Intimacy is a hugely important part of human life. Intimacy allows us to develop deep connections with other people, and can significantly enhance and propel our relationships forward.

Unfortunately, not everyone is able to easily develop intimate relationships with people. Those who have extreme difficulty maintaining or experiencing intimacy may have a condition known as intimacy anorexia. In this article we’re going to discuss intimacy anorexia, its potential
causes, and some treatments.

Are Intimacy Anorexia and Sexual Anorexia the Same?

The term intimacy anorexia, which was developed by Dr. Douglas Weiss, is not the same as sexual anorexia. It could be considered related to sexual anorexia, and even similar, but intimacy anorexia does not necessarily have a sexual component to it.

One of the reasons for this confusion is because of the way that people understand intimacy and sexuality. Sexuality is not always intimate, and intimacy is not always sexual – in fact, one might argue that intimacy is more often non-sexual than it is sexual.

Here are some examples to help you understand.

  • While most people consider sex to be the paramount of intimacy, this isn’t always the case. For example, having sex with someone you met at the bar one night may not be considered intimate.
  • Some consider the terms ‘physical intimacy’ and ‘sex’ to be synonymous, but this also isn’t the case. Physical intimacy could be considered a hug from a mother or a close friend, some simple snuggling, or holding hands.
  • Intimacy can also influence non-physical things. For example, eye-gazing can be considered extremely intimate, as can long conversations or simply sitting in silence with someone.

Problems Associated With Intimacy Anorexia

The above examples encompass the three main types of intimacy: emotional, sexual, and spiritual. People with intimacy anorexia will shy away from most or all of these types of intimacy.

This can lead to a number of problems in all sorts of relationships – particularly romantic ones. An individual in a romantic relationship who is unable to develop an intimate connection with their partner may find that they have a hard time maintaining this relationship.

Intimate connections are what truly drive relationships – romantic ones especially. However, a lack of intimacy can put a strain on familial relationships and even friends. Many can note the difference between an ‘intimate’ friend – someone that you can share everything with comfortably – and someone that you can’t be intimate with.

Causes of Intimacy Anorexia

Dr. Weiss identified four primary things that can contribute to intimacy anorexia. These things are as follows:

  • Sexual trauma. Many people find that they develop intimacy anorexia after having a traumatic sexual experience. When someone is having sex – voluntarily or otherwise – they are at their most vulnerable, and more prone to developing traumas. These traumas can lead to one becoming hesitant about future intimate experiences.
  • Attachment issues with the parent of the opposite sex. If a person has a strained, emotionally negligent relationship with the parent of the opposite sex, then they may experience intimacy issues with people of the same gender as their parent.
  • Addiction to sex. People who struggle with sex addiction may develop intimacy anorexia because they develop the habit of fulfilling their sexual needs without actually needing to be intimate.
  • Neglect from role models. If someone grows up without a role model to show them how to be intimate, they may have a hard time learning how to be intimate on their own.

Do I Have Intimacy Anorexia?

If you notice that you immediately shy away from intimate situations, this could be enough to determine that you have intimacy anorexia. However, some other signs and symptoms could confirm this.

  • Being too busy to spend quality time with your partner
  • Blaming your partner often for things, particularly emotional problems
  • Avoiding having sex, giving love, or praising your partner
  • Avoiding being spiritual or exploring spiritual aspects
  • Criticizing more often than praising, or often being angry

If you think that you have intimacy anorexia, one of the best things that you could do is seek a holistic coach who knows how to help with the problem.

As a holistic coach, I can help you address any causes, triggers, or issues that arise in the entire mind-body system. By fully acknowledging and addressing the problem, you will be more likely to determine where it came from and how to effectively deal with it.

Intimacy is key for a happy lifetime, and if you feel that you aren’t able to be intimate, don’t hesitate to reach out to me and seek help.

Call my office at (805) 256-0372 or fill out my contact form here.


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