What Is New Relationship Energy And How Do You Manage It?

You're full of energy and too excited to function. You're hardly able to focus on work and other responsibilities — it seems your brain has been hijacked, and all you can do is daydream about your new significant other. If you've fallen in love, this experience is likely a familiar one, and there's a term to perfectly sum it up: new relationship energy, or NRE. The phrase was first coined in polyamorous communities, though many monogamous couples can relate to the phenomenon, too (you may also know it as "infatuation," "limerence," or the "honeymoon period" of dating).

You can often identify NRE by its euphoric, frenzied energy. As polyamory expert Dr. Elisabeth A. Sheff wrote in a Psychology Today article, new relationship energy is the "glowing, exciting, bubbly feeling of being enraptured with a new partner." This early stage of dating can feel rewarding and even addictive, all thanks to a flood of chemicals in the brain. Certified sex coach Gigi Engle revealed to Well+Good that dopamine, oxytocin, and other hormones are largely responsible for that head-over-heels feeling. But, she added, "The high-on-love sensation isn't sustainable, and eventually, you will settle back into your baseline of emotions." And, given some of the drawbacks of NRE, that might not be such a bad thing.

The downsides of new relationship energy

If you're ecstatic and optimistic over a new S.O., there's no need to squash those positive vibes. With that said, it's also a good idea to be aware of the potential drawbacks of letting new relationship energy run wild. In polyamorous relationship structures, that could mean devoting all your attention to your new boo. "If they're not careful, NRE can cause people to neglect their existing partnerships because they want to do everything with their new partner, so they forget about their existing partners' needs," polyamory educator and founder of Poly Philia Leanne Yau told Bustle of poly partners. This could have a lasting negative impact on those relationships, even when NRE fizzles out.

Getting swept up in NRE can also harm monogamous relationships — or at least it can if you expect it to last forever. That energetic high is what many people associate with falling in love, but that doesn't mean it equates to love itself. Deeper intimacy and a more genuine connection are often found on the other side of new relationship energy. As co-host of the "Multiamory" podcast and co-author of "Multiamory: Essential Tools for Modern Relationships" Emily Matlack shared with Well+Good, "while it can be great and fun to experience NRE for a time, it is also really nice to have those feelings fade so you can experience the other stages in a relationship."

Dealing with new relationship energy

For poly partners, it's crucial to avoid drawing comparisons when on the NRE rollercoaster. "Don't rush into decisions and start doubting your existing relationships just because you don't feel the same level of passion and novelty," Leanne Yau explained to Bustle. "The point is that you can enjoy these at the same time." Even if the new relationship energy you have for a fresh love feels intoxicating, don't overlook the security and comfort that come from your existing partnerships.

Another way to manage new relationship energy is by checking in with the people in your circle. If you're in a polyamorous relationship, talk to your significant others about their boundaries and needs. For instance, they may ask you to share fewer details about your new boo, or they might request more alone time together. Even if you're not in a poly romance, check in with friends and other loved ones to be sure your rose-colored glasses aren't getting the best of you.

Finally, remind yourself that NRE is only temporary. In her Psychology Today article, Dr. Elisabeth A. Sheff notes that seasoned polyamorists eventually learn to recognize NRE as a fleeting phase. This attitude can be useful, even if you're in a vanilla relationship. Enjoy the initial rush of energy, but when it calms down, treat it as a natural step forward in your love life — not as a sign of a failed romance or a dying relationship.