What is intimacy anorexia?

Dr. Douglas Weiss coined the term intimacy anorexia when he started seeing a separate, yet related aspect of sexual anorexia in his private practice.  Intimacy anorexia explains why a person in a relationship actively withholds emotional, spiritual and sexual intimacy from their partner.  This active withholding impacts the spouse/partner significantly but regardless of pain to self or their spouse/partner they continue.

What are the characteristics of intimacy anorexia?

There are ten characteristics of intimacy anorexia.  Take our online test to find out if this is something that may be present in your marriage.

1.  Busy:  Intimacy anorexics stay so busy that they have little time for their spouse.

2.  Blame:  The intimacy anorexic will blame their spouse for the problems in the marriage.

3.  Withholding Love:  The intimacy anorexic actively withholds love the way the spouse likes to be loved.

4.  Withholding Praise:  Intimacy anorexics do not regularly praise their spouse privately.

5.  Withholding Sex:  Not all intimacy anorexics withhold sex from their spouse.  Most intimacy anorexics do though withhold intimacy during sex.

6.  Withholding Spiritually:  Intimacy anorexics can be very religious by attending church and can even be the pastor or spiritual leader at the church.  But at home they rarely pray with their spouse or worship or read the Bible together.

7.  Feelings:  The intimacy anorexic is someone who is unwilling or unable to share their feelings with their spouse.

8.  Criticism:  Ongoing or ungrounded criticism toward their spouse is another characteristic of intimacy anorexia.

9.  Anger/Silence:  An intimacy anorexic can use anger or silence to control their spouse.

10.  Money:  This is the least common feature of intimacy anorexia but when it’s present it is really strong.  The intimacy anorexic will use money to control the spouse.

How prevalent is intimacy anorexia?

There are no general population studies to give us that number but we do know within a sex addicted marriage the prevalence of intimacy anorexia. In our study of intimacy anorexia in sex addicts and their partners we found that 29% of male sex addicts met criteria for intimacy anorexia and 39% of female sex addicts also met criteria for intimacy anorexia. 39% of the partners and spouses of sex addicts also met criteria for intimacy anorexia. Take our online test to find out if this is something that may be present in your marriage.

How does it feel to live with an intimacy anorexic?

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.

How do I tell if my partner or myself struggles with intimacy anorexia?

I would recommend that you take the intimacy anorexia test. This can give you an idea if this is something you should pursue further either through the DVD Intimacy Anorexia by Dr. Doug Weiss or through getting professional help.

Is there hope for a couple that has not had sex or intimacy in over a decade?

I have worked with many such couples who today are experiencing intimacy for the first time in their marriage and having sex regularly. This takes doing the exercises and staying committed but the smiling faces I see even in a short time makes all the effort worthwhile.