This term is used to describe the state of positive limerence that happens when you meet that cool new person and start dating him or her. Food tastes better. Colors seem brighter. Mornings are far more exciting. You can't wait to see or talk to your new person! It's that new, shiny, smitten, in-love feeling ... which, if things go well, paves the way for deeper emotional bonding and the kind of love that will last after the new relationship energy (NRE) inevitably fades.
Although author Zhahai Stewart first coined the term in the 1980s, the emotional state is as old as humanity. Most everyone experiences new relationship energy sooner or later; even if an individual is not emotionally wired to experience the huge, sweeping feelings that mark genuine limerence, there's usually at least a bit of infatuation or other increase in positive emotions, optimism and energy at the start of a new relationship.
Stewart believes that NRE and limerence are different emotional states. He writes, "If it feels more bad than good and goes away when you know it's mutual, it's limerence. If it feel mostly good and grows stronger when you know it's mutual, it's NRE. You could experience some of each (at the start of a relationship)."
NRE as a concept is used most widely in the polyamory community. This is largely because the NRE brought on by a sparkly new secondary relationship can be stressful to the existing partner(s). The person experiencing new relationship energy should keep in mind that he or she is in a state of emotional drunkenness ... however, given the power NRE can exert on a person, maintaining perspective and equilibrium may be a real challenge. Someone in the throes of NRE may want to chat incessantly about how great the new partner is, or he or she may develop a distorted view of the importance of the new relationship in comparison to his or her old relationships and other responsibilities like work, school, or the household. Keeping the effects of NRE in mind can help other partners maintain their own perspective(s) and better manage any feelings of jealousy and irritation that may arise:
Jane: "You know, Joe has been a right git ever since he started going out with Betty. He's barely wanted to be home all month, and the kitchen is a mess."
Rachel: "Oh, it's just NRE. Let him have his fun. You know he still loves you, and he'll calm down. After all, you were the same way with Wendy last year!"
Jane: "Yes, I suppose you're right."
NRE generally lasts from four months to a year, although some people report it lasting as long as 18 months. New relationship energy is best contrasted with old relationship energy, which is the calmer, more comforting and grounding type of energy a person gets from a positive, long-term relationship.