The secret to ethical non-monogamy for me is the concept of compersion. The idea that I can find pleasure in seeing my partner gain pleasure with another.
Without compersion, our escapades, currently a polyamorous foursome, could feel like a pulling apart from one another to be with someone else. It could feel like an “I’ll let him have his fun so I can have mine” scenario.
With compersion, being with another brings us closer together. Compersion makes love expand instead of compartmentalizing it. It makes tender emotions grow.
Compersion has become physical for me. I can now orgasm just by watching my partner have sex with his second. Or by giving a blow job to either my primary or second. Or watching my husband’s girlfriend orgasm. I didn’t think such actions were possible for me, but once they began, the opened like a flower to endless possibilities. They allow me to physically see the connections that we are building together.
On the flip side, polyamory also requires self-care. We love being together. We feed off each other’s energy as a foursome. But sometimes we can’t all be together due to travel, illness, life responsibilities. Sometimes one partner needs to stay home to parent. To clean up the messes while the other is having a wonderful, romantic adventure. In those times, compersion helps the arrangement from not feeling selfless but instead a gift of giving.
But it’s not always easy to be the one stuck at home. Communication is critical. A break of the ordinary for the one left behind also is an important part of self-care. A special meal. Indulging in a vice. A bubble bath. A guilty pleasure. Time with other friends. And of course a promise of fun times ahead as well.
As I navigate this unexpected path with my partners, what I know for sure is that I feel enveloped by the love of three others—a well of passion, caring and commitment. And we continue to figure out how to navigate the road together.