I have a love/hate relationship with NRE. On the one hand, that cocktail of brain chemicals can be the most delicious experience - a delightful spree of flitting from joy to joy with a new partner or prospective partner as you build a relationship, get to know them, and form a connection based on initial attraction and immediate discoveries about them. It’s a honeymoon. Everything is bathed in golden hour light and you don’t notice little things that might not work out until it’s passed. On the other… it’s kind of scary how hard and fast that can make you ride a connection. Moments of clarity in the middle of that can leave you going “oh my gosh, am I missing something?” - wondering if there are red flags you’re just seeing as flags because you’re wearing rose-colored glasses.
I’m impulsive. Now that I’m a little older (I know I sometimes talk like an old lady from a not-very-advanced age in my mid-30s now) I very deliberately move slower, having spent my 20s running directly off cliffs into deep love in relationships and then dealing with the effects afterwards. That running off cliffs used to cause what I called the “new partner blues” - the moment when the NRE started to wear off and I had to figure out how to make things real and routine again.
I don’t know about all of you, but I’m the kind of wild NRE person who if I listen to my impulses I give up all my free time. Hobbies get integrated with the new partner or pushed aside for the few months of the NRE burst. I’m all in. So I have a very real energy and time drop where I reorganize my whole schedule post-NRE. This can cause conflict with the new partner, who might have come to expect as much time as they received during those months of connection-building. If really careful expectation setting doesn’t happen, there is a very serious potential for mismatched time needs or wants. In a world where love is infinite but time and energy very much are not, this is one of the most contentious subjects in a relationship. Stepping down the amount of time you spend with someone can feel like deescalating the relationship itself.
Recognizing potential incompatibilities as the first rush of brain chemicals wear off and deeper love and old relationship energy sets in can be shocking. Some people have scads of breakups in this time. I have what I call the “new relationship blues” - the moment where I realize whether relationships will be forever and ever or are ‘just for now’ and mourn the NRE image of everything as a fairy tale castle in the sky. It’s not horrible, just a couple days or weeks of putting aside mental images that don’t fit the relationship I now know I actually have and then I can settle into the relationship I do have. Sometimes, my partner doesn’t want the relationship we do have- they really wanted the mental image we both got with NRE - and we still have that breakup. But sometimes we can have that transition after those little blues.
What about you all? How do you do NRE? How do you handle the aftermath when it wears off?
I’ll be teaching my Beyond the Kitchen Table: Modes and Models of Parallel Polyamory class at Tethered to Wifi 2.0, the digital version of Tethered Together, on Saturday March 20 from 11:30am -1pm. The con as a whole runs from the 19-21 and you can get tickets at tetheredtogether.net. Tickets are $30 until sales close! There are a lot of great presenters on topics ranging from relationships to movement to rope and a couple cool shows; come play with us!
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