May 2018
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rant: I hate the idea of 'honeymoon phase' or NRE / start with reality rather than fantasy / IFE


icon: "voltaic (me, face at a sharp angle staring out of one eye with a slight smile and streaks of rainbow light on my face)"

I LOATHE the idea of a 'honeymoon phase' or 'new relationship energy' (NRE). I hate it like I hate the idea of men being less emotional than women (which, in case you didn't know, is empirically untrue). It implies a lie. It is true that some relationships are only good for the first 1-2 years. What is false is the idea that this shift is naturally occurring or inevitable. It is NOT AT ALL 'natural' to stop being excited about your lover. It's a sign that one or both of you need to develop your intimacy skills and/or personhood (or it may be a symptom of general lack of nourishment, or lack of common ground). The only thing that you have at the beginning that you can't have forever is novelty. If you crave novelty, just call it novelty. Stop acting like it is a part of every relationship or that every relationship has a 'honeymoon' and 'post-honeymoon' stage.

Reality can't dull anything that is real. I realized today that probably some people begin relationships with a fantasy of perfection. Starting out with fantasies and trying to see how much of each others' fantasy you can fulfill is not remotely appealing to me. I prefer to start out with nothing but questions and figure out what potential currently exists based on who each person is now (not who they want to be, not who the other person imagines them to one day be). Starting out with the idea of 'perfect' and working backwards to 'possible' seems inherently disappointing to me. Of course you're going to lose excitement that way -- but it's a loss of your ability to pretend, not an actual loss of something real. This is why in my relationships, I want to figure out if I have compatible values, goals, skills, and needs with a person BEFORE I invest deeply in them. Otherwise I'm likely to end up putting pressure on them to be what I want and need, and vice versa, and we're both going to end up hungry and drained.

Going back to the idea of NRE -- I don't believe in it. What people call NRE is actually IFE -- intimate focus energy. The giddy, excited, highly-nourished state is not caused by novelty, and does not have to dissipate with time. It gets associated with newness because in the beginning of a relationship there is a lot of fear and anxiety -- fear of losing this person, anxiety about making mistakes, etc -- and that gets channeled into focusing intensely on the other person (Abby coined the term "fear-spark" to describe this). You watch their every move because you're trying to figure out how to interact with them in a safely intimate way, and BECAUSE you're watching their every move, you're enchanted by them. Everyone is amazing if you look closely enough (well, everyone who isn't evil). Then, when you know them well enough to feel safely intimate, you stop looking so closely, and you stop noticing their amazingness. You take them for granted, because you can. And you call that the end of NRE and assume it is a natural phase of relationships. It's common, but it is NOT inevitable and it is NOT biological.

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Comments
powerful
belenen ══╣powerful╠══
I get what you mean and I think normalizing intensity fluctuation is important -- but I don't feel like NRE normalizes fluctuation because the way I see it referenced, it's as a phase that only happens once per relationship. That's what I hate, the idea that this is some kind of phenomenon beyond human creation. I would much rather people understand that they can create intimacy anytime with anyone and that it fluctuates based on their own actions and situations and not some magical time period.

I understand that some people do like novelty... it's just not connected to love, for me. Those feelings and insights, I tend to have more often by deliberately creating them with people I already know extremely well. And I feel certain that I am not the only one, and that people are cutting themselves off from having these by thinking that they can't make them happen but have to just stumble into them.

I think part of my problem is that I just don't have much of a fondness for novelty, or rather, I don't find it exciting. So for me, the 345466th time I had the candy is as good as the first time, as long as I am being fully present.
lusimeles ══╣╠══
I agree with that! I think I may just view NRE more benignly, probably because I haven't heard as many people apply the phrase in that way? (Or, who knows, maybe I'm a little oblivious. I've been known to be.) The idea that the relationship inevitably becomes less exciting overall after the NRE has worn off is definitely wrong to me too.

Personally, I do like the novelty, but I think the quality of novelty actually differs between relationships that are short-lived and relationships that ultimately go the distance, if that makes any sense. The difference isn't always immediately appreciable, which is why people do get confused. I wasn't a particularly romantic/giddy person before I met my boyfriend, so when that happened, I guess I felt sort of a personal awakening? So, it wasn't just that I was sleeping with this sexy new guy, even though I was - it was more that I'd finally met somebody who gave me feelings I'd never previously had access to. For that reason, I appreciate the "novelty," although I suspect what I'm really talking about is something deeper. Anyway, now, I still have access to those feelings, and they've only grown since those first months - so the IFE is still very much there, and, as you said, something that requires active input from both parties to make happen.
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
if I remember correctly you are monogamous, right? I think NRE is more of a constant topic in polyamorous circles, so I may be more critical of it because it's more often in my mindspace.

mm, I think I understand the difference you're talking about. There's having a new experience, and then there is discovering a new facet to life. They're both novel, but the second one has far more profound effect.
lusimeles ══╣╠══
That is true! I usually hear NRE being discussed as something you *shouldn't* end up mistaking for "the real thing" if you want to make a relationship last, even if you should try to enjoy it while it "lasts." However, I think most successful monogamous couples say the NRE gives way to something *like* IFE (not in those words, obviously) - so there is definitely awareness the ~fun~ can (and should!) last, even if wavers temporarily.
mushroom's dragon
volamonster ══╣mushroom's dragon╠══
So for me, the 345466th time I had the candy is as good as the first time, as long as I am being fully present.

Yes!! Me too!
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.