I’m in a tough spot. I recently noticed that I suffer from a condition that has left me permanently single.
And confession, it’s all my fault.
I discovered it late last night when I was wide awake with an existential crisis. I pondered the age-old question “why am I still single?” and I followed it up with a deep google search and at about 3:15 am I found the answer.
To put it bluntly, it looks like I’m single thanks to an addiction to NRE.
What the hell is NRE, you ask? It stands for ‘New Relationship Energy’. It’s that intense desire and passion at the beginning of a relationship and it’s the bees knees, frankly!
It seems like I’m single thanks to an addiction to NRE, writes Jana
It’s the jolt of excitement you get when he first starts texting you. It’s the kick you get when you share your fist kiss. It’s the first few magical dates. It’s the post-glow aura after you finally have sex. It’s the butterflies and all that jazz.
It’s exciting, and new, and mysterious.
But alas, what goes up must come down. And if I’m being completely honest, once things start to get comfortable and my husband falls off the pedestal that I’ve unfairly put him on, my interest wanes. Yes, NRE is a vicious beast.
Through my own personal research, I’ve found that this usually happens around three months and believe it or not, it’s incredibly common in women in their 30s. Seriously, science backs me up, but we’ll get to that later.
You see, between bouts of dating a dude who was totally emotionally unavailable (which turns out to be the perfect match for someone addicted to NRE), I met a guy who really ticked all the boxes. He was a driven entrepreneur who was thoughtful and interesting and I was extremely attracted to him. We went on some great dates, and he even met my friends (which is a big cry for me), but one morning I woke up to his big, beautiful smile and immediately wanted him to go.
If I’m completely honest, once things start to get comfortable and my husband falls off the pedestal I’ve unfairly put him on, my interest wanes, she says
He suggested breakfast which any girl who has dated fboys knows is a very sweet gesture. But I longed for my bed back. I wanted a quiet morning with my dog and a cup of coffee.
Here was a man who offered me the companionship I had longed for, and I couldn’t get him out of my apartment fast enough. He literally said ‘yes, I like you and I’m ready to invest in this’. So why did I push him away? Even when I was writing the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’, deep down I thought ‘you’re going to regret this Jana’.
It’s because I didn’t have that NRE energy anymore – and it turns out to be incredibly addictive. The thought of never experiencing a first kiss again makes me sad. In fact, our bodies are scientifically wired to make the most of it.
Turns out when we experience NRE, our bodies are flooded with the feel-good chemicals dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin. All three make for a powerful cocktail of pure joy.
However, as with all things pleasurable, NRE has a side effect and in this case it is called anxiety. Yes, NRE floods your body with both fear and pleasure – that’s why you feel that super intense feeling when it happens to you.
Turns out when we experience NRE, our bodies are flooded with the feel-good chemicals dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin. All three make for a powerful cocktail of pure joy
That’s why so many of us jump from one relationship to the next – we’re all just looking for that next big, nice dose of dopamine and we can’t get enough.
But for someone like me who has been on the dating rollercoaster for way too long, eventually you have to stop the ride and get off.
At the age of 38, that time has come very much. I’m ready to settle down and I like the idea of finding my “forever person” (I know, puke, but it’s the only phrase that really works.) So how the hell can I stop jumping when the NRE starts to wear off?
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom once that happens, as many in long-term relationships assure me.
So maybe we’re not all commitment-phobes. Maybe we’re all just addicted to ‘New Relationship Energy?’ Something to think about and hopefully overcome. Get rid of dopamine dating! (As fun as it is)
My slightly scary but very fantastic French therapist has some great tips and tricks.
1. If I feel my relationship is losing its honeymoon spark and I notice my dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins are leveling off, instead of calling the whole thing off, I should just slow down a bit.
2. When I feel the need to run, I should practice centering techniques such as grounding in nature and deep breathing. I don’t have to believe every thought that says ‘let it go’, I just have a moment and I have to feel it and then let it pass.
3. If I’m worried about being stuck in a boring relationship, I need to set up a date that will get the endorphins going. Instead of a quiet night with a movie and pizza, go rock climbing instead. I can get that NDE rush back by constantly finding new exciting things to do with my partner. Mix it up a bit.
4. Give myself time to miss them. So instead of catching up with them a few times a week, just put a date on the calendar and actively look forward to it.
So maybe we’re not all commitment-phobes. Maybe we’re all just addicted to ‘New Relationship Energy?’ Something to think about and hopefully overcome. Get rid of dopamine dating! (As fun as it is).