I’ve found myself in a spot of bother. It has come to my attention recently that I sufferer from an affliction that finds me permanently single.
And confession, it is all my fault.
I discovered it late the other night when I was wide awake having an existential crisis. I was pondering the age old question ‘why am I still single?’ and I followed it up with a deep Google search and at approximately 3:15am I found the answer.
To put it bluntly, it would seem I am single thanks to an addiction to NRE.
What the heck is NRE you ask? It stands for ‘New Relationship Energy’. It’s that intense desire and passion at the start of a relationship and it is honestly the bees knees!
It would seem I am single thanks to an addiction to NRE, Jana writes
It’s the jolt of excitement you get when he first starts texting you. It’s the rush you get when you share your fist kiss. It’s the first couple of 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 unfortunately, what goes up must come down. And if I’m being completely honest, as soon as things start getting comfortable and my guy falls off the pedestal that I’ve unfairly put him on my interest wanes. Yes, NRE is a cruel beast.
Through my own personal investigation, I’ve found this usually happens at around the three month mark and believe it or not, it’s incredibly common amongst women in their 30s. Seriously, science backs me up, but we’ll get to that later.
You see, in between bouts of dating a bloke who was completely emotionally unavailable (which it turns out is the perfect match for someone addicted to NRE), I met a guy who really ticked all the boxes. He was a driven business owner who was thoughtful, interesting and I was super attracted to him. We went on some great dates, and he even met my friends (which is a big whoop to me) but then one morning I woke up to his big, beautiful smile and immediately wanted him to leave.
If I’m being completely honest, as soon as things start getting comfortable and my guy falls off the pedestal that I’ve unfairly put him on my interest wanes, she says
He suggested breakfast which any girl who has dated fboys knows is quite a sweet gesture. But I longed for my bed back. I wanted a quiet morning with my dog and a coffee.
Here was a guy offering me the companionship I’ve so longed for, and I couldn’t get him out of my apartment quick enough. He was literally saying ‘yep, I’m into you and I’m ready to invest in this’. So why was I pushing him away? Even as I was writing the ‘it’s not you, it’s me text’ deep down I was thinking ‘you’re going to regret this Jana’.
It’s because I no longer had that NRE energy – and it turns out it’s incredibly addictive. The thought of never experiencing another first kiss again makes me glum. In fact, our bodies are scientifically wired to make the most of it.
Turns out that when we experience NRE our body is flooded with the feel-good chemicals dopamine, oxytocin and vasopressin. All three make for a potent cocktail of pure joy.
As with all pleasurable things though, NRE comes with a side-effect and in this case it’s called anxiety. Yep, NRE makes your body flood with both anxiety and pleasure – which is why you feel that super intense feeling when it’s happening to you.
Turns out that when we experience NRE our body is flooded with the feel-good chemicals dopamine, oxytocin and vasopressin. All three make for a potent cocktail of pure joy
It’s why so many of us jump from one relationship to the next – we’re all just looking for that next big, lovely hit of dopamine and we can’t get enough of it.
But for someone like me who has been on the dating rollercoaster for far too long, eventually you must stop the ride and get off.
At 38 years old that time has very much come. I’m ready to settle down and I quite like the idea of finding my ‘forever person’ (I know, vomit, but it’s the only expression that really nails the brief.) So how the heck do I stop jumping ship when the NRE starts to wear off?
Well thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom once that happens, as many in long-term relationships assure me.
So perhaps we’re not all commitment-phobes. Maybe we’re all just addicted to ‘New Relationship Energy?’ Something to ponder and hopefully conquer. Down with dopamine dating! (No matter how fun it is)
My slightly scary but very fabulous French therapist has some great tips and tricks.
1. When I feel my relationship losing its honeymoon spark and I notice my dopamine, serotonin and endorphins flatlining, instead of calling the whole thing off I should just go a little slower.
2. When I feel the need to run, I should practice centring techniques like grounding in nature and taking deep breaths. I don’t have to believe every thought that says, ‘call it off’, I’m just having a moment and I’ve got to feel it and then let it pass.
3. If I’m worried I’ve got myself stuck in a boring relationship, I should organise a date that gets the endorphins going. Instead of a quiet night in with a movie and pizza, go rock climbing instead. I can get that NDE rush back through constantly finding new exciting things to do with my partner. Mix it up a little.
4. Give myself time to miss them. So rather then catching up with them a few times a week, just put one date in the diary and actively look forward to it.
So perhaps we’re not all commitment-phobes. Maybe we’re all just addicted to ‘New Relationship Energy?’ Something to ponder and hopefully conquer. Down with dopamine dating! (No matter how fun it is).