What is compersion?
Well, loosely put it’s pretty much the opposite of jealousy. You will have felt compersion at some point in your life, even if you weren’t able to put a name to the emotion. You know that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you see someone you love do something great; your best friend getting married, your sister landing a brilliant new job, your partner ticking something off their bucket list… well, that feeling right there is compersion. If you want to boil it down to its bare bones, it’s unadulterated and unquestioning happiness for another human being.
Now, it is possible to bring feelings of compersion a little closer to home, to, let’s say… the bedroom. There is a type of compersion known as romantic or sexual compersion. This is the way we describe those that garner satisfaction and gratification from their partner experiencing pleasure from someone else. These feelings can be attained by observing your partner in the physical sense, for example, watching your partner being romantically or sexually intimate with another person. Or, in some cases, intimacy may be observed in the imagination. Sometimes the mere fantasy of it works, and feelings of compersion can be felt through that alone.
Who does it suit?
For a lot of people, the idea of compersion is linked to those in poly relationships. This isn’t necessarily true as compersion can be enjoyed by anyone, not just those who are part of the polyamorous community. However, it is a skill that those in non-monogamous relationships tend to nurture.
Often compersion is described as the opposite of jealousy. However, that isn’t entirely true, as the two are not always felt independent of one another. It is possible to feel jealous at the same time—the difference is that compersion takes the steering wheel and makes jealousy sit in the back. In short, compersion isn’t necessarily something that we naturally have, but rather it can be attained within a relationship if it’s something that everyone involved desires.
There are some people who simply don’t believe that anyone could feel something positive about seeing their partner being intimate with someone else. And to those people I say… fine. If that is how you wholeheartedly feel, then compersion isn’t the kink for you. However, it has long been present in the kink world, and was believed to have been coined more than thirty years ago by the polyamory community.
Compersion, is it for me?
If you’ve got to this point and your interest has been piqued by the idea of compression, then read on. Firstly, if this is something that you would like to explore it’s vital that you gauge your partner’s interest too, as making sure you’re on the same page is the only way that this scenario can possibly work out, let alone be enjoyable.
I would always say when it comes to matters such as compersion, it’s always best to take things slow. The age-old adage ‘slow and steady wins the race’ has never been more true. Baby steps will allow you to find out what you’re comfortable with in a safe and secure way. The more time you take over getting used to the idea, the more likely you are to enjoy the experience when it happens. It’s all about building your tolerance and learning how to be resilient to a situation that most might find uncomfortable. Becoming resilient to the idea paves the way for compersion and allows you to fully experience and enjoy it without the risk of things going wrong and feelings getting hurt.
It’s also worth taking note that even if you do attain the goal of compersion, a little jealousy may have stowed away too. Jealousy is a very natural and human emotion. Even those in committed poly relationships are not bulletproof from feelings of jealousy. A healthy amount of romantic envy is to be expected within any relationship, it shows a level of protectiveness and, in the right situations (and doses) can be part of a very happy and healthy relationship. Understanding this and being able to identify jealousy in the moment will help you to process those negative emotions in the moment, you will then be better able to enjoy the compersion you have been working towards.
Jealousy ruins relationships when left unchecked. Growing jealousy blinds a person to logic and reason and can cause great upset within the relationship and even the breakdown of it in some cases. Jealousy also stunts personal and emotional growth as well, leaving both parties with baggage that they will have to deal with at some point.
If we think of jealousy and compersion as having the same root but different paths, it can help us to see how the two may share some initial similarities. We attain either one or the other by how we deal with those feelings at the very beginning of the journey.
Communication is the key to experiencing compersion in a healthy and fulfilling way. Keeping an open dialogue, voicing any concerns and making sure you have agreed-upon boundaries in place will help anyone looking to experience compersion. Jealousy often arises when our trust is broken, so making sure you’ve covered all bases will help prevent jealousy from rearing its head and make sure you stay on the path towards compersion. Compersion might not come all that naturally, but it is one hundred per cent a learnable feeling, so if you’re both on the same page and want to experience it, then having a good plan is the best way to get started.
When it comes to compersion, it’s good to remember the three Cs. Communication, compassion and consent. The three Cs are the absolute cornerstones of compersion. Without all three in equal measure, you run the risk of damaging your relationship, which isn’t something anyone wants. After all, the idea of compersion revolves around feelings of complete and utter joy and happiness. In achieving these feelings for your partner, it’s very likely that, in turn, you’ll feel the same joy and happiness for yourself and for your relationship as well.