Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Perhaps love is the process of my gently leading you back to yourself.
He has taken, in the last handful of days, to saying that He believes that we are into New Relationship Energy (NRE) again. He then laughs a bit and quips, "New New Relationship Energy -- NNRE." For those who may not be familiar with the term, NRE is a concept that is very common in the polyamory community, although I am not certain that it originates there or that it is confined to that multiple relationship style choice. In simple terms, NRE is just the flush of good feeling and emotional energy that comes at the very beginning of a new romantic connection.
I've never heard or seen anyone talk about NNRE as we are currently experiencing it, but then, I've known very few people who have walked through fire as we have in the last year and a half -- and come out the other side. I do think we have come out the other side. I am happy to share that information with our friends who have supported us through the turbulent months -- and I'll admit I am also glad to proclaim that to all those naysayers who predicted our downfall (those who were clear that "what goes around comes around").
- Where we were inclined to growl at each other, we now find softer and kinder tones.
- Where we were angry and bitter, we enjoy a gentle joy and sense of peace.
- Where we were suspicious of one another, we are slowly laying the foundations of trust.
- Where there was loneliness, sadness, and frustration, we are feeling more connected, more comfortable, and more companionable.
We are careful with each other. We are less sure that we know what things mean -- and we ask when we are not sure. We are more likely to say what we need; more likely to define what is and is not OK in the moment. We once knew what we were out to be and do in our lives and in our relationships -- now we are moving along step by step as the relationship develops into what it chooses to be for itself.
As is my wont, I was doing some research, trying to find out what "the experts" think about the concept of New Relationship Energy. I thought that, if I could find out what it IS exactly, then I could use that information to help me see where we are headed. I have SUCH control issues. Still. There is a lot of material written online about NRE, and most of it was pretty much what I expected -- and what I already knew. This article (excerpted), however, offered insights that were broader and deeper than what I have seen before:
There is a phenomenon that occurs at the start of all romantic relationships,... in which the two people involved are so enamored with each other... It is commonly referred to as lust. It is known as new relationship energy (NRE) and it is punctuated by self-disclosure, is managed by avoiding conflict at all costs, and requires emotional intelligence in order to assess, identify and manage effectively. ... NRE is the fun part of new relationship... - the heady rush of escalating emotional connection and the hot juiciness of a growing sexual attraction, with a person we are just beginning to know and want to know better, much better. ... Self-disclosure is the basis for the most intense relationships, especially those in which NRE is a result. ... Self-disclosure ... serves the purpose of forming camaraderie, finding common ground, and building trust. This, in turn, increases intimacy- a critical component of NRE. ... NRE is “the initial "molecular binding energy" which brings individuals together ... overcoming the fears, judgments, suspicions, vulnerabilities and irritations, which work against forming risky new connections ... There exists a component of reciprocity where “interplay is delicate, with the reactions of each person inextricably bound to the behavior of the other.” This can help to keep the partners on the same wave-length and can be “sustained when there is a certain balance of hope and uncertainty. The base for … hope is not in objective reality but reality as it is perceived. ... Healthy new relationships require not only self-disclosure but also a degree of emotional intelligence in order for them to last ... Emotional intelligence ... means “recognizing emotions and acting on them in a reflective and rational manner”. ... These skills assist individuals in having the patience and understanding to deal with life stress factors as they influence the partner, themselves and the relationship. ... because new relationships are fragile and somewhat tenuous, conflict is much more difficult to manage; therefore avoidance is the most accepted method of resolution so that the relationship not only remains protected but also fair to both people involved. ... New relationship energy is a vital and real aspect of a relationship. And although it is experienced by people in all types of budding relationships from romantic to professional, it is most intense when it occurs between two people who are hopeful of becoming physically involved. It is characterized by warm, loving feelings, is upheld by best behavior and conflict avoidance, and can be extended, perhaps indefinitely, with the presence of simultaneous, mutual and healthy, emotional intelligence. ...
- That would be us; involved in self-disclosure -- forming camaraderie, finding common ground, and building trust.
- That would be us: learning to engage in reciprocity where interplay is delicate with reactions of each person bound to the behavior of the other.
- That would be us: recognizing emotions and acting on them in a reflective and rational manner; having the patience and understanding to deal with life stress factors as they influence each one of us and our relationship.
Here, as the spring begins, as this oddly warm winter draws to a close, we are finding our lives again -- and we are, remarkably, still in love. No, we are in love AGAIN. The love we hold so gently between us is as new as the lengthening days, and as unexpected as the herons that are returned months ahead of what we would have expected. We are in the early throes of New New Relationship Energy. What an amazing turn of events.