Compersion is an empathetic state of happiness and joy experienced when another individual experiences happiness and joy. It is sometimes identified with parents' pride in their children's accomplishments or one's own excitement for friends' and others' successes. It is commonly used to describe when a person experiences positive feelings when a lover is enjoying another relationship. It is an opposite of jealousy.
Polyamorous views on jealousy and compersion
The concept of compersive behavior is widespread within the polyamorous community, and was originally coined by the now defunct Kerista Commune in San Francisco. The related adjective is "compersive".
It is common for people within the polyamorous community to state that jealousy comes with the territory of open romantic relationships. Compersion has often been referred to as "the opposite of jealousy".
In romantic relationships, thoughts and feelings of security, fear, and/or anxiety over anticipated loss of a partner or of that partner's attention, affection, or time elicit both compersion and jealousy as natural reactions to perceived complexities of nonmonogamy and are quite extensively covered in polyamorous literature.
In her book Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits, Dr Deborah M. Anapol describes five different types of jealousy - possessive, exclusion, competition, ego, and fear - before discussing compersion. The books The Ethical Slut and Opening Up also devote entire chapters to discussions of jealousy.
Investigative reporter and sex educator Eric Francis wrote on his Planet Waves website that an individual could look for their own compersion within jealousy itself: "Right inside the jealous episode is a fiery core of erotic passion. It may surprise you how good it feels, and if you get there, you can be sure you're stepping right into compersion."
- PolyOz defines compersion as "the positive feelings one gets when a lover is enjoying another relationship. Sometimes called the opposite or flip side of jealousy." They comment that compersion can coexist with jealous feelings.
- The Polyamory society defines compersion to be "the feeling of taking joy in the joy that others you love share among themselves, especially taking joy in the knowledge that your beloveds are expressing their love for one another."
- The InnKeeper defines compersion as "A feeling of joy when a loved one invests in and takes pleasure from another romantic or sexual relationship. ... Compersion does not specifically refer to joy regarding the sexual activity of one's partner, but refers instead to joy at the relationship with another romantic and/or sexual partner. It's analogous to the joy parents feel when their children get married, or to the happiness felt between best friends when they find a partner."
- From Opening Up, Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio writes that compersion is, in part, "the ability to turn jealousy's negative feelings into acceptance of, and vicarious enjoyment for, a lover's joy." (p. 175)
The adjective frubbly and the noun frubbles are sometimes used, in the poly community in the United Kingdom and the United States, to describe the feeling of compersion. These terms are more suited to cheerful, light-hearted conversation, and they are more grammatically versatile, for example: "I'm feeling all frubbly" and "Their relationship fills me with frubbles".
- Mudita (Pali or Buddhist term for "sympathetic joy")
- Naches (Yiddish for "pleasure, especially from children or grandchildren")
- "Polyamory Society Glossary". Retrieved 2006-12-26.
- Anapol, Deborah M (1997). Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits. San Rafael, CA: IntinNet Resource Center. pp. 49–64.
- Taormino, Tristan (2008). Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships. San Francisco: Cleis Press, Inc.
- Easton, Dossie & Liszt, Catherine A. (1997) The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities. Greenery Press: San Francisco.
- PolyOz | Compersion | Poly Terms and Concepts
- InnKeeper, Joreth. "The Inn Between".
- Alexander, Steven (2005-04-04). "Free love gets a fit of the wibbles". Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2006-07-05.
- Ritchie, Ani & Barker, Meg (2006). "There aren’t words for what we do or how we feel so we have to make them up: Constructing polyamorous languages in a culture of compulsory monogamy.". Sexualities, vol 9, no 5: 584–601.
- The dictionary definition of compersion at Wiktionary