3 dimensions of compersion

Based on my personal experience, I would like to propose a 3-faceted model in which we may experience compersion. I’d love your feedback.

  1. compersion venn diagramIntellectual. I know in my mind that I want you to be happy. In that sense I am indeed happy for you in your other relationship/experience. In order to arrive at this, I need to reason/talk myself through what comes up for me. I might be feeling some jealousy, but I know in my heart of hearts that I want you to feel joy, even if it does not involve me.
  2. Somatic. The moment I see that smile on your face, or hear you speak to or about a joyful experience, I feel happiness in my body, such as my heart or stomach. I smile instantly.
  3. Erotic. When I see or think of you with your other lover, particularly in intimate scenarios, I feel aroused. Sometimes I feel closer to you through this feeling in me.

9 thoughts on “3 dimensions of compersion

  1. Takate Kote May 4, 2016 / 6:37 am

    Lovely idea, I will be reblogging this idea in the future.
    Serious food for thought 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bhramari Dasi December 2, 2018 / 3:41 pm

    Posted by Polyamory: Loving with an Open Hand on Thursday, May 17, 2018

    “COMPERSION: A feeling of joy when a partner invests in and takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship.” From: https://www.morethantwo.com/polyglossary.html
    Based on this definition, some of us never feel “compersion”…..and….that is perfectly okay. Rather than experience “joy” as a result of our partners romances and sexing with other people, we are simply indifferently – though lovingly – supportive.

    In a relationship subculture where we emphasize the value of not making too much of a “negative” big deal about the relationships our partners have with others (just because sex and/or romance are involved), I find it kind of incongruous that we should nonetheless make a “positive” emotional big deal about them being sexual and/or romantic with other people.

    There are a couple of other reasons the concept of compersion squicks me a bit. The main one is that – to me – it suggests an over-identification with a partner and their independent experiences. The other is that it suggests we should have emotional reactions about what our partners are doing, but – as I said above – only if it’s a positive one. I strive to be level – smooth and calm – emotionally. As my Sufi teacher taught me, “Don’t strive for happiness or sadness….strive for contentment.” I find that learning contentment is really what works for me.

    I also have a strong opinion about compersion being held up as some sort of “poly-enough” litmus test. In many of the discussion threads I have participated in over the years, there is such an emphasis on the idea that feeling compersion makes people “poly enough” – the boasting about feeling it…..etc. – that a lot of people who just don’t get “the feels” one way or the other about a partner’s other relationships begin to feel that they may not be “poly enough” for not feeling it. I’m here to say that it’s totally okay if all you feel is supportiveness and an otherwise placid response……like “Oh. Okay. Thanks for letting me know”……….. as opposed to……”Oh my god!….I’m SO happy for you!!! I feel all gooey inside for you!”

    It’s perfectly okay if some people are so identified with their partner that they have some sort of positive emotional response to their adventures, but I also want to highlight that it’s also perfectly okay if all you feel is, “Oh. Okay. That’s happening.” It’s perfectly okay to not be self-identified with a partner’s experiences so much that we feel any kind of extreme emotion. Compersion is NOT about feeling happy *for* someone. The very definition of “compersion” suggests we derive personal happiness and “get off” on our partners being romantic and sexual with others. In a sense it’s voyeuristic….and yes, I get that some people have that kink. In that context and framing…..hey, go for it if that’s your kink…as long as you have the permission of the other people for you to fetishize their relationship.

    What I object to as a poly educator and relating coach is the damage and self-doubt promoting “compersion” – as a solution to jealousy – in such an assumptive way that it tends to send people who don’t feel it spiraling into self doubt. All promoting compersion really does is suggest that we take our emotions from one extreme on the spectrum and move them to another. In my view, that’s a form of overly emotionally self-identifying with someone else’s experience, and this doesn’t tend to promote healthy emotional individuation.

    If you are actually experiencing feelings of jealousy you may find this article helpful. https://www.facebook.com/notes/polyamory-loving-with-an-open-hand/navigating-feelings-of-jealousy/330604227382709/ It includes links to other helpful articles at the end.


    • zadenalove December 17, 2018 / 9:31 pm

      Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts Bharamari Dasi. I completely agree with you that there are many layers at play when it comes to emotions of any and all kinds in regards to relationships, and these are some great points. I try to keep my thoughts bite-sized here and the downside of that is of course a lack of both depth and breadth. I would hate to give someone a false impression that there is only one (or three) options as to how to respond to anything regarding our partner’s independent experiences. Kudos for adding a few extra options 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s