The Pros and Cons of New Relationship Energy

We all know the feeling. When we meet someone new whom we’re interested in, and we have a sudden rush of energy – emotionally, romantically, and sexually. It may feel like this person can do no wrong, and they may seem like a perfect match to you. You may want to spend as much time as you can with this new person, spend all day in bed with them, and stay up late talking to them. You often feel as though you are “high on life,” and everything you discover about this new person seems exciting and makes you want to know more [1]. This feeling of excitement and newness in a relationship is known as New Relationship Energy, or NRE, in the polyamorous community. It is also commonly described as infatuation, puppy love, or even the honeymoon phase of a relationship in more mainstream society. While NRE is exciting and common in new relationships, it is important to consider how NRE is affecting your life and any other partner(s) you may have. 

NRE is often considered favorable, and necessary, in a new relationship, but it can also temporarily distort your perceptions of your new lover and inhibit your ability to make good decisions and judgments. For example, if you are experiencing NRE with a new partner, you may decide to stay up until 3am texting them, even though you have to get up at 7am for work the next day. Usually, unless there is an extenuating circumstance, this is not something we do with a partner we have been with for a long time.

However, even if you make the decision to stay up all night texting, NRE makes it easier to do that. Because of the chemical reactions that are being released in your brain during NRE (namely, dopamine, oxytocin, and adrenaline), you may actually need less sleep and feel less tired throughout the day. You may feel happier, but more anxious about a new partner as cortisol, or the “stress hormone” is also released in your brain during NRE [2]. This can lead you to over-analyze what your new love interest is thinking or doing – but kissing can help! Kissing releases endorphines and dopamine, reducing your stress.

NRE will usually last anywhere from a couple months to over a year. It can be exciting, but it is always important to keep in mind the fact that you are simply experiencing a chemical cocktail of fun hormones. Don’t make any big decisions with a new partner while in NRE, such as signing a lease or adopting an animal together [3]. If it is meant to be, you will have plenty of time for these things in the future!

If you have other partners, it is also important to ensure that you do not get so caught up in NRE that you start neglecting them. If you are monogamous, the same thing applies to your friends and family. Know that NRE is affecting you, and do not get so caught up in it that you begin neglecting the other people or responsibilities that you have in your life. It is okay to be excited about a new partner, but they should never become the only person in your life.

If you are polyamorous, you may want to have a conversation with your existing partners about the fact that you are experiencing NRE with a new partner. Keep in mind that this feeling will pass, but it is always good to overcompensate for NRE with your existing partners. Make sure that they still feel loved and cared for, and communicate with them about what their needs are, and whether or not you are still meeting these needs despite your NRE. You can also practice mindfulness when you are in the throes of NRE, which can be successful in helping you stay present in your own life rather than becoming too intoxicated on your own hormones [4].

In addition, NRE can also benefit your existing partners if you are able to utilize these feelings with them as well. Part of the excitement of NRE is the fact that you are learning about someone new, and it can be helpful to remember that everyone in our lives are constantly changing and developing as people. Try to look at your existing partners with “NRE eyes” and consider how exciting they are as well! You may also have a higher sex drive while in NRE, or learn new sexual positions or techniques with a new partner. This can lead to more exploration or excitement in the bedroom with your existing partner(s).

It is wonderful to get to know someone new and share yourself with someone new in NRE. However, it is also wonderful to think about what you appreciate about your older relationship(s), and the fact that they still love and care about you despite perhaps having seen you at your worst. You may develop an appreciation for the comfort, stability, and ability to be vulnerable within the context of an older relationship because of the intense emotions that you experience with a new partner. If NRE does make you feel this way about your existing partner(s), let them know! They will appreciate hearing these thoughts and it may be reassuring for them to hear, especially if they have felt uneasy about the NRE you are experiencing.

Regardless of whether you are monogamous, polyamorous, or identify with some other relationship style, NRE can be fun! Take the time to enjoy it while it lasts, and worry about potential long-term goals with that partner later on. As NRE starts to wear off, you may start to notice the things that bother you about your new partner, and that’s okay! The two of you can continue to build your communication skills and navigate your relationship dynamics as you begin to feel more comfortable and relaxed with your new(ish) partner.

-Steph.

[1] Fellizar, K. (2018). What is new relationship energy? 7 ways to make it last. Bustle. Retrieved on May 26, 2019 from https://www.bustle.com/p/what-is-new-relationship-energy-7-ways-to-make-it-last-10055938

[2] Sanoff, R. (2015). What happens when you fall in love? 8 surprising things that happen to your body, because there’s a reason that love got you lookin’ so crazy right now. Bustle. Retrieved on May 28, 2019 from https://www.bustle.com/articles/85844-what-happens-when-you-fall-in-love-8-surprising-things-that-happen-to-your-body-because

[3] Winston, D. (2017). The smart girl’s guide to polyamory: Everything you need to know about open relationships, non-monogamy, and alternative love. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing.

[4] Veaux, F., & Rickert, E. (2014). More than two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory. Portland, OR: Thorntree Press.

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