Relationships

What Is “New Relationship Energy”?

| 01/13/2020

new relationship energy Illustration by Sophi Gullbrants

You know when you first start dating someone and they’re constantly on your mind? All you want to do is spend every second with them, kiss them, cuddle them, and have sex with them. You’re lost in a flurry of intense emotions.

This incredible, crazy-overwhelming feeling is called New Relationship Energy.

You may have heard of the stomach flip, love-at-first-sight, or other such terms to describe new love, but missed out on the concept of NRE. And that’s because it’s not really a term monogamous people use. When you’re within a pair-bond with only one person for an extended period of time, you think about love more in the long-term, how it grows and develops over time.

NRE is a staple of the polyamorous community, but everyone should learn about it and appreciate it. This concept has loads to teach us about love, no matter what kind of relationship we’re in.

How exactly does NRE work?

New Relationship Energy refers to that rush of feel-good chemicals we have at the start of new love. Your brain is flooded with oxytocin and dopamine, your brain’s love and reward hormones. This is what causes that love-at-first-sight feeling people sometimes have.

Caroline Madden, Ph.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells us that this primal feeling is clinically referred to as limerence. ”It is that feeling that you have been made whole by meeting this new person. It is linked to the desire to mate.”

Charyn Pfeuffer, sex and relationships writer and author of 101 Ways to Rock Online Dating, describes this state of being as “kind of like being high all the time and feeling all the feels.”

”It is that feeling that you have been made whole by meeting this new person. It is linked to the desire to mate.”

During this time in a relationship, everything feels possible. You’re in a honeymoon of sorts: all sex and snuggles and new adventures. “During this time sexual connection is high, and the curiosities and newness of a partnership releases our inner child and primal energy,” says Tara L. Skubella, a polyamorous Tantric guide and founder of Earth Tantra. “As all this vibrant magical energy is circulating within our bodies due to the happy chemicals our brain is releasing, we desire to be around this person as much as possible.” 

What NRE means in the poly world

Being polyamorous means you have multiple loves. You are someone who believes in, and often engages in, having multiple romantic relationships at one time.

If you’re a polyamorous person, NRE has a special place in your romantic life. Since you’re often meeting new potential partners, you get to have this love-drunk feeling often. This can be exciting. When you have the opportunity to fall in love with someone new, that idea could be very enticing. 

It can even set your current romantic relationships on fire all over again. “The energy can be especially beneficial in polyamorous relationships because the new relationship energy between one partnership can carry over into other partnerships, which helps to keep sparks lit and bonds between partners alive,” says GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor.

It’s easy to be positive when you’re feeling all of those positive love emotions on a regular basis. Love is fun! “There’s no shame in falling hard for someone fantastic,” Pfeuffer says. “The only difference in polyamorous relationships is that this feeling can happen over and over again.” 

NRE is not always a good thing for everyone

Just because you’re poly doesn’t mean you enjoy NRE. “Some people despise how it clouds their judgment,” Pfeuffer tells us. And, of course, NRE can cause strain in your other romantic relationships.

“Watching the person you love fall in love and get all love-drunk on someone else can be hurtful or at least emotionally exhausting,” explains Madden. “Because the relationship is open,” the partner who is falling in love “might talk obsessively about the new person to their primary partner.” This can cause jealousy. 

“NRE is the time where trust is built and the foundations of the relationships are established.”

Jealousy is a natural human emotion. Just because someone is poly doesn’t make them immune to jealousy. In these cases, communication is super important. “Some jealousy and insecurities may come up – that’s perfectly normal – and a partner who feels sidelined may need some extra love and reassurance,” Pfeuffer tells us.

As with all things love-related, nuance is key. Not everyone is going to enjoy every aspect of love or romance. Making generalizations only prevents us from understanding people who may experience and practice love differently than we do. 

NRE is important in monogamous relationships, too

We could all do well to take a page out of the NRE book. Everyone (even monogamous people) can learn from the concept of New Relationship Energy. When you’re with someone for a long period of time, it’s crucial that we keep the love and sexiness alive. Otherwise, we experience a cooling effect, wherein we start to become listless in the malaise of the same old, same old. 

When you reignite NRE, you bring back that electric spark that was so exciting for you in the beginning stages of your partnership. “New relationship energy is important because it encourages the new couple to spend time together and get to know each other. It is the time where trust is built and the foundations of the relationships are established,” explains Guarino.

Instead of letting your romance run its course, fight to keep it fresh and interesting. Go on dates. Stay curious. Try new sex things together. Keep falling in love with your partner every single day. As we’ve said, love is fun!

For more information on how to keep lust alive in your relationship, check out this guide.

Swell in your inbox,
every week

21