Human behaviour

Intimacy Anorexia

Intimacy Anorexia is a relatively new concept to define a very common problem that disrupts and destroys a lot of relationships. What is intimacy anorexia?

It is a term used to refer to the withholding of intimacy- emotional, spiritual and sexual – from a spouse or partner. There are many defining characteristics of intimacy anorexia.

  1. constant ‘busy’ness: The anorexic is constantly ‘busy’ and has little time to spare for his/her spouse. If there is nothing to occupy the anorexic he/she will invent things to do to keep buy.
  2. Blame : An intimacy anorexic never accepts blame for his/her part in a problem or issue, preferring to blame the partner instead.
  3. Withholding love: The intimacy anorexic does not engage in simple words or actions that translates as love. They would not hold hands, or say loving words.
  4. Withholding praise: Intimacy anorexics do not praise or compliment their partner for the positive qualities they possess, or the positive impact they have on the anorexic’s life.
  5. Withholding sex: Intimacy anorexics avoid having sex, or do not connect emotionally during sex even if they have sex.
  6. withholding spiritually: Spirituality is about being connected. Intimacy anorexics do not have this spiritual connectedness with the spouse or partner.
  7. difficulty sharing feelings: Unwillingness or the inability to share feelings is another characteristic that is prevalent among intimacy anorexics.
  8. Criticism: Derogatory put-downs. constant fault-finding and ongoing criticism of the partner is a characteristic of intimacy anorexics’ behaviour.
  9. anger/silence: Some, though not all, intimacy anorexics use anger or silence as a tool to punish, control or push away their partner.
  10. Money issues: Controlling and shaming the spouse about financial issues is another characteristic of intimacy anorexics. They tend to keep the partners in the dark about their financial affairs, make the spouse ask for money and do not allow the spouse to have a credit card or checkbook.
  11. Roommate: The spouse or partner of an intimacy anorexic often feels like he/she is just a roommate, without any relationship to each other.

Intimacy anorexia is caused by a few factors which are typically childhood experiences.

  1. Sexual trauma: If the person has been sexually traumatized in childhood, he/she may develop an aversion to becoming intimate, for fear of being hurt again.
  2. attachment issues with the opposite gender parent: If the opposite gender parent was emotionally unavailable during childhood, or was distant perhaps because of mental health issues, intimacy anorexia may develop.
  3. sexual addition: If a person is addicted to fulfilling his sexual needs outside of marital relationship, he/she might develop intimacy anorexia
  4. role modelling neglect: Not having proper role models in early life may lead a person to less than optimal emotional development, and lack of intimacy.


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