This month, we tackled the complex feeling of compersion with the help of three amazing and brave panelists: Eric, Clara, and Ltee.
Compersion is a term used in non-monogamy to describe the joy that is felt by someone when their partner is enjoying another connection, interaction, or relationship. Although it’s said the concept of compersion was originally coined by the Kerista Commune in San Francisco in the 1950s, the feeling itself is as old as the humankind.
In this contemporary iteration, it may seem like an impossible feeling for some people. Feeling joy because your partner is having an intense connection with someone else? Feeling joy because your partner had awesome sex with someone else? Feeling joy because your partner just came back from a date with someone else and is ecstatic about it? Crazy, right? Well, maybe not as crazy as you think.
Firstly, the feeling itself is not isolated to non-monogamy or romantic relationships. We have all felt that burst of joy for a friend who finally got their dream job or a family member looking radiant on their wedding day. We know what that feels like. The question is can it be achieved in situations where jealousy may arise. Can it really be a viable option then?
In preparation for this month’s panel, I took a deep dive into this elusive yet universal feeling and I was thoroughly surprised to what I found.
This idea of pure joy, unadulterated by self-interest is not something non-monogamous people invented; it is one of the four virtues in Buddhism also known as the four immeasurables. In Sanskrit, it’s called Mudita. The English translation of this Sanskrit word is “sympathetic joy.”
In both Buddhism and in its more contemporary iteration, compersion is often mentioned as the opposite of jealousy and envy. It’s also regarded as the most difficult virtue to cultivate. And this is not lost on Ltee – one of our panelists who explains that despite teaching classes on compersion, he is yet to get his Captain Compersion badge.
Cultivating this feeling also has enormous power as you’ll hear from Eric, another panelist this month. He attributes his closeness with his partner, and now wife, of 7 years, to actively developing this feeling.
As usual, the conversation took natural turns and expanded into other areas only to find its way back to this beautiful feeling. Upon a question from one of the Foxes, the panelists and I got to reminisce our favorite compressive moments with Clara sharing a heartwarming story of being on the receiving end of experiencing someone’s joy for her.
Whatever your relationships look like, actively and consciously cultivating joy is worth every bit of effort.
Curious Fox Socials are not and will never be the final word on any topic. We solely aim to encourage curiosity and provide a space for exploration through connection and story.
Listen to the podcast of the panel discussion via Curious Fox Podcast, on Apple, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Listen with an open and curious mind, and let us know what takeaways you receive from the discussion.
Enjoy the episode and stay curious!