“OMG, can you believe he broke up with her saying ‘you just aren’t who I thought you were’? After four months, he decides that!?! What a jerk!”
DJ’s friend of 10 years just had her first high school relationship end. When DJ got the story, she launched into the above response. We were in the car at the time, on the way to her martial arts practice, when she told me all about it. What she didn’t know was her friend’s mom had already told me – I didn’t have the details of it all – but I knew things had ended unexpectedly and hearts were broken.
Hearing his explanation of why he wanted it to end……well……I knew what had happened.
The NRE or “new relationship energy” burned off revealing a relationship with a person that had him going “how did I start dating this person?”
DJ knows about poly – she knows I’m poly – she knows my partner SB (who she threatens to tell I do things like leave my pocket knife open and unattended). When DJ’s current girlfriend asked her about poly, DJ gave her an education about why she wasn’t sure she was poly – what poly meant – and why she wasn’t sure it was a fit for her at this point in her life.
This was a new layer to her knowledge.
“Sounds like the NRE wore off,” I commented. DJ being inquisitive, asked the question of what that meant.
NRE, or “new relationship energy” is that feeling you have at the start of the relationship. You are enamored with the other person – so you are willing to overlook things that maybe you would normally not be willing to overlook. Sometimes NRE doesn’t end. Usually, in my experience, it is because the two people involved became enamored at the people they were dealing with – admiring their strengths and weaknesses and quirks – instead of convincing themselves it will change or can change with time. No one is trying to be changed. Instead, they choose to bask in the awesomeness of this person they have in their lives – flaws and all.
Others find NRE ending with a huge “who the fuck is this person” question. In some cases, they go their own ways – realizing it isn’t meant to be. In other cases, they fight that current by trying to change things – improve things – change people – as they struggle back to where they were with the NRE. Sadly, that ship has sailed. There is no going back.
I explained this phenomenon. Then I brought it to her own relationship with her girlfriend. Did she feel any different about her today than she did initially? If not, why not? We talked through the differences of people in the relationships, how issues are handled, and how feelings were growing not waning. “My girlfriend is who she is – I like who she is. I may not understand certain things, but I want to understand. They all make up who she is, so I guess that’s why I don’t feel like I’m wondering who I’m dating – I know who I’m dating – did from the start. It’s why we started dating,” she explained.
“My friend isn’t very confident in herself. She does tend to like to create drama about things where there is none. I know this as just part of who she is – but I can see how that would be difficult and annoying to date,” DJ reflected.
And in that moment, DJ shifted from blaming the guy who likely saw the fog clear and realize he was with someone he didn’t really like – and shifted into a healthier space. Why was she sad? Why does she feel she has to be in a relationship to be happy? How can DJ help her be more confident in herself so that she isn’t seeking relationships that are trying to fill a gap she feels she has within her?
There are a number of parenting things that I have to stop and question myself because of my feminist views. Things that are socially acceptable approaches that I look on now with a new lens of what-the-fuck.
What I am also finding is that my parenting is changing especially around relationships (friendships and romantic) because of poly – because of the non-traditional relationships I have had. I once explained to a friend that poly and swinging and kink all require an emotional intelligence to truly navigate and navigate successfully.
I guess what I’m finding, as a parent, is that I need to provide the emotional intelligence to my kids too. Give them a different viewpoint on situations, not to protect them from heartache, but to look at situations differently – and in a way that may help them process what they are feeling. And maybe lend a hand to their friends going through shit – not by blaming people but by helping them process in a constructive way that moves them forward emotionally.
Simply putting forth a concept like NRE seems like a good thing….I do hope it helps.