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Is NRE a Cause for Cheating?

A lot of people think that when their partner cheats, it’s because they are not doing something to keep them.

Being around the polyamorous community, I’ve learned that the addiction to NRE (New Relationship Energy) can be a very powerful force. The feelings of newness, the feelings of getting close and experiencing someone new spikes dopamine levels and will have you in a trance that has to be one of the greatest highs of all time.

Think about when you get a new friend…you start off really interested and ready to hang out with them all the time, but you know eventually those feelings of wanting to hang out with them all the time fade and you get comfortable. However, think about if you were intimate with them. The emotional attachment and experiencing sensuality and intimacy on an extremely energetic level spikes those oxytocin levels (in addition to those dopamine levels) and most people get wrapped up in the passion of what becomes NRE.

A lot of people think that when their partner cheats, it’s because they are not doing something to keep them. That can definitely be the issue unless your partner has an addiction to sex or some other issue that has their willpower wavering. However, if they don’t, there are definitely things you can do to keep the NRE in your current relationship to prevent your partner from straying and preventing the emotional (or physical) damage that can happen if your partner cheats.


Be clear on your needs.


Communicate what you want in the relationship and negotiate what you need to sustain the sexuality in your relationship. Talk about the things that turn you on and if you are a person who likes to experiment, make sure those needs are being met in some way or another. Whether you negotiate on trying something new every week or once a month, talk about what you need in order to keep that loving feeling for your partner.


Change up your appearance.


One of the reasons why people get wrapped up in NRE is because it’s a change of scenery. It’s a new person in different clothes and a different way of life. You can do the same by changing up your appearance. Grow out your hair/beard or do a different hairstyle. Get a new outfit and surprise your lover; maybe some sexy lingerie or decorative boxers/briefs to set the mood. Whatever you can do to change up your appearance every once in a while will help sustain the “newness” of your relationship.


Require date nights.


It’s important to go on dates and spend quality time with your partner. If you can go out once a week to a picnic, a movie, dinner or special event, you help sustain that energy that got you in the first place. I think it’s a bonus if you alternate weeks and make sure you hold each other accountable for creating new energy in the relationship. It also helps with making purposeful effort, rather than being comfortable and settling on the humdrum life of day-to-day.


Show your partner you care about them.


Sometimes we get so caught up on our own needs that we fail to see what our partner really enjoys or what they need. Does your partner need a new watch? New lingerie? Does your partner need their car washed or for you to cook dinner for them? Maybe they want a bath or a massage and need you to help them relax. Maybe they just need a hug and/or a passionate kiss to sustain the energy they need to be interested in you. Those reminders are the best because they are able to take you back in time to remember the exact feeling you felt when you first entered into the relationship.




With that said, I truly believe that NRE can be a cause of cheating in relationships, but there’s definitely a way to prevent this from happening. Be proactive in your relationship to sustain and regenerate new relationship energy and learn about your partner every single day. Pay attention to your partner, recognize when they evolve, and always create new ways to celebrate with them.

Marla Stewart

Marla Renee Stewart, MA is a professional sex, intimacy and relationship coach and sex educator. Not only is she a lecturer at Clayton State University, she is also the co-founder of the Sex Down South Conference and the Sexual Liberation Collective. Gaining her reputation for being "The Sex Architect", she created Velvet Lips to empower people of all ages to embrace, educate and enjoy their sexuality and their sexual lives. She has studied human sexuality for more than 16 years at San Francisco State University and Georgia State University, respectively, and has expert knowledge in a wide variety of subjects. She has published academic articles and continues to do sexuality research. She has conducted workshops at conferences, not-for-profit and private organizations, as well as universities in the Atlanta area. She has been featured on many radio shows, documentaries, books, magazines and has been invited to speak at Universities around the country. She also sits on the board for the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition and SPARK Reproductive Justice Now!
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