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intimacy anorexia

What is Intimacy Anorexia and How to Handle it in Marriage

Lenne’ Hunt discusses what Intimacy Anorexia is and offers a few points of encouragement for those who are lacking connection and intimacy in their marriage.

What is Intimacy Anorexia and How to Handle it in Marriage

Marriage is often seen as the ultimate union between two individuals, a bond of deep emotional, spiritual, and sexual intimacy. However, some marriages face a troubling condition known as Intimacy Anorexia, where one partner actively withholds emotional, spiritual, or sexual intimacy from the other. This sense of emotional starvation can be as detrimental to a marriage as physical anorexia is to the body. In this article, we will delve into what Intimacy Anorexia entails and explore ways to address and overcome it within a marriage.

Defining Intimacy Anorexia

Intimacy Anorexia is the emotional or psychological withholding of intimacy within a marriage or partnership. It occurs when one partner intentionally disconnects and distances themselves from the other, leaving the spouse feeling lonely and unfulfilled. This withholding can manifest across various aspects of intimacy – emotional, spiritual, and sexual – and can significantly impact the core of the marriage relationship.

The Importance of Intimacy in Marriage

What sets a marriage apart from other relationships in our lives is the expectation of deep intimacy. Marriage is a bond built on vulnerability, transparency, and trust. Couples expect to share themselves fully, both emotionally and physically, with their partner. Sexual intimacy, in particular, is a powerful metaphor for the connection between partners, reflecting the emotional and spiritual closeness they share. This act of joining together is an exchange of warmth, care, and affection, symbolizing the pouring out of oneself for the other.

Recognizing the Signs of Intimacy Anorexia

Intimacy Anorexia can manifest in various ways, and it is crucial to recognize the signs early on. Some common indicators include:

  1. Emotional Withdrawal: A partner might emotionally distance themselves, avoid sharing feelings, or refuse to engage in deep conversations.
  2. Spiritual Detachment: There may be a lack of spiritual connection or shared beliefs within the marriage, leading to a sense of isolation.
  3. Sexual Avoidance: One partner might withhold sexual intimacy, making excuses or avoiding any physical connection.
  4. Lack of Affection: Demonstrations of affection, such as hugging, holding hands, or cuddling, may become rare or nonexistent.
  5. Communication Breakdown: A breakdown in open, honest communication can lead to increased misunderstandings and further emotional distance.

Addressing Intimacy Anorexia in Marriage

If you suspect that Intimacy Anorexia is affecting your marriage, it’s essential to address the issue to restore intimacy and connection. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Acknowledge the Issue

The first step is to acknowledge the presence of Intimacy Anorexia in your marriage. Avoid denial and recognize the impact it is having on both partners’ emotional well-being.

2. Seek Professional Help

Dealing with Intimacy Anorexia can be challenging, and it often requires professional guidance. Consider seeking help from a qualified therapist or counselor experienced in marriage and intimacy issues.

3. Open Communication

Initiate an open and honest conversation with your partner about the state of your marriage. Share your feelings and concerns while encouraging them to express their emotions as well.

4. Create a Safe Space

Establish a safe and non-judgmental environment where both partners feel free to share their vulnerabilities without fear of criticism or rejection.

5. Commit to Change

Both partners must be willing to work on rebuilding intimacy in the relationship. Addressing the root causes of Intimacy Anorexia and committing to change is essential for progress.

6. Seek Support

Joining support groups or seeking couples’ therapy can provide additional resources and insights to navigate through the challenges of Intimacy Anorexia.


Intimacy Anorexia can be a deeply distressing condition that erodes the foundation of a marriage. However, acknowledging the issue, seeking professional help, and fostering open communication can pave the way for healing and the restoration of intimacy. Remember that the desire for intimacy and connection is natural and valid in a marriage. With both partners committed to addressing the issue, there is hope for rediscovering the emotional, spiritual, and sexual closeness that makes a marriage truly fulfilling.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: Why Do Narcissists Think They Are Superior?

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.


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