Episode 110: Jealousy and Compersion

July 15, 2022 by Justin Lehmiller

Sex and Psychology Podcast

Episode 110: Jealousy and Compersion


If your romantic partner were to become sexually or romantically interested in someone else, how would you feel? Jealousy is often presumed to be the default response, especially in monogamous relationships. However, in consensually non-monogamous relationships, people often experience happiness, pleasure, or other positive feelings–a phenomenon known as compersion. So how are jealousy and compersion linked? Can you experience both at the same time? Can you learn to experience compersion if it’s something you’ve never felt before? That’s what we’re going to be talking about today.

I am joined by Dr. Sharon Flicker, a clinical psychologist who researches intimate relationships. She is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at California State University – Sacramento and has recently co-authored a series of papers on the subject of compersion. Some of the topics we explore include:

  • What does it really mean to experience compersion?
  • What are the kinds of things that make it easier to feel compersion? What makes it harder?
  • Is compersion a trait that you either have or don’t have, or is it something you can teach yourself to feel?
  • Are compersion and jealousy mutually exclusive, or can you experience both simultaneously?
  • In polyamory, how do the relationships you have with your partner’s partners influence compersion?
  • Is the experience of compersion necessary for successful polyamory?

To learn more about Sharon, you can visit her lab website or follow her on Twitter @smflicker1

Thanks to the Modern Sex Therapy Institutes (modernsextherapyinstitutes.com) for sponsoring this episode!

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Credits: Jonathan Raz Audio (Podcast editing) and Shutterstock/Florian (Music). Image created with Canva; photos used with permission of guest.

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Written by

Dr. Justin Lehmiller

Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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