To learn about NRE—and to truly accept that the concept of NRE is real—is to become, in a way, less naïve. And being less naïve is a good thing…right?
Well, one could argue the opposite. One can say that recognizing the existence of NRE is a bad thing—because knowing about NRE makes the world a slightly less magical place. With the knowledge of NRE, one comes to understand that, yes, unfortunately, that blissful/sexual “I-just-can’t-get-enough-of-my-lover’s-lips” sort of feeling will eventually fade out. And, sure, orgasmic and luscious bursts of LRE (long-term relationship energy) can pop up from time to time, and feel nearly as (or maybe even equally as) magical as those first hot blushes of NRE. But, the fact is this: knowing about NRE deprives one of the promise or hope that one can be on Cloud 9 forever. Out the window, too, usually go clichés about soulmates and happily forever afters and better halves.
And that’s okay. Because, for many people, once they reach a certain point in their spiritual and ethical evolution, they realize that (for them, at that time) notions like soulmate and you-are-my-ONLY-intimate-partner-for-my-entire-life are…well, damned depressing and restrictive. I mean, yes, the feeling of completion and wholeness are real. But you don’t achieve that through mating and joining with another person. You just don’t. You reach that level of bliss through deep and careful self-understanding and acceptance of life. You get there by being present in the moment. By saying yes to the moment: unconditionally, in gratitude, without having the need to reach for addictions or escapes. It’s about being comfortable and loving oneself. And THAT is the key to forever bliss. That is the secret to happiness.
When you know about NRE, you stop looking for that perfect partner. You stop looking for a very narrow vision of what “love” can be and you broaden it. You realize that you can give and receive love in so many different, unexpected, awesome ways. You realize, sometimes, even more startling things: You start to question whether you can love and care for and connect with (in a multiplicity of ways) friends, neighbors…the strangers you pass on the street. You wonder about relationships. You wonder why our culture downplays the importance of friendship over romance. You wonder about why there are marriage ceremonies and not friendship ceremonies. You wonder about why people break up at all. You wonder what this “love” stuff really is all about.
You start to get deep. Philosophical.
But I digress. NRE is a temporary high. It’s fun as hell. And it can be spiritually enlightening—absolutely! But when it calms down (Deborah Anapol has put it this way: “one of the truths that drives polyamory is that most relationships quiet down sexually as they mature”), if one doesn’t recognize what NRE is, one is tempted to look for a “better” partner. In other words, one is going through withdrawal from NRE—doesn’t realize what’s going on—and then either leaves their partner or cheats on their partner in order to get their next fix. One is tempted to divorce her and marry her instead. Or one is tempted to cheat on him with Mr. New Him. Or one is tempted to renounce love forever and go on a series of wild reckless drunken flings, which maybe end in an STI or feelings of confusion. The point is, without a solid understanding of how NRE works, one is caught in a perpetual loop—the loop of looking outside oneself for that ultimate emotional boost. One flings from one pair of warm arms to the next, wondering why she has to keep flinging. Wondering when all this “searching” can stop.
Recognizing the existence of NRE does, in fact, kill the hope of “happily ever after” (or, at least, the version that heteronormative society would like to have us believe and that presents itself in countless romantic comedies, novels, narratives, bar talk, reality television shows, etc), but it also relieves one of continually chasing something that is ever-illusive. It helps one find peace. And the wonderful beautiful thing is this: When one falls into a passionate new blush of NRE with someone new, that doesn’t necessarily/automatically mean that one must then dump their old, yet still-awesome old lover. One now has choices! One can continue to enjoy that sense of comfort, that sense of incredible trust with their old lover while simultaneously enjoying the high of NRE with someone new. (For my readers who are already poly or thinking seriously about poly, you are probably shaking your heads, saying, “Duh, tell me something I didn’t know!” But for those of you readers who are not poly, trust me, I empathize with the incredulous question you are no doubt throwing right back at me: “Yeah, right! How does that work?”)
(And I can only respond you latter friends by saying this: If something in this message resonates with you, connects with you: be still. Have faith. You will figure out how to make this work for you. I and a lot of other poly people are rooting for you.)