AskMiriam

Relationship Advice and Columns

Archive for the tag “compersion”

Learning Compersion

This post will be about 2 things: learning and compersion. Ben commented to me the other day that once you learn about poly, it’s difficult to go back to monogamy. You cannot unlearn the fact that you are aware that polyamory and non-monogamy exist. You might try it out and find out it’s not for you, but if you get into it and like it, I think it’s quite difficult to go back. I’m always reminded of someone I interviewed for a little research project who said to me, I feel like I passed a signpost that said, you will be poly from here on out. For myself, I feel the same way. There are many different ways to be poly and those may change, but for those of us who like all genders, we will always have the desire to be with more than one gender. For people who are straight and poly, the desire to have different relationships will be there as well. As many of my readers know, I got into poly because of a certain American person. Once I met him and I was aware that I could have feelings for more than 1 person, there was no turning back.

Ben, Eve, and I continue to have regular contact. She will definitely be coming here at the end of April. As Eve and I get to know each other better, we like each other more and more. She even said that she would be friends with me with or without Ben and I feel the same way. We think very similarly and our interests are also similar. Both of us have had few meaningful relationships in the past with women because we are very different from most women, so it’s always nice to meet a woman who is like us. Eve has never been attracted to a woman before and of course, it’s hard to know at this point if we’ll be attracted to each other because we haven’t met yet. I also don’t want to get my hopes up because Eve might end up living very far away from us. She’s applying to do her Master’s in Europe and we’ll be on the west coast of North America. There is a chance that she could do her Master’s in Canada, but the particular program she wants to apply to is in Guelph, which isn’t all that close to where we’ll be. I’m planning to apply for my PhD in Washington, Michigan, and California and that would start next year.

By getting to know Eve better, I find that compersion is so much easier. I’m happy for Eve and Ben because I want them both to be happy. As a reminder, compersion is often described as the opposite of jealousy; when you are happy for your partner to be involved, in whatever way, with others. I don’t think that experiencing compersion is necessarily a requirement of poly, but I think it definitely helps get over whatever jealousy existed. I think it also helps us let go of the possessive side of love. Don’t get me wrong – there are times where I want Ben all to myself. For the time that we’ve been involved, we haven’t really had other serious relationships, so this does take some getting used to. In the end though, Ben and I want to create a team of love. This could mean several of us living together and supporting each other in whatever ways are needed. It’s not for everyone, but I think that having that kind of bond would be amazing. A true poly family.

Thank you as always for reading! If you have a question, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca

 

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AskMiriam about Jealousy

Questions: How do you deal with the jealousy problem? If, for example, Amy had more interest in Ben and she wants to monopolize Ben’s time, how would you deal that?

Answer: Periodically, I get asked about jealousy and I don’t think it’s a topic I could write too much about. This particular question, however, involves 3 people: myself, Ben, and Amy, so it’s a bit more specialized. I am of the opinion that every relationship is unique. Amy cannot replace what Ben and I have and I cannot replace what Amy and Ben have. If Amy wanted to spend more time with Ben, I hope that she would tell me that. At the very least, Ben would tell me and we would talk about it. The same thing might happen if I met someone new and wanted to spend more time with them; I would tell Ben about it. Now, scheduling isn’t very romantic, but I think it’s nice when people decide in advance that they’ll spend certain nights together. Of course those nights could change, but perhaps they won’t. Most people require consistency in their lives and I often feel that I do as well, even though I also enjoy adventures.

This question also deals with the issue of insecurity. If Ben were to spend more time with Amy, would I feel insecure about myself or the relationship? The answer for me is, not really. I do consider myself lucky because I was raised with a healthy sense of self. A lot of women are taught to feel bad about themselves and have low self esteem as a result. No matter the gender, some people would also think they are being replaced by the new person. I think communication goes a long way toward remedying this. If we remind our partners how much they mean to us, that certainly helps. If we do something like have sex soon after our partner comes back from seeing their partner, that can sometimes help too. We can also develop feelings of compersion, meaning we are happy when our partner is with someone else. I personally still want to develop that more… These issues aren’t always easy and depending on our own personal situation, they can feel better or worse. It’s important to be kind to yourself and tell your partner what your needs are in this situation. As always, communicate, communicate, communicate. The person with the new partner should also be sensitive toward their existing partner(s)’ feelings.

As a note, I’m currently on holiday. Tomorrow I’m off to Japan and in mid February, I head to Taiwan. I hope to have some adventures while on the road. Stay tuned! If you have a question, email me at miriam@askmiriam.ca Thank you as always for reading!

How Jealousy Affects Relationships

I always get questions about whether I get jealous as a poly person. Of course it happens, but it also happens in any sort of relationship. For people who are monogamous, jealousy is present, but in a way, you are choosing not to deal with it or you just ignore it. For example, I was with the same person for 8.5 years until 2 years ago and we were monogamous; we remain friends. However, his girlfriend doesn’t want us to hang out because she’s jealous about it. He and I lived in Japan together and often went to karaoke there. We have liked doing it in Toronto as well. She is apparently especially jealous of that because she’s not a good singer. Also, we frequented a particular karaoke place where you have your own room, so she’s scared things will happen in that room. I have absolutely no intention of being sexual with my ex again, but I would like to be his friend. I’m nervous for him because they are moving in together this summer. I hope that she won’t squelch his social life because she wants to be with him all the time. Anyway, you can see that her jealousy has affected our relationship. I understand that she may be intimidated by our long relationship and it sounds to me like she hasn’t had a very positive long relationship either. I wish that this needn’t be the case. I remember when my ex and I started dating; I met his female best friend. I never thought that they would become romantically involved, but I was envious of the fact that she knew so much about him and I wanted that knowledge as well. Yes, envy is different from jealousy, but these are 2 terms under the same umbrella. The nice thing is, if you can be friends with the person, you can learn more about them. Recently, I’ve been spending time with Ben’s best friend and ex and I really enjoy hearing about what Ben was like in the past.

People often say that jealousy is caused by insecurity. I think this can be especially tricky for women because we are often taught by society not to believe in ourselves. I feel very lucky because I had a very supportive family. My parents almost never criticized anything I did and as a result, I have become a confident person. When I was a child, after my parents separated, my mom walked around the house naked a lot of the time and that helped me to be confident in my body. Many women have not been as lucky as me. I hope that with passing time, every woman will appreciate themselves and be appreciated for who they are. 

Compersion has been called the opposite of jealousy. Compersion means being happy for your partner, especially in the context of them doing things with other people. In poly, this could be them having a date or having sex with someone else. Although compersion has been a concept specifically designed for poly people, it can be used in the context of any relationship. If you aren’t poly, you can be happy for your partner when they, for example, make a new friend, get a new job, or have some other kind of important life event. Even if you were poly, you would of course be happy for your partner for those things as well. Why can’t we apply compersion to every relationship? I wish that my ex’s girlfriend would be happy when we spend time together because we meant a lot to each other and to an extent, we still do. We gave each other a lot of experiences we wouldn’t have otherwise had if we hadn’t been together. I probably never would have lived in Japan, for example, and I’m very grateful for him in that regard. I would very much like my ex and his girlfriend to be at my wedding. We’ll see if that comes to pass.

If you have any questions, send me an email to miriam@askmiriam.ca

Our Relationships, Ourselves

Over this past weekend, when Ben was visiting, he said something very interesting that bears repeating. I realize now that it should have been obvious to me before. We were talking about our own relationship and how complete it feels. Ben said that one of the reasons why we are polyamorous is so we can learn more things about ourselves through other relationships. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Last night, I was on a second date with someone I will call Josh. I repeated Ben’s sentiment to Josh and he then asked me what I have learned about myself through other relationships. Since becoming poly, I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned that I can be more jealous than I thought I was, but that I can also be more compersionate (adjective of compersion), depending on the relationship. I have also learned that I can actually get what I want out of a relationship; that sounds silly, but I am definitely learning that right now with Ben. I think women are often taught that we have to be the givers in the relationship- that is certainly what my mother taught me. However, when I ask for what I want, I usually get it and that is empowering. Sometimes it can be difficult to articulate exactly what we want, but clear communication is so important.

I have also learned a lot in poly because of group sex experiences. I think they actually provide good life lessons in general. Over the weekend, Ben and I had a threesome with a friend of mine, who I will call Audrey. I’ve known Audrey for over a year. Ben and I saw her at an event last week and there was some kissing. We discussed doing more and that happened this weekend. We went to a very powerful poetry event. Audrey was wearing earrings with Scrabble pieces. We all talked about how we like Scrabble and Audrey invited us back to her place to play. By the time we finished, it was very late and Audrey told us we could stay over. Her bed was big enough to sleep the 3 of us and that was lovely. Right after getting into bed, we all expressed being very tired, but kissing commenced. The experience was very positive because of the inclusivity. Everyone was engaged in doing something at almost every point. I think that is the most important thing in a threesome to make sure that no one feels left out. Another important point, and life lesson, is the ability to take a break. 2 people can be doing things and the 3rd person can watch and that is fine and fun. I enjoyed watching Ben make Audrey explode in pleasure. Normally, I’m more of a doer than a watcher, but I have learned that I don’t have to be involved all the time. The third important life lesson through group sex is that, as mentioned above, you have to ask for what you want. Audrey was very good at expressing things she wanted done to her and she asked for permission when doing certain things to us. When I wanted time with Ben, I said so and that was respected. The final lesson is, everyone has something to contribute. People have different talents and different likes and dislikes during sex. It’s great to mix things up as well. Someone once said to me that he didn’t think threesomes allowed for bold moves, especially if some of the people hadn’t been sexual together in the past, which is the case for Audrey and Ben and Audrey and myself. If you do want to make a bold move, ask. It really is that simple. Overall, Ben, Audrey, and I had a really good time. There may be more threesomes in the future…

A Question About The Green Eyed Demon

Question: What makes you jealous? And how do you find that jealousy manifests itself?

Answer: Funnily enough, I’ve been grappling with this issue lately with my new partner, who will be called Ben from hereon. In the throes of a new relationship, jealousy can seem almost lethal. A friend, (who writes this blog: itsnotaboutthesex.wordpress.com) reminded me today that our monogamous programming makes us want to possess our partner. We want to own and be owned by them. We have to remind ourselves that people are not possessions. We are all free to do as we wish. If we are not monogamous, we flirt with other people. This does not negate existing relationships. In fact, when I’m excited by a new relationship, I flirt more. I want to start more relationships because other relationships I’m in are going so well. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t get jealous. Ben and I discussed how jealousy can be a fear of loss and that’s not a wholly unhealthy thing. It reminds us how much we care. 

One thing that probably makes me the most jealous is when my partner is flirting with someone and I haven’t been alerted in advance. Ben and I were at an event recently where many people were flirting with us. One woman took his attention for some time. When I saw them kissing, I felt jealous, partly because kissing can be so intimate. It’s one thing to see your partner have sex with someone else; kissing is somehow different. I remember an old partner of mine saying that swingers often don’t kiss because it signifies closeness. Anyway, the most important thing to remember is that jealousy can be overcome. Another wise friend of mine said that self-confidence is important. When we believe in ourselves and our worthiness as a partner, we remember that we have nothing to be nervous about. This also reminds us that our partner has good judgment and other people can see that our partner is awesome. Compersion is often described as the opposite of jealousy. When we can be happy for our partners and remember that new experiences enrich their and subsequently our lives, jealousy can melt away. Finally, I find that communication does wonders in countering jealousy. When everyone is on the same page about who is flirting with whom and who is dating whom, things work quite well.

If you have any questions, send me an email to miriam@askmiriam.ca Thanks for reading! I will post a blog in the next few days about the last week with my new partner. Stay tuned for a blog about subversive normality…

The Compersion Equation

This blog post is brought to you by a friend of mine who texted me on Friday to say, write about compersion. Evidently, it is not a subject I have covered yet. What exactly is compersion? It’s the feeling when your partner is doing new things with new people and you feel happy for them. Many people view it as the end goal of polyamory. I think it’s just 1 step along the way that some people may or may not experience, which is fine. Poly is all about the celebration of difference. 

Someone I used to be involved with said we were very compersion compatible. We were able to be happy for each other when we met new people and had new experiences. Those new experiences brought us closer, be they good or bad. I think the reason that happened is because we shared everything. In poly, there’s no sense in hiding anything, though some people have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. Those of you who know me know that I have trouble hiding anything. I’m honest to a fault. I think that works really well for compersion. When you’re happy and you share it with your partners, they generally like it. I recently met someone new and my partner is happy that I look so happy. The key for me is communication. Everyone has to figure out what works best for them. I’ve been in situations where someone met someone new and didn’t tell me that much, which made me feel left out. Happiness is better when shared. 

If you’re in an existing relationship that has been opened up, I believe that the new experiences should liven up the relationship. I like the feeling of strengthening an existing relationship. It makes me feel useful and needed. Some people who open a relationship do so because they are bored. When you know someone for a long time and/or you live together, everything becomes familiar. When you have new experiences, it is possible that someone will feel jealous. Depending on how the situation is handled, that can lead to a good or a bad place. The more communication you have, the better.     

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