You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘NRE’ tag.

roller-coaster-300x297

New relationships give us all sorts of opportunities.  A new partner means all these new frontiers to explore, don’t they?  Suddenly we’re interested in couples Wii bowling tournaments and Faberge egg painting, and we make all these plans like they’re blueprints for this new relationship.  Then reality sets in.  Wii bowling happens on a work night, and neither of you can paint a fence let alone a hollowed out egg.  Instantly there are all these unmet expectations.  Now throw in the fact that this is a new person you’re learning, and no matter how many times you’ve dreamily cooed the phrase “it feels like I’ve known you forever” it’s been two months, and you’re still learning to communicate and exist on this planet together.  This is where hopes get let down, miscommunication runs rampant, and because NRE has the happy gauge turned up to High Octane, these small disappointments feel world ending.  Sometimes they feel relationship ending.

This is where real life has to interfere for the relationship to survive, and as comfort levels are established we must be willing to let some of those expectations be set aside for a rainy day, reshaped a little, ot even just released back into the wild.  Maybe you buy a Wii and bowl at home.  Maybe you take a Vino and Van Gogh class one weekend, get smashed, and paint nothing put stick figures and butts.  Maybe you find something else that excites you.  The key is to adapt, because at some point the letdowns get bigger; it’s a fact of life that no relationship, yes even yours, is perfect.  If you can’t handle the reality that your partner hated the recipe you learned because she said she likes lasagna, how are you going to survive when you find out she whistles in her sleep and keeps you awake, when the perfect night out you planned in your head ends up on the couch in pj’s because one of you had an awful day, when tears are in her eyes because you weren’t even aware you’d done something hurtful?  These things will happen, and these little compromises on expectations build the foundation for a relationship that can sustain them.

I’ve said it before.  NRE is a roller-coaster, friends, and sometimes one partner gets off the ride before the other.  What then?  You will never survive this blow if you’ve let every other changed expectation tear at you.  This is where the true strength of a relationship is tested.  This is where you find out what you can do together, and once again you adapt.  This is where love and compassion can mean everything.  This is where reaching out and the little things that define your relationship are imperative, because they’re so easily left behind when the ride is over.

There is no other message here.  Just let that one sink in a bit.

Aloha.

Go now.  Hold on tight.

compersion

So, in 2012 I wrote this, and wasn’t I cute.  Go ahead.  Read it.  It’s still valuable information, but it merely skimmed the juvenile surface of a much more mature problem.  Also, note my almost defiant optimism that what we now know as The Vanishing Act would not, in fact, be a disaster.  Ok, so Hubby may have been right on that one, but now this is the evidence he needs every time he thinks a new relationship is a bad idea.  I’m surprised there’s not a commemorative plaque on the wall to mark the day in history.

This started out as a post about the balance between having compassion for the growing pains my existing partners experience when a new partner is added without letting it completely destroy my NRE.  Then it morphed, as I began to have more and more conversations about compersion, not only with my partners but with friends.  Here’s the Quick Guide to Compersion.  Or at least what I understand of it.

 

Compersion is unconditional.  It can’t only exist when you’re being doted on just as much as the new partner.  It can’t only exist if my NRE is exactly like it was with you.  It can’t only exist if you’re in some other way occupied.  It compersion isn’t there even when you’re having a hard time processing the new relationship you’re lying to everyone, including yourself.

 

Compersion doesn’t mean not questioning.  If you have concerns you still have to voice them rationally.  If you have disagreements you still have to work through them.  You’re allowed to ask for compromise or whatever you need to process, but compersion requires you to handle it like two adults who love each other.  Isn’t this what it’s all about?  Aren’t you together because you love each other?

 

Compersion doesn’t invalidate growing pains.  You can still have your process, you just can’t use it to be a shyte to everyone else.  You’re more likely, in fact, to get the extra attention and compassion you need if you’re not.  Compersion means understanding and putting the happiness of your partner in the forefront, but it does not mean sacrificing  your own well-being.  It’s your responsibility to address it before it becomes a big scary issue, a fight, or resentment, not your partner’s.

 

What this all boils down to is love, respect, compassion, and balance.  In a relationship, shouldn’t those things exist already?

 

 

Aloha.

Go now.  Demand your balance.

As I’ve stated before, Hubby and I have very few rules for our polyamory.  It wasn’t always this way, however, and I have to constantly remind myself of this fact every time I encounter a couple who is just opening up. The more I read other poly blogs about rules and how much they hold us back, the more I think sometimes we all forget that we were once new at this, too, and that the fears and hesitation that spawned those rules were very real.

There’s a flip side to this coin.  At what point do rules become restrictions, and at what level do restrictions start to become detrimental?  

When Hubby and I opened up we had a “no kissing during sex” rule, which was not only extremely hard to follow but extremely silly.  Here we were welcoming new people into our hearts and our family, and we weren’t allowed to kiss them sometimes because of what we perceived the attitude and environment of the actions involved to be.  My first couple of experiences were awkward.  On top of the stress that already surrounds a new encounter, there were these stupid little stage notes I had to follow, and it made everyone tense and a little withdrawn because we all felt like we were being graded.  I remember very clearly the night I eschewed that particular rule right in front of Hubby in the most free feeling french kiss I’d ever given anyone.  This died the “no kissing during sex” rule and thus began the beginning of a serious re-evaluation of what essentially boiled down to micromanaging of something that should be very organic.

What changed our mind on these rules?  Trust.  We realized at that moment that there are things we couldn’t, and shouldn’t be, controlling about relationships that needed to form their own shapes.  I could mask my insecurity with a litany of things Hubby wasn’t allowed to do with someone new, or I could trust him to be a decent human being and act accordingly.  After some growing pains and restructuring it was the best decision we have ever made for our marriage and our respective relationships.  It not only fosters trust but respect for the trust given to us by our partners.

A new relationship is like a seedling .  If you nurture it and give it the fresh air it needs, it will grow to it’s full potential.  With the right maintenance and some appreciation, under the right conditions, it will be enjoyed for a long time.  Rules tend to put that seedling in a pot, which isn’t always a bad thing.  There are some integral broad rules, if you choose to call them that.  Honesty.  Respect.  Safety.  Communication.  However, the more rules you add to the mix the smaller the pot gets, and the relationship can eventually be restricted in its growth or completely choked.  The whens, the wheres, the words, the whats…none of it is important if you can hold to the tenants of the broad set.

So, I refer back to the beginning.  Patience and understanding versus a relationship’s need to form and grow organically.  Can the two reach a level of homeostasis that is healthy for everyone involved?  I think they can, though I sometimes question the spirit behind the rules.  A little help can quickly become a crutch.  A seedling can very quickly become a bonsai tree, even when it could be a great Sequoia.

New Love

I talk a lot about NRE.  Why? Because it’s something we don’t experience in monogamy as an outsider.  Sure, we see it in friends and family, but never in a significant other.  This can be an eye-opening experience, not just the first time, but every time a partner goes through NRE.  Navigating it as an observer can be difficult, but it can also be a growing experience.
The first time Hubby experienced me in genuine NRE he was unprepared.  We had been poly for a few years.  I had been in relationships, but until that relationship I had not realized how much I had kept those relationships on the surface.  I went through a very light NRE period with each one, but nothing that came close to what suddenly caught me off guard.  My NRE was quick and intense, and I threw myself at it wholeheartedly.  While Hubby had worked through what he thought my normal NRE behaviour would be he had no clue how to deal with the tidal wave of rainbows and sunshine that I became for this new relationship.  He had never seen me take my defenses down for anyone besides himself, and it rocked his sense of security and stability quite a bit.  Unfortunately that was also the relationship that put a lot of those defenses back in place, but it was a good learning experience for both of us as well as a chance to talk through some personal issues that the NRE in that relationship had exhumed.
My NRE with my current BF was a little different.  He was one of the first people I dated when I moved to Philadelphia, and we’ve been friends for nearly twelve years.  When we started this new relationship it was more of a feeling of relief and comfort than NRE, and we immediately fell into the roles we felt we’ve always played for each other.  Hubby has had to process this very differently than my past experiences.  The immediacy with which it seemed we established our dynamic was a little jarring for him.  He’s been inside my walls since before most of them existed.  It also means we’ve had to work a little bit at having that “new relationship” experience.  When we first realized this was happening I insisted we take the time to get reacquainted with each other.  We went on dates and to parties.  We had quiet nights in.  We tried to not cheat ourselves out of the full experience just because we had history.  Sometimes I still have to remind myself that in Hubby’s eyes this is all very new no matter how longI’ve known R.
I always have some patient processing to do when Hubby has NRE.  His already stubborn attention span severelyzones in on the new thing in his life, be it a new partner or a new project, and it can be exhausting trying to keep up.  I’d like to be able to just let him have his time and be confident his attention will be inclusive again soon, but we have household responsibilities together.  I can’t just let him loose in La La Land until he sees fit to join us here on Earth again.  For the most part I haven’t known his new interests until NRE is in full swing.  This can make me feel like I’m about to encounter some kind of supernatural being when we do finally meet.  In his eyes this new person is infallible and innocent as the baby Jesus.  No matter how calm or logical I am, if there is any contention I immediately get cast in the Wicked Witch of the Wife role.  But there is a flip side to this coin.  Hubby’s NRE is generally very healthy for us as long as there are no growing pains between me and this new partner.  It generally boosts his self-esteem, so when we do have time together he is much more squishy and sweet than usual.
Currently we are in a very new to us NRE situation, one in which his new partner is male.  While Hubby has had male play partners, this is the first fully reciprocal, healthy and happy, looking towards the future, romantic partnership with a man, which means there are two different types of NRE here.  There’s the usual ooey gooey warm center NRE, but there’s also a sort of slow epiphany happening.  This is such a new experience for him, and he has been reaching for this for so long, that there is an almost overwhelming glow that has developed as its own energy.  It has been amazing to watch, and as the one who has watched him fall short of this desire in his life over and over again I am thrilled for him.  I am happy to sit like girlfriends and listen to him gush about his new beau.  This doesn not mean, however, that I enjoy having our foreplay interrupted with cute anecdotes or need to be recounted with every single mushy text message that transpires between them, which is what I present you with now.
So how do we keep our sanity when faced with a partner’s NRE? 
First off, I urge you not to take it personally when your partner forgets something you’ve said to him.  NRE is a drug, and quite often clogs the brain with the aforementioned rainbows and sunshine.  You may want to invest in a pad of Post-it notes to keep the house from falling into shambles.
Next, don’t compare.  No matter how tempting it is to think “I don’t remember him being that way with me”, I can assure you he was just as cute and sickening with you.  Ask around.
Lastly, don’t let the sunshine pouring from your partner stop you from talking to him.  Miscommunication and distraction are rampant in NRE stages, so make sure important things are said clearly, concisely, and often.  If you’re having an issue with something, don’t let it build into resentment.  You’re not killing his buzz if you do.  You’re maintaining your established relationship.  Adversely, this is a rare glimpse at a side of your partner you might not get to see very often.  Enjoy it with him.  Be the bestie that brought you together int he first place.  Offer support if his self-confidence falters.  Give him advice if his flirting might need some help.  This kind of interaction always brings me and Hubby together and reminds us of what a good team we’ve always been.  It always brings me back to a time when we’d put on a rom-com from the Redbox and he’d do my nails while we gabbed like teenage girls.
I can also suggest you find a way to occupy yourself instead of sitting around pining for your distracted love.  Learn a new skill or find a new hobby.  Your partner will be really impressed when he’s back on this plane and you’ve knitted sweaters for the entire family…and all the pets.  Use the time to organize or clean something you’ve been neglecting.  I know these chores go faster for me without Hubby interfering or goading me to do it his way.  It also means I can toss those hole ridden socks he’s been  hanging on to without him ever noticing they’re gone.  Another thought, socialize!  Let your partner and his new love have some foundation building time, and go out a little on your own.  Meet some new people, reacquaint yourself with friends you haven’t seen in a while, or take the opportunity to bond with your metamours.  They probably miss him, too.  I always forget how much of my focus goes to Hubby until he doesn’t need it.  Use your temporary free time for you!
One of the hardest things to remember is that NRE eventually wears off.  When this happens, even if that couple is still together, there’s a lot of processing as things settle back into a comfortable place.  You may be relieved, but your partner may experience a crash, and he’ll need the support of his entire family to remember what comfortablefeels like.  Try not to be too hard on him, and welcome the newly placed piece of your puzzle with perfect love and perfect trust.
Aloha!
Go now, do something new!

Holding Hands

Congratulations!  You made it past the first few dates and have started to develop a relationship with a new partner!  I won’t assume my last piece had anything to do with it, but with the timing and all I will accept it as a coincidence and thank fate for proving my points.  In any case, now let’s examine your current state for a moment.

I’m going to bet you’re giddy and excited.  You’re smiling even through mundane every day tasks, you can’t stop thinking about this new step in your life or the person you’re taking it with, and when you’re together the rest of the world either vanishes or becomes paradise depending on the glasses you’re wearing that day.

This is what we call NRE, or New Relationship Energy, and it’s like sweet Ambrosia after an extended period of failed expectations and frustrating encounters.  Enjoy it.  This is where the foundation of your new relationship is built, where you begin to discover what it will look like, and when you really start to get to know your new lover.  This is a time of firsts.  I reiterate, enjoy it.  Don’t let the worries about where you’re going, what you’re doing, or what this new person in your life thinks of every little thing you do or say hold you back from being who you are and living in the process, not three steps ahead of it.

Be yourself.  If she can’t accept you now for who you are she won’t be able to accept you in the long run, so stop worrying about it and just let yourself be in the moments.  Take the opportunity to do something new.  Form your identity as a couple, and do not attempt to replicate your other relationships, and do not try to compare them,  because this is not any other relationship but this one.  Every couple is unique, as are the roadblocks and tender moments each one will have.  Embrace these differences.  If every partnership you have is identical what’s the point in being poly?

Finding balance. While NRE and building new bonds is important, so are other priorities in you life, like your job and existing partners.  It’s easy to lose track and let all your time and energy be absorbed by something new, but the rest of your life still needs attention as well.  Make sure to keep up communication with your established partners, as they may be feeling some growing pains.  Sharing your new experience while setting aside some quality time for them can strengthen that  bond and ease any inner struggles that may be forming, allowing them to feel compersion instead of insecurities about an unknown situation.  Use this as an opportunity to do something you haven’t done in a while or even try something new yourselves.  Take out that relationship bucket list and cross something off.  Reconnect with what brought you together, and even what made you poly.

On the flip side, remember that you are poly, especially if this is your first multiple relationship.  Don’t wrestle with questions about your established partner’s motives or feelings.  You both agreed to the terms of your poly relationship.  If you start to feel uneasy you should talk about it, but don’t let your second guessing pull you away from giving your time and energy to your new love.  Believe me, you’ll all miss out on a lot that way, and you will not be able to fully enjoy polyamory until you can master this hesitation.

The last hurdle with NRE is when it starts to end, or rather when it starts to transition to become an established bonded relationship.  This is where a lot of people feel a drop.  This is where you start to say things like “you never XYZ anymore!”.  This is where a lot of relationships end, because when the buzz wears off and a routine starts to form many people feel like they fall into a rut.  For some it’s true that the only thing they ever had in common was an addiction to NRE, but to me this is when the real relationship begins.  If you can enjoy the NRE for what it was and truly own and embrace the meat of the relationship that has developed you will find that it’s worth it.  You don’t have to stop having the adventures and experiences, but now you have them as a couple with an amazing bond and a solid foundation.  You have built something that will survive the setbacks and enrich all your lives.  Do not mourn the end of the NRE, welcome the beginning of a new journey.

Next Week: My final installment.  Family introductions.

Not necessarily just being attracted to one person

Finding one person to date and share a life with can be hard.  Finding a second who is compatible with your family? Who would sign up for that?  Polyamorists, that’s who.  Jumping off from my last post, let’s talk about how to proceed once you’ve decided to take the leap.  I’ll remind you that this is how my family operates, not all poly families or couples.

I prefer to start any relationship the way I’d like them to proceed, openly and honestly.  My husband and I disagree about when we talk to new love interests about polyamory and our family, but whether it’s on the first date or once you decide there’s a connection, it’s an important conversation to have. Before I begin to date someone I make sure they know my situation and my expectations.  That way there are no misconceptions from the door.

While Hubby prefers to meet any new suitors before I go on a date, it’s not always feasible with our respective schedules.  I at least make sure he knows who I’m with and what our plans are.  It makes him feel more comfortable with me being out with a stranger, and in some ways it puts me at ease as well.

No matter what my marital status is, I always expect a new interest to be a gentleman and go through the proper steps that anyone would go through at the beginning of a relationship.  I enjoy the early stages of a romance, and I really have fun with NRE (new relationship energy).  My new partnership is not my marriage, and there’s no reason it should rush through its upstart because I’m someone’s wife.  I have no problems taking these new partnerships at a slow, steady pace.  I’m not desperate for a relationship.  I’m not lonely, bored, or anxious for new love.  I also do not owe anyone anything.  Just because I have others doesn’t mean I owe someone sex.   There is no reason not to take our time and get to know each other.  Remember that.  Don’t cheat yourself out of the experience because you want to get to the meat of polyamory.

Remember that poly dating is still dating.  Just because the  first person who takes you on a date is poly, or at least open to the idea, and interested doesn’t mean that’s the person you have to date.  Do you remember how many people you went through to find your spouse?  What makes you think finding a third or a secondary partner will happen right off the bat?  Again, give it time.  Don’t settle just to “be poly”.

In that same vein, polyamory is not Pokemon.  You do not have to date every and any person who asks.  You are allowed to wait for the right partner.  In my mind, polysaturation can ruin the experience.  If I call every guy in my life a “boyfriend” it cheapens that position in my life.  I hold the title very close to my heart, and anyone I call a “partner” holds a piece of me.  I take it very seriously, and I won’t date every guy or girl who comes along  just because I can.  To me, polyamory is about loving relationships not just collecting people.  I simply don’t have the time or energy for that.

The last piece of advice I can give about poly dating is to enjoy yourself.  Don’t worry about the next three steps.  Enjoy this one.  Have fun.  Do something new.  Then go home and share the excitement with your spouse!

English: Who Needs a Fancy Sledge? Family fun ...

 

Someone recently told me that he understood polyamory because of one’s ability to have constant excitement when a marriage gets boring.  After mulling it over and thinking of my family I smiled, mostly because this guy will never understand the key to even a monogamous relationship.

New relationship energy (NRE) is awesome, I agree.  It’s exciting to have someone new to explore inside and out, hearing their stories for the first time, and feeling the spark of new chemistry.  It’s a feeling that cannot be recreated as a couple journeys through life together, and it’s absolutely something to cherish and enjoy.  It’s a rush some people would not give up for the world, but most of those people have never felt the excitement and energy of what’s beyond NRE.

There is an erroneous belief that once “the honeymoon is over” and we settle in to life together that life becomes rote and boring.  It’s true that we get comfortable and pick up some of the personal ambitions and interests we may have set aside for a while, but comfort doesn’t mean have to mean complacency.

What that comfort does mean is a deeper intimacy than you find with NRE.  It means an understanding of each other that creates an excitement and anticipation all its own.  I already know where most of Hubby’s paths go, but they are no less beautiful and exciting than they were when I was stumbling across them.  Having this bond means another level of communication and body language that only two people who have gotten to this level of comfort can have.  That comfort makes us a well oiled machine with an energy that reverberates through our lives even when we are not together.

The idea that we become rote and boring implies that we are static creatures. As human beings, that is simply not true.  We change, we grow, we evolve, and watching that in process Hubby and getting to know all these new and exciting aspects of him is an awesome thing.  The fact that I have someone to share my growth who continues to love me in all my forms is even more unbelievable sometimes.

Like any part of a healthy marriage, keeping a vibrant energy going takes maintenance.  It takes awareness of who Hubby is and who he is becoming.  It takes accepting all those changes.  It takes letting him see who I am becoming and trusting him to accept me for whoever I am.  Most importantly it takes a willingness to step out of the comfort zone once in a while and do something new together.  Take a trip, take a class, anything to stir life up a little.  It takes not letting the rut and routine swallow us whole just because we’ve been together for more than five years.  It’s a commitment, and it’s a refreshing part of our life.

We are not poly because we’re bores with each other.  If anything, this poly family keeps the excitement turned up.  This has nothing to do with new partners or NRE.  It has everything to do with who we are as a family, and this family never fails to keeps me on my toes.

Blogs I bookmark and you should too!

Snippets and Scribbles

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,061 other followers