how our polyamorous clients build thriving relationships

Does Your Spouse Want to Be Roommates? Here’s How to Fix It

When your spouse tells you they are no longer interested in being romantically involved with you, what do you do?

Feeling like a roommate sucks. But it’s even harder if you’re in a polyamorous relationship. Because then you have to watch your partner give that attention and passion to someone else. And the feelings of comparison and being left behind are excruciating.

It’s a tough situation. But you can get your spouse back. Here’s how.

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Josh 0:00
Alright, folks. So today we're going to talk about when your partner comes to you, and they're looking to end the romantic piece of your relationship, but kind of keep the family intact. We have a lot of people in that spot. What do you do from there? We're going to tell you, so stay tuned.

Cassie 0:36
Here at Touch of Flavor, we teach non-monogamous folks how to overcome their obstacles and build thriving relationships.

Josh 0:43
This podcast is about answering one question: how do you create loving, passionate, secure relationships outside the box, even if nothing has ever worked before? If you want to know the answer, you're in the right place.

Cassie 0:55
All of this information is 100% free. So please subscribe to and review our podcasts.

Josh 1:01
Alright, everybody, so we wanted to talk today about what to do when your partner comes to you. And they want to end the romantic portion of your relationship. And this is something that we see a lot in more established relationships. You've been together a number of years, maybe you're married, you have a family, and your partner comes to you and they're in a place where they want to basically end the romantic portion of the relationship, but keep-- but stay together. So maybe they frame that as, they want to be co parents or, you know, they want to still be a family, or whatever. And sometimes they'll say this to you flat out like, "I'm going to end the romantic portion of this relationship. And we're going to be co parents." Other times, they may not say to you that they're ending the romantic portion of the relationship. But when you listen to what they're saying, it may be pretty clear that that's what they're doing. And a lot of times, when I'm talking to people, I hear this in terms of, "Well, my partner came to me, and they said that they're really unhappy and that I'm not meeting their needs anymore. So we're still going to be partners, but they're going to start getting those needs for connection and intimacy and romance met somewhere else." RSo do you want to kind of talk about how people-- why people wind up getting there?

Cassie 2:32
Sure. Yeah, and this isn't something that usually happens overnight. Like, this isn't like "Yesterday, we were deeply in love and everything was great and rosy. And then today, suddenly, you want to like just share a house." Like that's not how that happens. Usually, it's 5, 10, 15 years of dissatisfaction or unhappiness that your partner has been havig. Whether it's, they're tired of the arguments, or they're tired of the fights, or they've just had enough of not getting their needs met. And how we get here is that dissatisfaction over time. And sometimes the other partner like, they don't know. They don't know about it, because they haven't talked about it. Or they're kind of burying their head in the sand or they don't think it's that bad. Like, "Yeah, I know, my partner has said that this thing has gotten on their nerves, or this thing has been bothering them for a long time. But like, things are still aiight. I know, my partner has been saying that they need this or need that, and they're not getting it. But you know, we do a really good job, like taking care of the kids together. " And I hear that a lot. Like where people are like-- yeah, I know my partner has been complaining about our sex life, is constantly jealous of my other partner, this idea that, but you know, what we're really good at, like, handling the household chores together and taking care of the kids. So it's sort of this like slipping into that place where your partner just isn't happy with things anymore. And it's easier to detach from that romantic portion of the relationship and lose those expectations, rather than investing and trying to make that happen.

Josh 4:21
Well, and usually when I'm talking to people who are in this place, a lot of times I don't wanna say usually, but a lot of times-- I hear people who are in shock in a way. And they're in shock, but they're also realizing that they shouldn't be in shock. And it's this conversation of, "My partner came to me, and they said that they've been miserable for years. And it's kind of like, I just wasn't paying attention." And a lot of times, it's, "I was really focused on work and I'm building a financial buffer and there was a lot going on with the kids and there was this challenge and that challenge, and, you know, there's a lot going on, and I wasn't really focused on the relationship, but I thought things were okay. And then my partner came to me and told me that they've been miserable for years, and I'm not making them happy anymore. And so in order to be happy, they're gonna have to go get that met somewhere else, like, I'm just not meeting their needs." And so a lot of times there's this place of, it's a shock, but when you're listening to the hindsight, really shouldn't be a shock.

Cassie 5:23
Yeah. So that's how folks end up there. And one of the things that I wanted to like stack on what you just said, is that a lot of folks are like, "Well, then why doesn't that partner just like up and leave?" Like, why don't they just dip out? If you're really that unhappy, why would you continue to try to make some sort of arrangement work? Where you're still living together, or the kids-- and it's usually because they still really love their partner, and they love their family. And it's really challenging to go through splitting your family up. And, you know, figuring out the finances and finding a new home and all of that. But at the end of the day, it comes down to this. Usually, underneath all of that there still is a desire, if there was a possibility. There is that wanting to not lose it all. If you don't have to.

Josh 6:21
Well, there's-- I want to just stack on what you said. Because there is that desire. They don't want to pay 10s of 1000s of dollars for a divorce. They don't want to have the kids going through the trauma of splitting up and being in separate homes. They don't want to figure out who's getting what. They don't want to-- really they don't want to live life without you. But there's an aspect when your partner's there, there's an aspect of hopelessness. They have given up at that point on getting-- on you making them happy, on you being able to give them what they want and need. Because just think about this for a moment. Look, we're non-monogamous. And obviously like people and it's great to be able to go out and get certain needs met different places and have variety and fun. But at the end of the day, who really wants to be in a relationship in their home, where they're a roommate, and they're unhappy, and they're not being listened to, and they're not getting their needs met, and they're not having intimacy. Nobody wants that. And if your partner's to the point where that's what they're telling you-- either, again, explicitly or implicitly-- is going on... that's because they've given up on you, to a certain extent. They've given up, maybe not completely on the relationship yet, although I think we can talk about where this usually heads in a moment. But they've given up on you changing. On you caring. On you listening. On you being able to meet their needs and make them happy. And so, when your partner is there, I guess it would be cool to talk about, what can you see that tells you that your partner is at the point where they're doing this kind of breaking off the romantic? Now, obviously, they may flat out come to you and say it, I mean, that's one obvious thing. But it's not always that obvious. So what else can you see?

Cassie 8:11
So, there can be this-- I always like how you say this to people our clients asked, how do you know if something is a priority? And the thing that you say that I love is "You put it on your calendar, if something is important." And one of the things that we start seeing is you stopped doing things together. You're no longer willing to do the date nights. And it might be something like, "Hey, I just don't want to. I don't want to go and do date nights anymore, or have time that we're planning together on the calendar, because every time we do it, it's a waste of my time, I'm not happy, it's not enjoyable." So you stopped doing that. You stop making the space

Josh 8:56
They stopped making the space for you.

Cassie 8:57
Well yeah, they stopped making the space for you. And they start sort of just arranging what they're doing with you to be around like the obligations: the children or we've got to do this family thing, or handle this bill or do this thing." And really, the time that they're spending with you is with the things that are more under the obligatory category. And sometimes, and a lot of times, what you'll see is suddenly, they're spending a lot more time with their other partner. They're spending a lot more time other places, and it might not even be another partner. I was just talking to somebody the other day who was in this position, and their partner like found like five new hobbies just so that way they weren't in the house with them anymore. So, pulling away is really the big sign.

Josh 9:57
Well, and what I want to stack on top of that is... I think that's kind of like first stages. But really, you know, what we're talking about here a lot is when your partner decides that they're-- I don't want to say always, because there's the portion where your partner decides, hey, we're just going to be roommates-- but a lot of times they do wind up being like, "I can't be unhappy, I can't not get these needs met. I am gonna give it to somebody else." So you'll see them start spending a lot more time with their other partners. And again, what I see a lot is those conversations, and not necessarily the conversations of, you know, we're just going to be co-parents and cohabitants and married and partners, although that does happen. But the conversation where they're saying that without saying it. "I'm really unhappy. You don't meet my needs, I'll never be able to get these things from you. I need to get it somewhere else. This person makes me happy." Basically, it's this idea of, I can't be happy and get my needs met with you, so I'm gonna have to do it somewhere else. And to me, that's kind of the kiss of death. I mean, that is your partner saying, "Hey, we're basically going to be roommates and co-parents, and I just don't want to leave. But I'm going to form a romantic relationship with somebody else" without actually flat out saying that to you.

Cassie 11:24
Yeah, and so you as the person on the outside, I want to say it's really hard. As the as the partner who is kind of getting that from their partner, it's a really hard place to realize that you're up. Especially if you have been dunking your head in the sand or you haven't been paying attention to the signs. This is a really hard spot. And I want to say that and it really can feel like, "Well, this is the end, we're done.There's no coming back from this place. Because I'm seeing all of these signs of doom." And to be fair, these are not good signs. But it doesn't have to necessarily be just doom.

Josh 12:08
So I want to stack on this too, because I see people in two different spots here. And this is really on my mind, cuz I've talked to a lot of people in this position in the past week. So you have the people who are like, "This is doomed, I can't do this." But then you have the other people who are unrealistically optimistic. So you know, I talk to people who are in the situation, and they're like, "Oh, you know, Josh, I'm feeling really jealous. And I'm feeling like I'm gonna be replaced. And this can't possibly last. But my partner tells me that's not going to happen. So I just need to get out of my own head." And this is one of those places that we talk a lot about using jealousy as a tool to look at what's really going on. And this is one of those places that trying to just like stuffed those feelings down without really taking a look at what's happening, can actually be really dangerous. Because so often, when we're feeling jealous or insecure, there's a good reason we feel that way. And the typical kind of conventional wisdom in the poly spaces, whether it's the therapist, or the coaches or just other people, is--

Cassie 13:09
Just work through that shit.

Josh 13:10
Just work through that shit. But that's often really dangerous. And this is one of those places, because you should be afraid, if you're in a place where your partner is breaking off their romantic relationship with you, and starting to get all their romantic and sexual and needs for happiness and being listened to met with somebody else, that should scare you. Because there's a very good chance you are going to be replaced. And it isn't a good, bad or indifferent thing, but it's just-- obviously your partner is going to gravitate towards the person that's making them happy. If it's not you... There's a really important distinction here between, "I'm making my partner happy, and I'm fulfilling their needs. And they're polyamorous because it's fun, and it's variety. And they connect different ways with other people"... And "my partner is seeking out somebody else, because I make them unhappy."

Cassie 13:30
That's a big difference.

Josh 13:42
And if that's the place that you're at, you should be afraid. You shouldn't be stuffing those emotions down. Because if you keep going down that road, your partner is going to keep drifting further and further away from you. And eventually, those fears are going to come true.

Cassie 14:22
Oh, yeah.

Josh 14:23
I just wanted to put that in the space because I've had a few conversations with people where it's like, "My partner says that they're miserable with me and I make them unhappy and I can never meet their needs, they're going to have to get all that met somewhere else. And that makes me feel really jealous and scared, but I know I shouldn't be." And I'm like, NO, you should be! You really should be. So I just wanted to put that in the space because sometimes you have people are like "this is the end." And sometimes you have people are like "oh no, this isn't the end at all." And that's an equally dangerous place to be.

Cassie 14:51
Yeah, definitely. But the thing that I want to say is that you want to notice this. You want to pay attention to it. But you also want to recognize what this is. Whether it's not being overly optimistic and being like, "everything's fine, we're just going to be like super cool roommates." Or if you're in that place of like, "this is the end of our relationship. And we're just going to be living with each other. And it's, and they're just done with me." Neither one of those is where you want to sit. You want to sit in like the reality that things have gotten bad. But what really is going on is that your partner is tired of being hurt. They're tired of their needs not getting met. They are at a place of hopelessness. And it's not that they wouldn't want those things, if they thought it was possible.

Josh 15:50
Well, they don't believe in you, they're hopeless in you, and you making a change. And going back to what you said before, though, it's important to recognize that underneath that hopelessness, most people-- nobody wants to be living in an unhappy, unfulfilled relationship. Even if they're the most non monogamous person in the world, they want to be able to get that happiness and that love and those needs met from you, as well. So it isn't that they don't want that. It's just that they've given up on you, and your ability to change and to give them those things.

Cassie 16:28
Yeah. And the truth is that giving up, does it mean that you can't make a difference, and you can't make a change. And it's really important to know that and there's big consequences to not making those changes. To not shifting and becoming that partner-- and we'll talk more about that later-- that makes your partner want to come back, wants to try to reengage. There's big consequences to it. So first of all, the thing that I think is really important to put in the space, because I know what the people that I talk to, one of the reasons why they think this arrangement is helpful is they're like, "hink about the kids. They're never going to know. We're going to live together. We're going to stay together. We're going to be in the house together. But we're not really going to be partners anymore." Let me tell you something that you might not know. Your kids fucking know. Your kids know. They can see when their parents are living under a roof, and not holding hands anymore, not engaging anymore. And a lot of times that situation is worse than-- it can be more worse or as bad as like actually separating out because they can see it in their face. They can see the breakdown and destruction of a relationship right in front of them. They see that mom and dad or mom and mom and dad and dad aren't being the people that they know that they usually are with each other.

Josh 18:07
The can feel the unhappiness.

Cassie 18:09
Yeah. And the truth is... and you're talking about those overly optimistic people who are like, "Yeah, it'll be fine!"

Josh 18:19
Or some people actually think it'll make the relationship better, which kind of blows my mind. They're like "Oh, it's going to take the pressure off. And then...." I don't really know what the "and then" is but... they think it's gonna make things better.

Cassie 18:31
Like, let's just be frank and honest, living with humans is hard. Like living with people is difficult. You've got to put up with their like idiosyncrasies and their weird habits and things like that.

Josh 18:44
Some of them snore...

Cassie 18:46
Don't pick on Amanda. She's not here to defend herself.

Josh 18:50
Some of them leave spoons lying around the house...

Cassie 18:51
That's you. Some have a little bit of OCD. I'm talking about myself here. But yeah, so your partners have these things about them. And it's hard enough to live with somebody when you are in a romantic relationship, when things feel good. And what we see happens is when you're doing this whole roommate thing, you got those things to deal with. And then the relationship is in your face, every day that you walk past your partner in the kitchen, and you don't embrace them and kiss them like you did the day before. You know it. Every time you're going off and sleeping in different beds, you feel it. It's right in your face. It doesn't make it easier-- it makes it harder.

Josh 19:40
And then the other piece of this too is like we were talking about, in a lot of these situations, your partner is going out and getting those needs met somewhere else. So you have kind of two sides of that coin. You have the fact that yes, your partner is going to gravitate-- sometimes very quickly-- towards that person who's making them happy if they're miserable at home. And then you have the other side of that coin, which is your ability to deal with that. And you to be in a place where you know your partner is miserable with you, and you're making them unhappy. And you two aren't connecting. You're not having intimacy and you're drifting farther apart. And now you're watching them fall madly in love with somebody else and text them all the time. And come home talking about how awesome the intimacy was, and all these things that you two don't have anymore. And how happy this other partner makes them when you make them miserable.

Josh 20:31
That is-- most people I talk to are like, "Oh, yeah, I can tolerate that." Very few people can when the chips are down. Having that in your face all day, every day... very few people can tolerate that for long. And so you wind up in a situation where these relationships wind up ending most of the time. Either because your partner drifts away to the point where they're like "It's not worth continuing to put in the work with you," as the person who's making the miserable. Or you can't tolerate it in your face anymore. And even if you're the person out there who's like, "Oh, no, neither of those would be me." Okay, so best case scenario is you just go through being miserable with each other and feeling like a roommate, instead of a partner. I mean, Are you cool with that? Is that really what you want?

Cassie 21:17
Yeah. And let's just be honest, when we're at that place, how long do things stay civil? When we're unhappy, and we're seeing things, that are making us unhappy, most of us have less of a capacity to deal with our unhappiness than we think we do. Like a lot of us are like, "I can deal with this for a while I can put up--" No, you can't. For the most part, people start getting resentful. People start getting angry and upset. And a lot of times this goes south because of those hurt feelings. Because of those things.

Josh 21:59
So where do you want to go from here.

Cassie 22:00
So from here, I think it would be helpful to talk a little bit about where you can go and what the real steps are for handling this versus just kind of sitting back and accepting being unhappy or staying stuck or throwing your hands up. Because what we're talking about is... we're not talking about if you're in this position, just leaving your partner. Like, if you really want to make this work, you can make change. So I think that that would be a good place to go.

Josh 22:40
I think the first piece is, like we said, is recognizing that your partner doesn't want to be in an unhappy, unfulfilling roommate style relationship with you-- their spouse or their fiancee or whoever you are to them. They're hopeless in you. They're hopeless in you making a change. And so that means that this basically becomes like the same kind of process that we teach people when they're separated, which is you have to make a change in yourself. And you have to show up in a way where you give your partner hope. Because if they're at this place, they're not going to make that shift. If they're here, they've moved on, they have given up on you, and quite likely, not only have they given up on you, they have moved on to somebody else. And a lot of times, they're pretty damn happy. Because when I see people, a lot of times in the throes of this, their partner just started really getting into it with somebody else. And their partner is having a grand old time.

Cassie 23:40
NRE is a thing!

Josh 23:40
NRE is a thing and they're finally getting those needs met, they haven't getting met with you for the first time in like four years. They're peachy. So this becomes a case of you having to: number one, step up and make those changes within yourself. And then number two, to figure out how you can showcase those changes to your partner, so they can actually see that things are different, and get to a place of hope. And we do that for our clients all the time. I mean, what do you want to say about that process?

Cassie 24:10
So we have an episode, where we go into, like how to get back your partner when you're separated. And we really break down the process that we go with our clients at that point. So I don't want to go too far down that rabbit hole. Definitely, if you're in this position, watch that episode. But the thing with this that I would say is the biggest kind of mover is recognizing that, like you said, you have to be the one to make the changes. You're going to have to show up differently. You're going to have to work on yourself, and you have a lot of opportunity. And that's the second thing. If your partner hasn't moved out and left you and you're living under the same roof, you're co-parenting and being roommates... you have so much opportunity to show your partner that you can be that person. That you can be the person who loves them, who cherishes them, who gives them the romance and the appreciation that they have been longing for for a very long time. You have that opportunity, but it requires making a change. You cannot sit still. You cannot be the same person that you have been because the person you have been, is the one who your partner has given up on. You have to be somebody new,

Josh 25:28
You have to be the person they fell in love with. And I do want to stack on what you're saying about the opportunity, because when we're working with people who are separated, the biggest challenge that we have, depending on the level of separation, is finding then creating opportunities to showcase the new them to their partner. When you're still in this place where your partner is like, "Oh, we're still partners, we'll start interacting." And a lot of times, they might even say, "Maybe someday in the future, this will get back to what it used to be." Well, if you're still in those interactions with them every day, you have ample opportunity to showcase yourself. So you're actually in a much-- until you wind up splitting up and then being separated-- you're actually in a much better position to create this kind of change, than someone who is already separated. Because you have those opportunities to showcase day to day. But it's also important to recognize that. Again, if you keep sitting on this, it's really kind of a time bomb underneath you. And eventually, you're gonna get to a point where your partner gravitates toward somebody else, or you get fed up, or just stuff gets nasty, because people's needs aren't being met. And it's hard to live with your roommate,. When you don't have that romantic part.... And then you are going to be in that position of being separated. And now not having those same opportunities. And just losing your partner, losing your family, getting divorced, whatever. So it's really important to if you find yourself in this place to take it as the huge red flag that it is. And to make changes while there's time to do that.

Cassie 27:11
And here's the big thing with that, though, is we keep talking about making changes. But making changes requires doing different things. It requires taking actions. It requires learning the skills that you haven't had. It requires changing the way you communicate. It requires getting the knowledge that maybe you haven't had, so that way you can grow into that person. Because without taking some kind of action... without learning new skills, you're going to be the same person. That's just the truth. Unless we are really forcing ourselves to grow and to do something different, we stay stagnant.

Josh 27:53
You got to become a different person. I mean, when you're talking about this situation, you have to become the person and the partner, that your spouse, whatever, wants and deserves. I mean, that's really what it boils down to at the end of the day. And those changes are hard, but they're very worth it when you do make it.

Cassie 28:13
Absolutely. And the last thing that I will say before I think we wrap up is, you might be sitting there and being like, "Well, my partner is done. And my partners could tapped out," this that and the other... "I need them to work with me." And here's the thing, like, they're not going to work with you. At this point, it is up to you to take that stand and one person can shift the dynamic. We do this all the time. We have clients who come in by themselves, work on themselves, grow themselves, and get their partner back because they become and grow into that partner that creates an environment that the person they love wants to be in.

Josh 28:52
If you're in that place, you get to decide like, are you giving up? Is this done? Or are you going to step up and fix it? Because your partner-- they've already given up on you. That's how you get here in the first place. So you either step into that superhero or you might as well pack your boots. Hang your boots or pack your boots? I think I just mixed two... you might as well just hang your boots up and go. I think that's the right way to say it. Very funny take on a not funny topic. So listen, if you're in that place, and you're needing help, like Cass said, we walk people through this everyday, like stepping into that part where they need to be showcasing that and getting back their relationship and their partner. Okay, so if you want that for yourself, here's what you can do, I want you to go ahead, go to, okay. It'll take you to a little application so we can figure out if we can help you. Fill that out. You go to our calendar page, pick a time. And us or one of our coaches will get on with the time that you picked. And we'll have this conversation about how can you grow into this person? How can you turn the relationship around? How can you get back to... being in a place where I'm not saying your partner wants to be monogamous. That's not what we do. No. But-- they're happy with you. They're excited to come home to you, right? You're meeting their needs and whenever they have other places, just awesome things too, but they're getting what they want and need from you. They're having that love, that interest, and that connection with you. Okay. So like I said, We can certainly help you out with that. Anything else you want to stack in here, Cassie?

Cassie 30:31
No, I think we wrapped up pretty well. So we'll see you next show.

Josh 30:34
We'll see you next show.

Josh 30:41
Thanks for tuning into today's show. We release new episodes every week. So make sure to subscribe.

Cassie 30:48
If you're ready to transform your relationship and you'd like to see if you're a fit to work with us, here's what I want you to do next: head over to and book an appointment to speak with our team. We'll get on the phone with you for about an hour. And we'll get you crystal clear on three things: what's really not working in your relationships, what your dream relationships would look like, and a step by step plan to close the gap and save your family even if nothing has worked before.

Josh 31:15
We talk with hundreds of non-monogamous folks like you every year. And here's the truth-- building loving, thriving relationships... that doesn't happen on its own. You need expert guidance to make that happen. And unfortunately, when you are building relationships outside the box, that's impossible to find and we get it. But that's exactly what we do. We've helped clients all over the world, save their families, get the passion back and become best friends again.

Cassie 31:39
So if you want to see if we can help you do the same, head over to I'm Cassie.

Josh 31:47
And I'm Josh. Let's talk soon