What Is Roommate Syndrome? (Combat it in Less Than 5 Minutes)

Have you heard of Roommate Syndrome (or Roommate Phase) but aren’t sure what it is and whether or not you have it?

Don’t worry, even though it is a very common problem, it is also very solvable if you are willing to make some small, consistent changes.

What Is Roommate Syndrome?

It might sound like an incurable disease, but Roommate Syndrome is simply a term to describe a relationship that has become passionless. It is when lovers slowly begin to feel like two people living parallel lives who coexist well and manage tasks without high levels of conflict. But if you no longer feel a strong emotional bond or intimate physical chemistry, you might want to consider finding ways to re-prioritize each other. 

Avoiding Roommate Syndrome is the key to a healthy, long-lasting relationship, and it’s attainable only when you and your partner deliberately carve out time to prioritize each other.

Do You Think You Might Have Roommate Syndrome? Take this quiz to find out.

What Causes Roommate Syndrome?

Couples rarely “put their relationships on the back burner” on purpose. Date nights and interesting conversations move to the rear of the stovetop because other things also need attention, such as managing a busy household, raising children, or tending to extended family. 

Your relationship cannot be your top priority every moment of every day. Hungry, irritable children need to be fed, aging parents need help managing medical issues, and pets make messes. It is normal to have a decrease in intensity from initial young love, but it can become problematic if so much time is spent tending to external obligations, that you forget to carve out time for fun and romance. 

Transitioning from Roommates to Soulmates: Expert Tips for Deepening Your Marriage

In this article, we will delve into proven strategies to deepen your marriage bond and create a stronger connection with your partner. From effective communication techniques to nurturing intimacy and rediscovering shared interests, we will guide you through the process of re-establishing the emotional and physical connection that is the foundation of a fulfilling marriage.

Whether you have been together for a few years or decades, this article is packed with practical advice to transform your relationship. Our expert tips are based on years of research and experience, ensuring that the strategies provided are practical and applicable to your unique circumstances.

It’s time to prioritize your relationship and nurture the love and intimacy that brought you together.

Understanding the Transition from Roommates to Soulmates

Any relationship or marriage is a journey that goes through different phases. At the beginning, passion and excitement are often at their peak. You feel deeply connected to your partner and can’t imagine a day without them. However, as time passes and the responsibilities of daily life take over, it’s not uncommon for couples to start feeling like roommates instead of romantic partners. It occurs when the everyday routines and obligations overshadow the emotional and physical connection between partners.

If you want to escape Roommate Syndrome and transition back to the deeper connection you enjoyed int the beginning, the good news is that with effort and commitment, it is possible to reignite that spark and deepen your marriage bond.

Signs that Your Marriage May be Transitioning into Roomate Syndrome

Before we dive into the strategies for deepening your intimacy, it’s essential to recognize the signs that indicate your relationship may be transitioning into a roommate dynamic. Some common signs include:

1. Lack of communication: You find yourselves going through the motions without truly connecting on a deeper level.

2. Decreased intimacy: Physical intimacy becomes less frequent or loses its passion.

3. Emotional distance: You feel disconnected from your partner and have difficulty expressing your emotions.

4. Separate lives: You have separate routines and interests, rarely spending quality time together.

5. Lack of support: You don’t feel supported or understood by your partner.

If any of these signs resonate with you, it’s time to take action and prioritize your relationship.

Common Challenges Faced During the Transition

Transitioning from roommates to soulmates requires effort from both partners. It’s important to acknowledge that challenges may arise along the way. Some common challenges include:

1. Time constraints: Balancing work, family, and personal responsibilities can make it challenging to find quality time for your relationship.

2. Communication barriers: Differences in communication styles and unresolved conflicts can hinder effective communication in the relationship.

3. Fear of vulnerability: Opening up emotionally can be difficult, especially if you have experienced past hurts or disappointments.

4. Lack of shared interests: Over time, couples may drift apart and lose touch with the activities and hobbies they once enjoyed together.

While these challenges may seem daunting, they are not insurmountable.

Communication: Key to deepening your marriage bond

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. It is the key to understanding each other’s needs, desires, and concerns. When transitioning from roommates to soulmates, improving communication should be your first priority.

1. Active listening: Practice active listening by giving your partner your full attention, maintaining eye contact, and showing empathy. Here is a free Empathy Training Course if this is a challenge for you: Empathy Made Easy.

2. Express your needs: Clearly communicate your needs and expectations to your partner, ensuring that your desires are heard and understood. Here is a training on how to communicate effectively by raising your needs respectfully and avoiding the attack/defend communication cycle.

3. Conflict management: Learn to navigate conflicts and disagreements in a healthy and constructive manner. Avoid blame and focus on finding solutions together. Here is a quiz to learn what your conflict management style is.

4. Regular check-ins: Schedule regular check-ins with your partner to discuss your relationship. Use this time to express gratitude, address concerns, and make plans for the future.

By prioritizing effective communication, you can lay the foundation for a deeper and more meaningful connection with your spouse.

Prioritizing quality time together

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to let quality time with your partner take a backseat. However, making intentional efforts to spend time together is crucial for deepening your marriage bond.

1. Date nights: Schedule regular date nights to rekindle the romance and create new memories together. Try new activities or revisit old favorite spots. Here is a free Date Night Planner for you to choose outings you’d both like to try to and give you new ideas.

2. Shared hobbies: Find activities that you both enjoy and make time for them. Whether it’s cooking, hiking, or painting, shared hobbies can help you reconnect and strengthen your bond.

3. Unplug from technology: Disconnect from digital distractions and focus on each other. Set aside dedicated no-phone zones or times to fully engage with your partner.

4. Getaways: Plan occasional getaways or vacations to escape the daily grind and create special moments together. Explore new places or revisit cherished destinations. Certified Gottman Therapist, Laura Silverstein and her husband are hosting a Weekend Getaway Couples Retreat in the Pocono Mountains on April 5th, 2024, you can learn more HERE.

By prioritizing quality time together, you can create lasting memories and deepen your emotional connection.

Rediscovering intimacy and passion

Physical intimacy plays a vital role in a fulfilling marriage. However, it’s common for the spark to fade over time. Rekindling intimacy and passion is essential when transitioning from roommates to soulmates.

1. Open communication: Talk openly about your desires, fantasies, and boundaries. Create a safe and non-judgmental space for intimate conversations.

2. Physical touch: Incorporate non-sexual physical touch into your daily routine. A simple hug, holding hands, or a gentle caress can reignite the spark.

3. Experimentation: Be open to trying new things in the bedroom. Explore new sexual experiences and fantasies together, keeping an open mind and respecting each other’s boundaries.

4. Emotional connection: Strengthen your emotional connection to enhance physical intimacy. Engage in deep conversations, express your love and appreciation, and prioritize emotional intimacy.

By prioritizing intimacy and passion, you can create a fulfilling and satisfying physical connection with your spouse.

Building shared goals and dreams

Shared goals and dreams can bring couples closer together, creating a sense of purpose and shared vision for the future. When transitioning from roommates to soulmates, it’s essential to build and nurture these shared aspirations.

1. Set goals together: Discuss and set goals that align with both of your aspirations. These goals can be related to career, family, personal growth, or any other area of life.

2. Support each other: Offer support and encouragement as your partner works towards their goals. Celebrate each other’s achievements and provide a helping hand when needed.

3. Create a vision board: Visualize your shared dreams and aspirations by creating a vision board together. Display it in a prominent place as a reminder of what you are working towards.

4. Celebrate milestones: Celebrate both small and significant milestones along the way. Acknowledging accomplishments strengthens your bond and motivates you to keep moving forward.

By building shared goals and dreams, you can create a sense of unity and purpose in your marriage.

How to Combat Roommate Syndrome in Less than 5 Minutes a Day

You can turn the tide of relationship distancing as long as you both love and respect each other, and agree that you want to be closer. The mistake most couples make is that they feel like they don’t have enough time to connect on a deep level, so they wait for a date night, or a “free weekend,” telling themselves that then will be the time to catch up. What I have learned doing couples therapy for thirty years is that its better to  catch little micro-bursts of connection throughout the day to remind your partner, “I’m here, I love you, and you’re my person.”

It’s simple, but not easy. The hard part is following through with daily relationship routines on a regular basis. Of course, more is better, but if you start with an absolute minimum of 5 minutes per day, you can set yourselves up for success. There will be days you can extend your conversations or intimate moments, and there will be days when just don’t have time. Here are some ideas to get you started. This is an abbreviated version of the 44-Minute Daily Relationship Routine from Chapter 9 of Love Is an Action Verb. (Silverstein, 2022)

  1. Wakeup Greeting: 3 Seconds

A kiss on the forehead from the person who wakes up first. A gentle, sleepy kiss will start your day with a reminder that you are in love.  

  1. John Gottman’s Famous 6 Second Kiss1: 6 Seconds

I’ve been recommending that couples share a lingering kiss or hug as you say goodbye for the day and it has brought amazing results. A little mini make-out session reminds you that your connection is special and different from all the rest of your relationships. 

  1. Mid-morning text: 29 Seconds

Send a flirty emoji or a witty expression of gratitude for your partner to enjoy when they glance at their phone. Pro tip: For best results, do this every single day … even the days your partner is getting on your nerves. 

  1. Evening Check-In: 4 minutes

Once everyone is wearing comfortable clothes, connect around the ups and downs of your day. Ask open-ended questions and express empathy as you brag about your wins and vent your frustrations. This part of the routine will help you combat the experience of emotional distancing. For a step-by-step course in how to talk about stress, check out this Free Empathy Course

Seeking Professional Help: Marriage Counseling and Couples Therapy

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may need additional support to deepen your marriage bond. Seeking professional help through marriage counseling or therapy can provide valuable guidance and tools to navigate challenges and strengthen your relationship.

1. Find a qualified professional: Look for a licensed marriage counselor or therapist who specializes in couples’ therapy. Ensure they have experience working with couples facing similar challenges. If you are in the state of Pennsylvania, check out Main Line Counseling Partners.

2. Commit to the process: Attend sessions regularly and actively participate in the therapy process. Be open and honest with your therapist to get the most out of your sessions.

3. Learn new skills: Marriage counseling provides an opportunity to learn new communication techniques, conflict resolution strategies, and tools for deepening emotional intimacy.

4. Follow through with recommendations: Implement the strategies and recommendations provided by your therapist outside of the counseling sessions. Consistency is key to making lasting changes.

Marriage counseling or therapy can provide the support and guidance needed to overcome challenges and create a stronger bond with your spouse.

Nurturing emotional connection and trust

Emotional connection and trust are the pillars of a strong and deep marriage bond. Nurturing these aspects of your relationship is crucial when transitioning from roommates to soulmates.

1. Emotional vulnerability: Share your fears, hopes, and dreams with your partner. Be open and vulnerable to create a deeper emotional connection.

2. Express appreciation: Regularly express gratitude and appreciation for your partner. Acknowledge their efforts and let them know they are valued.

3. Trust-building activities: Engage in trust-building activities such as team-building exercises, adventure sports, or couples’ retreats. These activities can strengthen the bond of trust between you and your partner.

4. Forgive and let go: Practice forgiveness and let go of past resentments. Holding onto grudges can hinder emotional connection and trust in your relationship.

By nurturing emotional connection and trust, you can create a safe and loving space for both partners to thrive.

Embracing the Transformation from Roommate Syndrome to Romantic Partnership

As individuals, we are constantly evolving and changing. Embracing change and growth is essential when deepening your relationships as well. By embracing change and growth, you can create a dynamic and fulfilling marriage bond that withstands the test of time. You’ll see your relationship as an ongoing living experience rather than a broken thing that needs to be fixed.

In conclusion, escaping Roommate Syndrome is a journey that requires effort, commitment, and open communication. By prioritizing effective communication, quality time together, intimacy, shared goals, and emotional connection, you can deepen your marriage bond and create a fulfilling and lasting partnership. Remember, it’s never too late to reignite the spark and turn your relationship from roommates to soulmates. Start implementing these expert tips today and embark on a journey of love, growth, and connection with your spouse.

Note from Author:

You may have heard the term “roommate phase,” and I’d like to clarify my opinion that I prefer NOT to use the word “phase” when discussing the experience of feeling like roommates in your romantic relationship. “Phase” implies that this is a normal, predictable time period that all couples should expect to go through. There is then a risk that people will think the Roommate Phase will naturally disappear on it’s own.

What’s Next?

If this article resonated with you, I hope you feel inspired to start making some small steps to turn things around. 

The sooner you can spot the red flags, the better, and there are many resources to help you out. 

I take a deep dive into vulnerability, intimacy, and the heart/mind/body connection in my book, Love Is an Action Verb, which you can find on Amazon here. If you want a quick crash course in empathy, you can find my Free Empathy Training Course here


Laura Silverstein, LCSW

Laura Silverstein is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist, and author of Love Is An Action Verb.  She has thirty years of clinical experience and is the founder and co-owner of Main Line Counseling Partners, based in Bryn Mawr, PA. Laura is a frequent contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog and has appeared as a relationship expert in media outlets such as the New York Times, ABC, and Today. She helps couples find more happiness as a research clinician, speaker, trainer, and writer with a positive, action-oriented style.

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