7 subtle signs your partner is emotionally falling for someone else without realizing it

Have things started to feel a little off? Like your partner is slowly drifting away, and you can’t quite put your finger on why?

I’ve been there, and it’s not a pleasant place to be.

As in my case, your partner may well be emotionally attached to someone else. But how can you know?

Well, love is a tricky business but there are some signs.

Today, I share them with you.

1) They’re constantly talking about this “new friend”

You know how it is: when a friend of yours starts dating someone new, and they can’t stop talking about them, right?

They’re all like, “Oh, John did this,” or “Jane said that,” and you’re just there thinking to yourself, “Okay, we get it. You’re in love.”

Well, the same thing can happen in a more subtle way if your partner is developing feelings for someone else. Why?

Well, as noted by Clinical psychologist Sabrina Romanoff, in an emotional affair, people “tend to experience mental fixation on the other person.”

This can materialize in your partner talking more about those they’re emotionally attached to, sometimes without realizing it. If your partner always mentions this ” friend” in conversations, it might be a sign that they are unconsciously falling for them.

Is this “new friend” always the hero of their stories? Do they sometimes make subtle comparisons between you and them?

While it’s completely normal for your partner to make new friends and talk about them, it’s the frequency and intensity of these mentions that could hint towards something more than friendship.

2) They seem more physically distant than before

This one should come as no surprise.

Remember the early days of your relationship when your partner couldn’t keep their hands off you?

Those lingering kisses, warm hugs, and playful touches that made you feel loved and cherished.

Have they all dwindled?

It’s true that over time, relationships evolve, and the initial phase of intense physical affection will inevitably mellow down. Ask any married couple!

However, a sudden or drastic drop in closeness is a red flag. As love life coach Diana Mikas told Bustle, “The first telltale sign that your partner could be falling for someone else is a distancing from you.”

Of course, there are other reasons for this. As I said in the intro, love is a tricky business. You need to keep an eye out for the other signs on this list, too.

3) You suddenly feel like a third wheel

Picture this: You’re at a social gathering with your partner, and there’s this one person who they seem to gravitate towards all the time.

It’s like you’ve been pushed to the sidelines, and they are engrossed in their little world with this other person. Uncomfortable, right?

Damn right, it is.

I remember attending a party with my partner a few years back and feeling just like that. There was this ‘new friend’ with whom he seemed to be sharing a lot of laughs.

And as I saw it, it wasn’t just friendly banter; it was the kind of laughter that comes when two people share an intimate bond. I mentioned it as casually as I could on the way home, but, as you might have guessed, he brushed it off, saying that she was “just a friend.”

Spoiler alert: she wasn’t. Or at least she would be more than a friend not long after.

Anyway, the point is if you’re suddenly feeling like an outsider in your own relationship or if your partner seems to share a deeper connection with someone else, it’s a big sign that they’re emotionally falling for that person.

It’s important to trust your gut feeling in these situations because sometimes, you pick up on emotional shifts before the person experiencing them does.

4) They become more secretive

Who doesn’t love a little mystery in their relationship?

A surprise date, an unexpected gift, or even a secret recipe for your favorite meal are all great!

But when mystery turns into secrecy, it can be a cause for concern.

When your partner starts being secretive about their activities or starts hiding things from you, it could be an indication that they are emotionally drifting towards someone else.

It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re cheating, but the emotional bond they’re forming with this other person might make them feel the need to hide it from you.

This is widely noted by experts like those at the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, who have noted that “secrecy and deception” is one of the key ways emotional affairs are different from platonic friendships.

Are they suddenly very protective of their phone? Do they change their passwords frequently?

These could be subtle signs that they’re falling for someone else without even realizing it.

5) They have started trying to change you

Convincing you to change 7 subtle signs your partner is emotionally falling for someone else without realizing it

Have you noticed a shift in how your partner communicates their preferences and expectations to you?

Perhaps they’ve begun making comments about the way you dress, suggesting you try new hobbies that seem out of character for you, or subtly encouraging you to adopt mannerisms or traits that are not your own.

This change could be a red flag, signaling that your partner is emotionally investing in someone else. When individuals start falling for another person, they might begin to idealize that person’s characteristics and unconsciously compare their current partner to this new interest.

This behavior can manifest in various ways, from offhand comments like “Why don’t you try wearing your hair like this?” to more direct suggestions like “I think you’d really enjoy the kind of music/movies/books my friend is into.”

While it’s natural for partners to influence each other’s tastes over time, a sudden and consistent push for you to alter core aspects of your personality or appearance is something to pay attention to, especially if it comes with a number of other signs on this list.

6) They seem more conscious of their own looks

This was something I observed firsthand with my own partner.

Almost out of nowhere, he developed a newfound dedication to fitness, spending more hours at the gym and paying closer attention to his wardrobe choices.

It wasn’t just a health kick or a New Year’s resolution; it felt different, more intense.

He started experimenting with new styles, occasionally even adopting mannerisms or expressions that seemed uncharacteristic of him. It was as if he was trying to embody a different version of himself, one that I suspected was influenced by someone outside our relationship.

It’s important to approach these observations without jumping to conclusions, as people have various reasons for wanting to improve their appearance or health. However, when these changes are paired with other signs of emotional distance or secrecy, they could, sadly, signal a deeper emotional involvement with someone else.

7) You feel it in your gut

This is the final point, and believe me, it’s certainly not the least important. In fact, it might be the most critical of all.

When your partner is emotionally falling for someone else, you might sense it before any concrete signs show up; don’t underestimate your own intuition.

It could be a change in their voice, a shift in their behavior, or just a feeling that something isn’t quite right. Our instincts are powerful, and they can often sense changes in emotional dynamics even before we consciously recognize them.

So, if you’re constantly feeling uneasy or anxious about your relationship without a clear reason, don’t disregard it.

The bottom line

Love can be complicated, and noticing these subtle signs might worry you, but remember, they don’t always mean there’s a problem.

Every relationship is different, so what seems off in one might be normal in another.

The key is to be aware of them and talk about them when needed. Sharing your feelings openly can clear up many doubts and is often better than jumping to conclusions.

And if things feel really tricky, getting advice from friends, family, or even a counselor can help a lot.

Picture of Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.