May 17, 2017

"One of the emotions the writer didn’t name explicitly in her article was that of compersion..."

"... defined as the experience of being happy for your partner’s happiness including when they have had sex with a partner other than yourself. This feeling is hard for committed monogamists to understand and certainly many therapists would have difficulty trusting that this emotion is authentic since we have all been brought up in a world where jealousy seems the norm. It’s not that non-monogamous individuals never feel jealousy, they just work on it in a deeply committed way while also feeling compersion. So when a client of mine is expressing joy that his wife is experiencing a new kind of arousal with her boyfriend, most traditional therapists might look for some sort of pathology as to why this husband isn’t exclusively feeling jealous of his wife’s partner."

From "Open, Non-Monogamous, Poly or Designer Relationships/What the NY Times Article Missed and What Therapists Need to Learn" by sex therapist Sari Cooper in Psychology Today.

Compersion, eh? This is a coinage specific to the polyamory movement. I can see it's been in The Urban Dictionary since 2004. It appears exactly once in the NYT archive — 20 years ago in "They Call It Polyluv"*:
Jealousy, predictably, is a polylover's pox, which is why Loving More and its counterpart, the San Francisco-based Sacred Space Institute, sponsor therapeutic workshops. Facilitators like Deborah Anapol, Sacred Space's director, use exercises like ''jealousy compersion challenge'' (in which you practice feeling glad that your mate is with another) and soothing group massage (above). Hill says several four-or-more-somes have met on Loving More's web site; some have even ''married'' -- with as many as six figurines on the wedding cake.
What's the etymology of that coinage? It looks like it might be a portmanteau of "compassion" and "person." It can't be "compassion" and "perversion." I found an entry in "The Book of Human Emotions: From Ambiguphobia to Umpty":
Here's the Wikipedia article on Kerista, in which the great science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein makes a surprising appearance. In 1966, Heinlein wrote to his agent:
"I recently learned that [Stranger in a Strange Land] was considered the 'New Testament' - and compulsory reading - of a far-out cult called 'Kerista.' (Kee-rist!). I don't know exactly what 'Kerista' is, but its L.A. chapter offered me $100 to speak. (I turned them down.)"
___________________

* I assume the headline is a deliberate allusion to the old Paul Anka song: And they called it puppy love...

53 comments:

rhhardin said...

Polyamory is his and hers wardrobe cabinets.

Michael K said...

The Political and cultural left edges toward Polygamy and soon NAMBLA will have more advocates. The cultural collapse proceeds apace.

rhhardin said...

Armoire virumque cano.

CStanley said...

"One of the emotions the writer didn't name explicitly in her article was that of comparison..."

Perhaps because it's a fictitious emotion? Even the cited materials talk about practicing this response, not describing an actual spontaneous feeling.

The root of all of this insanity is the idea that all of our sexual impulses are to be acted upon. We don't believe that about anything else...we know it's not healthy to eat everything that we might desire, or spend money wantonly, or neglect exercise in favor of lying around....and yet there's this concept that it's healthy to act out on every sexual attraction we might feel. It's clearly an overreaction, or overcorrection, to Victorian sexual mores but these folks continue pushing farther and farther.

Slippery slope indeed.

mockturtle said...

Just when I think our culture can't get any sicker, it up and proves me wrong.

traditionalguy said...

They are idealizing Vicarious sex by "your partner" having sex with another.

They claim it is risk free , except for all the STD risks and the certain depression from of emotional abandonment that cannot be made up for with an imaginary emotional connection to the stranger your partner is enjoying intimacy with while you are left out.

No wonder people of all ages are now turning to Pharma's cocktail of Oxycodone and heroin with a fentanil kicker. The anti depressants are useless to stop the insanity that sexual immorality creates.

Caroline Walker said...

I love how leftists scream "FEARMONGERING!" when ssm opponents point out that removal of the gendered component of marriage also removes any rational basis for limiting marriage partners to two.

robother said...

I assume "compersion" is descriptive of the pleasure experienced by those who like to watch.

Bay Area Guy said...

And you wonder why the divorce rates are so high, and so many kids from broken families have so many pathologies.

It would be better, simpler and easier to keep the "monogamous" marriages intact, but to discreetly go to a whorehouse once or twice a year. You would gain the added benefit of avoiding all this psycho-babble too!

Virtually Unknown said...

It’s not that non-monogamous individuals never feel jealousy, they just work on it in a deeply committed way

They have to be carefully taught.

buwaya said...

Part of the wonderful human skill of rationalization is the tendency to invention of vocabularies to support their
arguments. It is the creation of arguments from authority, from scratch.
I am justified because of (word).
Or (word) explains this.

sparrow said...

Sounds like an excercise in self delusion.

buwaya said...

The whole polyamory thing seems pretty old.
This is just the 1960s "swinging" with a different set of rationalizations.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

the experience of being happy for your partner’s happiness including when they have had sex with a partner other than yourself

Fat chance.

dreams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angel-Dyne said...

The hygienic progressives just never die, do they? "We rationally control our normal feelings as we move onward to the Higher Love!"

These people are so un-sexy.

The belief that all our sexual desires should be met by a single person in relatively new in Western culture. It's the product of an eleventh-century trope of courtly love...

[Eye roll] That one's desires could really only be met outside of monogamous marriage is what "the trope of courtly love" was all about.

So much sheer goofy ignorance here one doesn't know where to start.

It can't be "compassion" and "perversion.

Very droll, Professor.

Jupiter said...

mockturtle said...
"Just when I think our culture can't get any sicker, it up and proves me wrong."

"Our culture"? Not mine. Nor yours, I suspect.

Robert Cook said...

"The Political and cultural left edges toward Polygamy and soon NAMBLA will have more advocates. The cultural collapse proceeds apace."

Several erroneous and silly assumptions here: sexual adventuring (and old-fashioned philandering) is not exclusive to persons of any political ideology, as any adult should know--(in fact, Heinlein was a nudist and he and his second wife had an open relationship in which they both had other lovers)--and it does not follow that those of polygamous bent are any more likely to advocate sex between adults and children than your garden variety Methodist.

Given the range of sexual behaviors that have existed throughout human history and across cultures, it is ridiculous to assume that cultural collapse is upon us due to a few people here and there engaging in open relationships and seeing them as healthy. After all, adultery is widespread and involves sneaking around and lying. Is that healthier?

Angel-Dyne said...

Bay Area Guy: It would be better, simpler and easier to keep the "monogamous" marriages intact, but to discreetly go to a whorehouse once or twice a year. You would gain the added benefit of avoiding all this psycho-babble too!

But but but Teh Hypocracy!

And how would the world know about Our Love!? We have to show Our Love to the world! That's the purpose of marriage, showing Our Love to the world, right?

(If we insist on making all illicit sex licit, how will people ever satisfy their desire to stray?)

Robert Cook said...

"It would be better, simpler and easier to keep the 'monogamous' marriages intact, but to discreetly go to a whorehouse once or twice a year."

But who wants to sleep with someone who's only sleeping with you for money...and will repeat the act with numerous others immediately before and after you?

(A rhetorical question, as, obviously, many do; however many--myself among them--consider it wholly unappealing.)

Ann Althouse said...

Religions based on science fiction.

How many can you name?

Unknown said...

Heinlein used group marriage in several of his books, including what is probably his best work _The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress_. They also featured in the late career (near) return-to-form _Friday_, though as I recall in a less positive light.

Gahrie said...

How many can you name?

The two easy ones are Scientology and the Force (it is recognized as a religion in the UK)

Unknown said...

Scientology was created by an SF author, but that's not the same thing as being based on SF. Hmm. Church of the Subgenius (maybe, it has a book), Pastafarianism, Discordiasm (Hail Eris!). There is a bondage subculture based on the "Gor" books, but I wouldn't call it a religion.

Robert Cook said...

"...Church of the Subgenius (maybe, it has a book)...."

Actually, there are several books out from the Church of the SubGenius...and it is not a religion, but a mock religion. It's not based on science fiction, but is a satire on religions/cults in general.

Unknown said...

It's not clear to me that if "The Force" is a recognized religion, that "mock religion" has any useful meaning.

buwaya said...

In overseas Chinese culture sex is very often simply and unsentimentally seen as a transaction.

Rich Chinese traditionally had a harem of concubines. Love, as in romantic European conception, didnt come into it. The women were purchased or were gifts.

Angel-Dyne said...

Robert Cook: Given the range of sexual behaviors that have existed throughout human history and across cultures, it is ridiculous to assume that cultural collapse is upon us due to a few people here and there engaging in open relationships and seeing them as healthy. After all, adultery is widespread and involves sneaking around and lying. Is that healthier?

On the whole, yes. What are you, 14 years old?

That people always and everywhere get up to what they want to get up to isn't the relevant point. Stable structures of inheritance (cultural and material) are. Nobody cares what goofy "polyamorists" get up to as long as children aren't involved, or they aren't demanding social and legal approval for their puerile lifestyle.

If all they're doing is getting their silliness written up by silly journalists, or writing silly manifestos, we still get to make fun of their silliness.

Jim said...

My musical suggestion was KISS's Dr. Love. Think of the tune. They call me PolyLuv.

Peter said...

"It’s not that non-monogamous individuals never feel jealousy, they just work on it in a deeply committed way."

And they think they're succeeding, right up to the point where, one day things just begin to get a little out of hand, and that long-suppressed jealousy explodes into viciousness, destruction and violence.


Because it's all (outwardly) love and fun until those utopian ideals inevitably crash into our all-too-human reality; then, the "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" is forgotten and the guillotines come out.

Saint Croix said...

Jealousy is biological, related to having babies.

Men want to know that they are the father, not some other man.

Women want to know that their baby daddies will not abandon them.

This is a deep biological feeling and need. This is why people can feel jealousy, even if they are on birth control. While jealousy can be toxic and unhappy, having no jealousy at all is probably worse, in that it suggests a deep apathy or depression.

tcrosse said...

Othello, call your therapist.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

It would be better, simpler and easier to keep the "monogamous" marriages intact, but to discreetly go to a whorehouse once or twice a year.

lol. Really? Are you being funny or really arguing for this?

Bill said...

Comperversion is more like it.

Jupiter said...

Saint Croix said...

"Men want to know that they are the father, not some other man."

It is actually both simpler and deeper than that. Over the long history of our species, men who felt that way had more offspring than those who didn't, and the genes that led to those feelings are therefore prevalent in the gene pool. Biologists would say that the behavior was "adaptive".

Women also have an interest in monopolizing their mates' attentions, but apparently that interest is not as strong. They can do it alone if they have to. Men can't.

Or maybe it's all "socially constructed". Yeah, that's it.

Fernandinande said...

Robert Cook said...
Actually, there are several books out from the Church of the SubGenius...and it is not a religion, but a mock religion. It's not based on science fiction, but is a satire on religions/cults in general.


Is too! A religion! And a really swell one at that.

And "See another dimension on your TV" is not sci-fi, it's Settled Science™.

On the other hand "Have Intercourse with a beautiful live girl" is SciFi.

William said...

I have known some people with happy marriages. It can be done. I don't know any furries or people who are into compersion. If I knew a really hot girl and she was into furries (and vice versa),I think I could tolerate an occasional furry immersion. But she would have to be really hot, and I would draw the line at her indulging with Easter Bunnies. That just seems wrong and disrespectful of religion.

William said...

Monogamous marriage works, or, at least, works better than any other known plan for distributing sexual goodies. These other attempts are generally cover stories that rich or charismatic men foist on their women. Rich, powerful men have been polygamous for centuries. It's nothing new and a pretty good deal for the rich powerful man. Not so great for the lesser wives or the children of lesser wives. It now seems that rich,powerful women are getting into the act. That's progress of a sort.

William said...

Aren't all religions a form of sci-fi? What's the point of believing in a God bound by the rules of physics and with no possibility of an after life?

Michael K said...

Cookie, what we are losing is not "sexual adventuring."

sexual adventuring (and old-fashioned philandering) is not exclusive to persons of any political ideology, as any adult should know-

I know. What we are losing is shame.

I think it began with Baby Boomers.

vicari valdez said...

i have wanted to read that heinlein novel (and a few others that also seem interesting) for a long time.

Unknown said...

Don't start with _Stranger In A Strange Land_. Start with _The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress_.

Gahrie said...

Men want to know that they are the father, not some other man.

True. They also dislike being forced by the courts to support the children of some other man, but it happens frequently.

Women want to know that their baby daddies will not abandon them.

Not so much today. They know they government will step in and use taxpayer money to support them and the baby instead.

Gahrie said...

Scientology was created by an SF author, but that's not the same thing as being based on SF.

Scientology claims that there is an alien living in a volcano on Earth. It doesn't get much more sci fi than that.

n.n said...

Next, the Polanski progression, backed by the usual Whoopi.

n.n said...

The male transgenders were offered monogamous marriage to reduce the cost of treating AIDS and other collateral damage. I wonder what the polyamours will be offered to reduce the cost of treating the diseases correlated with their behavior.

vicari valdez said...

Unknown said...
Don't start with _Stranger In A Strange Land_. Start with _The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress_.
5/17/17, 10:05 AM


ok, thank you for the recommendation. i've heard that this one is really good too.

Robert Cook said...

"What we are losing is shame."

Shame, like guilt, is good when it is warranted and proportionate to an actual impropriety, but very bad when unwarranted or out of proportion to an actual (or perceived) impropriety.

mockturtle said...

I know. What we are losing is shame.

While adultery is as old as mankind [and womankind], one must surely feel a sense of wrongdoing when engaging in it. I believe that man has a conscience [or at least, most men] that develops in early childhood. Knowing right from wrong is part of our human makeup. Even sociopaths and psychopaths know right from wrong. They just don't care. The idea that there are no rules and that personal behavior "doesn't hurt anyone else", like drug abuse and sexual promiscuity, will ruin a civilization.

Valentine Smith said...

Killer sperm makes it all okay.

Steven said...

The root of all of this insanity is the idea that all of our sexual impulses are to be acted upon.

A claim that was followed by lots of people here declaring that the impulses of jealousy should be enthroned as a god, and all people everywhere should bow to it as they arrange their most important relationships.

It's similarly interesting how people denigrate compersion. I suspect I were to say that a person should try to overcome jealousy and try to be happy their spouse is happy in another context, they would be much slower to declare jealousy natural and the effort wrong. If my partner successfully sells her novel and becomes a best-selling novelist, for example, who would argue I should not try to control any feelings of jealousy and try my best to share her joy? If when we make love my partner has multiple orgasms, who would argue I should indulge any jealousy and resentment I feel that I only have one?

mockturtle said...

Cookie explains: Shame, like guilt, is good when it is warranted and proportionate to an actual impropriety,.

I'm sure you believe that an example of warranted cause for shame might be a businessman making a profit.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

The root of all of this insanity is the idea that all of our sexual impulses are to be acted upon.

I don't think very many people, including poly folk and other sexual minorities, think that "all of our sexual impulses are to be acted upon."