New Relationship Energy
In the world of Polyamory there are a lot of terms that are hard to understand. Couples are referred to as “dyads” and “triads” or even “quads.” A term has been coined to define the pleasure one can get from seeing someone they love being loved or in love – compersion. Perhaps the most common polyamorous concept that holds true for any relationship, however, is the idea of New Relationship Energy, or NRE. NRE is defined as: The surge of erotic and emotional energy in a relatively new relationship. Over time, relationships change to a more sustainable set of energies, or dissolve. NRE tends to be more overtly exciting by contrast, a factor poly folks need to take into account and compensate for.
This sort of energy is commonplace in any relationship. The feeling that the person you're with is perfect for you in every way and that there is nothing that can ever tear you apart because you are just meant for each other. It alters and fades, and its weathering the storm of that change that allows us to determine if the relationship is lasting, or fleeting. NRE is a very powerful thing it can lead us into deeper love – or it can deceive us into the belief that we're in love even if we're not. The fact that polyamory accounts for this would seem, on the surface to be very responsible. Even in the poly world, however, there are speed bumps with NRE.
As an example, let's look at a basic poly triad. A, B and C. In this dynamic there are actually four relationships. They are the dyads A and B, A and C and B and C, along with the the triad of A, B and C itself. That means that there are four potential scenarios of NRE. What happens, though, if one of the dyads is more experienced and has NRE that has faded. For example, if A and B have been together long enough for the NRE to have faded, then what happens when A and C are experiencing NRE, or B and C? The danger here is that NRE can give the incumbent relationship the illusion that the new relationship is more desirable. Put simply, if I am in love and the NRE has faded – we are as strong as any couple – then when I see my partner in a new relationship, in that state of emotional and erotic newness, then I am certain to wonder if I am still as desirable – indeed if my partner even still loves me. Things are not any easier for the other people in the relationship, B and C respectively. B may be so caught up in the NRE with C that they don't even notice that A is having trouble, or even that there is anything that the A and B dyad needs. Put simply once again, if my love is caught up in the NRE of their new relationship that they fail to notice that I am wondering if I am desired or if I am still loved – this may have the unwanted effect of placing the more “seasoned” dyad in jeopardy. The 3rd person involved – C – for their part, may be completely unaware of the trouble in the A and B dyad and become alarmed as that trouble surfaces or feel responsible unnecessarily.
The question then becomes, if the force of NRE is so strong, and if it is known that the effects can be so severe as outlined above then how does a poly triad, (or whatever combination applies) survive? The answer is alarmingly simple. Communication is the key. A must communicate the feelings of insecurity and jealousy that they are feeling to B as soon as possible i.e. “B you are experiencing something new and exciting with C and it is making me feel 'X'.” It must also be shared with C and shared in such a way that C does not feel blamed. B must also understand that while the NRE is very powerful, they must also tend to the other dyad and the triad as a whole. Both B and C (and A and C in a triad) must understand that the other dyads and the triad as a whole require attention.
New relationship energy should always be celebrated, because the birth of a new relationship, no matter how long it lasts is an amazing thing. With clear communication and an understanding of how NRE affects everyone it can be very easy to survive this slippery slope with a minimum of misunderstanding. A little balance and communication can temper the NRE that puts us all in a state of flux from time to time.
About the Author
Adam is a freelance writer, active in the BLGT community; writing feature articles for Bi Social Network by night. By day he instructs the future of technical support agents in the ways of fixing the internet for a variety of end users. In the poly world, Adam lives happily in an FMF triad and is passionate about helping people who are monogamous and considering polyamory, to transition to poly life.
More articles by ABorders
- Alt.Polyamory FAQ
- Creating A Line Family: What Bob Heinlein Didn't Tell You
- More than Two
- My Poly Place (social network)
- Online Dating Guide
- Poly Friendly Professionals
- Poly Matchmaker
- Polyamory Group Registry
- Polyamory Weekly Podcast
- Polyamory in the News
- Polyamory.com Forum
- Practical Polyamory
- Upcoming Polyamory Events
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