Tired of those nagging jealous emotions you can’t seem to shed?
Ready for a new emotion? Then try the new and improved, emotional response called “compersion”. It’s so new it’s not even in the Internet dictionary yet.
So why am I jealous? As a poly believing, free love kind of Leather-woman, I practice and teach adults to explore their kink, fetish, or other expressions of expanded sexuality and loving. But that green monster can ruin a hot dungeon scene every time.
Jealousy has caused many of my relationships to crash and burn. I honestly don’t know when love changes to possessiveness, but it does. After one ex-boyfriend decided to date my room-mate, my response moved into violent attack mode. Thank goodness the internal rage also temporarily blinded me, so all I could literally see was red, and I was frozen in my tracks. That gave me time to think, calm down, walk away, and find a new place to live.
I would prefer another emotion than the one that beats up my heart and mind like a bronchitis attack. Jealousy has a way of kidnapping my time and energy in directions I don’t want to go. I recall the rush of unpleasant emotions that made my stomach knot up, my hand forming a fist, words spewing forth I would regret — all part of the cycle I wanted to break. But how could I break free of the green stain?
With the divorce rate in America comfortably above 50%, partnering for life is no longer the norm. I needed another emotion that could keep up with our societal change. At a polyamory meetup, I was introduced to the word: compersion, the antithesis to jealousy. Here’s the Wiki on compersion:
“Compersion is a state of empathetic happiness and joy experienced when an individual’s current or former romantic partner experiences happiness and joy through an outside source, including, but not limited to, another romantic interest. This can be experienced as any form of erotic or emotional empathy, depending on the person experiencing the emotion.”
Nice concept, but the million-dollar question is, how can I be happy when MY old lover is loving someone else? Then I remembered the C.S. Lewis book, The Four Types of Love. Lewis defined the following types of love: Agape, Philia, Eros, and Storge. I’ve paraphrased his concepts:
Agape is the spiritual love you have that comes from your beliefs. Philia is the bond of friendship. Eros is the emotional intimacy we share in a relationship. (Venus is described as the “Fifth Love” and is the passion and energy of sexual exchange, its trademark being a temporary state of experience, like orgasm and infatuation.)
There is another more powerful love that helps to explain the ability to convert jealousy into compersion:
Storge is the familial love of parent to child. Storge can be more powerful than all the others combined. It’s the type of love that gives a parent superhuman strength to lift a car to save a child’s life.
Compersion suggests that if we can adjust our thinking, heal our emotions, we can celebrate our partner, lover, spouse, or ex’s happiness in another relationship. We can replace jealousy with joy.
You also receive extra feelings of contentment and maturity with every use of compersion. Like when your child goes off to school for the first time or the last, (hopefully) away to college. There is pride of being a part of making that success happen. And I like being a part of someone’s success.
Jealousy can hold me in this knee jerk reaction of anger, hurt, and then retribution. By reminding myself that the experience has passed, I can change my thoughts. If that doesn’t work, then I remember why the relationship needed to end in the first place and my head clears, fist relaxes and I can look for the good of this new coupling and let the joy of compersion build in me.
Now have I done it? Not every time, but I’m working on it. It’s not like one day you wake up compersed. It’s the art of letting go of past anger that takes time and practice. And when I have a surge of emotions that race up to my brain and fist at the same time, I acknowledge the emotion and look at it. I then look at where I want my emotions to be and go there. No need to replay the old tapes. My heart calms, pulse slows, teeth unclench, and I can think without anger. I take a deep breath, let compersion in, and make a choice to celebrate my (ex) lover’s new relationship and wish them well. It’s that simple and that difficult. But the end result is my joy and happiness and I’m definitely worth the effort.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock