Compersion is Not Required

Compersion is not necessary to be in happy open relationships.

Compersion is Not Required

You do not need to feel compersion to be in any brand of open relationship. Compersion is a feeling, and feelings cannot be forced. So please know, if you are feeling uncertain, that you do not need compersion to be happily polyamorous. You can, however, practice and encourage the feeling, if you choose to do so.

Open relationships come with all kinds of emotional experiences that we were not trained to feel. We are born into and are trained in a mononormative worldview, which upholds monogamous ideals - the good and the bad.

Unsurprisingly, a significant characteristic of the mononormative worldview is to exalt monogamous love. We are taught that happiness outside of the romantic pair is a threat, that seeing our partner flirt with others is negative, and that their sexual interest in others dooms our relationships.

With these seriously engrained lessons in mind, it is no wonder that compersion is inaccessible for many people.

As we work to unlearn mononormativity, we are working to understand our emotions in a relational context that is overarchingly vilified. Compersion might not even be on our radar, as we work to feel, process, and name the emotions that come to the surface.

As we gain experience, compersion can become something that subtly creeps in on us. For others, it might take an active effort to feel compersion. For example, you might notice when you feel happy for a friend when they are happy and focus on amplifying that sensation and applying it toward your romantic endeavors. Dr. Marie Thouin has online resources available if you would like to learn more about compersion and practicing the feeling.

However, it is important to deeply understand that you might not ever feel compersion, and this is completely acceptable. You might experience neutrality instead. A lack of compersion does not negate your ability to be in any type of relationship you wish.

If you encounter someone who claims that "you are not really polyamorous unless you feel compersion," please understand this says more about their perception of the world (and likely their inability to witness difficult emotions in others), than it says about the validity of your relationship type.

One more time for the people in the back: there are not qualifications that need to be met in order to engage in open relationships. Compersion is not required. So go forth and do your best in your relationships knowing that no one can dictate that you NEED to feel something, anything.

In curiosity,

Dr. S. Kay Webb