Polyamory and break-ups

If your parents divorced when you were a kid, then you might have been through this before.

Two people you love, two members of your family, started drifting apart. It might have been because of a mistake someone made, or it might just have been something out of anyone’s control. It tore you apart to see those two people hurting. You wanted them to stay together, with you, as one big happy family. You wanted to watch the love grow the more it was shared.

The relationship ended. But maybe it was for the best.

Even though Rose is no longer in a relationship with Aidan, she is still part of our family. She became like a sister to me, and that can’t be undone.

-Emma

Advertisements

Thoughts on compersion

As you might have seen in my recent article with definitions of common polyamorous terms, compersion is the beautiful feeling one experiences when someone they care about is happy. It is often described as the opposite emotion to jealousy. There are two examples which are often used to describe the feeling to those who have not experienced it in a polyamorous sense. Those two examples are: being happy for your partner when they get a promotion at work, and the feeling you get when your child gets a good grade, or gets picked for a position in a sports 1team/band/play etc.

While they give the general idea of compersion, they are not perfect examples. In both of these situations, one might find themselves feeling happy, not for their loved one, but for themselves. “My kid got a good grade, I can brag about this to my friends!” or “this promotion will mean extra money for us/me!” Most people, myself included, will have been guilty of receiving someone else’s good news and been happy for themselves. It doesn’t make us awful people, it just makes us people. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

Here is another analogy I came up with. You might switch on the news one day and hear about a mother whose child was cured of a life-threatening illness. That mother’s experience doesn’t have any positive consequences on you or anyone you know, yet you still feel relief and happiness.

Maybe this example is a little serious for the lighthearted, fluffy emotion that is compersion. But I feel like I needed to make a more concrete example that separates feelings of being happy for yourself from feelings of being happy for other people.

All that said, I think it’s just one of those things you need to experience for yourself to understand the true gravity of it. In short, it’s a wonderful feeling!

Poly glossary

As promised, here is a (hopefully) comprehensive guide to some common polyamory terms. These are all my own personal definitions, so bear in mind that others may use these words in different contexts :) If I missed anything, please add it in the comments!

Note: not in alphabetical order because that’s too logical for me.

Polyamory/poly- see this post.

Monogamy- a more socially accepted relationship model involving two people who are exclusive to each other. Works for some people, doesn’t work for others.

Non-monogamy- an umbrella term which, as the name implies, encompasses everything that is not monogamy. Things that come under this category include polyamory, swinging and cheating.

Open relationship- a polyamorus relationship where the people involved seek, or are open to the idea of, more people becoming part of the group.

Closed relationship/polyfidelity- a polyamorus relationship where the people involved are in exclusive relationships and are not seeking, or open to the idea of, any more people joining their relationship.

Group marriage- a polyamorus relationship where the people involved make life commitments to one another (like ‘normal’ marriage, but with more than two people).

Primary/secondary- two different types of relationships within polyamory. A primary group/couple may be more committed, and share responsibilities and benefits such as child raising, pooling finances and living together. A secondary relationship is usually more casual.

Triad- a polyamorus group of three people.

Quad- a polyamorus group of four people.

Network- a polyamorus group involving more than four people.

Triangle/delta- a triad relationship model where all three members are involved with each other. As such, the connections between the members of the group form a triangle/delta shape.

Vee/V- A triad relationship model where one person is involved with two others. Think of the letter V as a triangle with one less connection.

N- A quad relationship model. Think of a V model but with an extra connection.

Hinge- a person who is dating two or more others, and thus becomes a ‘hinge’ between those people. A  V relationship has one hinge in the middle, an N has two and so on. A network may have many hinges connecting the group together.

Metamour/spouse-in-law- two or more people who share the same partner, but are not involved with one another. The two people at either end of a V relationship are an example of this.

Compersion- an emotion that is the opposite to jealousy. It is the feeling of positive empathy when you see someone else happy. In the context of polyamory, compersion is the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you see your partner enjoying other relationships.

New Relationship Energy (NRE)- The excitement and happiness you feel when a new relationship begins. In polyamory, this energy often reignites the excitement in old/existing relationships.

Spice- the plural term for spouse. Eg. “My spice and I are going out tonight”.

Polygamy/polygny/polyandry- these terms have little to do with the polyamory movement and are more commonly used when referring to people who are non-monogamous for religious or cultural reasons.

My next post (or at least a post in the near future) will focus on my two partners and I, and use these definitions to explain our relationship and dynamics.

Stay tuned!

-Emma