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Compersion is a term used by practitioners of polyamory to describe the experience of taking pleasure that one's partner is experiencing pleasure, even if the source of their pleasure is other than yourself. The feeling may or may not be sexual. Quite often it's not. It should not be confused with cuckolding practices or voyeurism. It was originally coined by the Kerista Commune in San Francisco[1] (or possibly by the ZEGG community in Germany)[2] which practiced polyfidelity, and has since been adopted throughout the culture of polyamory.

The definition of compersion is often mistakenly referred to as "the opposite of jealousy",[2] with the term jealousy explicitly used to describe one's pain at a lover's positive experience with a perceived rival. However, various forms of jealousy, including the explicit fear of losing a relationship, can still coexist with feelings of compersion. This paradox suggests that compersion is more complex than simply being an opposite of jealousy, and it is likely a mental state of its own.

Investigative reporter and sex educator Eric Francis clarified the definition further at his Planet Waves website, stating that an individual could look for their own compersion within the 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."


[edit] Formal definitions

  • 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.[2]
  • 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."[1]

[edit] Related terms

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.[3] 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".

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