Compersion is an unfamiliar term. So unfamiliar that my browser’s spell check doesn’t believe it’s even a word. When you learn what compersion means, you’ll understand why that’s ironic.
We’ll examine the concept of compersion and how it aligns with numerous polyamorous and open relationship values.
What is Compersion?
While my on-board spell checker may not agree, compersion is in fact, a real thing. Compersion is the inverse of jealousy. Compersion happens when someone experiences joy or pleasure knowing their partner is experiencing joy or pleasure with another partner.
Compersion involves empathizing with your partner’s happiness in a way that brings you joy rather than insecurity or even anger.
In open relationships, compersion is a big deal. It’s seen as a positive emotional reaction to a partner’s extra-relations. It’s a symbol of security for the primary relationship.
Compersion challenges mainstream, traditional ideals that mostly see relationships in a diametrically opposing sense. Societal norms nearly embrace the idea of jealousy. Mainstream movies often put a character’s jealousy on display in a way that align it with a romantic, endearing spirit.
Compersion is considered a desirable, ideal emotional state in open relationships. In traditional marriages, it doesn’t exist due to relationship boundaries which exclude extra-partners.
The existence of compersion in an open relationship signifies a level of emotional maturity and a deep understanding of personal and partner’s needs and boundaries.
Compersion is a big deal.
If you’re considering embarking on an open relationship journey, you’ll need to understand, develop, and embrace compersion. And that begins by comparing and contrasting compersion with jealousy.
Compersion vs. Jealousy
As mentioned, compersion is the inverse, or opposite, of jealousy. There’s a deep contrast which exists between the two terms.
Understanding the differences between the two, even while they feel obvious, is essential in the process of developing compersion.
There’s a lot to unpack when we compare and contrast these two ideas.
Jealousy is characterized as feelings of insecurity, fear, and a concern over the potential of a loss of love. Jealousy can be applied in many areas of life, in this case, we’re focused only on romance and intimacy.
Compersion challenges everything we understand about jealousy. It’s joy for a partner’s experiences with others in an intimate setting runs counter to jealousy. And by default, this means compersion runs counter to our culture in general.
So why does this contrast exist?
It’s simple, really.
Our culture conditions us to view romantic relationships through the lens of exclusivity and possession. As mentioned earlier, we see evidence of this in Hollywood TV shows and movies. This is likely a big reason why compersion is spellchecked – its a concept that is so counter to the norm that many people can’t grasp that it even exist.
Jealousy’s inclusion into mainstream media as “sexy” justifies it to the public as a healthy emotion. This makes it something many people embrace. If a man is jealous over a woman, the man feels that’s OK based on what he’s seen on TV. And the woman might see this jealousy as putting her on a pedestal. Hence, the cycle continues unabated, at least until the fallout happens.
This isn’t to say that Hollywood never portrays jealousy as a negative emotion. I mean, yeah…
Jealousy will eventually lead you to dark emotional places. Hopefully, not as dark as Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction dark, but you get the idea.
But here’s the hitch in all of this.
Finding compersion in your life isn’t exclusive to the non-existence of jealousy. In other words, jealousy is a normal emotional feeling. It’s primal and served to function humans throughout our existence. In fact, science explains how it has helped us survive and reproduce.
Many people in open relationships navigate a spectrum where both emotions coexist and must be managed.
In fact, developing compersion is a helpful tool in understanding and negotiating feelings of jealousy. Compersion helps you deal with jealousy in a healthy way. And this is where the concept of compersion can also apply in monogamous relationships. For monogamous partners, that begins as partner’s embracing their significant other’s platonic friendships.
In non-monogamous relationships, compersion becomes more directly relevant to managing multiple romantic or sexual connections.
Compersion is Key Emotion in the Open Relationship
Developing compersion helps us negotiate feelings of jealousy. This is important because jealousy is central to derailing an open relationship’s journey. Again, we’ll restate that jealousy is a normal feeling to experience in any relationship, but allowing it to breed angst, paranoia, and anger, will serve to ruin the relationship.
Building compersion in a relationship wrangles jealousy in and allows the relationship to blossom. Compersion is central in the earliest of open relationship stages, including when you set boundaries. Compersion is one of an open relationship’s biggest benefits. Compersion is one of an open relationships most profound mental health benefits.
Transitioning from jealousy to compersion isn’t an overnight thing. It often involves a conscious effort where the person works through insecurities and fears. This transition is built around open communications, reassurance, and developing a solid and rational foundation of trust.
And thus, a healthy open relationship is born.
Compersion is a complex concept that people pursuing open relationships should understand and strive towards. While compersion is disregarded by mainstream culture, jealousy is often embraced as “romantic.” Jealousy certainly has its place in human history and present day needs, but in relationships, too much is a bad thing.
Working towards compersion means deeply examining your relationship’s mutual trust and foster an environment of healthy communication. Isn’t that what we should all strive for?