness at my partner's relationship with his former partner; every time I saw them kiss, or be affectionate, I got ridiculously happy. But that was someone he had a deep love for....and it was easy to feel comparison.

But when he started dating someone new, I felt happy for him (especially as I knew he deliberately chose a woman compatible with both of us), but not like giddily so. Felt the same with another woman he saw, who was never interested in dating me, just a fwb of his. I liked her, but felt nothing beyond, "Well, it's nice he has someone to have sex with when I'm not around." (I got to know her better, he grew closer to her, at which point, I DID develop compersion.)
 

KC43

New member
I talked about this thread with S2 when I saw him last night (after I managed to come up with a coherent definition for "compersion"... *I* know what it means, but he'd never heard the term before and I'm not good at defining things sometimes). He essentially agreed with me, that not experiencing compersion doesn't mean you aren't "doing poly right". It just means you aren't experiencing compersion.

What I didn't think to ask him is how he feels about me having Hubby in my life, and I haven't seen Hubby to ask how he feels about me having S2 in my life. In the past, though, when the subject has come up, Hubby has said he's happy for me that I have someone else to spend time with who makes me feel good about myself.
 

FullofLove1052

New member
Bravo, Opal. You are not doing anything wrong if you are not feeling compersion. The world will not end if you have not and never do. I will never agree with this made up term being the basis of poly.

Come to think of it, I never experienced compersion with my ex. I was decidedly indifferent. To be honest, I was probably more excited to see a cup from Bubbleology or Chipotle than to hear about some person/event with said person-- that I had no interest in--was an [additional] extension of her happiness. In all seriousness, at best I might have said, "That is a lovely thing for you," but I was incapable of feigning excitement about certain things. I acknowledged whatever it was and listened, but becoming giddy and caring outside of that exchange? Not for me. (I am capable of reciprocal joy when it comes to my children. I can feel their joy and excitement, and in turn, it fills me with joy, excitement, and even a bit of curiosity.) A partner's relationship and the mundane ins and outs of said relationship? Eh, I will forever pass, as it was boring to me then and presumably now. If that made me a bad partner, oh well. No love loss. No tears were shed on my end.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
I think there are concrete things that can get in the way of compersion. In my experience, the main factor is, you don't really approve of your partner's other partner, or the shape their relationship is taking.


When I was seeing Ginger, I didn't understand what he was looking for. He had a wife, me, a FWB thing with my gf, and yet, after his NRE for me wore off, he started looking for more.

At the same time, miss p started seeing someone new, and I was thrilled for her, like she was my best gf who'd finally found a new person, and while the details of their sex/kink were a slight turn on for me, it was mostly just joy for her to have found someone who appreciated her unique lovely qualities. Her happiness is so important to me, when she's happy I am happy.

But with Ginger it kinda drove me nuts why I was so jealous and lacking in compersion. I just recently figured out it was his blank moral and ethical center (Don Juan narcissism), which had been hidden from me because he was so good at faking things for the first year. Bleh.
 

realamore

New member
I do experience something that I consider to be compersion. It seems, to me, to be dependent on how much I like and care about the people

My first time using quotes.

I agree Sith JzneWSmythe. I do experience compersion conditionally. I guess I look at it like advertising an amazing restaurant. It's something.g you want to share you want people to experience. My secondary is so delightful, sociAl, loving, funny, caring and giving to others. When I see him with other friends and how he treats them I do get warm and fuzzy, even if it's not a romantic connection, however..I do notice it's Sith people I feel a genuine connection with also or at least feel they are being genuine to him. I suppose that's conditional but I'm unapologetic about it. Sometimes his kindness is taken advantage of
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
I would say I tend to feel contented when I know Snowbunny and Brother-Husband are either "getting it on" or otherwise having a good time together. It's knowing that all is well in our happy little V that generates this contentment. Is that compersion? I don't know.

Confidentially, I don't care for the actual word "compersion." It sounds snooty and dorky. But it's here to stay, so I might as well get used to it. In the meantime, while I think compersion (the thing not the word) is a good thing, I certainly don't think it is a required/necessary thing. It's a bonus and can be a cure for jealousy for some people. Yay for them. My jealousy is cured by knowing that my needs are being met.

@ opalescent ... Jeezh really? One of "those type of people?" A "shitty" person? Sounds like a classic feeding frenzy, I hope the forum where it happened isn't a forum I'm a member of. UR DOIN IT RONG! That's about how stupid it sounds. Where are those people getting their information anyway?

Some people think they're doing pretty good if they don't vomit while their partner is with someone else, and guess what? They are doing pretty good. I guess they should be banned from poly too because they're *obviously* not feeling compersion.

Don't let those people on that other forum get you down. You're doing just fine.
 

Leander

Member
I would say I tend to feel contented when I know Snowbunny and Brother-Husband are either "getting it on" or otherwise having a good time together. It's knowing that all is well in our happy little V that generates this contentment. Is that compersion? I don't know.

Hmm. I don't think that's it exactly. That's being happy that there is harmony, which is great. EDIT: This relationship with Snowbunny and Brother-Husband has been going on a while? If so, familiarity is bound to be a factor. I think compersion is a kind of reaction to something new, like a new lover. If something has been going on for a while then there is going to be an indifference to it due to familiarity. If something novel occurs, well that might create a reaction.

I don't like how the word sounds either. After I heard about it I also felt like the concept could be provocative because it sounds idealistic and could easily lend itself to worrying that something is missing or wrong if you don't feel this compersion thing. I think its more the case that probably a bit unusual to feel it at all and its highly circumstantial.

Often when I hear about ex-partners getting together with someone and being happy I have really good feelings about their new lovers. I doubt that is compersion. I think a lot of it is that they've relieved me of the guilt that I may have left an ex miserable or lonely.

I have got a blissy feeling when I've seen people I've been in love with kissing or being romantic with someone else but ONLY if the someone else is someone I know and already like or in some other way feel to be a good person. If they're a total stranger, or worse, someone I disapprove of, then at best I'll be neutral about it. At worst I'll get anxious and stressed.
 
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