I’ve been working on a blog post about polygamy and jealousy. I needed an antonym for jealousy and came across the word compersion.
Compersion means feeling joy when a loved one loves someone else (as contrasted with feeling jealous about their love).
As a plural wife with plenty of opportunities, I’ve considered myself successful when I don’t feel jealous, especially in a situation which in the past might have summoned up negative emotions. If I would have previously felt jealous about something but this time I don’t, that’s a win, I’ve matured, I can do this, bring it on. (One of the benefits of polygamy is character growth, after all.)
But this is news to me: the opposite of “jealousy” isn’t simply “lack-of-jealousy”! Can a plural wife go from feeling jealous to feeling emotionally neutral and from there progress to feeling joy in her husband’s love for his other wives? The very existence of this word makes it seem possible. It takes things up a notch. I just found a higher mountain to climb.
By the way, if you’re like me and haven’t come across “compersion” yet, it might be because it seems to be a relatively new word. It’s probably not in your dictionary, and the oldest quote on compersion’s Wiktionary page is from 1998, as used in a book called Romantic Jealousy, Causes, Symptoms, Cures. Now that sounds like an interesting book!
5 thoughts on “Word-of-the-day: Compersion”
When I first read this, I could not understand. The idea did not even compute. However, when I looked up the word I realized that I have in fact felt this emotion before, and that was a bit of a shock to me. Some other examples I found were:
“The feeling of joy one has experiencing another’s joy, such as in witnessing a toddler’s joy and feeling joy in response.”
“The feeling of joy a parent feels when their children marry.”
“The feeling that best friends feel for each other when they are happy in a romantic relationship.”
I have felt things similar to those before. So, after reflecting on it a bit more, I think I can begin to relate to the possibility of feeling compersion – even in a marriage.
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Right! I was only applying it to a plural marriage, but you’re absolutely correct that it’s easier to understand with a loved one different from a spouse. Thank you for your comment.
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I love it! I’m glad they like the word compersion as well. 🙂
Thanks for posting. I hadn’t heard of compersion before reading your post. I love the word and now feel inspired to change past and current jealousies into joy.