Poly NRE: Avoiding Jealousy

Jealousy in Poly Relationships

If you coast around on poly sites online, eventually you’ll come upon the acronym NRE. But what is this elusive thing, written like it’s the saving grace or nail in the coffin of otherwise flourishing poly relationships?

NRE stands for New Relationship Energy. defines it as “The surge of erotic and emotional energy in a relatively new relationship.” Surely, we can all relate to this.

Everybody’s had those butterflies duking it out in their abdomen at the beginning of a new relationship. That feeling of euphoria when your text alert sounds and you see there’s a message from your latest sweetie. The excitement of having your crush reciprocated. And the kissing, the longing gazes, the mind-blowing getting-to-know-you sex. NRE is common to all of us, not just those living a poly life, but it does affect poly people in a very specific way.

When your primary partner is experiencing NRE with a new partner, it can be very difficult to bear.  It’s hard  to compare side-by-side the chemistry you have in your familiar connection – termed “Long Term Energy” or LTE – to that of the two starry-eyed lovers, and not feel yourself coming up short.  Jealousy, that familiar foe of poly life, is bound to rear its ugly head.

But if looked at in an optimistic light, NRE is good for everyone.  The excitement felt in one bedroom can easily spill over into another, if enough support and encouragement are in place.  If you’re feeling like the third wheel, tell your partner you are happy they’re so positive about the new connection, and that you’d love to get in on the celebrating.

Getting through this period in your poly relationship can be trying, but remembering a few key things will certainly help.  Keep in mind that you and your primary partner once experienced NRE, and though it was a thrilling ride, the LTE you now share is wonderful, and only time and very deep love can produce it. Communication, as always, is your friend here.  Don’t be afraid to let your partner know what he or she can do to make you feel more secure. Routinely check in with each other’s emotions. Also, if your partner’s new chemical surge is causing them to idealize the new person, resulting in you gritting your teeth, be patient – this rose-colored glasses period won’t last. NRE, though powerfully captivating, does fade. If that weren’t the case, you and your partner never would have found the precious LTE you now share!

Has NRE interrupted your partnership?  Tell me how in the comments below.

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This has been a huge stumbling block for us. My spouse is poly and I’m very much mono. The polybomb dropped shortly before our 21st anniversary;and a year of intense counseling later, we opened and my husband found his first girlfriend. I thought it would progress a lot slower, but it seems like he came out of the gates running for gold. I’m still not happy, shaky, and I absolutely HATE their NRE, but I agreed to it and don’t feel like I can back out. I hate leftover passion, when he comes home from a date all jazzed up,… Read more »

Lola Page

Thank you for sharing your story. I am very impressed that you are able to go forward with this arrangement after 21 years of monogamy, it really shows great selflessness and loving. On the other hand I am sorry that it is proving so difficult, although this is completely understandable! I hope that things will improve for you, and that your husband is showing sensitivity and understanding to your side of things. He is a very lucky man to have a woman like you. Are you still in counseling? I can imagine that it would help, especially now when you… Read more »


Me backing out would mean my husband going back to monogamy which made him miserable for 21 years. It would also mean him breaking up with his girlfriend, 2 broken hearts. I feel like the only way I can back out would be to leave the marriage. One broken heart. Our intimacy has suffered, but that’s mostly my fault because I can’t seem to get over the ick factor of being intimate with him after he’s been with his girlfriend. We’re still in therapy which he doesn’t seem to need, but I do so he still goes.


O yes it did! The other woman we brought into our relationship was doing things as if she was the wife after just one meeting, and communicating with my husband all day every day! I made my feelings clear to both of them, and was not heard. After a month of tension, we had to call off the third person. We are still friends, but now my guard is up, always!


Thanks for your comment, Carrie. For some reason, a lot of people think that being poly means you somehow miraculously avoid jealousy altogether.

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