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Old 12-05-2011, 01:18 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hyperskeptic View Post
It seems to me the feeling or experience for which the term 'compersion' has been coined is real enough.

I just wish the word didn't come across as so utterly fake. I almost can't bring myself to utter it.

Why coin a new word, when existing words will do? There's the ancient Greek term, philia, which refers to a particular kind of love or affection or just plain old friendship. In particular, it's the desire for the happiness of another person, which works best when it's reciprocal. True friends rejoice in one another's happiness.

(In fact, I'd rather call my current way of thinking about relationships "polyphilia".)

If you don't like using actual words from dead languages, call it affection, compassion, grace, generosity, anything.

Just don't call it 'compersion'.
philia is not compersion. It describes brotherly (non-romantic) love between two people. Using "polyphilia" to describe your relationship tendency simply means that you are capable of forming friendships with more than one person at a time. In other words, being a regular, socially functional human being...

Affection means liking someone.
Compassion means feeling awful when someone is suffering and wanting to fix it.
Grace and generosity aren't any kind of emotion.

Compersion is a very specific emotion: the feeling that you are happy about your romantic partner being in love with someone else.

The closest alternative I can think of would be sympathy, which describes being in emotional agreement with another person about the same object. But that's not appropriate, because compersion doesn't mean "I am also in love with your lover."

Empathy is also close, because it does not require you to actually have the same feelings but only to intellectually understand them. But that's still not the same as feeling happy about it, it just means "I understand that you are happy to be in love."

Why call a feeling "jealousy" when we can just say "fear?" Jealousy refers specifically to a fear of loss of something that a person values... You can be jealous when your mom has a new baby because you're scared she won't love you anymore. You can be jealous when your best friend gets married because you're afraid they won't come to drink and watch football with you anymore. You can be jealous when you and a coworker are up for the same promotion and you see him taking the boss out for dinner one night.

That's why you can feel compersion and jealousy at the same time. You can be happy for your partner that they're in love and full of NRE, and at the same time afraid that they'll spend less time with you and forget your birthday.
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