Corner Health Tips
I wanted to talk today about New Relationship Energy (NRE). I know many of you have gotten into new relationships recently (see: It’s Okay to Break Up) and you may be experiencing this very common phenomenon. I wanted to make sure you understand exactly what is happening and what to watch out for.
And NRE is…what exactly?
New Relationship Energy (NRE) is the strong emotional, physical, and sexual response you have towards someone when you are in a new relationship with them. It starts from initial attraction and can last anywhere from three months to a year. During this time, you want to spend all of your energy on the other person, and you can start to neglect other parts of your life.
Who experiences NRE?
Most people starting off a new relationship experience NRE. If you find yourself constantly thinking about the person, texting them, calling them, and wanting to know everything about them, you might be stuck in the throes of NRE.
Isn’t that just infatuation, or puppy love?
Some people may call it that, but NRE is much more than that. While infatuation and puppy love may make the relationship seem trivial or superficial, NRE is just a phase that most couples go through and can be explored without exposing the negative side.
Why is it important to know about NRE?
Well, one of the things that can happen in relationships is that when the NRE starts to fade, people think that that means they are no longer in love with their partner. In fact, this is normal cooling off that happens in every relationship, and it’s not necessarily a reason to break up, but rather to have a conversation with your partner about how the relationship is changing and maturing. Also, just like knowing about what messages the media is trying to tell you about sex(Just Do It), just knowing something is present can help you to be aware when it is there.
What can I do when my NRE fades?
Like any stage in a relationship, this is a very important time to communicate with your partner about how you are feeling and how your feelings may be changing. Your partner may feel neglected or hurt, but as long as you feel like that person is worth a longer-term relationship, you should re-affirm your commitment to them. Remember that a relationship with a person shouldn’t just be about how they make you feel, but also who they are as a person. Because when the NRE fades, you can either have a great relationship where you share interests and have great conversation, or you can have one where you two have nothing in common and can’t even stand to be in the same room together. And with communication, you can easily figure this out.
Have Fun. Be Safe.
I’ve been thinking lately about relationships and endings. We just said goodbye to our peer education Theatre Troupe after an amazing year together. While we will be starting up again in the fall (and if you’d like to join, you can join us starting next January), I found it hard and sad to say goodbye to them.
Indeed, it would be even harder to say goodbye to them if there was a chance that I would never see them again.
And I think that many people feel that way when they are considering ending a relationship: that this person will never be with them in the same way as before.
And this is more than likely to be true.
But it seems more often many people stay in relationships just because they are scared. Scared of being alone, scared of hurting the other person, or just scared of starting a conflict.
There are a few concepts I’d like to introduce here from economics.
Now, I know that last sentence put most of you to sleep, but bear with me here.
One of the reasons it’s so hard for us to quit anything, especially a relationship, is because of a concept named “sunk cost.” This means that whatever time, money, emotions, or even thoughts we SINK into a relationship we feel we will lose if the relationship ends, and that mental and physical energy doesn’t feel as SUNK if we continue with the relationship.
However, every minute, every hour you spend in a relationship means that you are giving up something called “opportunity cost.” This is the OPPORTUNITY to spend that dollar, hour, smile, kiss, or thought on someone else. You miss out not just on other relationships, but friendships, jobs, and time spent with those who actually love and want the best for you. You could also spend time on yourself because you are a person worthy of that time and attention.
So, as you’re considering whether or not to end a relationship, make sure you pay attention to whether the sunk costs are making you feel like you’ve put too much into the relationship to end it now, as well as taking time to consider the opportunity costs of staying in this relationship.
Thanks to my heroes at Freakonomics and their podcast “The Upside of Quitting” for these ideas.
Since I can’t have an article without a list, here are some reasons to end relationships:
- The person doesn’t treat you well.
- You no longer feel the same about this person as you did at the start. (However, you need to be careful with this, because of the concept known as New Relationship Energy (NRE) that causes us to feel great about a new relationship but start to be wary and not like the person as much as we get further into a relationship. It’s okay if your feelings for your partner change as long as you still like being in the relationship.)
- The person is abusive (please let a trusted adult know if this applies to you.)
- The person’s long-term goals don’t match up with yours (they want kids and you don’t, they want to live in the city and you want to live in the middle of nowhere.)
- You don’t want to be in that relationship anymore.
This last one is the biggest. You don’t need a good reason, you don’t need an excuse. If you don’t want to be in the relationship, it’s okay to not be in the relationship.
If you’re having trouble starting the break-up conversation, visit one of the Corner Health Center’s counselors. They have many tools to help you think through your relationship and get to the point where you feel ready to end the relationship. Because it may be time.
Have fun. Be safe. Beyonce’
What does “abusive relationship” even mean? Let’s start by naming a few different types of love and what we mean by them.
*But Were Afraid to Ask
Whether you’ve heard the term or not, having good boundaries is an important part of having good relationships. To be clear, boundaries aren’t just about sex; they’re not even only about romantic relationships.
What are Boundaries?
Try something with me. Think of yourself as a house.
All of the things that make up your house – your furniture, decorations, and stuff – are the things that make up you. Now, if your house is anything like mine, there are some parts that you don’t show off to everyone. Maybe it’s because some rooms are messier than others and you’re embarrassed by them, or maybe it’s because some of your stuff is special to you, and you want to protect those things. Whatever the case, your house has walls, rooms, doors, and windows; it has boundaries. It might even have a fence around the outside of it. Your house has those things so you can control who comes in and out of it. You can keep someone from walking past the front gate, invite them through the front door, or even ask them to move in.
In other words, boundaries are the practical and personal limits that protect, define, and expand who you are in your relationships with other people.
What exactly does that mean? Here’s one example of a healthy boundary: You just found out that you failed a test you took and you don’t know what to do. Because you have healthy boundaries, you don’t just blurt it out to the first person who talks to you. Instead, you wait until you can talk to your best friend.
Even though that may seem like an obvious thing to do, sometimes keeping your boundaries isn’t so obvious. Here’s an example of that: You and some friends decided to go to the mall to hang out, and while you’re walking around a few of you decide to get some pretzels.
One of your friends pulls you aside and asks for some money, promising to pay you back. They’re your friend, and it’s just a couple of dollars, so you spot them. And then it happens again at school or work, and then again and again and they never seem to have the money on their person to pay you back. No matter what their reason – and it may be good – you’re now in the awkward position of having to ask them for your money back, and it seems like no matter how much they promise that they’ll have it next time, they never do.
How do I know my boundaries?
Unfortunately, defining our personal boundaries is harder than finding the walls of a house. In order to know our boundaries, we need to sit down and think about them. Boundaries are meant to determine what behaviors, either others’ or your own, are ok with you. If you don’t know what your boundaries are before you get into a situation where someone is doing something that makes you uncomfortable, or they’re asking you to do something that makes you uncomfortable, it can be hard to think straight.
Think about what you’re ok with from a stranger, an acquaintance, a close friend, a family member, and a significant other. When you think about these things, don’t add other details in (like how good looking a stranger might be), try to think in general. It’s best to know what your general boundary would be for a type of relationship.
Things to keep in mind
If you haven’t thought about your own boundaries yet, try thinking about these things:
- Does this boundary help me to feel safe?
- Does this boundary help me to get to know other people?
- Does this boundary reflect my personality?
- Am I creating this boundary for a specific person?
- If so, has this person earned a special boundary?
- Is this boundary fair to me?
- Is this boundary fair to the people it affects (friends, acquaintances, family, or significant others)?
More on your mind?
Defining your boundaries is hard. If you feel that you need to have better boundaries for yourself, but you’re overwhelmed: you’re not alone. Call 734-484-3600 or come to the Corner Health Center to make an appointment with me or one of our other licensed counselors.← Older posts Newer posts →