Love, Lust, and Laughter - 08.16.22
NRE – New Relationship Energy. How To Keep It Going!
Therapist Dr. Ashley Mader – www.OurShine.org – sees clients who experiencing the euphoria of new relationship energy—NRE—as well as clients in the process of separation or divorce and wondering how they got there. Dr. Ashley and Dr. Diana have similar cases in their practices; so, a lively conversation ensued!
As with many things, the brain is involved, providing a biological reaction. In the early days of the relationship, the brain is pumping out dopamine, which plays a role in arousal and seeking out rewards. You’re focused on your partner and it builds the infatuation. Over time, oxytocin takes over, which promotes bonding and feelings of comfort. In the early days couples may feel like they’re on speed – later it may feel like they’re on an anti-depressant.
Michael Castleman, author and Psychology Today contributor, writes about dopamine, saying, “Novelty is a nutrient that nourishes relationships and enhances sex.” Couples that want to keep the NRE high need to trick the brain in producing more dopamine. Play out sexual fantasies – taking on new roles. Go to a hotel. It hits a lot of the stimuli checklist – new, different, a little danger/taboo if there’s a semi-private balcony. At its most basic, it’s away from home. There’s no pile of laundry that can highjack a partner’s mind. Good sex requires a person to be present; removing distractions gives that a chance.
Being fully present can be assisted by breathing. Dr. Ashley suggests putting your hands on the top of your head, fingers interlaced, eyes closed and breathing in and out slowly.
Other times a “thoughtful distance” is necessary: a time-out, a girls’ trip, maybe time to contemplate, Who am I?
Let there be spaces in your togetherness. This is accomplished with L.A.T. – Living Apart Together. Many couples who begin relationships later in life are keeping separate homes because they cherish private space and financial independence. This gives dopamine a chance to be in play because the couple can anticipate the emotional and physical intimacy! Building anticipation is its own aphrodisiac … which keeps the NRE freely flowing!
In therapy often couples discover hidden issues with control. This usually means that they need to feel more cared for and loved. Rather than getting involved in a power struggle, they can ask for what they need in a positive way. Partners who learn to say “yes” more often begin to see things from their partner’s point of view, as a result, are happier. Listening with curiosity is always a good idea!
NRE depends on having sex with your spouse! We want one who wants to have sex with us. The need to be desired is as important as the sex itself. Talk to your partner about sex and share how your needs may have changed over time. Be open and vulnerable when communicating – as well as kind and forgiving when misunderstandings occur.
Finally, consider this if you are contemplating a separation or divorce: “Remember, you had what it took to fall in love; it’s entirely possible you have what it takes to stay there!”
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