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5 Signs of a Couple Falling Into the Friend Zone

You can get friend-zoned after you’re already in a relationship.

Source: goodluz/Shutterstock

We’re all familiar with the phenomenon of the “friend-zone.” It’s the unfortunate state in which two friends are mismatched in their romantic intentions: One remains content being friends, while the other wants more. Friend-zoned relationships can remain at a stalemate for years as neither party dares to mention the elephant in the room. Most serious friend-zonings eventually result in a sad or awkward termination of the friendship.

Here's a little-known fact: This mismatch in desire can pop up in romantic relationships, too. Despite the fact that you and your spouse or partner are already “more than friends,” some romantic partnerships still revert back to the friend zone over time. Here are five signs that a relationship could be heading in that direction:

1. The early physical contact is gone.

It’s natural for many of our infatuation-stage activities to fade once a relationship matures. After a few years together, you’re probably not staring into each other’s eyes for hours. But if all of those early-stage physical signals of romantic interest are gone — knee-touching, back-touching, eye contact, hand-holding, and of course, kissing — one or both of you may be slipping into the friend-zone.

2. You or your partner use excessive platonic labeling.

It’s lovely to consider your significant other your “best friend” or even your “family.” This is a sign that your connection has depth. But your partner shouldn’t only describe you as their “best friend” or “family.” If these labels aren’t used in concert with more romantic labels, like “my love” or “my baby,” there’s a possibility that the depth of connection is swallowing the (necessary) shallowness of physical attraction.

3. Your partner seems fine to only see you in groups.

One subtle sign that your significant other is friend-zoning you is an increasing “open-door policy” with friends. If friends are welcome for dinner any and every night, and if your partner has started inviting friends on your vacations, it can mean that he or she is losing interest in activities that are, well, better done by you two alone. Inviting a crew along on your anniversary dinner may seem cute at the time, but it could bode poorly for the relationship.

4. Your significant other feels comfortable telling you...everything.

Sometimes romantic partners need to tell each other graphic details about their bodies — for health reasons, to improve sexual intimacy, etc. However, it’s a red flag if your partner joyfully over-shares details you really don’t need to know. If your wife can’t wait to tell you about the crazy-long chin hair she plucked this morning, you two might want to start reversing course.

Some healthy reluctance to sharing such info is a sign of a sexy relationship. When your partner loses their filter completely, it may mean they no longer think of you as someone they want to impress. It’s a sign that they no longer feel the need to make sure you find them attractive…which could indicate that they no longer find you attractive.

5. Your significant other acts like your sexual advances are weird.

Have you ever been made to feel like a pervert for making moves on your own boyfriend or girlfriend? It’s a more common experience than you might think. Such retroactive awkwardness around physical advances can happen when a couple is growing apart, of course, but it can also happen when a couple has actually grown too close together. Some couples develop such high regard and esteem for one another that it starts feeling inappropriate to sexualize each other. This is friend-zoning in the making, and a critical sign to look out for.

Friend-zoning ruins romantic relationships as easily as it does friendships. The best thing you can do is notice the signs early and reverse course. Push those friendship habits to the background for a while, and see what other feelings come to the foreground — hopefully, love and attraction.

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