An Absinthe-Loving, Polyamorous, Kinky, Sex-Positive Couple talk about all things Sex, Kink, and LGBTQ.

Finding Compersion

It’s been awhile since I’ve touched on the Polyamorous aspect of the relationship between Mrs. AP and I, and with good reason; we have been without any additional romantic partners for nearly a year now.  For those of you keeping score at home, yes, that stretches back to before I began this blog.  We did, as documented, visit an on-premise swingers club and play a bit.  We also had a date with a friend that resulted in quite a fun time for all.  Those two experiences very much trended toward the Swinger end of the Poly/Swing spectrum, however, and didn’t involve most of the more complex emotional aspects I associate with being Poly.  One of those aspects is finding compersion.

Compersion, as defined on Wikipedia — because it’s not a recognized word in any dictionary I can yet find — “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.”  Summarized in briefest form, it is experiencing happiness at a partner’s happiness.  It is one of the most basic tenets of the emotional maturity landscape encompassing being Poly.  it is also the aspect with which, I found, I had the most difficulty.

As Mrs. AP has discussed with me recently, I wasn’t very good at the compersion part of being Poly at the beginning of our relationship.  I latched on to her tightly, much more tightly than I did onto her husband, and in that effort I helped make our Triad lopsided.  He contributed to that as well by pulling away from us both, which in truth combined to alter our relationship into more of a “V” pattern in which Mrs. AP was the focal point of relationships with both her husband and me.  My behavior, however, included showing obvious discomfort in her showing any sort of affection for him if I did not receive equal affection in turn. In my head it was like I was playing a numbers game, and everything had to balance.  Anybody who knows anything about relationships knows that this sort of mental math does not work.  I knew it too.  I just didn’t recognize that behavior within myself.  Clearly I am skilled at the art of self-delusion, or was at the time.

The other obvious failing was that I kept struggling with being able to be happy when Mrs. AP and her husband had sex without involving me.  This despite the fact that she and I often had sex without him.  I felt entitled to be able to participate if she was involved, and both sadly and mistakenly carried this attitude forward into our next Poly relationship.  I managed, in the span of one year, to contribute to the dismantling of one Poly Triad and blocking the solid formation of what could have been another.  I was, in short, a selfish ass.

Granted, Mrs. AP’s husband did engage in behavior that I found worthy of watching.  I felt he was manipulative and deceitful and a general bad fit for Mrs. AP and told her so, often.  Too often.  In retrospect, what I should have done is voiced my concerns to them both, simultaneously, and ushered forth a constructive conversation among the three of us.  Instead I only addressed my concerns with Mrs. AP and expected her to deal with him.  Knowing what I do now, I know I handled that poorly.  I can only hope to learn and handle myself better in the future.

I have come to understand that it is not my right to try to control Mrs. AP’s actions with anybody.  Not with me, not with anybody else.  She is an individual, free to choose and act as she sees fit.  I trust that she will not do anything to harm me, just as she trusts that I will not do anything to harm her.  I know she loves me deeply and strongly and will act out of that love, just as I love her deeply and strongly and will never actively, willingly, or knowingly do anything to threaten her love or trust in me.  I can only be responsible for my actions; trying to control hers is not my place.

What I can do is address concerns of mine with her.  When something makes me uncomfortable it is my responsibility to root out the cause of my feelings and understand the underlying cause and then address that cause with myself and, if necessary, with Mrs. AP.  I have to own my shit.  She cannot do this for me, and should not be expected to do so.

I know I have made progress in this realm.  Back in May I posted about Mrs. AP going out to Fetish Circuit without me (our friend stood in while I was at work), and how I hoped she had a fantastic time.  I genuinely hoped for her happiness, and was happy to hear that she had a good time.  Yes, I wanted to be there, and still have not managed a Saturday off to be able to attend Fetish Circuit in over a year, but that does not detract from the joy I felt in Mrs. AP having a good time, nor in having a good time with somebody else.

Does this mean I’m evolving?  I like to think so.  I’ve certainly done a bang-up job of getting it wrong so far.  Now, I’m focusing on improving myself and becoming better and feeling and acting from a place of love and happiness instead of a place of selfishness and fear.

Someday I’ll have the chance to test myself again, and I expect to pass with flying colors.


Stay SINful, friends.

8 responses

  1. Dear Mr AP,

    I feel myself compelled to read each and every piece of your writing that pops up {I don’t have the time usually to keep up with many blogs} But, you write with such honesty and flow, I just cannot help myself.

    Of course, it’s ever lovely to gain a little insight to you and your wordly bubble further beyond our Twitter chitchat. For this, I feel lucky to be getting to know you through your words and thoughts.

    Your lifestyle/heart choice is something I have been interested in for around 2 years now. And the more time goes on I know I need to be dating people with a much broader view of dating/relationships.

    Pea ~x~

    September 13, 2012 at 5:03 am

    • Thank you for the lovely, thoughtful comments, Pea! They’re heartwarming.

      It took me a long time to understand the kind of qualities to seek in a partner so that I could have a good friend, kinky lover, romantic partner, and the missing piece of my life all in one person. I was lucky to find that in Mrs. AP, and at a time when I didn’t even realize I was looking for her. I hope the search you’re on yields similar results for you.

      Stay SINful
      Mr. AP

      September 16, 2012 at 2:45 am

  2. I think my fundamental issue with poly is sharing my time with SM. when I am not at work, we spend most of our time together. I don’t mind her having a relationship, but I have an issue with her and I being apart. She feels the same.

    Mr. No Name

    September 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    • *nods* I’m the same way; when I’m not at wor I want Mrs. AP to occupy the focal point of my schedule and attention. What I was unfairly doing was trying to control her time while I was off at work. It was most uncool of me.

      Stay SINful
      Mr. AP

      September 16, 2012 at 2:48 am

  3. Compersion is such a delightful word. At one point in our poly relationship, the wife decided she wanted a lover outside of the two who were with us in this. Without being able to feel compersion, I would have had a shitting fit and really unhappy with her… but that also would have meant that being poly only applied to me and not the rest of the quartet. Fortunately, I didn’t have a fit; I was so happy for her in this and, yep, because she was happy, I was deliriously happy and for those who’ve never felt it, man, does it ever feel good!

    September 13, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    • Thank you for sharing that! Yes, it makes sense that there’s an inherent selfishness involved that prevents the mindset needed to properly experience and appreciate somebody else’s happiness for it’s own sake. I see a great deal of overlap between Zen Buddhism and navigating a Poly lifestyle. Hmm, p’raps I should revisit some of the teachings now…

      Stay SINful
      Mr. AP

      September 16, 2012 at 2:52 am

  4. It certainly sounds to me like you have made leaps and bounds in understanding more and more in your own relationship and how it will work.

    September 14, 2012 at 10:04 am

    • I do try. If I don’t learn I can’t grow, and if I can’t grow then I just stagnate. I don’t want that, not for me or her or us. Ever.

      Stay SINful
      Mr. AP

      September 16, 2012 at 2:55 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s