Just a guess but is it from the pragmatic ideology tree that give -25% to approval for being at war with them?
That could be it. I'm playing malevolent and in the diplomacy window it said they had a different ideology, but of course it doesn't tell me whether it is pragmatic or benevolent.
I was trading with them and have a very high diplomacy, so they were rated as "close" even though I didn't have any treaties with then aside from open borders. But in this game, because I have open borders with all the other majors, and am trading with almost all of them, with my high diplomacy I'm "close" to most of them.
The more I think about it tho more I think you're right, it is the pragmatic trait, which (afaik) is information the player has no access to before declaring war.