Conditional Compersion

I get jealous easily, though I think that I handle it pretty well. (SwingBot and former boyfriends might now be mopping the drinks they just spit onto their monitors after having read that.) My initial reaction, when surprised by an interest or attraction that my partner has for another person, is to feel some sense of possessive jealousy against the previous unknown. That changes quickly, though, to enjoying the idea of my partner having fun with the other, once I get over the initial shock.

Of course, that is in my current, incredibly comfortable situation. The only people over whom I am likely to get jealous right now are SwingBot and BG. (Sorry if that freaks either of you two out, SwingBot and BG, but yes, I get jealous over the fuckbuddy, and yes, I know that is irrational.) Neither man does much to challenge my comfort zone.

SwingBot and I have been together for nearly a decade. In that time, he has rarely expressed interest in others that would make me jealous. Also, he is big about including me in his interests, only excluding me from things that he knows I would not enjoy. SwingBot does little to encourage any jealousy in me.

BG is our FWB, our fuckbuddy. Aside from the courtesies that one should extend to associates or friends, BG owes me nothing. He can meet with others for friendship, sex, romance, or whatever without owing me any explanation. Due to the friendly nature of our relationship and the fact that I am incredibly nosy, he does share his goings-on. Twice during our association, I have known him to go into situations where he might have had sex with others — one time yes, one time no — and I felt an unreasonable twinge of “Mine!” each time.

That “Mine!” twinge morphed in each case, though, into wanting to vicariously enjoy his exploits. In neither time did this happen. In the yes, his experience was negative. In the no, obviously, nothing happened. I think that I was more disappointed about that than he was. I suspect that, next time he has a yes that goes well, I shall feel that initial and irrational rush of envy, but then enjoy hearing about his enjoyment.

My ability to feel “compersion” for a partner’s fun without me probably has more to do with the individual partner and the existing relationship than with my generosity or empathy, though. As I said, SwingBot and I have had a great relationship for a very long time and he gives me little reason to doubt my importance to him. BG is a “friend with benefits;” I understand that I have no claim on him. Also, he makes me feel valued and important as a friend and playmate, which helps.

I once had a friend who was first a boyfriend and later a FWB, and the difference in two experiences with him tells me that my “compersion” depends more upon the situation or the actions of others than upon my own peace of mind.

At one point when he was my boyfriend, he befriended a particular woman. She came out of nowhere, but they were suddenly extremely intimate friends. He wanted me to befriend her, noting, “She does not seem to have many friends.” I tried. She showed almost no interest. She was not overtly rude when we were alone together, but displayed complete indifference; all friend-making attempts were on my part. When we were both with him, she monopolized his attention and excluded me. He did nothing to curb that, either. At one point, I finally lost it and blew up at them, particularly at him. He did not try to bring us together again, though he maintained their friendship. (I later learned from another who knew her that she often tried to steal other women’s boyfriends. That explained her lack of pals.)

Later, when he was my FWB, he told me that we should end our sexual relationship because he was starting to explore the possibility of romancing a woman he was just getting to know. Though it meant no more sex for me with this capable partner, I felt quite pleased for him. I genuinely hoped that things would work out between the two of them and was not concerned that I might lose him. I was happy to just be friends, without the sex, and see him move on to a new romance. When the new romance did not come to be, I regretted his lost opportunity.

In the boyfriend scenario, I was jealous. Though he and the other woman contributed to it, I was jealous. In the FWB scenario, I was not jealous; I had no emotional connection that was getting threatened. My jealousy, though mine to control, is highly situational. Likewise, my capacity for “compersion” seems to be conditional. If I want to continue swinging, then I need to work on that and own my emotions better.