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#445286 - 08/23/13 11:23 PM intimacy anorexia what do you think?
HD001 Offline

Registered: 07/30/12
Posts: 276
Loc: us
So I came across some acticles on the net today about a condition called intimacy anorexia.
I had never heard of it before but it describes my husband to the letter.
I couldn't find any info about its relation to csa but to me I would seem like a link would be there. Here are some of the behaviors a intimacy anorexic will display towards their spouse.
Withholding praise
Controling and withholding money
Abstaining from sex (or sex with any intimacy)
not sharing with their partner anything personal
Avoiding one on one time with partner
Showing no to little interest in partners feelings
Critisizing their partner

A don't know that it makes me feel any better that this group of behaviors has a name attached to it. To me is looks like a list of behaviors for someone who has been emotionally tramatized. Some acticles said that often sex addiction or other addictions are involved. It said that I can get worse over time.
So this leaves a lot of us wives and partners between a rock and a hard place.
Currently I deal with my husband's behavior by just doing my own thing. But now I'm wondering if that will only add to our problems. My H will only go camping or do any activities with me if we do it with another couple. I feel like my hands are tied. What do you guys think? What is the best way to handle a spouse with "intimacy anorexia"? He isn't ready to seek help and pushing just makes things worse.
Everything comes from within

#445335 - 08/24/13 03:42 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
sugarbaby Offline

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 382
That is an interesting set of issues and unfortunately I have been dealing with this lately.

I googled it and found this - from the spouse's point of view: "Lonely is the most common feeling. I hear the phrase “I feel single” in this relationship or “we are great roommates”. These statements of romantic and intimacy depravity are common. The sense that the soul inside of you is drying up and that you have not been touched on the inside for so long are very common feelings for a partner of an intimacy anorexic."

This year, honestly, I have just given up. I tell H how I feel and he chooses to ignore it. A couple months later I tell him again and again he chooses to ignore it. I told him "you keep ignoring me and I WILL go away." So far, nothing from his end and I'm not banging my head on this wall anymore. I've been on the couch for months. So be it.

It's a shame really. He is a wonderful person. I don't think he ever wanted to marry me though....he married me because I made him feel safe.

I have to look into this more. I am surprised it came out now....which is why I feel he didn't want to marry me in the first place.....I would think that now, this far out from his therapy, it should be a cake walk (as much as it can be)......not so much.

Thank you for posting this. I had been at a loss to explain this and so I hadn't posted my feelings about his behavior.

Wow, so many of these points hit exactly what is going on in my house. The anorexia and the reactive anorexia......

Intimacy Anorexia

Edited by sugarbaby (08/24/13 04:34 PM)

#445377 - 08/25/13 12:22 AM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: sugarbaby]
pufferfish Offline

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
Nearly every guy goes through a stage like that in their marriage. It happens when they are in recovery from sexual abuse experienced in their childhood. It seems unavoidable. But it can be worked through.

However, boys who are abused very young have an attachment disorder. They are unable to bond with others. They can't be expected to get over it by themselves. They actually need help to get out of it. It's like falling in quick sand. They will sink in it if somebody doesn't help.

This concept is from a book by Phyllis Stien,
Psychological Trauma and the Developing Brain: Neurologically Based Interventions for Troubled Children
This book is not an easy read.

There are other books that might be better to help with this problem if you are a more casual reader. There's one by Zimbardo,
The Shy Child : Overcoming and Preventing Shyness from Infancy to Adulthood

I had early abuse. I'm still struggling with it.


#445409 - 08/25/13 03:06 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
sugarbaby Offline

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 382
Thank you Puffer for your input. I am very interested in this.

I debated on mentioning it to H but felt that withholding info really is not productive so I did.

His first reaction was "I'm so busy..."

I cut him off and said "Being to busy for your spouse is the first symptom."

He listened more closely after that which was a surprise to me.

We shall see where it goes.

#445467 - 08/26/13 03:41 AM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: sugarbaby]
pufferfish Offline

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
There are also two books that I know of for spouses of surviving males. Many men can perform normally within a marriage until the memories of the sexual abuse they experienced surface. Then they go out of whack for a few years until the "dust settles". If you love him try to hang on and help him. Make sure he goes to a competent counselor who understands these issues.

#445472 - 08/26/13 04:33 AM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4284
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
Sounds like how I was. I could sometimes manage sex. I really did love her. I tried to show it with gifts and work. But never words or touch. There was NO intimacy. I couldn't do that. Didn't know how.

Sugarbaby - he may not be ignoring you. He may be incapable of what you want. I wanted to do it different and right - but it was like I was paralyzed until I got help from a T. I had step by step lessons and practice to learn how to attain intimacy. My wife had to participate. She was patient. It was hard. But we made it.

How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#445502 - 08/26/13 06:12 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
lucylives Offline

Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 367
Hello HD, welcome to my life. We have lived with this for quite sometime.

Have you read Intimacy Anorexia by Robert Weiss or Sexual Anorexia by Patrick Carnes?

Both are excellent and really opened my eyes to a lot of things I had never heard of but when I read both these books, I was like, aha, that is my marriage/husband. For me it was hard to understand how my husband felt safer acting out with total strangers/ prostitutes and such then he did with me. These explain it all.

#445509 - 08/26/13 08:27 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: pufferfish]
Disappointed Offline

Registered: 08/11/09
Posts: 542
Loc: U.S.A.
My friend is a recluse at home and he doesn't like to be around me, and his exs all said he was "emotionally unavailable." His abuse started at 5.

I thought people with an attachment issue were generally found to be sociopaths. Is this incorrect? He is a good person, so this doesn't fit.

So, how would you "help" someone out of this?


Edited by Disappointed (08/26/13 08:28 PM)

#445512 - 08/26/13 09:20 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
GoldStone Offline

Registered: 05/28/13
Posts: 220
Loc: Far East
If you go to alanon or coda youll find some useful tools.

#445521 - 08/26/13 09:47 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: Disappointed]
pufferfish Offline

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA

I don't "get" the sociopath part. No I don't agree with that. Abuse of me started before my 4th birthday and went on for about 8 months. It consisted of sexual abuse by other small boys (but a few years older) before a movie camera. Under those conditions a boy will dissociate. He will acquire dissociative disorder. One he learns to dissociate he can do that whenever needed the rest of his life. This would certainly apply to a boy 5 years old also.

So I have had DID or dissociative identity disorder. The guy you mention probably also has DID. The book I mention above (by Stien) talks about the effects of repetitive abuse on a young child. They (we) tend to become withdrawn or reclusive. They (we) have to learn to trust people. Usually a small child like that will naturally trust people but it gets extinguished and has to be reignited. Stien recommends that a small boy needs some "shepherding" into a social relationship. When they discover they can trust some people they will start to open up. Having a little animal (dog or cat) also helps them learn trust.

I have read a book called Dibs In Search Of Self. It's a brilliant book. The boy Dibs is about 5 and he's taken in for therapy. The book describes how he first gains trust in the therapist and then he's able to start trusting other people. At first he is very reclusive and he won't communicate with others. Gradually he becomes very communicative. It turns out that he's quite intelligent and quite communicative. He just needed to relate to a therapist who could then allow his personality to bloom. I was very much like Dibs after the abuse I experienced at 4. My mother took my sister to the school so she could start. I was in there with them but I was hovering fearfully against the registrar's desk. The principle said to my mother: "Who is this little fellow?" My mom replied that I was too young for school...but I wasn't. They took me in but I was a social blockhead. I wouldn't play with the other children and I hid under a table. That's how Dibs was. So what turned me around? We later went to live with a loving grandmother and grandfather. That was all I needed. I have some pictures of myself here in MS, where you can actually see me before and after this period of time.

So how does this apply to an adult? I think it's the same thing as to the small child. They have to learn to trust maybe just one person. Then they can branch out to trust others. I think also that an adult needs to learn a new role for themself in life. This is called reinventing myself, but it's not really inventing, it's discovering who they are. There is so precious little love in our world and a lot of people can be very pushy and it doesn't help people like me or your man friend. They need a real gentle hand.

If they (we) have learned dissociative disorder, then they have more trouble learning who they really are, and then they can learn that they don't have to dissociate to make friends.
They have trouble putting on the little happy face that makes others want to be with them. They have trouble projecting a warm and loving personality to a potential new acquaintance.


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