By the time many couples show up to couples therapy, their relationship mirrors more of a cohabiting partnership, rather than a passionate marriage.
Most of the partners in these relationships don’t hate each other, but they’re bored, they’ve lost interest and their relationship looks a little too much like brothers and sisters.
Although these couples are married, and they’ve entered the “friend zone” and their “friendliness” can be the poison pill in their relationship.
HOW DID IT GET THIS WAY?
There is a lot of talk these days about how important it is for your spouse to be your friend – and of course, friendship is an important success factor for a satisfying relationship.
But the friendship pendulum has swung too far to the other side where many couples can be the best of friends and have the most unsatisfying sex lives, or even a sexless marriage.
Most couples begin their relationship filled with passion and sexual zeal, but within just a few years slowly shift the patterns in their relationship to a more “friendly” version. There are many reasons for why this happens, but here are just a few to think about:
- We feel sex may not be very important
- We grew up in families where healthy sexuality was not modeled
- Our partners became parental figures (no one wants to have sex with their baby)
- We’re satisfied (enough) with our current sex life and to begin changing this will rock the boat
- We’ve developed an active sex life (or fantasy life via porn) outside the relationship
- We feel angry, cold, or distant from our partner and of course sex is off the table
- We feel that we lack energy and our drive has waned
For these reasons, and many more, some couples have forgone their sex lives in exchange for a stale cohabitation version of their relationship that resembles the “friend zone”.
BEING TOO “FRIENDLY” MAY BE UNDERMINING YOUR MARRIAGE
Is your sex life mechanical? Are you going through the motions? Do you lack spontaneity, freedom, and excitement in the bedroom?
If your sex life has found itself in the doldrums, don’t freak out. It’s common for couples to ebb and flow their sexuality throughout their relationship. But if you’re sexually disinterested with your partner for a sustained period of time, something more significant may be wrong in the relationship.
It’s one thing to ebb and flow sexually, it’s another thing to become content sustaining a passionless roommate marriage.
Married couples please hear this: If we don’t tell our spouses we find them attractive and pursue them passionately, someone else will – and we know where that story can lead.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
Having a thriving sex life takes a lot of risk, time, and relational effort. But once healthy sexual habits and intimate conversations around sexuality become more routine, the energy expenditures becomes less and less and a satisfying sex life becomes easier and easier.
Believe it or not, there are lots of couples who have been married for decades that have thriving sex lives.
I encourage couples to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings about sex and what they truly believe about it (refer to the bullet points above). Kissing, touching, flirting, holding, embracing, and sharing fantasies on a regular basis moves couples out of the “friend zone”.
Developing daily habits and rituals with your partner to increase the passion and eroticism in your relationship is key to changing the tide in your relationship. But sometimes, before we can do that, we have to understand the less easy to see root causes that kept couples from staying there in the first place.
If you’ve been in the “friend zone” for some time, movement out of it can feel weird and awkward, but it’s critical for the sustainability of your relationship. We are sexual creatures – there’s no denying it.
If your sex life has fallen flat and you’d like help, please consider finding a trusted couples therapist to help you rediscover the passion in your relationship.
CONNECT WITH ME
If you’d like to start a conversation about how we could work together, please shoot me an email. I’d love to hear what is going on for you and how I could help.