NRE and Understanding What You Want Out of a Relationship. | Nonmonogamy Academy

Now that I’ve told you a bit about the link between limerence and New Relationship Energy, what the signs of limerence are, and what the different phases of love are, and how hormones released during NRE affect your attachment style, some of you might have some questions about how you might try to figure out how to live your life if you tend towards being a highly limerent person.  I have identified that there are a few options for how to manage these feelings.  1. Reduce the impact of NRE on your life and decision making to the point of trying to completely reduce its influence to zero. 2. Lean into the NRE and enjoy the rollercoaster ride. 3. Some hybrid that balances the two.  The nice thing about nonmonogamy is that you get to build the life and relationships that suit your values, and there’s flexibility built into the process.  So let’s look at each one of these options independently.

One thing to remember is that if you want a long term relationship, you are going to spend many more of your years in a non-NRE state than in the NRE.  If you are younger or have never made it past the new relationship high in a relationship, this can be  really difficult to understand. The average length of a relationship is about 2-4 years, depending on your age.  This is about the time it takes for this to wear off and reality to kick in.  If your values are to maintain long-term, stable relationships, then you want to understand your needs independent of your NRE state. If you are being as honest with yourself, and others, as possible, and identify that you desire to ride the NRE high until it diminishes, then move on to the next relationship that brings that to you, that is ok, as long as you communicate that to yourself and others. Just be aware of how that works for you, and what factors may prolong and shorten your NRE state.

Understand Your “Base Self”

The first thing you need to do is get a solid grip of who you are at your “base self”.  Does your base self desire a long term relationship with a live-in partner, sharing a lot of resources and starting a family? Or, does your base self like to have a lot of space for alone time, with a naturally lower libido or more introverted activities? Does your base self get antsy and like to move on and explore new things constantly?  It’s entirely possible you might like both having a safe space and to explore new things at the same time.  It’s good to know what that might look like in your life.

One of the amazing things about the NRE state is that we develop a great capacity for exploring new interests and aspects of life that we may not have explored otherwise.  This state may influence us to take up new hobbies or develop capacities in areas we didn’t think we had before.  However, it’s unlikely to move the needle significantly in the long term, especially in aspects of the personality that are dubbed the big 5 personality traits. These traits are Openness (how likely you are to explore new things), Conscientiousness (how thoughtful you are of others), Extraversion (your desire to socialize), Agreeableness (how likely you are to get along with others),  and Neuroticism (your emotional stability).  We might be a little bit more social when in an NRE state, but we’re unlikely to become the life of the party if we’ve avoided it until now.

Reduce The Impact of New Relationship Energy on Your Life.

Some people really don’t like the way NRE impacts their emotions and behaviors.  It can feel destabilizing and fleeting.  It can feel like it leads you down the wrong path with the wrong people.  You find you wake up one day, and you don’t actually know the person lying next to you, or really who you are, but now you are stuck in a commitment with them.  For you, minimizing the impact of NRE on your decision making might sound very appealing.

What you need to do with this is figure out who you are at baseline, and what you want when you are in your baseline state.  This can be very difficult since you are often changed when you are in this NRE state, which does influence what your baseline might end up looking like as far as what hobbies you enjoy participating in. The biggest part of this is to acknowledge that NRE has a monogamizing factor associated with it.  You are more likely to lean monogamous if you experience NRE in big rises and falls, even if you intellectually know you value the structure on nonmonogamy.

The other thing to understand is how your fantasies manifest during this time, and how those are influencing your dreams for the future versus how you generally like to live the rest of the time.  When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, do you like a lot of space and alone time, with separate beds or even households?  Does this go out the window, and the idea of owning a tiny house in the middle of nowhere, whisked away there by your one true love appeal to you?  Remember, you are likely to spend more of your life and time with a partner in the compassionate love state if things go well.  

This is the path I’ve personally chosen to take, even though the desire for the NRE can sometimes be a strong pull.  In my early years, before I was even nonmonogamous, NRE really blinded me to some stupid relationships that were not good for me.  I’ve found several very stable long-term relationships and don’t want to go chasing the dragon when I have other interests and goals to focus on in my life.

Lean fully into the New Relationship Energy and enjoy the rollercoaster.

New Relationship Energy is a state of bliss, a form of natural drug.  When it is reciprocated, it can lead to a time of great learning, ecstasy, and great sex.  Even outside of your relationship, you can feel exceptionally motivated and creative.  Why wouldn’t you want to get as much of this as possible?  If you play your cards right, and you are honest with everyone about the process, you can enjoy the NRE while it lasts, and accept that there is an inevitable decline that happens after a few months or years.

The trickiest part about this is dealing with the timing of the decline.  What goes up must come down, and if the other side of the equation didn’t get the message that things were expected to end, or their timing is lining up with yours, then the de-escalation of the relationship can get messy.  This is where something like regular check-ins or handfasting ceremonies, with yearly analysis and renewal of commitment, can come in handy.  I might also suggest being very clear at the start of dating that you are looking to ride the NRE wave, and don’t expect the relationship to last longer than a few months to a few years.  Many people in the nonmonogamy community don’t have a problem with that.  Just be aware that when the monogamy bug bites, you don’t make decisions that are locking you into longer-term commitments than what your NRE can sustain.

Balance the New Relationship Energy high with thoughtful awareness.

This is likely what most people in the community are ad-hoc doing, especially when the NRE isn’t mind-bogglingly strong, or they’ve been doing this long enough to go through a few cycles of NRE.  You have your nesting or anchor partner, who you’ve discovered is a very good match for living with and you care about deeply.  You also have a rotation of other partners that may come and go as the system works.

However, it certainly helps to be more cognizant and intentional about this process and how it plays out in your relationships.  When you are going through a new bout of NRE, how much is it throwing off your current relationship?  Does the monogamizing factor mean that you are suddenly treating your nesting/anchor partner as MUCH more of a roommate than a partner. What does it even mean to be a roommate rather than a partner? How much have you communicated about these changes and your experiences of these changes?  This can be especially important if you have children, or there are old wounds in the relationship that haven’t been repaired.

One of the greatest things about nonmonogamy is that you get to choose the way you want to exist in your relationships. NRE can be a very exciting experience that brings a great amount of joy into your life, and gives you the courage to try new things.  It can also cause problems in existing relationships, or feel like it leads you along the wrong path.  If you are mindful about its place in your life, you can use it as a tool to help you show up in the way you want to show up. 

So put on your seat belts, sit back, and enjoy the ride!