Old Relationship Energy

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People in the world of non-monogamy value many things, and since the label ‘non-monogamy' covers everything from swinging to polyamory (or even cheating), not every non-monogamous person's values align. However, swingers, poly-folk, cheaters, and even people in those mysterious ‘open relationships' do have at least one value in common: an intrinsic appreciation for the new. The unexplored, the mysterious. Variety. ‘New’ is a large part of what drives non-monogamous people to be non-monogamous. New people and relationships are exciting and fun. But.. what about the old?

If you spend enough time in various non-monogamous communities, you'll start to notice an overwhelming emphasis on the acquisition and appreciation of new partners and experiences. Why not? That is what sets us apart from the mundane, right? Yet, it struck me recently that perhaps we should do more to appreciate our existing partners. After all, without them, where would we be?

Somewhat ironically, it is a heavy dose of New Relationship Energy (NRE) that has led me to this conclusion. I find my mind swimming with thoughts and excitement brought on by my new relationship. I act giddy, smile broadly, and ramble endlessly about my new partner. These feelings are very obvious to observers as NRE emotions and actions are markedly outside of the routine. Yet I don’t know if my subtler emotions are showing.

The emotions that I have surrounding my primary relationship are gentler, more fragile, and much less obvious. There is more at stake so I am a bit guarded when it comes to these emotions. I find that seeing my husband in an accommodating and supportive role is just as exciting as my new relationship. If I bring attention to it, will I chase it away? Deep inside of me, I know bringing a voice to my gratitude isn’t something I should shy away from.

My NRE has definitely given me a newfound appreciation for my Old Relationship Energy (ORE). That feeling of warmth, security comfort, and long-lasting love has been amplified by the emergence of NRE in my life. There is nothing more amazing the quiet confidence of a partner with such trust in you and your relationship that they give you the space to explore new relationships and interpersonal dynamics. Since beginning my new relationship, my husband Ethan has been incredibly supportive. Negotiating boundaries in a poly relationship is tough, and at every turn Ethan has been there with a fair opinion. Ethan supports me in ways that I never expected and I truly have more respect and admiration for him now than I ever have before.

So, hats off to the old. Let's all appreciate some of the Old Relationship Energy. This isn't limited to the people you're sleeping with. ORE can be found with your primary partners, your husbands and wives, your boyfriends and girlfriends, or even just your friends and family. Celebrate the people who were there for you from the beginning of your journey. It's important to let these people know how greatly our lives still benefit from them.

Everyone has a friend who suddenly forgets that their friends and family exist when they acquire a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Perhaps you yourself recently decided to start swinging and you're so excited that you can't stop researching it on the net until the wee hours of the morning. Maybe your new poly love life has bloomed and every time you open your mouth to talk to your primary partner, an anecdote about your new partner blurts out. All of these scenarios happen – often. It's nothing to be ashamed of; it's a part of being non-monogamous. The lucky among us have Old Relationships that will understand that it's a phase, and the even luckier among us get to take a turn being the understanding partner while watching their partner's eyes and heart fill up with NRE.

I ask of you now, fellow non-monogamous folk, do take care to amplify your Old Relationship Energy.  Take a personal inventory of all the wonderful things that you have experienced. How many of those things would be possible without the support of your Old Relationships? Better yet, would they be anywhere near as satisfying? So, go now. Buy flowers, slip your hand down their pants, book that vacation you’ve been putting off. Do whatever you need to do, but make sure you keep the flames of Old Relationship Energy burning.

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About Author

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Shira B. Katz is a co-host of the Life on the Swingset podcast, bringing a pansexual and polyamorous viewpoint to the show. Shira also hosts Pedestrian Polyamory, a podcast on the Swingset network that focuses on polyamory and all of it's glorious (and not so glorious) features. When not writing articles, podcasting, or otherwise extolling the virtues of polyamory, Shira can be found in the wild getting crushes on nerds, lusting after boykisses, and fussing about in the San Francisco Bay area. To learn more about Shira B. Katz follow her on Twitter

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I couldn’t agree more. I love my husband to bits and just the warmth and acceptance and constant, comfortable love I get from him is just as addictive and neccesary as NRE.

  2. Avatar
    Dude in love twice on

    The wife and I are reveling in NRE right now, but the ORE is still there, and dare I say, stronger then ever.

  3. Avatar
    New to Poly on

    I totally understand what you mean. I just recently came into my first NRE-inspiring relationship, but it taught me just how much I appreciate my current partner, and I definitely fell more in love with her then. You described this feeling perfectly!

  4. Avatar
    hiswiserangel on

    I’m the mono recipient of a polybomb from my beloved husband of 21 years, and I’m struggling with this. A lot. I was always of the opinion that, if your relationship started waning or losing energy, you renewed it, revitalized it, pumped it full of that NRE you’re talking about. Not go outside the marriage to find it with someone else. It’s very very hard to not feel demoted, unwanted and unappreciated when you see someone else making the only person you ever loved shine with excitement. It’s hard to not yearn to be the person that makes their heart skip a beat and grin like an idiot when they think of you. Yes, the Old Relationship Energy, the real love that I have for my husband, is just as strong, but it feels so pale and unexciting next to the new shiny love/lust, I start to feel pale and unexciting. I just don’t know how to deal with this and it scares me.

    • Avatar

      You’re not alone in feeling this way. Ultimately it is up to you and your partner to work through it. It is very possible to be poly and still give your mono partner everything he or she needs, but it is something that requires effort. Do your reading, make sure he does it too – the best policy is to go at the slowest person’s pace, and ideally not to drop the poly-bomb when there is already someone else in the picture…unfortunately, the ideal scenario is rarely the case. But it is possible to get through this period stronger than you were before, it will just take effort on the part of both (actually, all three) of you to ensure that you are all getting what you need and what is reasonable to ask. Best of luck.

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