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Polyamory for the Practical

The Dammit Phenomenon

NRE is a term that was invented, I believe, by someone in the San Francisco Bay area polyamory community to describe that "newly in love" feeling in a way that did not imply "one true love". NRE stands for New Relationship Energy. You know the feeling -- you're light as a feather, walking on air... You know, just completely twitterpated.

It's a fun feeling, isn't it? Heaven knows I like it -- being in the throes of it and all as I write this.

However, among responsible polys, you'll often hear things like, "I'm in love...." <big sigh> "*Dammit!* " Or "Yeah, I'm twitterpated, dammit!" or "Yeah, it's NRE, dammit!" A good friend of mine and I have sent each other into hysterical laughter with this exact expression.

Why the "dammit!"? I mean, c'mon, being poly means you're free to fall in love, experience all that the world has to offer, share your soul with the most wonderful people, right?

Well, yeah, it does, you can, and it's often great. I mean, really wonderful. But, there's a problem involved in that. You see, if you're poly and in the throes of twitterpation, there's a fair chance you've already got an old relationship that needs maintenance. That means, nope, nope, nope, you really cannot focus all that much on the new relationship because you've got a commitment to the old one.

For me, it feels rather like I have two brains. There's the core me, the brain that loves her family, wants to be a good parent, wants to maintain all her relationships, fulfill her commitments, and all that. That's at my soul and heart level of my desires.

Then there's my "ferret brain”. This is the part that is caught up in the wonderful new poingy shininess of the new relationship. (This is not meant to trivialize the deep love one can feel in the new relationship, but my word can the intensity of emotion be a bit much!). The ferret brain will breathe a scent and think of a new love. The ferret brain has a hard time balancing the checkbook. The ferret brain will explain to you why it's okay to sleep less than five hours a night just so you can spend lots of time with new loves.

I am here, in the throes of ferret shock to tell you that no, the poingy shininess of the new relationship is no damned excuse to be an asshat.

I'm not saying not to enjoy the new relationship. I mean, for goodness sake, why bother with poly if you're not going to enjoy it? I'm saying, force yourself to have a sense of proportion about it. It's a serious balancing act.

Now I don't know what contortions other people go through about this but let Mama Java give you a lil peek into her world at the present time. *

I live in a quad. That's three spice. I have two children. I have a full time job. I attend martial arts classes at least twice a week. I have a new boyfriend over whom I am twitterpated to the point of insanity. My wife is graduating from college, my son is turning nine, and I am working on getting together a Con for the PolyFamilies mailing list.

Can you say busy?

Remember where my brain is. New boyfriend “ snuggly, delightful conversationalist, sexy as all hell, just love love love to spend time with him and look into his eyes and whisper naughty comments in his ear and be alone with him andª.

<ahem> Sorryª I'm supposed to be writing an article now, aren't I?

You need coping mechanisms for this.

This is what I do. Not sayin' you have to handle things in the same way, but this is working for meª so far:

  • To do lists are your friend

    I have ADD, so I have to do this anyway. However, the twitterpation had caused things to get minorly out of hand, so I've become more strict with myself. I sat down, made a list of everything that needed to be done, and have started scheduling time to do it. Yes, I really do have to take things that far. No, no chatting with pretty shiny boyfriend until I've cleared out a responsibility or two.

    It's not a bad idea to sit down every day and go through what needs to be done. Don't add to it, though just to justify how busy you are. If you haven't dusted behind the bookcases for the last eleven years, it can wait a few months, okay?

  • Schedule time with old relationships and stick to it no matter what

    Make dates, stick to them . Make yourself available on a regular basis to your old relationships.

    Make time to hang out with your kids. Schedule it. Stick with it. Make sure you're following through on stuff with them. I'm not talking about being WonderParent here. (I'm not, I can tell you that). But for heaven's sake, pay attention!

  • Get enough sleep

    Beat the ferret brain to death. You make crappy decisions when you don't get enough sleep. Go sleep!

  • When it's Just Too Much, get it out of your system

    You know the feeling. You're thinking about how wonderful your new relationship is, you want to talk to him, snuggle close, kiss him, whateverª and there is no way in hell you're going to see this person for awhile. Write her an email expressing exactly what you're feeling (If you're reading this, you better be at a computer, or else it's plagiarism, as I've not sold this article to any print medium) to get it out of your system, then get on with your day.

Polyamory is a balancing act and NRE is not a good excuse to be an irresponsible jerk. As a matter of fact, I think I'll print that last sentence up and paste it to my home monitor, my mirror, my monitor at work, and maybe even paste it to my water bottle.

Then I'm gonna sit back, get a silly grin on my face and daydream about my new boyfriend for a few minutes before I go balance the checkbook.

* Articles in the poly monthly may have a two to five month lead time. I know that you're seeing this in July. I wrote this back in May, 'mkay?

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