Sex and Salt Lake City

New relationship energy

The Grand Finale of my kiddos is getting married in only a couple of weeks. It’s almost surreal to comprehend how little life changes from day to day but when one looks back at all those days it’s easy to get lost and you find yourself faced with a completely new existence.

In my practice, I do a lot of counseling with people either entering or exiting relationships. It’s always interesting to me how those entering relationships are excited to do whatever they can to make their new partner happy or make their partner’s day-to-day life easier. But those who are transitioning out of relationships are quick to say how much resentment they feel for having always done so much for the other person. I see this cycle regardless of the configuration – D/s, monogamy, polyamory, swinging, long-distance, blended family, etc. I often wonder when and why the desire to bring smiles and happiness to the other person left?

The acronym NRE, for New Relationship Energy, is a pretty common term in polyamorous circles, but it doesn’t just apply to that community. It’s a term used to describe the excitement and new connection a person experiences when entering a new relationship. One can also experience NRE with a new child, the purchase of a home or car, a new job, etc. with something or someone new. All of the focus and attention is on the new shiny thing and not much else around can compete. That is until the newness wears off. And inevitably, the newness always wears off. The new baby grows into a teenager. The new job becomes “work.” The new car or home needs repairs. The new relationship … well, you just no longer seem to understand each other or make each other happy.

With the planning of a wedding, my daughter is all caught up in NRE. As she and her new spouse solidify their commitment to each other in oh so holy matrimony, I have given a lot of thought about things I’ve observed over the years that make for successful relationships – regardless of their configuration.

My biggest observation — Be Kind. That’s it. Over time partners just lose interest and stop being kind. The little sweet things that were done just to “show you care” seem to fall by the wayside and become a chore.

No, it is not your responsibility to “make another person happy.” But if (for instance) if you know full well that your partner really appreciates the dishwasher emptied each morning, then why would you withhold such a simple action? I find it so interesting how many people will go to great lengths to please their kiddo by preparing their favorite meal or give extra hugs and focus when they express they’ve had a rough day. People will show up for friends and show support when suffering or celebrating. But with partners, those same actions go out the window.

When my partner and I married some 20 years ago, we were gifted a journal. The journal was for the two of us to write love notes to each other whenever we felt compelled. At first, it started out sweet and loving. Over time it became a rundown of our daily lives and yes, sometimes that included our frustrations and anger with each other. But the one thing consistent with this journal is that at any point, either of us can scroll back and instantly be refreshed of the kindness and sweetness one has shown for the other. Twenty years later, we’re on our sixth journal.

Our journal, as well as my professional observations, remind me that relationships with anything and anyone take awareness and work — whether it be with a partner, a kiddo, parents, a job, a car, a home, etc. Yes, some more than others and some prove themselves to be quite abusive or toxic. In those instances, it’s good to cut your losses and run. But the bulk of relationships tend to slide into a place that people don’t feel they can recover from simply because of neglect. As I said above, not much changes day to day, but looking back it’s all confusion about where it all went wrong.

So my gift to the newlyweds will be a journal. And my advice: Don’t ever stop getting to know and be kind to the person before you — both in the mirror and across the table. May you recognize the person before you is on your side, to help you grow and experience all the beauty both internally and externally. Play. Laugh. Love. And … Be Kind.

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook is a Clinical Sexologist with a private practice. She divides her time between Salt Lake City and Palm Springs, Calif. She can be reached at [email protected]

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook is a graduate level Clinical Sexologist, with an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Doctorate Degree in Human Sexuality. As a Clinical Sexologist, she believes a large part of her job is to be a sex enabler. Through counseling, workshops, and hands on exercises, she assists others in achieving the level of sexual function they desire. She enjoys the study and research of not only what people are doing sexually, but how they feel about it. Dr. Laurie divides her time between Los Angeles California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to seeing clients in either of her offices or via skype, she is President for the non-profit, Sex Positive Los Angeles inc. (SPLA) and recently began a chapter in Salt Lake City, (SP-SLC). Her non-profit offers sexual education and support programs throughout Los Angeles and Salt Lake Counties. Rounding off her work, she is an IPSA certified Surrogate Partner Therapist working with clients and therapists in a triadic model to assist in bringing clients comfortable with their sexual selves. Dr. Laurie can be found in various publications; radio, podcast, and television interviews. For individual consultations or appointments please contact her at [email protected] Welcoming and affirming of all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all sexual and relationship expressions.

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