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Old 05-17-2017, 12:14 AM
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Shaya Shaya is offline
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Default NRE vs jealousy

I've been wondering about the way in which NRE and jealousy interact in an established relationship when a new third is added. For simplicity's sake, let's keep the discussion to a V configuration.

In the original pair, jealousy may develop in the one who did not start a new relationship, whilst NRE may develop in the one who did. Jealousy and NRE are both strong emotions that may lead to conflict between the original couple. I imagine jealousy pulling one person one way, whilst NRE pulls the other in the opposite direction on issues in which the couple are conflicted upon. Examples of issues may include boundaries, division of quality time, timing of family outings, etc. Over time, I imagine the conflict can show deep differences in philosophy and be interpreted as incompatibility in the original couple, leading to a separation or breakup.

There are few resources in the monogamous world on how to manage jealousy or NRE-type emotions.
  • Jealousy in monogamy: I tried to summarise my thoughts on how jealousy impacts and is handled by monogamous relationships in post 2 here.
  • NRE in monogamy: Monogamy divides NRE-type emotions into wanted and unwanted, with the wanted subtype called "falling in love" and promoted in a billion pop songs, whilst the unwanted subtype classified as limerence or lust. Wanted or unwanted usually seems to be based on whether one is already in an established relationship and I otherwise see only small differences between "falling in love", "limerence", "infatuation" or "lust".

Polyamory promotes a whole host of resources on understanding and managing jealousy. Although jealousy is typically thought of as being an unwanted emotion that needs to be managed, some people have pointed out that jealousy can serve as a healthy warning trigger to a situation with inherent danger (posts 5 onwards). NRE on the other hand is in some ways the opposite - it tends to be thought of as a positive emotion to be experienced, though there are certainly ways in which it can impact an existing relationship negatively. The difference however, is that I don't see nearly as much on how to manage the negative impact of NRE, though I suspect the concept of polyamoryville to be a humerous attempt to explore this. There is also an article on poly hell that peripherally explores the issue but I feel the article falls a little flat.

I see jealousy and NRE as heightened emotional states that exert a cognitive bias (clarification at post 27) on our logical thinking . As jealousy and NRE fade, we can sometimes reflect back and wish we had acted differently had our thinking be less cloudy at the time. We often say not to make any major decisions whilst in the throes of NRE or jealousy, and I see this advice as the practical application of recognising that heightened emotions can play tricks with our logic.

In summary, both NRE and jealousy can impact our relationships in positive and negative ways. NRE is generally thought of as a positive emotion to experience whilst jealousy is generally thought of as negative emotion to contain. However, we also recognise that NRE can have a destructive aspect to existing relationships and jealousy can be useful when it serves as an early warning system. The destructive aspects of jealousy seem to be relatively well studied in polyamory, but I feel that the negative aspects of NRE are less well explored.

I would like this thread to be mainly about NRE. Thoughts that focus on just jealousy could be posted over in a jealousy thread perhaps?

In replying to this thread, I was hoping experienced polyamorists could share the following:
  1. Resources that explore the positive and negative aspects of NRE. Please don't post resources that only explore this with one paragraph. I'm looking for something more engaging.
  2. Resources on how to manage NRE.
  3. Resources that contrast the pull and push fight in a relationship due to NRE and jealousy.
  4. A philosophical debate of why polyamory articles seem to focus more on containing jealousy but less so on NRE, especially since unchecked NRE can be the driving force behind jealousy?
  5. Finally, given how much "air time" jealousy receives, if your answer is merely about jealousy, please post it over here instead. This thread is primarily about managing the negative aspects of NRE and to contrast NRE with jealousy.

Thank you guys, for helping me to understand more in my ongoing exploration of polyamory. Look forward to hearing your opinions and reading your suggested resources.

Last edited by Shaya; 05-17-2017 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 05-17-2017, 11:43 PM
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NRE is a rather new term in the English language, especially when compared to the word jealousy which has a long and established history. More questions get asked about jealousy than questions about NRE. Though I do think NRE gets talked about often enough on this forum.

Wikipedia has a somewhat brief article on NRE, with references and external links at the end. Stewart Zhahai wrote an article on NRE in 2001, and if you read all the way through it there is some material on handling the negatives of NRE.

By googling "new relationship energy," I found some other articles. You'll have to be the judge as to their merit ...
That's all I have for now.
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Old 05-19-2017, 08:53 PM
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I think there is really only two pitfalls with NRE. One is neglecting existing partners. The other is making emotional decisions. I don't think I've ever read anything about NRE that hasn't mentioned that. One thing I haven't noticed is any mention of how to use NRE constructively in an existing relationship.

OTOH, jealousy is nothing but destructive, in my opinion.
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:32 PM
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Hey Vinsanity, you said
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinsanity0 View Post
One thing I haven't noticed is any mention of how to use NRE constructively in an existing relationship.
I've seen a few people say that when they see a new partner and get all sexually charged, they sometimes come home and the sex with the original partner can be fantastic. NRE could be seen as a welcome emotion to all parties involved in this case.

You also said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinsanity0 View Post
jealousy is nothing but destructive, in my opinion.
I agree that jealousy by and large is destructive, but there are rare cases when it serves as an early warning system, it seems. Links were given above in the opening post.
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Old 05-19-2017, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinsanity0 View Post
OTOH, jealousy is nothing but destructive, in my opinion.
I agree if and only if we separate out the feeling of envy from the feeling of jealousy, where jealousy is more "I want that instead of the person who has it" and envy is "I want that too", without taking it away from anyone. Envy can be a damn good pointer at things that are missing from your relationship. Jealousy though, is definitely destructive.
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Old 05-20-2017, 03:45 AM
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I think jealousy and insecurity often get confused. I'd see jealousy as a more proactive grudging someone else what I'd like to have. For example being jealous of partner going out on date with their other lovers. Insecurity is less about the other partner and more about how the partner in NRE is treating you, leading you to doubt your value in their eyes and fear losing it.

So I basically see the difference as 1. Whether it is about competing with someone for partner's attention or fighting to retain own perceived value in relationship. and 2. Whether it is reactive or not. Insecurity will always be reactive - even if it is to something perceived and not real. While jealousy could stem from insecurity, but it could be something else altogether - for example need for control or possessiveness. This person is mine and I am jealous of anyone they pay attention to.

I am making that distinction because I am usually not a jealous person and when I was blindsided and hurt very badly by Spexy's actions during NRE, I was very horrendously insecure - my whole self was being dismissed almost like an afterthought. I had invested my time and social connections and woven this man into my family life in front of extended family, was known to his family as the woman he wanted to marry. He was on legal documents as my son's guardian if something happened to me, and he was just saying we were over like we meant nothing? shutting me out, lying on whim? I suffered horrendously. I lost 10 kg over the next month or two, was not able to eat, sleep, work....

But I was mostly fine on the front of jealousy all through. Even through the worst of the heartbreak, my issue never was the other woman, but how he was treating me. In the initial time, when things seemed to go well between the two of them, I was even able to feel unhesitating compersion - even to the point "well, I'm glad at least that is working. At least you aren't throwing us away for absolutely nothing". Which was a good thing and bad thing. Good, because it didn't add more toxic stuff to an already bad situation. Bad because the relationship lasted less than a week - 3-4days and it would have been way easier if it were jealousy because it would have ended with the relationship. It took us months to address my insecurities, and the broken trust.
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Old 05-20-2017, 04:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anamikanon View Post
I'd see jealousy as a more proactive grudging someone else what I'd like to have. For example being jealous of partner going out on date with their other lovers.
I'd call wanting something someone else has "envy", not "jealousy".

Envy: I'd like some cake, but someone else is eating the last piece. I wanna eat cake too!!! (A comparison of what I have and what you have, based on an actual lack of cake).

Jealousy: I don't care how much is left, if you take a piece of cake then it might all be gone before I get there with a plate. That means you can't have any cake. (An attempt to avoid an unwanted outcome, based on fear of a lack of cake).
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Old 05-20-2017, 06:32 PM
anamikanon anamikanon is offline
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I meant jealousy. Not "I'd like my partner to pay me attention too" but "I'd like my partner to pay only me attention"

I don't really think anyone is magnanimous enough when coping with partner's NRE that they are envious. They are straight out jealous. They see their partner paying attention to someone and they want that attention to be theirs. For politeness sake or after applying a good dose of reasonableness or logic many may *say* me too, but my belief is that they feel abandoned and basically want their partner back.
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Old 05-20-2017, 09:44 PM
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I see jealousy as a symptom of insecurity. I also see the need for control as a symptom of insecurity. So if a person is feeling jealous or they need control, they are not handling their insecurities well.

So how does NRE affect one's insecurity? Well, in the case of a couple opening up for the first time, one's natural conclusion may be that their partner will leave them. They are programmed to think in terms of monogamy. It is very hard to think of it in terms of poly until you have been through it at least once. This is why communication is essential before taking any steps toward poly. You don't have that communication when a partner has an affair, then announces they are poly. It is only natural for their partner to feel insecure.

This leads us to the partner who is in the throes of NRE. They need to recognize it. They need to be mindful of their other partner(s). They can't work out their partner's insecurity for them, but they can work with them.

The main problem that arises with NRE is that it amplifies any problems one may be having with another partner. This is why poly won't fix a bad marriage.
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Old 05-20-2017, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anamikanon View Post
I meant jealousy. Not "I'd like my partner to pay me attention too" but "I'd like my partner to pay only me attention"
I see. I'd read "grudging someone else what I'd like to have" as relating to the "going out on a date" bit (envious of what my partner has because I want to go out on a date with a lover too), not the "with someone other than me" bit (jealous of his date using up the limited resource that is my partner, thereby depriving me of what's mine).
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