Compersion is a complicated thing for me.
Let’s start out with the simple stuff.
The definition of compersion according to Wiktionary is:
- The feeling of joy one has experiencing another’s joy, such as in witnessing a toddler’s joy and feeling joy in response.
- The feeling of joy associated with seeing a loved one love another; contrasted with jealousy.
The one I’m mostly using for this post is the second one, although I do have to make it abundantly clear that I do not agree with this portion: “contrasted with jealousy”. For the longest time this was the definition I used, so I thought it was something that I didn’t experience because I definitely deal with jealousy.
But as Page Turner notes in her post “Cultivating Compersion Can Be a Helpful Distraction from the Pain of Tackling Jealousy and Insecurity“, the two concepts can exist alongside each other. In her words:
You can feel happy that your partner is happy and also feel insecure, overshadowed, displaced, envious, or any of the other things that masquerade as jealousy.
I realized what compersion was like for me watching my partners with their other partners. Whatever else I felt about my relationship with my partner at the time, I was always happy to see them getting cuddles and kisses from the other people who they care about.
Envy is a big part of what made compersion a hard thing, until I figured out a good strategy for dealing with whatever is making me envious: looking into the situation, figuring out what I wanted (because, for me, envy is usually an expression of me feeling like there is something missing in my relationship or the situation), and asking my partner for whatever I felt I was missing. The other part of this is having partners who I know genuinely want to work with me to help resolve these issues in whatever way it is possible for them, or, if there isn’t a possible way, will at least actually listen to me.
This is not to say that my envy has been solved. Far from. It comes up for me often enough. And sometimes there isn’t an easy answer for it, other than just sitting with it, like in the few cases where me having what I am envious about isn’t possible or isn’t something long-term me would really want, but short-term me has feels about.
One example of this that comes up is being envious of my metamours for getting more time, especially casual/non-date time, with my partners because they live together. Dissecting this, there are a couple things that can come up:
- Not feeling like I get enough time with my partners, especially non-date hangout time. I can ask for time. Hearing that there isn’t any more time to be had is disappointing, but in most cases I can deal with that.
- The privilege of being the person who is assumed to be default/most important by most of society. Of being part of the unit that Christmas cards are addressed to, who are invited to parties, who don’t have to be hidden from anyone. Not much of this can be addressed, other than the last bit – and that, not easily. Monogamy as default is a bitch.
- Wanting to live with someone. This is not really an issue for me, mostly because I am uber picky about who I live with. It took me years before I was willing to move in with Trydaen, and a couple more before I actually did.
The whole thing that brought this up?
Seeing a note from Eve to Moss because she was heading out of town. Less than 10 words. I felt envious that she was in a position that missing him isn’t the case most of the time (that it is so different that it is worth noting). But as that felt out, what remained was joy. Joy that she loved him, joy that she left him a note, joy that he had her in his life, and joy that they are there for each other. Even though I am not sure if that if I had left a note that she had found, that the end result would be joy. Didn’t matter at all.