Navigating the Highs and Lows of New Relationship Energy

In the wonderfully complex world of ethical non-monogamy and polyamory, a feeling rings true for many, if not all, participants: new relationship energy. New relationship energy, or NRE, is the endorphin high one experiences when they start seeing a new partner.

Before I completely lose you, monogamous folks, you experience this too, but you generally have it once and call it the honeymoon phase.

dating relationship couple kiss
Justin Follis

In my experience, if you’re already in a healthy relationship(s), NRE can feel even more heightened than the honeymoon phase. A year into one of my current relationships and after about six months of trauma-driven exclusivity, I opened myself back up to dating. As I sifted through minds and bodies, one stood out in particular and I felt the familiar rush of NRE.

This person, so different from my existing partner, inadvertently highlighted what I treasured in my long-term relationship. As a result, an emotional and sexual renaissance swept through the old relationship, which in turn funneled more vulnerability into this new relationship. Compersion, the feeling of joy you get when your partner experiences joy with another partner, set the stage for this positive feedback loop exchange to take place.

My long-term partner also started dating and connecting with someone shortly after this, so between the NRE and compersion, we were all varying degrees of those unsettlingly happy people you quietly hate from a few tables over at brunch. But when you’re in it, you don’t care.

dating relationship couple athens greece
Farsai Chaikulngamdee

Eventually, my new beau finally connected with a crush … and I initially felt a pang of jealousy for the first time in years. Instead of keying anyone’s car, I thought about why this was happening because 1) I’d been at this ethical non-monogamy game for five years, 2) I prioritize therapy, and 3) I attended a seminar organized by Kidd Bell about jealousy just a few months earlier.

When handled with care, NRE just leads to more happiness in a sustainable way.

The consensus of all these experiences informed me that jealousy often just points to an insecurity, so once I found it, I literally laughed at the reason. The feeling resolved itself in about one sitting of To All the Boys I Loved Before. Though this is rare for me, jealousy is a common reaction from the other side of someone’s particularly intense NRE. A 33-year-old artist and video DJ, who chose to remain anonymous, is currently observing how the downside of NRE is affecting a metamour (a partner’s partner).

“[He] has had to deal with all of the NRE of [their partner] finding someone that she’s infinitely more compatible with on every level,” he said. “And it’s been really hard on everyone.”

No matter how egalitarian people try to make polyamory, the human condition makes us relate to each other in different, often hierarchical ways. To maintain the health of poly relationships, it’s important to foster open communication to assuage any fears and honest introspection to avoid letting NRE consume you at the cost of other relationships.

dating relationship swings
Bekawoof

“The thing about NRE is that if you’re not mindful and strategic, you can sort of blow past important discussions regarding setting healthy boundaries or communicating needs and expectations,” the artist continued. “Maybe [you] even miss some key ways that two people might be more incompatible than either had initially hoped.”

And those conversations are important because, eventually, NRE ends. The real work of the relationship begins and, sure, you’ll still get some tinier fuzzy endorphins, but not if you wreaked complete havoc (ignoring partners, ending old relationships, making huge commitments with your new partner) during your NRE high.

Even if you do everything right, sometimes this new person shows you just how much you’ve grown apart from an existing partner. It’s a heartbreaking way to discover a partnership is already over, but all growth can only benefit you in the long run.

However you approach NRE, you should enjoy it with caution because unmitigated joy can distort reality. But hopefully, when handled with care, it just leads to more happiness in a sustainable way.

I’m still with both partners, approaching one and two-year anniversaries, and I’m rooting for the residual power of NRE. Especially since I have to see about a girl.

Culture

Why Learning About Quality Cannabis Shouldn’t Strain Your Brain

Like many other craft pursuits, being a weed snob is a good thing. We talked to John Plummer, owner of Bull Run Craft Cannabis in Oregon, to learn more.
Culture

8 Tips on How to Quit a Job Like a Real Professional

Quitting your job can be awkward even in the best circumstances. These tips will help you stay prepared and professional.
Food & Drink

Tired of Bars, Shakes, and Powders? Get these Delicious Ready-To-Go Protein Snacks

We've rounded up our favorite protein snacks made with real meat, because why not add more meat to your diet?
Fashion & Style

How to Fold Your Clothes Like Marie Kondo, the Queen of Modern-Day Organization

Never accept a wrinkled tee and sloppy chest of drawers again. The Marie Kond method is surprisingly simple.
Culture

The Best Weed Strains for Budding Cannasseurs

Cannabis tastemaking has gone from an underground network based on word-of-mouth to an elite level of connoisseurship on a par with fine wine, coffee, and truffles.
Culture

What is 420: The Meaning Behind the Haziest Day of the Year

We can thank some high school kids and the Grateful Dead for the headiest of all holidays.
Culture

The Grown Man’s Guide on How to Make a Resume

Resumes are to jobs like a shirt and shoes are to 7-11: They get you in the door.
Podcast

Learning to Cook with Cannabis and Chef Brandon Parsons

Want to learn how to take your cooking to a higher level? On this episode of The Manual podcast, we talk culinary cannabis infusions.
Culture

The Manual is Looking for Freelance Writers to Join Our Team

The Manual is looking for experienced freelance writers who know a thing or two about what we do here. If this sounds like you, we want to hear from you!
Living

Skip the Chocolate Bunnies and Build Your Own Adult Easter Basket

Swap chocolate rabbits, plastic grass, and colored eggs for beer, sausages, and a $1,000 pair of bunny ears.
Culture

Seth Rogen Proves Life Imitates Art with New Cannabis Company, Houseplant

Along with selling recreational marijuana products (bud, soft-gels, pre-rolls), the company plans to focus on cannabis advocacy and education.
Living

Fender Custom Shop Unleashes Game of Thrones Guitars

Put these axes in the hands of Jon Snow, Jaime Lannister, and Arya Stark, give the Mountain a double-necked bass and Cersei a mic and a tambourine, and you’d have a stadium rock concert for the ages.
Culture

The Dopest Weed Gear to Get You High this 420

Take a major step up from your gas station starter-bowl.