Compersion & Envy/Jealousy

Compersion is a complicated thing for me.

Let’s start out with the simple stuff.

The definition of compersion according to Wiktionary is:

  1. The feeling of joy one has experiencing another’s joy, such as in witnessing a toddler’s joy and feeling joy in response.
  2. 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.


November Write 13

To my metamours,

Thank you.

And I’m sorry.  For every offense I have made, for every time I made you feel left out, for every time something I’ve done or said something that has hurt, offended, or made you uncomfortable – I am so very sorry.  I am sorry if I missed you in my round of apologies for the mess I made a couple Saturdays ago. I want to say this all upfront.

I am consistently awed by you.  You have gone above and beyond in welcoming me into your ‘cule.  You are one of my blessings that I can count every day.  You inspire me to do better.  You inspire me to face my concerns and challenges head on, to grow beyond where I started about 7 months ago.  It has not been an easy path, sometimes for any of us, but thank you for choosing to walk it with me, for however long we get to walk together.

Thank you for the wisdom you have shared and the experiences you have conveyed to me.  Thank you for occasionally being my sounding board.

You make me happy from several different angles.  I am happy that you make our shared partner happy.  I am happy when you are happy in your relationships.  I am happy when we all get to spend time together, whatever we’re doing.  I am very happy that I have been given the chance to get to know you.  I love seeing the love you have for our shared partner in action.  You have reminded me what compersion feels like. 🙂

This is not the first time I have had at least one wonderful metamour, including a couple metas that are still my friends – a bond that lasted even after the end of the relationship.  It is, however, the first time I’ve had more than one amazing meta.





I read a question post in one of the many poly groups I’m in on Facebook, asking for advice on how to get along with a metamour, especially one that you don’t have much in common with. I left a short answer because I felt like I was rambling, but I came to think more about it and here’s what I came up with:

I don’t know about without a lot of commonalities – I tend to find that people tend to be attracted to people that usually share some characteristics/interests. I find that the best way to try to make nice with metamours, even if you’ll never be friends per se is to try to find those commonalities and to be able to communicate about your partner in common.

I have had a couple relationships/friendships/interestships that outlasted my relationship with our partner in common (and in the two cases I can think of off the top of my head – also their relationship with the partner in common, though not always through break-up).

I feel blessed for the former metamours I have in my Facebook (and sometimes real) life:

1. The one who posts pictures of them and their kids, so I can see how their life has been even though I lost touch with them years ago;
2. The one who posts thought provoking articles and fabulous pictures (she is a truly talented photographer) and her partner who I occasionally nerd out with (and secretly have a tiny crush on *shush*);
3. The one who, along with my mother (and my partner, of course), is helping me plan my handfasting. He will be officiating at it. He is one of the very few people outside of my immediate family I would trust with my life.



Relationship: Metamour (former, technically, but the bond that was there while Minx was alive still exists, in a changed way for sure, but still significant)

How long:  A few months.  I first met him about a month before Minx died.

How we met originally:  Minx was having a bad week, so Baron asked Raven and I if we’d like to do a special dinner for her to cheer her up.  We all got together at Raven and Minx’s new house and we had a bbq dinner and watched Doctor Who together.

What I like:  His ability to be vulnerable.  The dedication he showed towards Minx.

What I don’t like:  That I didn’t get more opportunities to spend time like that dinner.

What our relationship is like:  We’re Facebook friends.  We talk occasionally, we see each other occasionally.

What I have learned from this relationship: That having someone by your side while experiencing deep things can be a binding experience.  That everyone gets something slightly different from Doctor Who, and that’s awesome.

Random tidbits:  I don’t really have much to add to this section, unfortunately.  We bump into each other occasionally, as we run in the same circles and I don’t anticipate that changing any time soon.  It is what it is, and I am glad to have him as my metamour.



Relationship: Friend, metamour (former, technically, but the bond that was there while Minx was alive still exists, in a changed way for sure, but still significant)

How long:  To be honest, I’m really not sure.  I know I have at least known him as long as Minx, but I also know for sure that it has been longer.

How we met originally:  He says that we met a couple years ago at one of the parties at the PDC.  I don’t doubt him, but I have no recollection of this (probably because I was drunk at the time).

What I like:  His honesty.  His very open way of addressing the world.  The chin dimple (it is adorable).  His voyeurism.  His brains – I like picking at them.  What the joys and trials of parenthood can look like.

What I don’t like:  That he lives so far away.  The stubble (all stubble is scratchy on my skin).

What our relationship is like:  It is very in between right now.  We get along well, but the whole busy thing means that we don’t get to spend a lot of time together, which is a bummer.  I like picking his brains about things and I love that he picks my brains about things too.  I think we will always have the shared bond of losing a partner and that, that is something I don’t seem to have words for.

What I have learned from this relationship: That having someone by your side while experiencing deep things can be a binding experience.  Lots about food science and cooking – way more than I thought there ever was to know (you can caffeinate marshmallows and they are amazingly delicious).  That sometimes loving does mean leaning and sometimes it means being a steady pillar to lean on.

Random tidbits:  I am glad that he and Minx were legally married when she passed, because it meant that she had someone very capable and very sane handling those difficult decisions when it came to the end of her life.  I will always admire his ability to remain calm and serene in difficult situations, also, his ability to fall asleep anywhere, anytime.  He does beautiful chainmail work.