• Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
Demi Lovato, Wilmer Valderrama

Jeff Kravitz/BBMA2016/FilmMagic

Demi Lovato and Wilmer Valderrama took the world by surprise with news of their split on Friday, but people close to the pair say this was actually a longtime coming.

After dating for nearly six years, the couple called it quits last week, realizing they were better friends than lovers.

"It had turned into more of a big brother-little sister kind of relationship," a source tells E! News exclusively. "The romance wasn't what it used to be. That said, Wilmer is still very protective of her. He did a lot for her—not just in terms of being there for her when she had her health issues, but really helping build her brand and launch her product lines. You never saw him out in front though. He never tried to ride her fame." 

The insider adds, "He was very close to her family. I don't expect that will change. There was a lot of love there."

The love, however, is on more of a friendship basis than a lifelong romance. In fact, a second source tells us that when Wilmer was asked whether they would walk down the aisle soon, he replied, "No, I don't think we're in that space."

Another source noted that the relationship had been on the rocks for awhile. "They love each other but aren't in love anymore. They are really great friends which they'll continue to be but the romance sort of died."

Meanwhile, the pair announced their split in a joint statement on social media Friday.

"After almost 6 loving and wonderful years together, we have decided to end our relationship," the statement began. "This was an incredibly difficult decision for both of us, but we have realized more than anything that we are better as best friends. We will always be supportive of one another. Thank you to everyone who has offered us kindness and support over the years."

Wilmer Valderrama, Demi Lovato

John Shearer/Invision/AP

The breakup came as a complete shock to fans of the couple, considering their constant praise for one another.

Wilmer has referred to Demi has his "f--king soulmate," while the 23-year-old has been very open about hoping to marry him one day.

She recently called into a New Zealand radio station and was asked if they would tie the knot soon, and she was as honest as ever. "I am very, very in love with him. I think—we will probably wait a little bit longer, but—if he asked tomorrow I would say yes," she admitted.

She's also praised him for standing by her side through her struggles with an eating disorder, substance abuse, her father's death and much more. In fact, when celebrating three years of sobriety back in March of 2015, Demi thanked Wilmer for keeping her alive. "After sharing my ups, putting up with my downs and supporting my recovery... he still never takes credit and I want the world to know how incredible his soul is," she wrote in a heartfelt Instagram post. "I really wouldn't be alive today without him. I love you Wilmer."