The dreaded ‘friend zone’ is something many couples fear, but it turns out this doesn’t necessarily spell the end of your relationship. Talking therapist Alison Raphael explains the 6 main signs your relationship has entered the friend zone, and how you can save it.
1. Your partner is being less physically intimate and sex hasn’t been good for a while.
If that’s not happening continually, and you’re being rejected over many months, then it’s likely they’re stepping back from physical connection.
What to do: Go back to basics – it’s not just about sex, it’s also about the connection outside of the bedroom. Don’t see it as a problem, but more like something that needs feedback to change. Entice back a physical connection rather than being analytical.
2. You feel they’re not making effort anymore.
In a romantic relationship, you need to feel like you are partners. However, you want to convey that to each other and you have to put effort in.
What to do: Some people would cringe at a dinner for two, others would want to do go-cart racing, so it’s all about doing something together. Romance is about creating a feeling in your partner that makes them feel good about themselves.
3. If they’re not talking to you.
If someone continually says they don’t want to talk about it, or say nothing’s wrong when it clearly is, that’s a clear sign that there’s something wrong in the relationship.
What to do: Each partner needs to give the other one space and room to fill their tank.
4. Your partner isn’t looking after themselves.
Often one partner might stop making effort with the way they look. They might not keep up their exercise, eating healthily and pretty much return to their adolescence where they’re sitting in front of the TV with a packet of biscuits because they just don’t care.
What to do: Find out what’s triggered this change in them. Ask them point blank what’s wrong and why they’ve stopped trying. Get them to speak about their struggle and don’t judge them.
5. When it all feels so familiar.
There comes a point in many relationships where you accept your life isn’t as mysterious as it once was. Familiarity is a really precious thing to have in a relationship so don’t see it as a reason to disconnect, see it as a reason to connect deeper.
What to do: Sometimes a couple has to be jolted into new experiences. Start having date nights and doing new things together. Watch out for the repetitive communication that digs a grave into the relationship. If talking about your families always gets you into an argument, have those conversations in a more evolved way.
6. If they’re spending more time at work and less with you.
Often people will make their work more important than the relationship and seem distracted.
What to do: They need to find the balance between work and keeping you happy. Be clear about your boundaries otherwise resentment will accumulate. Remember no one person is ever going to give us everything we need, so while they’re off working you can look for things in your life that make you feel good. Don’t lose sight of yourself.
“If there’s an understanding that you’re both going to work on it, then you can rescue it.
“If you’re just being given scraps back continually, and being ignored and rejected and not being heard, your next stage would be to come into therapy for professional advice.”