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.



So, as you may have noticed, I haven’t written in awhile. It’s not that I haven’t come up with a million awesome ideas for posts, including some awesome ones bragging about the cool people that I know and/or love, but I have been out doing things, doing people, doing work of all sorts. And clearly, not writing.

Depression hit. I struck back by starting light therapy in the mornings and getting more regular about taking Vitamin D. It seems to have died down quite a bit. My anxiety levels are still a bit higher than normal, but depression has mostly abated, giving me some more summer time to make connections and socialize before it gets bad. If it gets bad…. It feels fairly mild this year, honestly. We’ll see, come November through January.

Bit #1

Moss and I had a really tough conversation on this last Monday. I had hyped myself up to catastrophization levels and was sure we were done for. I even talked to my therapist about it pretty extensively – her two big remarks were to be ready to let go of the relationship if my boundaries couldn’t be met (I’m not sure I was, which is what I told him when he asked if I had been) and to talk about the difference between something being urgent and something being important. I talked to him briefly that weekend to nail down plans and asked if I had anything to worry about in regards to the conversation – no, no agenda.

We had a lovely picnic in the Arboretum by the water, first in the sun, then in the shade. We settled into our normal conversational cadence – smooth, easy, flowing, no pressure. Then we talked about the situation at hand, about what our needs were, what we wanted going forward. And my fears were eased – no, no break-up. In fact, I think we came out of the whole situation more solid than we’ve been for a month or so.

I had the overwhelming feeling I do sometimes, when I can’t hold a thought or a feeling back – that it is overwhelming my mouth and I can’t but speak its name and nature. And so I did – I told him that I loved him. In the five seconds that followed my brain did an amazing thing – Anxiety hyped me up “What if he doesn’t love me, what if that makes or breaks things, what if it is too big a feeling to handle?”, but Reason stepped in and said “So what? You’ll figure it out with him, you’ll communicate about it, everything will be fine”. And everything was fine. Everything was more than fine. And yes, not going to keep you in suspense – the feeling was very mutual.

So far things have been going well enough with Eve on his end, even after talking with her about the situation and what he and I had talked about together. It gives me great hope!

Bit #2

So, I’ve been trying the casual dating thing with a few people, each of which has been going very differently, but each has some continuing potential. In order of first dates:

#1: He’s super fun to talk about politics and the local poly community with. Decent kisser. Some sexual chemistry, but unsure where I want to go with that. Even if we just ended up as friends (maybe as friends who fuck? I don’t know where this is going, really), that would be a good thing.

#2: We knew each other through a local lunch group that I organized awhile back, so we’ve had opportunities to chat before. Quiet, but worth the listening to. He’s a bit hard for me to read, so I’m not 100% sure of the level of mutual interest, but he seems to keep wanting to see me and he spoke well of me to Lola at an event they both attended. Even if it only ends up being a friends who go out to things thing, it would be fun.

#3: We’ve known each other for a couple years, but yeah, life can be complicated, especially when it comes to poly. I always thought he was cute and enjoyed when I’d see him at events. He is actually one of the cutest poly stories I have – we were in the hot tub at a party together and we had been talking for a bit, flirting for a bit, and he leans over to whisper in my ear that he would really like to kiss me right then, but things were too complicated at the moment. A couple years later, let me tell you – that kiss was fabulous, if a bit delayed. Also, I was thinking about this later, but he’s the first person I’ve fucked on the first date (not counting people I fucked before the first date and people for whom there was never a date). So yeah… fun stuff. I will be glad to see where this goes.

Each of these has at least had second dates and has a third scheduled.

Bit #3

Inspired by my therapist I’ve been turning over in my head if I want to try to actually get a travelling notary public business off the ground. At my last session/my first session in awhile she had asked me about my work stuff and had suggested marketing my skills, as a paralegal and my notary public license, to GRSM (Gender, Relationship, and Sexual Minority) people, particularly the LGBTQ community, as having someone who is one of them around could be a big mark in my favor.

I would have to do a few things to even have a chance of getting it off the ground – stop procrastinating on getting my notary stamp/seal, look into getting a business license, get a phone number independent of my personal cell number, set up a separate email address and basic website, set up bank account stuff, and I am absolutely sure I am missing something – but I looked at the market in my area and it seems like there is space for more notaries before the saturation point is reached.

There is plenty of space for expanding services in different directions once I get stuff off the ground, but this seems like a possible and doable thing for me.

Bit #4

Things seem to have stabilized on the gender front, a bit – it tends to be fluid, but a lot of the time my gender ends up manifesting as, “Do I really have to pick a gender?” or as “Not today, thank you” or something ridiculous, like “fuck your binary gendered”. I am getting a bit more finicky about having people use my correct pronouns and am starting to go on mini-tirades in my head when I am in a situation where I am forced to pick one (bathrooms being my most common example). But yeah, I think this, like everything else about me, is going to remain fluid.

Bit #5

The woman who took care of me from basically birth to kindergarten and occasionally after, is dying of cancer. She probably doesn’t have much longer. The common impression seems to be that we’re talking maybe double digit weeks, if not a few months, but soon. On Sunday there was a party in her honor held at the home/complex she’s living at – a “celebration of life” thing. So I drove about an hour and a half to get to see her, probably for the last time. It amazed me how small and frail she looked, like I could almost break her, but her mind and sense of humor were still as sharp as a tack.

The whole event gave me some perspective on how far life has taken me away from my early days. Her son, who is somewhere around a decade older than me always seemed so tall to me when I was a kid (and looking at the old pictures). But he is actually around my height, probably an inch or so shorter (and I am 5′ 3.5″), It left me wondering how much of who I am is because of this woman, and losing that will be a blow.

I’m still doing a fair amount of processing on this and probably will be, off and on, for awhile. But that’s what I have for now.

So yeah. I will try to write more often, but because we’re heading into winter I can’t exactly promise that.


More Than Two: 1.4

What do I want from my romantic life? Am I open to multiple sexual relationships, romantic relationships, or both? If I want more than one lover, what degree of closeness and intimacy do I expect, and what do I offer?
Let’s break this into parts:

What do I want from my romantic life?  Currently I want affection, respect, consideration of my needs and desires, time together (different for each partner in nature and length), and a willingness to participate in my life outside of our particular relationship.  Beyond that, I have different desires for each of my relationships because they are inherently different, due to being with different people.

Am I open to multiple sexual relationships, romantic relationships, or both?  Currently I’m pretty saturated in terms of romantic relationships, at least really involved ones.  Right now I’m only really interested in pursuing casual romantic relationships, ones where we get together every once in awhile and where our lives are not very entangled, other than by having overlapping friend groups.  As for sexual relationships, I am more open to those: for more than casual, but not overly entangled – for friends I can have sex with, but don’t need a lot of my time (because I don’t really have a lot at this point in time).

If I want more than one lover, what degree of closeness and intimacy do I expect, and what do I offer?  Currently, I am fairly saturated – I do have a couple casual dating partners, but beyond casual, I don’t think I have the space, time, energy, or spoons to handle that.  As an introvert I need to have time for myself, I need to have spare time in my schedule to date myself.  

So for anyone I am not entangled with (and also to those I am) I expect an understanding of my limitations with regards to time (whether that be because of my entangled partners or myself), I expect us to be able to converse about what we expect,  I expect to have the chance (at least occasionally) to talk to each other, I expect that if anything comes up sexually or with regards to feelings that we will address it with each other, I expect that we will get some time to spend with just each other, I would expect to get touch time, and I expect to be recognized in situations where we are spending time with your other partner(s) (no denial that I exist or that we have some sort of relationship with each other).

I offer open communication, touch, time to spend with each other (either in person, digital message, or on the phone), time on my calendar when we want to spend time together (as is possible for each of us, schedule permitting), honesty, and conversation when we want it and silence when we don’t.  I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things….


More Than Two: 1.3

How important is my desire for multiple romantic relationships?

To me?  To the universe?  To my tiny chunk of the universe?  I assume that they probably mean the first….

It is not the defining feature of my existence, but it is very important to framing my paradigm.

If I had not had doubts about my high school boyfriend’s jealousy, tied to any idea of me being anything other than just his, we might have stayed together for some time when I was at university and I would have lost the chance to explore that part of me.  To current me, that seems unacceptable.

There are so many people that I would not have met, so many opportunities I would not have had the chance to have, so many decisions I could not have made without it.  Everything in my life has been touched by it – I would not be where I am without the opportunity and desire to pursue romantic relationships.

I would not have had the chance to fall in love with most of the people I have in my life.  There are only two people I have had romantic love for that I would have had the chance to pursue: my first boyfriend and Musician.  The others have had such a profound impact on my life, on how I see myself, how I see the world around me, and my daily life – both now and in the past – that I am not sure I would be the person I think of as “me” without the ability and desire to pursue multiple romantic relationships.


More Than Two: 1.2

Do I feel there can be only one “true” love or one “real” soulmate?


Let me clarify.  This idea goes all sorts of ways for me, none very good.

Like most American kids, especially AFAB kids, I grew up with the fairy tale, happily ever after, one true love idea, fed to me by Disney.  Boy meets girl, they fall in love, and get married.  End of story.

But a few things in my life have thoroughly disabused me of this possibility, at least for myself.  

The first one I can remember was when I was volunteering at a summer Girl Scout day camp, probably about the second or third year I did it (so I was about 12 or 13).  The volunteer structure was sort of a mentor thing – they had adults and older teens supervising and mentoring the younger volunteers.  We all had a space away from the campers where we could sit and relax for breaks and meals.  During one of those break periods there were a few of us hanging out there and one of the older teens said something that has stuck in my head for the years since: “There is no such thing as one true love or a fairy tale ending”.  That shattered my brain, clicked a switch that I didn’t know existed.  One of the weirdest things about this experience is really how it has panned out now: I got back in touch with her, when she moved back to Seattle, oddly enough through a poly speed dating event.  And I am casually dating (one of) her partner(s) now.  It seems to have all come around in an odd sort of circle.

The second was my introduction to the idea of polyamory and multiple relationships shortly after I started college at 18.  It was paradigm changing to learn about this idea and read about the long term relationships and the people who made it all work out.

The third has been more of a span of time, rather than a fixed point.  Through the last three of four years I have been through a mess of things and only started to really socially stabilize this last year or so.  But through that period I found love a handful of times – none lesser or smaller than the love I already had with Trydaen.  And my love for people has changed and grown over those years – not just romantic love, but familial, platonic, sexual, and companionate.  Knowing about the breadth of love has made it impossible to ever be satisfied with just one love, forever and forever.  Even if I end up with only one partner, I know that there’s a lot of love out there and that love will never be alone, ever again.


More Than Two: 1.1

Have I ever felt romantic love for more than one person at the same time?

Absolutely.  More than once in my life, in fact.  But not as often as one might think from someone who actively identifies as polyamorous.

1: When I was with Musician, Horus, and Trydaen.  I was only with the three of them for a short amount of time (things were in a period of transition with Horus when I started seeing Trydaen), but there was definitely romantic love for more than one of them.

2. When I was with Trydaen and Minx.  I only got a week of proclaimed love with her, but it was there for awhile beforehand, even if not declared.

3. When I was with Grey Sky and Trydaen. “….Need we say it was not love,/ Just because it perished?” (Passer Mortuus Est by Edna St. Vincent Millay)

4. Currently.  This is the longest period that this has been the case (the others totaled maybe 6 months), and I have to say, I rather like it.


More Than Two Question Index

I have been inspired by one of my favorite blogs (Poly.Land) to do a series answering the chapter end questions in the book More Than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert.  I have been re-reading portions of the book and this blog series at the same time, so I thought this would be a good addition to that.

The Questions:

Chapter 1
Have I ever felt romantic love for more than one person at the same time?
Do I feel there can be only one “true” love or one “real” soulmate?
How important is my desire for multiple romantic relationships?
What do I want from my romantic life? Am I open to multiple sexual relationships, romantic relationships, or both? If I want more than one lover, what degree of closeness and intimacy do I expect, and what do I offer?
How important is transparency to me? If I have more than one lover, am I happy with them knowing about each other? If they have other lovers, am I happy knowing them?
How do I define commitment? Is it possible for me to commit to more than one person at a time, and if so, what would those commitments look like?
If I am already in a relationship, does my desire for others come from my dissatisfaction or unhappiness with my current relationship? If I were in a relationship that met my needs, would I still want multiple partners?

Chapter 2

What are my needs in relationships? Are they attached to specific people? That is, do I need these things generally, or do I need them just from certain people?
What configurations am I open to? Am I looking for a particular configuration because I’m afraid that others might be more scary or more threatening?
Am I flexible in what I’m looking for?
If my relationship changes, is that okay?
Can I accommodate change, even unexpected change or change I don’t like?
When I visualize the kind of relationship I want, how much space does it leave for new partners to shape the relationship to their needs?
Am I focusing on an idealized fantasy more than on making organic connections with real people?
What happens if I connect with someone in a way that differs from how I want my poly relationship to look? What message does that send to someone who doesn’t fit neatly into my dreams?

Chapter 3

(Ch. 3 questions are all asked in the context of ones to ask to evaluate whether your choices are ethical.)
Have I disclosed all relevant information to everyone affected by my decision?
Have I sought input from everyone affected? Have I obtained their consent where my decision overlaps their personal boundaries?
Does my decision impose obligations or expectations on others without their input or consent?
Am I seeking to have my needs met at the expense of the well-being of others?
Am I imposing consequences that will make others feel unsafe saying no to me?
Am I offering others the same consideration I expect from them?

Chapter 4

Why do I have romantic relationships? What do I get out of them?
What do I consider essential, indispensable elements of a relationship?
Are there specific kinds of relationships that I know I’m looking for? Kinds that I know I don’t want?
What do I bring to the table for others?
What makes me feel cherished, loved and secure?
What makes me feel afraid in relationships? Why?
In what ways do I protect myself from being hurt? Do those strategies help or hinder my search for connection?

Chapter 5

Why do I have relationships with other people? (see also 4.1)
What needs do I have from my partners, in terms of time, emotional availability, commitment, communication and intimacy?
What does “commitment” mean to me, and why? (see also 1.6)
When I think about the future, what does it look like? Is there room for change and growth? (see also 2.4 and 2.5)
How much do I value personal autonomy, transparency, cohabitation, having and raising children, shared finances, community, tradition, the opinions of my friends and family, adhering to social norms?
What values are the most important to me in myself and in others?
Are the choices I make in alignment with these values?
Who are my mirrors? Whom do I rely on to call me on my mistakes?
How do I respond to criticism from people close to me?
How do I evaluate my choices when the effects of my actions are impossible to predict?
What do I expect of others, and why?

Chapter 6

Do I use words the same way my partners do? Do I often find myself in discussions about the meanings of words?
If I have a problem with someone’s behavior, do I discuss the problem with that person?
If my partners have a problem with someone else’s behavior, do I encourage them to bring it up with that person?
Do I communicate passively or directly?
Do I look for hidden meanings in other people’s words? Do I bury my real meaning?
Do I communicate authentically in ways that make me vulnerable?
In what ways do I actively listen to my partners?

Chapter 7
How do I directly ask for what I need?
What can I do to be more direct in my communication?
If I hear a hidden meaning in a statement or a question, do I ask for clarification before acting on my assumptions?
Do I perceive criticism in my partner’s statements even if they aren’t directly critical?
What do I do to check in with my partners?
How well do I listen to my partners?
What do I do to make sure it’s safe for my partners to communicate with me, and to let them know it’s safe?
Does my communication show that I take responsibility for my actions and emotions?