Cheers Sexy People!
I have a confession to make. Sometimes I suck at compersion… even though I write this polyamorous blog. Well, hey I partly write this blog to work out my angst or occasional problems with an audience for both feedback, but also in an effort to hopefully help others at the same time with their similar issues. So yes, I am human. I’m not perfect. And sometimes I just plain, old suck at compersion. (sometimes, I’m doing pretty well too. I’ve been doing this poly thing for almost four years now, and I’ve learned a thing or two).
Compersion, for those that may be late to the party is defined normally as the opposite of jealousy. It is the feeling of joy at your partner’s happiness with another person. Joy at their joy (with another). For me, on the intellectual side of things, I believe in the relationship style of polyamory, and loving more than one person at a time, openly and consensually (vs. cheating and lying). I’m on board. I’m down with the program. Bring it.
However, there are moments that are difficult. Challenging. Sometimes for me it has to do with affection. If I see one of my sweeties getting super cuddly, adorable and smoochy with another, sometimes it makes my skin crawl. There, I said it. I know I shouldn’t feel that, even in the moment. But sometimes it’s hard to control. Whether it’s from our conditioning from society that we’re immediately supposed to feel threatened or jealous, or whether it’s from a knee-jerk fear of loss of your beloved, or whether it’s my upbringing (non-affectionate parents, so affection felt “scarce” growing it up and I want it all for ME now), who knows.
Sometimes it feels like an inner turmoil, a tug of war. The intellectual side of me knows I am theoretically cool with it, and should be as a self-proclaimed, polyamorous woman. But emotions are tricky, reactions can be hard to unlearn. Old habits and beliefs can be deep down in our psyches. Actually, some for me I feel is related to light post traumatic stress (from my parents passing away, almost losing my beau to two previous monogamous girlfriends, “losing” some of my friends to mommy hood… I don’t want to lose anybody else). Again, the “intellectual me” knows that CHANGE (and death ironically in this conversation) and taxes are the only things we know of for sure in this life. Thus we need to learn to ADAPT, to roll with it, to LISTEN and to not make assumptions. But how many things in life are easier said than done, eh? Sure as shit, quite alot I find.
So how do I handle it in those moments? Well for one, I catalogued some of my methods here. But also, here are some more:
- Run away. I’m not kidding. I’m an adult – but I have bad days or bad moods or bad moments. If I truly think that I cannot handle (WELL, at least) seeing something or dealing with a particular event, I will simply leave the room, or the house, or wherever. I don’t care if that makes me sound immature. It’s a coping mechanism. And when I need it, I am going to use it, just like any other tool in the toolbox.
- I remind myself that by my beloved finding happiness and joy in another, they will then bring that happiness and joy back to me. Happy begets happy. Also, I obviously want my sweeties to be happy (not alone, sad or depressed). So, yay, they are getting some happy!
- I try to remember that we live in a world of abundance (not scarcity). Love is not like a bank account where when one person gets love and affection, it is therefore taken away from somewhere else. It can multiply instead. Time is limited, sure. So we need to make sure we are getting proper quality time with our sweeties. So, yes, make sure your needs are getting met. But that doesn’t mean other people can’t also get their needs met too, in a poly type of situation.
- Sometimes, I just take a deep breath, look down at the rings on my fingers, and smile to myself. Everything is OK. I read my first self-help book at the age of seven (I was a weird kid). It was “I’m OK. You’re OK.” Alot of the book was about “acting as if” everything is cool. Sometimes, I just pretend. And eventually, it starts to feel just fine, little by little.
- I go grab a smooch or a hug from my sweetie too! It’s extra, super awesome when they are with a date, but initiate coming over to me to offer reassurance also. But if they don’t and I need something, then I go grab a hug / smooch at an opportune moment. Take responsibility for yourself and your needs, as long as you’re not stepping on anyone’s toes.
- Sit quietly with yourself and really try to pinpoint what exactly is bothering you. Is it something that you can handle on your own, or do you need to talk something out or make a request of some kind to feel either reassured or connected again, etc.? Which brings me to…
- Know when to communicate. If there is something that needs to be talked about, such as if resentment is building, then talk it out before it festers. I realize this is happening a bit for me right now. My beau doesn’t want to try to explain polyamory to his old school family with traditional values, and thus doesn’t want to introduce me as his married girlfriend – I am just a friend and we can’t be affectionate in front of them. But if he’s got a single sweetie, he can introduce them as his girlfriend to his family if he wants to. There is a part of that that I understand as we have not “come out” to every single person in our lives. But there is a part of that that ticks me off. Maybe nothing has to change, but I may need to vent about it… like maybe tonite. 🙂
In my quest for answers, I found the following articles that I thought had good nuggets of information in them. This first one focuses on compersion:
This article touches on the seven deadly sins of a relationship, including resentment. Great stuff in here:
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Any other suggestions, coping mechanisms, advice or anecdotes to share? Sharing is caring afterall!
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)
Compersion is such a heady, delightful feeling, ain’t it? But, as you say, we’re only human and there are some times when you need to have compersion up and running… and it just ain’t happening. It’s kinda easy for someone to say, “Hey, I’m happy if you’re happy!” but, eh, not so much at times and especially if you wind up on the sidelines and when you really needed some TLC.
You sometimes can’t stop yourself from thinking, “Why are they have all the fun and I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs and waiting my turn?” Emotionally, it sucks… and it’s a good thing that one’s intellect can step in and set things right, like reminding you that whatever makes them happy is going to rub off on you, literally and figuratively so, yeah, that’s a good enough reason for compersion to be right up front instead of letting your fears make you foolish.
But I’ve also learned that when compersion isn’t being felt, it’s a serious reminder of why you’ve decided to live a poly life in the first place – at least I know it would remind me, anyway – and then everything would be okay in my heart and mind. With things working the way they should be working in this, it allowed me to tell people who’d ask how I could possibly be so happy knowing that one of my poly partners could be with someone else that whatever makes them happy makes me happy – and I mean it.
What a rush…
Thanks for contributing your thoughts and feelings here on this topic that comes up quite a bit in poly circles. It sounds like you’ve done quite well for yourself in handling any unease you might occasionally feel about your partner’s being with their partners. Good on you! I liked where you said we “let our fears make us foolish.” Well said. I hope to continue to get to a better and better place with my compersion and practice of it, and hope someday, I’m not practicing at all! I’m dancing with it.
It’s really not all that different from being in a relationship with just one person; at least the ‘technique’ is the same even if it’s now spread out to encompass the people in your poly group. If you feel compersion for one, then you feel it for all; anything else just doesn’t make sense.
It’s not that you’re gonna feel some unease in this; Lord knows I felt a lot of it. It is, however, all about how you deal with it and, at least for me, letting my emotions drive the bus isn’t the best thing to do.
Trying to eliminate any unease is impossible and it’s kinda easy: How would you prefer to feel in these situations? Pissed off or some other negative emotional state… or happy for them and, yeah, even happy for yourself because you can feel so happy for them?
I know which one I’d rather feel – and it just makes sense to feel this way and it lessens the number of headaches, ya know?
Thanks again. All good thoughts. I agree that our emotions should not run the bus. We are all going to have emotions from our perceived moments of stress. It’s partly how we interpret moments, right? Maybe they are stressful, maybe it is just our faulty perception that is stressing us out. Sometimes I wait days sorting through feelings before I ever even speak a word. That took some practice and patience to be able to do. I like to thoughtfully bring up in a non-accusatory manner something that might be bothering me. Plus if I am the only one that is bothered, well that’s something to think about, isn’t it? I definitely subscribe to the “choose to be happy” club again, intellectually. Sometimes, in the moment, it is not as easy. But I’m learning! Most of the time, I am happy for myself these days, and happy for my extended poly family. I’m all for lessening headaches. Thanks for the no nonsense, practical thoughts!
Not a problem – we learn by doing but we can also learn from each other, too!
🙂 You rule, kdaddy23!
I fully can relate to you. I find I’m good with compersion towards my husband, but can have issues when it relates to the other half of our poly quad. I think the worst of it is becuase it’s a long distance relationship with them, so I can’t just go get the quick reassurances in person that I can with my husband. What I’ve found that helps me is to not hear any details until after their playdate or encounter is over. Then I seem to want to hear all the details, lol!
It’s always nice to know others can relate, isn’t it? I am the same way in that I find it easier to have compersion for my husband, I think partly because our relationship is rock solid, and I know he’s not going anywhere ever. I guess I should count my blessings too, as my boyfriend lives with us and does give me reassurances, which is so lovely. I think what helps make us all human is that we all have weak moments and strong moments. I think life is about trying to have more and more strong moments, and less and less weak ones. Here’s to being strong and trusting our loved ones to have our best interest at heart when they are playing with their other sweeties.
Yes, that’s the other part. 20yrs vs 1.5yrs makes a difference too. But we’re in it for the long haul, and knew the distance would be a challenge. Thanks to technology and monthly weekends, we’re making it work and understand ourselves so much better now than we did when we all met. I can’t wait to see what the future holds 🙂
Same with me! I’ve been with my husband for eleven years, and with my boyfriend for just under four years. Technology does rock, doesn’t it? I have a great friend in Dubai and in Canada thanks to the interwebs. 🙂
Every day, we all understand each other better too. Each obstacle that we brush against, we handle with love and compassion in our hearts (most days LOL). As a friend in Canada says, “let’s not forget the importance and benefit of staying together.” 🙂