Cuckold fantasy or compersion?

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.

Poly Living 2012 approaching

The 7th annual Poly Living Conference in Philadelphia is about a month away! It's happening February 10th through 12th at the Embassy Suites Philadelphia Airport Hotel. Poly Living has reserved a block of rooms at the hotel, and there are only a few days left to take advantage of a special, discounted room rate. Book a reservation online before Tuesday, January 10th to receive the reduced rate.

Here's a description of the Poly Living Conference:

Since 2005 when George Marvil hosted the first Poly Living Conference in Philadelphia, it has been the best place to warm up your winter with fun, learning and polyamory community. Whether you are new to polyamory and wanting to find out more, a professional interested in helping clients or an experienced poly person looking to have fun with old friends, Poly Living is a great place to learn, explore and connect with real people.

This year's keynote speaker is Alan M. of the blog Poly in the Media. His talk is called "Busting Loose: Polyamory in the Next Five Years." There will also be a Friday night social and a variety of workshops from esteemed presenters. Attendees will be able to learn:

  • New models beyond marriage and monogamy
  • Communication skills
  • Being real and honest about what you want
  • Making agreements that work for you
  • Polyamory 101
  • Managing emotions and jealousy
  • Enjoying pleasure and letting go of shame
  • Poly living styles -- knowing what you want

Registration for the conference is $125 and you can register online.