Picture this: You’ve met someone new who makes your heart skip a beat. You can’t stop listening to Gracie Abrams’ Feels Like on your way to work because of them. While hanging out with friends, you have to resist talking non-stop about them. You wake up and go to bed with thoughts of them filling your mind.

When we think of falling in love, this exhilarating feeling is often what comes to mind. But why does this intense phase diminish as a relationship matures, giving way to a deeper sense of comfort with your partner? It’s unrealistic to expect to stay in the thrilling infatuation stage forever—life moves forward, and infatuation naturally evolves.

In a conversation on The Everygirl Podcast, sex therapists Kamil Lewis and Casey Tanner discussed the difference between the “honeymoon phase” and the more stable phases of a relationship. They referred to these as new relationship energy (NRE) and long relationship energy (LRE). Understanding why your feelings for your partner transform from initial infatuation to a more consistent affection is key to relationship growth. Let’s delve into the variances between NRE and LRE and why each is valuable.

In this article
1 What is new relationship energy?
2 What is long relationship energy?
3 How to embrace the shift from NRE to LRE

What is new relationship energy?

NRE and LRE are both linked to brain chemistry. According to Casey Tanner, MA, LCPC, CST, on The Everygirl Podcast, “NRE and LRE refer to the different neurotransmitter mixes we experience at various relationship stages.” In the early days of a relationship or during intense crushes, our brains are inundated with oxytocin. During this time, the person we’re getting to know seems flawless to us due to the intense intimacy felt.

“At this stage, many of our insecurities about ourselves and being loved are calmed as we believe we have someone’s undivided attention,” Tanner noted. The typical dating anxieties we had while single, such as dealing with attachment styles or past relationship issues, fade into the background during NRE.

While the excitement and joy are wonderful, aspects of NRE can also feel unsettling. Disrupted sleep and eating patterns can impact our physical well-being. Work productivity might decrease as thoughts of our new interest occupy our minds. There might be pressure to present a certain image to our potential partner due to societal pressures. If we feel like we’re not fully authentic at the beginning of a relationship, transitioning to LRE becomes crucial for long-term success.

What is long relationship energy?

Once you’ve stopped playing Hozier’s Jackie and Wilson on repeat while making breakfast, what keeps your connection strong? This shift marks the move to long relationship energy. Kamil Lewis, MA, LMFT, stresses the importance of transitioning to LRE as a relationship develops. According to her on The Everygirl Podcast, “NRE is unsustainable.” Transitioning from NRE to LRE allows you to enjoy the benefits of both stages of bonding. In LRE, there’s no pressure to maintain a facade or say the right things around your partner—an evolution in the relationship that Lewis views positively.

With LRE, the initial excitement of NRE gradually subsides. The butterflies and heightened oxytocin levels are replaced by genuine comfort with your partner—where you can freely express yourself, navigate everyday life effortlessly, and even be your true self, including the less glamorous parts. It’s a different kind of intimacy but just as significant and rewarding as the initial euphoric period.

How to embrace the shift from NRE to LRE

The transition from NRE to LRE can bring about uncertainty, leading to concerns about the relationship’s longevity and a feeling of fading excitement. However, as Tanner and Lewis explain, this shift in relationship dynamics is a necessary progression. Tanner elaborates on The Everygirl Podcast, “We can’t sustain NRE long term because often we’re neglecting basic needs like eating and sleeping, impacting our ability to function in our daily lives.” Embracing long-term relationship energy is crucial for the sustainability of a relationship over time.

While transitioning from NRE to LRE, try not to overthink or stress excessively. This transition can reveal if the relationship is truly compatible. Although realizing a lack of connection post-infatuation can be disheartening, it guides you towards healthier relationships in the future. Sometimes, going through the NRE to LRE shift with your partner strengthens your bond, confirming that your connection is enduring in the long term. Embracing this growth is essential for nurturing a lasting, stable relationship.


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