A Post on my What is Compersion? Post

I was recently asked to write a guest post for Dr. Marie Thouin’s blog: What is Compersion?. It was a pleasure to have met Marie and learn about her research, which she completed as part of her Ph.D. studies. I enjoyed sharing my story with her along with my thoughts on this complex topic.

For those unfamiliar with the term compersion, it originated in the 1990s in the context of ethical non-monogamy to describe feeling joy or happiness at seeing one’s partner happy as a result of their connection with another partner. In other words, if I am compersive (read my post to find out if I am), then I should derive pleasure at seeing Viktor happy when he spends time with an FWB or a new paramour. This is a very simplified version and I would highly recommend that one check out Marie’s blog and research to learn about compersion in much more depth.

While Viktor and I have written about compersion before, this was an interesting exercise for me as I examined my current state of mind regarding compersion. In this regard, I found it useful to look at a broader application of the term because, for me, compersion can be applied to other connections and relationships beyond romantic partners.

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Equal or Balanced

Word selection and nuance are super important in managing open relationship communication. One simple example has been wrestling with the difference between jealousy and envy. Another, more recent revelation, has been the difference between equal and balanced.

One of the most important aspects in our open marriage is that neither Jeannie nor I are looking for partners to replace each other. Instead we’re looking for partners that supplement or compliment our relationship while fulfilling some individual needs or desires. For example, Jeannie likes some aspects of impact play, but not all the same ones that I enjoy. Therefore, my partnering with Justina to play with canes, for example, complimented my relationship with Jeannie. It allowed me to satisfy a craving I cannot satisfy with Jeannie while taking nothing away from Jeannie and me.

This, is balance. This is what open relationships should seek.

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Intersectionality & Representation

About six months ago I started working with a new therapist and a key topic on my mind was intersectionality and my personal identity. My lifestyle leads to a complicated list of possible labels, all of which are helpful in allowing others to get an idea of who I am, but also which limit the reality of how fluid we all are as adapting humans.

Ultimately my therapist helped me realize that I was a bit too stuck on the labels and instead I’m now embracing the idea of who I am without labels. Labels still come up, but I let them fill in rather than drive my story. I’m also seeing how my identity plays into representation for various groups (like queer, polyamorous, kinkster) and how I should represent these groups.

As this has become less about my identity and more about how I represent, an episode of the Curious Fox podcast really struck me and I’ll talk about this here.

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