Compersion: The Skill You Absolutely Need In Your Relationship(s).

If there’s one thing that the polyamorous community does that everyone needs to adopt, it’s compersion.

Here’s the definition, from

A feeling of joy when a partner invests in and takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship. Commentary: Compersion can be thought of as the opposite of “jealousy;” it is a positive emotional reaction to a lover’s other relationship.

I’ve talked about as a great resource if you’re dealing with  jealousy, but the above is really the biggest thing… if you spin it out a little bit further.

Because while it’s great if you can use it in the above sense (like this HuffPo article illustrates) I think compersion isn’t just being happy about your partner’s other relationship.

It’s being happy about your partner’s successes…whether or not they involve you.

And that’s something that you absolutely should want in your relationship with your SO (significant other).

SO makes more than you?  GREAT!
SO gets a promotion when you don’t?  GREAT!
SO gets accolates when you don’t?  GREAT!

This gets to perhaps the best definition of “love” yet, as paraphrased by Heinlein (and also by Paul in Ephesians 5):

the word “love” designates a subjective condition in which the welfare and happiness of another person are essential to one’s own happiness.

This is not something that you have to be “born with”, though as with any skill some people seem to take to it more naturally than others.  But it is a skill you can learn.

Here’s the secret to compersion: You have to be able to separate out your own desires from the desire to see those you care about be happy.

It’s that simple.  And that hard.

Start with identifying your own desires and separating them out from whatever else is going on. I’m not always great at reducing my own desires, which leads to a bit of mental whiplash, but I sure as hell can be happy for those I care about and love.

Once you’ve been able to separate your own desires, it frees you1.  You can express your own desires and fears completely separately from the desire to see those you care about be happy.

Learning the skill of compersion might not make the pang of them falling for another person, or getting the promotion you wanted, or whatever else go away.

But it will let you be able to feel both that and the joy you want to feel for other’s success in any area.

1 For some things and people this is far easier than for others. Do not feel bad if you require support in the form of friends or a therapist; you’re doing what you need to do!