Compersion

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So, you know how I like words. I came across a new one recently. It perfectly describes a feeling I have experienced all of my life yet never had a word for. Language is incredibly important in the matters of love, sex, and communication. (Hell, in life in general!) Our understanding of love as a society is so deeply rooted in a singular model or perspective. Our culture is by and large not just pro-monogamy but anti-anything else. Jealousy is often regarded as a qualifier for the intensity of attraction desire or love one feels for another. But what is this feeling I feel? In the situations where the often expected response is jealousy, I have most often felt something completely different. It felt like the antithesis to jealousy.  

Compersion: noun

    The feeling of joy one has experiencing another’s joy. The feeling of joy associated with seeing a loved one love another. 

    A feeling of joy when a partner invests in and takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship.

    Often referred to as the opposite of jealousy.

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I was given that little gem of a word in a great conversation I was having about love relationships. I have been sitting on it for two weeks now, trying to really let it find its way into my lexicon of love. (Let’s just say I've been quietly giddy about it.) Now that we have compersion defined, we can look at it a few different ways. Are we going to talk about the mental, emotional, or the physical expressions of love and joy? I am really interested in thinking about the romantic implications this kind of thinking has and what having a word to describe it makes space for. 

The language around love is often filled with concepts of singularity, possession, and hierarchy. I have been asked on multiple occasions and at many stages of my life, “What happened to change the way you feel about love?” NOTHING! I have felt the way I do, that love is infinite, not bound by possession, and not subject to a system of hierarchy, since as long as I can remember. Now, have I questioned my own feelings and thoughts about it? Absolutely. At every turn, the world tells us what love is supposed to look like. It tells us what to expect, what it feels like when its “real” and when it’s not. Our notion of love as a culture is inundated with conditions.

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Imagine for a moment a world where it is the cultural norm for people to engage freely in multiple love experiences and connections without possession. Now imagine in that world you want to keep a love or lover all to yourself. Imagine the opposition you might face from that society. You would undoubtedly face all sorts of rebuttal for your selfish act of restricting this love experience and making it unavailable for anyone else. How would you explain to the people that have your best interest at heart that there’s nothing wrong with how you feel about love? That jealousy was a perfectly normal feeling and it was okay for you to feel it? How would you ask your beloved to choose you and forsake all others? Welcome to my world. (and that of all the other folks that just constantly find ourselves defending our feelings around love and relationships. 

How can I say this plainly?

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It feels really good to know you feel good even if it’s not me making you feel that way. I find joy in anyone that brings me pleasure or that I care about having pleasure in their lives. I don’t want to be responsible for all of the pleasure that comes into your life. I will go as far as to say I don’t want to be responsible for all of the romantic pleasure that comes into your life nor do I want that from one person for me. I get off on you getting off. 

This how I see, how I live, and how I love.  While you’re out there finding new language to incorporate and share….

Love them as they are, have amazing sex, and communicate with intention!

David