New relationship energy
New relationship energy is a state of mind experienced at the beginning of most significant sexual and romantic relationships, typically involving heightened emotional and sexual receptivity and excitement. It begins with the earliest attractions, grows into full force when mutuality is established, and slowly fades over months to years. It carries an explicit implication of contrast with the feelings involved with "old" or an ongoing relationship.

Scope of usage

While the dynamics described by NRE are common to almost all relationships, the term is particularly prevalent in the polyamorous community, in large part because polyamorous people often experience new relationship energy alongside ongoing but older relationships which they also wish to maintain. Adjusting to and compensating for the contrast in affect and excitement between the new and old relationships is considered an important factor in successfully balancing those relationships. The term originated in the writings of Zhahai Stewart in the 1980s. The use of the formal term to describe the process in a positive way can help old partners deal with the feelings of jealousy
Jealousy is a second emotion and typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, particularly in reference to a human connection. Jealousy often consists of a combination of presenting emotions...

 towards the new partner.

NRE is also discussed by Easton
Dossie Easton
Dossie Easton is an author and family therapist based in San Francisco, California. She lives with her partner in West Marin, California.She is a nonfiction author and poet...

 and Liszt
Janet Hardy
Janet W. Hardy is a writer and sex educator, and founder of Greenery Press. She has also been published as Catherine A. Liszt and Lady Green. She is the author or co-author of ten books, and frequently collaborates with Dossie Easton....

 in The Ethical Slut
The Ethical Slut
The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities is an English language non-fiction narrative written by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt...

, Greenery Press 1997.

Reactions to new relationship energy

New relationship energy is generally considered desirable, perhaps nearly indispensable in forming deep emotional bonds, but it can also temporarily distort perceptions and judgments and this must be taken into account. These distortions of perception do not imply that the attraction is unreal or will not last (indeed most lasting romantic bonds do begin with NRE), only that the magnitude of these positive feelings is greater than it is likely to be later, and some potential interpersonal problems may seem smaller than they will later become. Caution rather than avoidance or suppression is usually suggested in dealing with NRE.

Related terms

Puppy love
Puppy love
Puppy love is an informal term for feelings of love or infatuation felt by young people during childhood and adolescence, so-called for its resemblance to the adoring, worshipful affection that may be felt by a puppy. 'Simple infatuation is often called a "crush" or "puppy love"...

 carries a connotation of immaturity, transience, and superficiality. Infatuation
Limerence is a term coined c. 1977 by the psychologist Dorothy Tennov to describe an involuntary state of mind which seems to result from a romantic attraction to another person combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one's feelings reciprocated...

 has negative or disparaging associations with a focus on unreality and obsession. The honeymoon
-History:One early reference to a honeymoon is in Deuteronomy 24:5 “When a man is newly wed, he need not go out on a military expedition, nor shall any public duty be imposed on him...

 phase has similar connotations to NRE but is perceived as occurring subsequent to marriage or similar full commitment, while many people experience new relationship energy well before marriage, or totally outside the context of marriage. There are no other common terms in English which carry the connotation of explicit contrast with the tone and feeling of older or established relationships.

Another related term is limerence
Limerence is a term coined c. 1977 by the psychologist Dorothy Tennov to describe an involuntary state of mind which seems to result from a romantic attraction to another person combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one's feelings reciprocated...

, a state of intense romantic desire which can vary from longing to intense joy or despair, and conveys the sense of infatuation and unreason, described by Dorothy Tennov
Dorothy Tennov
Dorothy Tennov was an American psychologist who, in her 1979 book Love and Limerence – the Experience of Being in Love introduced the term "limerence"...

in her book Love and Limerence. While NRE is described in published accounts as mostly positive and enjoyable feelings which people are reluctant to see fade, limerence is described by Tennov in her book as a generally unpleasant oscillation of misery and intoxication whose sufferers wish to be rid of. NRE is often functional in establishing intimacy and emotional bonds, while limerence is seen as dysfunctional and without value. NRE almost always occurs to a significant degree in sexual or romantic relationships, while significant limerence is experienced in only a minority of relationships. Perhaps the most striking contrast is that Tennov describes limerence as an essentially unilateral feeling fueled by secrecy and uncertainty and which in all but a few pathological cases dissipates as soon as mutuality of feelings or lack thereof is established. By contrast, NRE is usually mutual and thrives on reciprocation. Limerence also carries no implication of contrast to longer established relationships.

One way to integrate the concepts of limerence and NRE is to observe that in some cases the earliest stages of NRE, before mutuality of feelings is established, can exhibit a more transient and unstable limerence phase.

External links

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