New Relationship Energy (or NRE, as it’s shortened to) is a poly neologism coined in the 1980s describing what is often known as the “honeymoon period” in more traditional monogamous relationships. Since the Poly Means Many bloggers voted a couple of months ago that January’s topic would be NRE, I have become involved with someone new. In the past few weeks I’ve experienced NRE, as has the other person, so this topic is hitting close to home. I’ve been learning to manage NRE alongside my existing long-term relationship – which is something I haven’t done with this partner before. It has proven to be interesting and more educational than I anticipated.
For me personally, I’ve found that the NRE in my own poly relationships is perhaps more restrained than it usually is in monogamous relationships, yet at the same time it can be drawn out and last for a longer period – likely due to the aforementioned restraint. It can be a really wonderful feeling – when you feel like life and the future is full of possibility, everything is a little bit brighter, and a random thought in the midst of an afternoon can make you grin like a fool. It can also be a potential destabilising force in existing relationships. This is why I generally try to show restraint in terms of NRE in my poly relationships to make space for ALL of the communication.
Sadie Smyth wrote an article in the Examiner in June 2010 that explores this very issue, specifically how communication is the key to surviving and even thriving during the NRE period. She focuses on how communication is the key to using emotional intelligence.
“Communicating effectively is the cornerstone to healthy and productive emotional intelligence. Laying the groundwork for effective communication in the early stages of a relationship can go a long way towards building a long-lasting partnership and can even extend the life of NRE.”
Each new interest/involvement/relationship that comes along is a learning experience and an opportunity for negotiation or re-negotiation in my existing relationships, and I like to make ample space for that. Every new relationship will impact my existing relationships in some way, whether positively, negatively or both. Taking my new relationships more slowly means that I have enough time and energy to devote to both the new partner and the extant partner(s). It means any new potential partner will have the chance to gain a greater understanding of my relationship landscape and therefore me. It means my partners have more ability to get used to one another and to sort out what level of involvement they want to have with each other. It gives us all the opportunity to figure out how to communicate with one another without throwing ourselves in the deep end.
Here are a couple more interesting posts on NRE:
Modern Poly’s “New Relationship Energy”
Life on the Swingset – New Relationship Energy Pitfalls: polyamory drifts out of comfort zone