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New relationship energy (often abbreviated as NRE) is a term used within polyamorous communities referring to 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 is described as beginning with the earliest attractions, growing into full force when mutuality is established, and slowly fading over months to years. It carries an explicit implication of contrast with the feelings involved with "old" or ongoing relationships.[1]


Scope of usage

While the dynamics described by NRE are common to almost all relationships,[citation needed] the term is particularly prevalent in the polyamorous community,[citation needed] in large part because polyamorous people often experience New Relationship Energy alongside ongoing but older relationships which they also wish to maintain.[citation needed] 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.[2] The term originated in the writings of Zhahai Stewart in the 1980s.[3]

NRE is also discussed by Easton and Liszt in The Ethical Slut, 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.[4] 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.[5]

Related terms

Puppy Love or calf love carries a connotation of adolescence and transcience.[6] Infatuation has negative or disparaging associations with a focus on foolishness and obsession.[7] The honeymoon phase has similar connotation to NRE but is associated with marriage per se, or with initial harmonious relations in contrast with later disharmony.[8] 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.[citation needed]

Another related term is limerence, as described by Dorothy Tennov in her book Love and Limerence.[9] While New Relationship Energy is described in published accounts as mostly positive and enjoyable feelings which people are reluctant to see fade,[citation needed] limerence is described by Tennov in her book as a generally unpleasant oscillation of misery and intoxication whose sufferers wish to be rid of. New Relationship Energy is often functional in establishing intimacy and emotional bonds,[citation needed] while limerence is seen as dysfunctional and without value.[citation needed] New Relationship Energy almost always occurs to significant degree in sexual or romantic relationships,[citation needed] while significant limerence is experienced in only a minority of relationships.[citation needed] 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, New Relationship Energy is usually mutual and thrives on reciprocation.[citation needed] Limerence also carries no implication of contrast to longer established relationships.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ New Relationship Energy FAQ
  2. ^ Loving More Magazine, issue #26, 2001 : "What's all this NRE Stuff Anyway"
  3. ^ New Relationship Energy
  4. ^ Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love By Helen Fisher, Ph.D.; Henry Holt: February 2004; ISBN 0-8050-6913-5
  5. ^ Fox, R. Affirmative Psychotherapy With Bisexual Women And Bisexual Men. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, 2006
  6. ^ Random House Dictionary
  7. ^ American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company
  8. ^ American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company
  9. ^ Tennov, D. Love and Limerence: the Experience of Being in Love. New York: Scarborough House, 1999.

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