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Old 05-07-2017, 01:06 AM
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Shaya Shaya is offline
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Default What does compersion feel like for you?

I'm really interested in how people feel compersion, both emotionally, sexually or otherwise. For me, watching my gf graduate gives me a sense of happiness that would be the same as her sense of happiness when she graduates. Watching her fall in love with someone else feels like me falling in love with someone else. I have not had the opportunity to experience compersion in any more detail or to experience it sexually.

When I ask others for their feelings of compersion, most seem to describe something different - if their gf graduated or fell in love, the person feeling compersion would say their gf is happy and so that makes them happy. They certainly do not describe different types of happiness they might feel based on the different types of happiness their gf feels.

In summary, how do you experience compersion? can you describe the different flavours of compersion you have felt in a way that a "blind person" who has not felt compersion can understand and relate to? In particular, what categories of compersion (eg emotional, sexual) do you think exist, how these differ and how jealousy plays into compersion when experienced simultaneously.

I'm a blind man wanting to learn about compersion. Teach me please!
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Old 05-07-2017, 02:01 AM
Ellamenopea Ellamenopea is offline
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Imagine happening upon a hole in the wall restaurant that is off the beaten path. Sit down, order a meal that reads delicious to you. When delivered, it is plated beautifully, and smells delicious. When you take a bite, your mouth is overcome with flavor, the temperature is perfect, each flavor complements the other in perfect harmony. The side dish is just as scrumptious. When you wrap up the meal, the check is delivered and you learn that the single best meal you have ever eaten is only $4.00!

You cannot believe your good luck at finding this wonderful place. You mention it to your friend, Bob the next day. You go on and on about the place and how you can't wait to go again. Bob states he has driven by the place many times, but he's never stopped in because it looks like a place he wouldn't enjoy. You finally convince Bob to join you for lunch, you order the same dish as yesterday, because you enjoyed it so much, but Bob opts for another choice. Bob takes his first bite and is instantly all smiles- it is THE best dish he's ever ordered. He offers you a bite, and you accept. While not terrible, Bob's dish doesn't even come close to being as good as yours. Bob raves non stop about how great his meal is, and thanks you profusely for convincing him to try this place.

You're happy for Bob, not jealous. You enjoyed your meal, he enjoyed his, and you are both full, satisfied, and happy. You know you'll be back, and so will Bob.

You then hear Bob tell Phil about this great place, and Phil is excited to go now, too! You are excited you found this place and that your friends are going to enjoy it now, too and can't wait to hear about their meals.


That's compersion to me.
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Old 05-07-2017, 04:04 AM
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The actual feeling of compersion, for me, feels very similar to the way that you feel when you look at your sleeping lover and are overwhelmed by love and happiness....or how you feel when the lover is genuinely, truly happy about something that you have no real interest in but still are filled with happiness for your lover because you love them and love seeing them happy. Its a warm feeling in my chest. That's how I experience it. It's also really intense when you genuinely care about and like your lover's lover, too, because then I'm feeling it for both of them.

I actually even experienced a really overwhelmingly strong feeling of compersion when Blue was with Azure one weekend last fall, despite the fact that their relationship was a huge source of stress for me. I had been feeling really anxious and insecure in the days leading up that weekend, and earlier that day. I meditated and then focused on sending loving kindness to Blue as a way to alleviate the anxiety and insecurity. Later that night, I was immersed in an activity with my kids and out of nowhere, I felt the strongest feelings of compersion and love towards Blue. It was really awesome. I do think the focusing on sending loving kindness that I did earlier in the day made a difference. That's the only time I felt it during their relationship. I have also felt compersion for Blue since our breakup.....but then we're still very close, just not partners.

That said, compersion isn't something I experienced frequently. And I don't think it's necessary to experience compersion. You can be happily poly without it. I think of it like whipped cream on my ice cream....really nice, but not necessary.
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Old 05-08-2017, 05:12 PM
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For me, compersion is more of a mental experience than it is an emotional experience. "Oh, my partner is sleeping with someone else. That's cool, I hope she has a good time." I don't get very involved in the middle of things. Others may have a different experience, of course.
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Old 05-08-2017, 07:05 PM
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I wouldn't call being happy for someone else's graduation or great meal compersion. My understanding of compersion is that it refers specifically to happiness (sometimes to the point of sexual arousal) over a romantic/sexual partner's joy of another romantic/sexual partner. Compersion isn't just being happy for someone else and refers to poly relationships, not to, for instance, a parent being happy for a toddler's joy at seeing grandma. I see some definitions online that I would call incorrect.

There's a huge misconception that compersion is essential to successful poly. There's also a huge misconception that jealousy has no place in good poly relationships.

My own feelings: I can definitely be happy for play partners when they are with someone other than me and at times I feel sexually aroused by their enjoyment of one another. Usually, my feelings in this situation are more what Kevin describes. When I'm deep in love with someone though, I have zero interest (in fact, an aversion) to seeing them with someone else or hearing the details.
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Old 05-08-2017, 08:36 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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While I am pleased for partners when good things happen for them, I don't feel compersion in the way many people describe experiencing it, whether that's in person or here in the forum. It's not something I need to experience to 'do' poly, I don't feel the need to cultivate it. I tend to think of it as a bonus experience that may or may not happen but it's presence or absence doesn't determine much about a given relationship. That's been true in my experience - I'm sure others have different points of view.

So I don't accept it's necessary to experience compersion to do poly well. I don't think compersion is the feel good reward you get for doing poly well. Although I do understand why people may look for anything to help them feel good about difficult changes. And I see how it can operate that way for some.

I worry that too many people are getting the impression that compersion is something they should experience, or expect to develop as they resolve problems. I fear many see the formula as 'remove jealousy, feel compersion, profit!' This is really oversimplifying things, I know. But I do see people trying to jam their emotional states into these boxes which may or may not work for them. (I'm speaking generally - I'm not saying this thread does that.)

I also wonder if compersion is an unmitigated good. Like how jealousy is usually perceived to be completely 'bad'. Often it is negative in that it indicates something is awry. But that's not 'bad'. Unpleasant, definitely, but so is fear, or pain in general. Fear tells us when to run for our lives. Jealousy can perform a similar early warning function. That could be an internal issue or one with the partner or how the relationship is currently going. So if jealousy is not always a bad thing, then I wonder if compersion can cloud judgment, or cause someone to feel involved in others' relationship's in ways that are damaging, or co-dependent, or just unwelcome. Compersion can feel pleasant but it may not always be positive. I think this can be especially true if someone 'needs' to feel compersion in order for feel good about their relationships instead of it being an extra fun bonus.

I also don't think compersion is the 'opposite' of jealousy. I don't believe in good twin/bad twin models of feelings as they are limiting and dangerous. Like love and hate are not polar opposites of each other. They are each their own complex universes that might, or might not, interact. Jealousy is a unique bundle of different feelings, shaped by out unique pasts, that are reactive to our unique experiences.

Anyway, some thoughts I had about compersion sparked by the thread.
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Old 05-08-2017, 09:01 PM
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I don't think that those other things are attempted definitions of compersion...more analogies to help explain it, metaphors, colorful illustrations. I'm prone to thinking in such terms, so that is where my mind went, too.

The feeling I get, when I am telling my friend about my favorite movie and they are like, "Hm, never heard of it" and then we watch it together, and they love it. Not only have I brought them happiness through sharing something I love, I get to sort of experience their new little surge of happiness vicariously over something that I have loved for a while.

And so when I am somewhere and I'm trying to talk about how wonderful Zen is, and some female friend says he is "sweet" or some other "yes, I get it you're in love, that's nice, he's nice, you're nice, whatever" sort of a comment and I want to be like, "YOU DON'T EVEN GET IT AND YOU SHOULD REALLY FEEL THIS THING HE CAN DO WITH HIS HANDS AND HIS MOUTH" but then I don't say that because fuck...that would be really awkward, right?

...

Or the one time when we were at the bar and this one gal was hitting on him, and I was so happy because she was cute and giving him attentions. I wish more pretty women would give him attentions. I liked that.

But sometimes if he gives HIS attention to other pretty women, I feel jealous-ish uncomfortable things though. Especially if they don't appear to be giving him anything much back.

I like the notion of him having sex and love and affection with other women. I like it because I think he is wonderful and should get lots of love and attention and appreciation and joy. I like it because I like the idea of others seeing what I see in him.

I do not feel so ok when he is giving his attention and interest to other women who do NOT "see" him or appreciate him. That makes me feel jealous, upset, even diminished or angry, depending on the situation. But those issues are my own hangups.

I think a lot of this just has to do with what's going on in our own minds, our programming and what our triggers to insecurity or bad feelings are, how we process things and how we're likely to react to various situational emotional stimuli. Also, I am far more likely to feel something like compersion if my needs are met, and if I like all of the people involved in the situation.
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Old 05-08-2017, 10:30 PM
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FallenAngelina FallenAngelina is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spork View Post
I don't think that those other things are attempted definitions of compersion...more analogies to help explain it, metaphors, colorful illustrations.
Google "compersion" and the definition in the big box is about a toddler.
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Old 05-09-2017, 04:44 AM
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Shaya Shaya is offline
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I trust Google less ever since I Googled "first black president". Go ogling the truth about vaccines or the truth about 9/11 or the truth about the moon landing gets you similar Hogwash but that's probably somewhat your fault for searching your query with that type of biased phrasing.

Still, I was very surprised with first black president. It's not a biased search query and Google gets it wrong.

ADDIT: I left the auto-correct "go ogling" because I think I've now realised the double meaning behind the creators choosing the name Google.
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Old 05-09-2017, 02:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FallenAngelina View Post
Google "compersion" and the definition in the big box is about a toddler.
That is the first bit. It goes on to say something about joy in love that your partner shares with another, as contrasted to jealousy. And the toddler bit is just another attempt at example...it's like this, like that, and like the other thing. Experiencing joy, happiness, love, etc vicariously, through or because of the emotions and experiences of others.

All of the ~not related to polyamory~ examples are, in my opinion, simply attempts to normalize by connecting it to other things. Because jealousy is more "normal" to "normal" people in romantic relationships, due to the cultural "norm" of the closed dyad, or "Monogamy" or "monogamy-as-practiced" (to reference Ravenscroft's speak on the subject.) For a lot of people, the notion of sharing your partner with another, particularly if you do have strong feelings of intense love for them, is just crazytalk.

But then it has been my experience that a lot of people are possibly operating from a place of:
- never questioning the norms they were brought up with.
- possibly religious conditioning.
- codependency.
- insecure attachment.
- narcissism or at least high levels of self-centeredness.
...and other programming that I personally consider not-so-healthy for many. Not that it's any of my business.

So for the many, understanding sharing your favorite restaurant or movie with a friend...or sharing the joy of a toddler...is going to be so much easier to understand, than responding to sharing your sex/love partner with anything but grief, fury, or hysteria. But then our society also thinks that it's a lot more ok to raise kids on a steady diet of violence, as opposed to sex, and I grew up seeing a lot more divorce and fighting and misery in adult relationships around me, than I saw love and caring behavior. No wonder people have all these hangups and fears. We're practically raised to believe that love and sex are terrifying, most of us, I think. Let alone letting go control and sharing with more than one person.
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