16 February 2008
‘Compersion’ has to be as unsexy a word as they come. Nevertheless, it is the closest to describing a condition for which no word currently exists — that is, a non-exclusive love, or an all-inclusive love, depending on which slant you prefer.
Theoretically, the word ‘love’ should itself be enough, but like many universal values, it has been hijacked for so many causes that its etymological history must mirror the history of modern humanity itself.
‘Compersion’ has a rather shorter history. The term was popularised by polyamory and swingers groups of the 1960s, and was coined to refer to the positive feelings one gets when one’s lover takes pleasure in another person. It has been defined, also, as ‘the opposite of jealousy’.