Remember the thrill of going on your first date with your partner or ex? The butterflies as you get ready, the stupid grin that fills all our faces when we wait for them to text back, the excitement of planning when you can meet next? That is what we call New Relationship Energy or NRE.
Most commonly used by polyamorous or polygamous folx, NRE or New Relationship Energy is the sword that dangles over the head of current partners when a new person enters the mix. All that excitement and joy that we feel about the new connection can lead to us focusing less on them and leaving them in the wake.
My Experiences with NRE
When my partner and I opened up our relationship, he was the first one to connect with another person. The green-eyed monster reared its head and I sighed every time he’d be grinning away into his phone or gushing about his new partner. It escalated into a fight where I yelled at him and told him I didn’t want to hear one more word about his partner. The entire thing left us feeling hurt and miserable. He didn’t want me to be affected by his new partner, and I wanted him to have fun and enjoy this too.
But how do you deal with something as odd as NRE?
We came up with a list of rules.
My ADHD galaxy brain couldn’t help but immediately try to put it down as a list that’d be easy to follow.
For The Partner with NRE:
- Spend extra quality time with your old partner.
That’s right. They might be feeling extra left out. Take some time to indulge in their love language, do couple activities and do not slack off on the things that are routine to your relationship like date night.
- Set clear boundaries with your new partner and old partner about any common spaces you may share.
Discussing matters of comfort, especially when it comes to shared physical spaces, is very important. Is your nesting partner comfortable with your new partner using the same spaces? Discuss such matters with clarity.
- Implement a no-phones policy when you are with your old partner.
No explanations needed for this one, right?
- Have regular check-ins on your old partner when you’d like to discuss the new relationship with them
It is okay to want to share the joy with your old partner. However, always ask if they are in the headspace to listen to it.
- Spend time alone.
It is very easy to get caught up and hyperfixate on your new partner. Learn to spend time on your own. Pick up a new hobby and try something new, but do it alone. This will help you learn to check-in on your feelings in the middle of the whirlwind that is NRE.
For The Partner Dealing with the NRE:
- VALIDATE YOURSELF
Do not sink into the hellhole that is comparison. Find the things that make you feel good about yourself. I started hula-hooping, for example. Find ways to appreciate how awesome you are.
- Be honest about your own feelings
Be it a fear of being replaced or jealousy – it is a valid feeling. Do not dismiss the way you feel and keep it stifled, That is what leads to resentment. Sit with your feelings, approach relationship counselling if needed, but please communicate what you feel.
- Set your own boundaries.
Set your boundaries about shared spaces, shared time, how much detail you’re okay with hearing, if you’d like to meet the other partner and so on. This kind of clarity helps avoid potentially awkward hurtful situations.
- If you’re not monogamous, go on dates.
It is extremely important to remember that you are an attractive individual as well. If you’re polyamorous, go on dates, have fun!
- Invest in your platonic relationships.
Build your circle that’ll have your back. Stay in touch with people and do not vanish on your friends every time your relationship goes well. Your platonic connections can help you maintain that feeling of validation and being cherished while your partner is caught up in NRE.
NRE isn’t easy to deal with. I’ve seen frustrated partners commit infidelity because they feel insecure about their partner’s new connection. At the end of the day, NRE won’t last forever. The butterflies will fade into stable, healthy connections.
All you need to do is wait out and be there for your partners. It’s you, together, against the world, remember? Relationships like these are an act of revolution in a world that tells us that love has its limitations. Let’s keep fighting the good fight, eh?