The Signs, Symptoms and Cures of Roommate Syndrome

how to get over roommate syndrome

Imagine it’s a warm Sunday evening. You’re lounging next to your partner on the couch, each of you engrossed in your own screens. Your partner is deeply absorbed in the fifth consecutive episode of a new Netflix documentary, while you’re immersed in an online shopping spree. Hours fly by — punctuated only by occasional comments like “What’s for dinner?” or “Pass the remote, will you?”. Come bedtime, you share a brief goodnight peck before turning your backs to each other. If this scene resonates with you, you might be teetering on the brink of the notorious ‘Roommate Syndrome.’

roommate syndrome

What is Roommate Syndrome?

Roommate Syndrome isn’t about the big, glaring signs of a relationship gone sour, but rather, the subtle shifts that relegate partners to being mere cohabitants. It’s a habit-based phenomenon that creeps into long-term relationships, turning amorous couples into entities that function more like roommates. The passion fades, giving way to a comfortable routine. Over time, affectionate habits like date nights, sweet nothings, and impromptu cuddles get substituted with bill discussions, chore allocations, and TV debates. It’s not that the love has disappeared; it has just been overshadowed by day-to-day monotony.

The Pandemic & The Surge of Roommate Syndrome

There’s something to be said about the age-old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt.” The global pivot to remote working brought with it many blessings, but it may have inadvertently heightened the potential for Roommate Syndrome.

Previously, couples had clear delineations between work, personal space, and shared time. The hours spent apart brought fresh tales from the day, anecdotes from colleagues, and new experiences to share over dinner. However, with both partners now often working within the confines of the same space, the lines separating these realms have blurred. The excitement of reunion after a long workday is no more; instead, the entirety of the day is a prolonged ‘together’ phase, making it all the more challenging to keep the spark alive.

what is roommate syndrome

Tips to Navigate Roommate Syndrome:

Reignite date nights

Reclaim the art of dating each other. It doesn’t have to be extravagant—a simple dinner, a movie night, or just a walk together can break the repetitiousness.

Designate personal spaces

Carve out unique nooks in your home dedicated to work or play. Taking a page from Feng Shui’s playbook too, crafting spaces with purpose doesn’t just elevate your home’s vibes—it can also dial up the romance and connection.


Remember, Roommate Syndrome isn’t a sign that your love has diminished. Openly discussing the feeling can lead to understanding and working together to bring back the zing. Implementing a weekly check-in, where you reflect on the past week and prepare for the week ahead, can also be invaluable. During these moments, openly air your feelings about how you could better support and love one another, ensuring both your needs and expectations are voiced and understood.

Physical touch

It’s amazing what a random hug, an unexpected kiss, or even holding hands while watching TV can do. Creating intimate rituals or initiating small ‘bids for connection’ throughout the day can create a sense of closeness, ensuring you never slide into that ‘just roommates’ vibe.

Mix up routines

Change, even if minor, can bring a refreshing twist. Swap responsibilities, try different activities together, or even rearrange furniture for a new environment feel. It’s a psychological truth that desire often thrives in the presence of novelty. As human beings, we are wired to seek out new experiences, making them key in maintaining passion and intrigue in long-standing relationships.

Disconnect to reconnect

Elect tech-free times where both of you disconnect from screens and genuinely reconnect with each other. This can be during meals, an hour before bedtime, or any other chosen time.

Embrace personal autonomy

Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Kelly Rabenstein stresses the importance of maintaining some semblance of individuality. “When we overlap too much with our lovers, we can lose the space that allows us to be excited about one another.,” Rabenstein claims. She believes that a dash of independence – be it through personal hobbies, independent thoughts, or even separate friend circles – can serve as the catalyst for renewed interest and deeper connections within a relationship. In Rabenstein’s view, balancing togetherness with individuality is the secret recipe for keeping the spark alive in long-term partnerships.

how to bring back passion in relationship

In a world where the boundaries between work, leisure, and romance often blur into one continuous loop, it’s easy to get entwined in patterns that may not necessarily serve our relationships’ best interests. As we nestle into our shared spaces, toggling between being partners, co-workers, and yes, roommates, we’ve got to ask: in our desire for comfort and routine, have we inadvertently traded sparks for security? And isn’t it worth the effort to reignite those flames, even if it means stepping out of our cosy corners once in a while?

Nicole Colantoni is a dating and relationship expert. As POPSUGAR Australia’s dating columnist, Nicole will share updates on dating trends, advice, and answer all your burning questions. Slide into her DMs to share what you’d like her to answer next. Nicole hosts a podcast, Love Uncensored: The Modern Guide to Dating & Relationships, which you can learn more about and listen here. 


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