This advice column in the Montreal Mirror caught my eye when it mentioned Opening Up. Sex advice columnist Sasha, who has been writing her column for 17 years, received a letter from a reader. In it the reader expressed concern over one of Sasha's previous columns.
The letter in the original column was written by a man who was perplexed by his partner's penchant for watching him have sex with other people, which Sasha labeled a "cuckold fantasy." In the newest column, the concerned reader writes to Sasha:
There's a relevant term my wife and I came across while further exploring this particular fantasy. It's called "compersion," and we found it in Tristan Taormino's book Opening Up . . .You might want to research it.
Sasha then responds:
I've read Tristan’s book and I think it contains a lot of really important information about exploring different relationship models. But as I understand it, compersion is not the same as fantasizing about your partner fucking someone else and wanting all the gory details to expedite your own fantasies. Compersion is often defined by polyamorists as the opposite of jealousy. One of the distinguishing qualities of compersion might be the profound relief you feel that you're actually not exploding with jealousy at the idea of your partner having sex with someone else. While you may very well be happy for your partner, you are also happy that you aren’t feeling like you want to collapse from heartache. It's the wondrous sensation of a truth being revealed to you that defies the one you’ve been told all your life. And it is extra awesome because you sought that truth out on your own, despite some pretty intense obstacles.
It is important not to lose sight of the true definition of compersion, which Sasha has deftly and eloquently laid out here. Compersion is a very unique concept that should be kept separate from fantasies and fetishes. However, advice columnists should also keep open minds about situations that could veer into the non-monogamous, which is what the letter-writer seems to be pointing out to Sasha.
Read the whole column here.