What You Need To Know About Polyamory Before Going Into It, According To Experts

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

For those who don’t understand it, polyamory can be a very difficult concept to grasp. It’s this inability to understand, as well as get over the jealousy factor, that might explain why only 4 to 5 % of people in the U.S. are in polyamorous relationships, according to a 2014 study published in the German Journal Fuer Psychologie. For many of us, the idea of sharing someone we love with another person — or multiple people — seems unconscionable. But plenty of people find that polyamory actually feels like a better fit than monogamy.

“To understand polyamorous people you need to understand the difference between jealousy and compersion,” Daniel Saynt, founder of The New Society for Wellness (NSFW), a sex-positive members-only club that hosts sexual education workshops in club-like settings on topics of kink, sexuality, and openness, tells Bustle. “Jealousy is an emotion based on loss, the idea that you might lose someone or have less love from someone triggers feelings of inadequacy... Jealousy is our mind's alarm system [that] warns us that we might be losing someone or their attention.”

However, compersion is the complete opposite and, as Saynt explains, is similar to empathy.

"[Compersion is] the feeling we get when we share in the happiness of others," Saynt says. "Imagine the feeling you get when a friend gets a job after a bout of unemployment or when a parent gets through a tough medical procedure. It’s the feeling of joy for the joy of others."

When this idea is applied to a relationship, compersion lets you delight in the pleasure your partner is receiving. It's this thinking that makes polyamory work for some and not work for others. Here are nine other things experts want you to know about polyamory before you get into it.