There’s no simpler way to say this: relationships require commitment and hard work. More importantly, they require communication. As much as you would want the universe to conspire to find you the perfect match, it’s you and your partner – dear mortals – who need to make an effort to make the companionship work.
Couples who often appear to have a seamless relationship, will tell you that the results for the same, comes from years of building a solid foundation and groundwork. And that comes from open communication.
However, sometimes, you or your partner might just drift apart for no particular reason. This extends to not just being available for the other person emotionally, but physically too. Your partner may seem distant and the intimacy in a relationship will be lacking.
Sometimes, this would be a phase, but it’s telling of more complex issues. Before it spirals into something worse than it already is, it’s necessary to ask yourself if your partner is an intimacy anorexic without even realising it.
What Is Intimacy Anorexia?
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Intimacy Anorexia as a term was coined by Dr Douglas Weiss when he observed and documented distinct yet common characteristics of sexual anorexia during his private counselling session with sex addicts and their partners.
He concluded that the absence of intimacy in a relationship can be described as intimacy anorexia. It’s when your partner withholds intimacy – physical, emotional or spiritual – in the relationship. Therapists suggest that the trigger for intimacy anorexia could be addiction, affairs or abuse, but can be treated through counselling and therapy.
What Causes Intimacy Anorexia?
The research by Dr Weiss reasoned that intimacy anorexia can be triggered due to a number of reasons. They are:
People who’ve been through sexual trauma in their lives may show signs of intimacy anorexia in their relationships. This can be fuelled further by mental conditions and other kinds of addiction. Experts suggest that distancing from your partner can be a form of coping mechanism since sexual trauma survivors tend to blame themselves for what happened.
It can take a while and lots of counselling to help your partner overcome their trauma. So make sure you seek professional help for your partner at the earliest.
Emotionally distant parent
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Parents and their relationships leave a strong mark on their child and a parent-child relationship can be the basis of happy or complicated adulthood. For several individuals, having incompatible relationships with their parents as children creates issues with their partners as they grow up.
Even emotionally distant parents can cause intimacy issues in future relationships as it can be the cause of low self-esteem, poor interpersonal skills, lack of conflict solving abilities, and more.
Sometimes sex addiction can overpower your partner, withholding him/her from fully submitting to your relationship. It is a physical and psychological need that your partner requires outside of their relationship.
Anorexics then, do not feel the need to open up to their partner and be committed to their relationship, as long as their “need” is being fulfilled.
5 Warning Signs Your Partner Is An Intimacy Anorexic
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If you think your partner is an intimacy anorexic, here are five warning signs that you need to look out for.
1. Busy all the time
You need to spend time with a person for any relationship to work and that’s the first thing you will find your partner lacks – time for you. Intimacy anorexics will often say they are busy all the time and find minimal time to spend with their partner.
Such people can also be termed as workaholics and would often perform well in the office. However, when it comes to spending quality time with their partner, there is a dearth of effort there.
2. Avoiding sex
Intimacy anorexics are likely to avoid having sex or withholding sex from their partners. This may not necessarily mean that they do not find the partner attractive, but would be emotionally distant to say so.
On the off occasion when they do engage in physical relations, you would find that spark missing or non-existent.
3. Blaming the partner
Those suffering from intimacy anorexia may find it convenient to just blame their spouses or partners for all problems in the relationship.
They tend to overlook their lack of commitment to the relationship and are quick to find fault in the other person. In case of flaws in their behaviour is pointed out, they’ll find ways to blame the partner for being the root cause of the same.
4. Controlling or abusive
Individuals that lack an emotional commitment to a relationship will also be more controlling of their partners. They will add restrictions such as the people you can talk to or the places you can visit on your own.
This also can stem into financial restrictions by your partner controlling the money you spend. This is usually done to establish dominance in the relationship.
At the same time, you might also find a lack of transparency in their financial decisions or financial infidelity. This can cause friction in the relationship. It can also cause self-doubt and dependency on your partner, further affecting your self-esteem.
5. Withholding emotions
The most obvious way to know if your partner is suffering from intimacy anorexia is to check if they are withholding emotions. This just doesn’t extend to love, happiness and praise, but also towards anger and disappointment. Imagine there is no reaction to anything that you do. It would feel like living with a stranger, wouldn’t it?
Such instances can leave you emotionally unsatisfied as you crave love and happiness too. It’s imperative that you speak to a therapist and have your partner take the counselling sessions.
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Intimacy anorexia can cause high levels of stress, anxiety and pain in you and your partner. Not only will it affect your current relationship, but the trauma might affect your future relationships as well. For anyone wanting to save their relationship, you need to identify the warning signs and speak to your partner.
Intimacy anorexia can be treated with the help of professionals. If you think you or your partner need professional help, please reach out to a therapist and implement what they say. You might just be able to save your relationship.
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