"It's like a parent watching their children spread their wings and fly," says Anita Wagner, of the joy she feels when someone makes her partner happy. Anita is a polyamory skills educator and advocate who decided to go the non-monogamous route in her 40s, after two marriages and divorces. "I like the openness and honesty polyamory offers. I'd rather share my partner openly than be cheated on."
Openly sharing love is the essence of compersion. After a dinner with her partner Tom, his new girlfriend Mary and Mary’s husband Clint, Anita said she "couldn’t help feeling happy for [Tom’s] happiness. I could see how appreciative he was that I had gone out my way to put Mary at ease and signal my approval. His happiness at being free to develop a relationship with Mary was so warm and his love for me so evident."
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Birgitte Phillipides, president of Polyamorous NYC, feels "glorious and wonderful" seeing someone fulfill the desires of her partner. Recently the spouse of one of Birgitte's partners told Birgitte she loved her in a platonic way. "It doesn't get much better than that in this relationship style," she says.
Shara, Anita and Birgitte's happiness seems to defy the well-known adage, "you can't have your cake and eat it too." Wouldn't these types of relationships create jealousy and insecurity?
"It does require a fair amount of emotional intelligence and maturity," says Anita. Her path from monogamy to experiencing compersion in open relationships took some "emotional stretching."
"If I'm feeling jealous, it's probably because I'm not getting some of my needs met, and that is usually because I haven't asked for it or created the environment to receive it," says Birgitte. She feels that being open about her jealousy is the first and most important step to getting past it.
All three women stated directly or indirectly that you can avoid or overcome jealousy and insecurity by making sure that everyone's needs are met and that all partners are equally happy. Achieving that balance seems essential for people in open relationships to experience compersion.
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These women are unapologetically happy with their non-monogamous relationships, and compersion appears to be a cherished benefit of this lifestyle. For these women, love is not a zero-sum game; it can be shared and enjoyed across multiple people in non-traditional formats.