At this time, I’m single. I’m dancing my own dance right now. Walking hand-in-hand with myself. Taking a break from sex and kisses and shared dreams and whispered snuggly pillow-talk.
All this space for myself has given me the opportunity to reflect, perhaps more deeply than ever before, about relationships. What is romance? What is sex? What do I want from my relationships in the future? One topic that keeps coming up, again and again in my mind, is that of NRE.
So, friends, let’s talk for a moment about NRE. What is it, you ask? Well, it’s a term invented by polyamorous folks. NRE is shorthand for “new relationship energy.” NRE is amazing: it’s that sparkly glorious rainbows & butterflies feeling of falling in love. It’s that crazy, glorious pull. It’s insane daydreams and glitter in the moonlight. It’s not getting any sleep last night but feeling great and smiling all the same. It’s that magnificent delusion that, now, finally, in the arms of my beloved, all problems, all worries, all troubles are forever ceased. The miracle cure has been found! Hurrah! NRE, simply put, is a state of euphoria. A state of bliss.
Some studies have claimed that NRE can last anywhere between a few days to two years. From a scientific point of view, NRE is when your brain is super high on oxytocin, the bonding chemical naturally released during sex and pleasurable encounters such as kissing and cuddling. According to an article by Shauna H. Springer, Ph.D., “Falling in Love is Like Smoking Crack Cocaine,” many of the same brain pathways are activated when we fall in love as when we smoke cocaine. “Falling in love is the best high you can get without breaking any laws,” she writes.
And, as we all know, bliss is great…but it also brings the possibility of addiction. The possibility of obsession and withdrawals. Of unwanted side-effects and self-delusional tendencies. While I definitely do not want to over-simplify or dismiss the beauty of passion, love, connection, and sexuality as just some stupid addictive high, I also want to contemplate, just for a moment, just for a little bit, about how NRE can be…well…a bit of a trickster.
Here are some questions for you to ponder. (They are for me to ponder, too.)
- Have you ever gotten into a relationship because you felt bored by your own company?
- Have you ever had sex with someone in order to cover up feelings of deep loneliness?
- Have you ever gotten into a relationship with someone whose personality you weren’t thrilled about, simply because the sex was so good?
- Have you ever believed you are less than whole because you don’t, at the moment, have someone to hold and kiss?
- Have you ever tricked yourself into thinking someone was a compatible partner (someone who shares your same values and life intentions) simply because you were in the throes of NRE?
- Have you ever married someone whilst high on NRE, only to find out later that that person was manipulative or abusive?
- Have you ever believed someone’s promises because of NRE, even though everything they said or did showed them to be someone incapable of being able to follow through on their word?
- Have you ever chased the high of NRE instead of taking the time to cultivate a deeper spiritual understanding? Have you ever used NRE as a way of distracting from caring for your own heart and soul?
- Have you ever jumped into a “rebound relationship,” simply because the withdrawal of coming out of a romantic relationship was so painful?
So, yeah. I’ve been asking a lot of questions lately. I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of being alone, of solitude, of having a dedicated period of time in my life where there is no one to kiss. In ancient, indigenous societies, young people would often have a period of days or weeks where they would leave their tribe and go off into the wilderness alone. (Sometimes these were called vision quests or walkabouts; they’ve had different names over the centuries.) What was the point of this initiation? The point was to take the necessary space and time to journey inward. To clear the calendar and say “fuck it all, nothing is more important than me. Let’s find out who I really am.” To take the time to stop moving one’s energy outward, seeking “someone out there” to fill attention and, instead, go inside one’s own heart to listen to the whispers.
This sort of Alone Time is, sadly, a neglected part of American culture and in most developed countries. We don’t have walkabouts; we don’t have vision quests. Quite the opposite: we have pressing schedules and after-school activities and parties and social media. We might take a walk in a park, sure, but how many of us feel compelled to bring our phones along too? Indeed, it seems the art of Alone Time is, for the most part, a lost art.
Dear friends, this has been a hard time, but a good time. I have had so much time to be alone. To be. To breathe. To feel. I am grateful for this time of being single, of being out of any sexual/romantic relationship. Though I’ve been tempted to label myself as currently “solo poly,” I hesitate, because that label doesn’t quite seem to fit. In fact, I’m not even sure if the label polyamorous applies to me anymore. (A subject for a later post, no doubt!)
What label does apply to me? I have no answer. I don’t know. But what I do know is that the next time the sweet melody of NRE calls, I will be sure to keep my logical brain intact, moving forward into a committed partnership only if both my heart and my head agree!
If you like this blog, you might also like Anya’s book, Opening Love. Or, for a more intimate encounter, please contact Anya today to schedule your intuitive guidance or relationship coaching session.