Do you know what NRE is? NRE stands for “new relationship energy” and refers to the early months and years in a relationship where there is usually a burst of light and high energy (usually sexual and romantic) in which the other, new and shiny person(s) become very important to you, often very quickly. Typical features of NRE are wanting to spend a lot of time with the new person or people, having them on your mind ALL the time, feeling restless, excited. In short: you are falling in love.
This is a magical phase but it is also just that: a phase. It’s a natural and normal stage in any relationship and it can last for weeks, months or even years (and it can even come back later in your relationship) but it cannot last, static and fixed, forever.
Knowing this, knowing that NRE is a magical phase and one to be enjoyed rather than get too lost in or searching for, is an important part of relating more consciously.
The key is to enjoy NRE consciously. To feel the magical feels without letting them carry you away or impact upon the rest of your life and time too negatively. And, also, not to panic when that feeling is “gone”. It’s fading, or absence, doesn’t mean that there’s something “wrong” with the relationship.
If you are in a monogamous relationship and have, or are thinking of having, a typical “escalator” arrangement in terms of time and closeness (i.e. dates to more dates, more time and then long term commitments such as living together and maybe family) then it can be easy to make big and important decisions about your connection and the way it looks whilst in the NRE stage. This is not to say that those decisions are wrong but, instead, it’s just a gentle reminder that things will change over time and to let that awareness allow you to perhaps take things a little slower. The ebb and flow of feelings about a person you are in relationship with is absolutely normal. The key here is to remember that there’s nothing wrong with NRE fading and that it can really help if you talk about it. It’s also important to create space in your monogamous connection for discussing all of your feelings, and the relationship you share, with honesty and openness. Alethya calls this “conscious monogamy”.
If you are in an open, poly or non-monogamous relationship, it is likely that you, or your partner(s), may experience NRE with another person or persons. This can be a challenging thing to navigate as we can experience all sorts of feelings as we watch someone we care about being immersed in the excitement of the new and the shiny. There can be jealousy as well as mourning for the passing of that stage in your own relationship. There can be insecurity and anxiety, there can be envy that you are not experiencing that with others in your own life. There can be a lot of feels going on. The thing here is to be kind to yourself and to allow yourself to ask for what you need as well as to make time to reflect carefully on what you DO need and want. Your partner needs to be honest and open about how they feel and you’ll both need to work on staying open hearted and kind to each other as you navigate something that can all too easily disturb the waters of an established connection.
Knowing what NRE is and understanding it as a phase to be enjoyed and cherished can be really helpful for all of us. Let us try, as Meg-John Barker says, to stay open and not shut down. Let’s see if the NRE can help us see all of our existing relationships, friendships, our full life, with fresh eyes. Let’s try to channel that energy not just towards the new person but towards our self, our personal projects and work as well as the others in our life that we care about. Having some space between you, making sure that you can keep and hold some space and gaps between you, is important. Being woven together, practically and emotionally, does not have to mean that there is no space to breath, be and grow. This is true of all relationships at all times.
What does love mean after NRE? For me, it’s not about recapturing those early feelings but about seeing the truth of where you are now and giving your current relationship your full presence. Commitment and longevity does not have to mean taking for granted nor being taken for granted.
We often talk about the deeper, more mature post NRE love in ways that makes it sound like a slightly dull, more staid version of its shiny, new, I’m-falling-in-love, my-head-is-a-whirlpool cousin. And yes, maybe it is less FULL ON but I prefer it in a way. Post-NRE love is very magical in its own way – it’s not less, just different. And, I believe, that plenty of space, honesty and kindness as well as the commitment to presence that we discussed earlier, all mean that those intense feelings of love DO come back. I have certainly experienced this after three years in my current committed partnership and in a way that I never did in previous, more unconscious, relationships.
No relationships or feelings are static but, the more awareness and presence you can bring to your own self, as well as the people you care about, the more love, of all different kinds, you will feel.
Other great writing on NRE is:
Sophie at Love Uncommon here
Meg-John Barker at Rewriting the Rules on NRE here