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#445286 - 08/23/13 07:23 PM intimacy anorexia what do you think?
HD001 Offline


Registered: 07/30/12
Posts: 244
Loc: us
So I came across some acticles on the net today about a condition called intimacy anorexia.
I had never heard of it before but it describes my husband to the letter.
I couldn't find any info about its relation to csa but to me I would seem like a link would be there. Here are some of the behaviors a intimacy anorexic will display towards their spouse.
Blaming
Withholding praise
Controling and withholding money
Abstaining from sex (or sex with any intimacy)
not sharing with their partner anything personal
Avoiding one on one time with partner
Showing no to little interest in partners feelings
Critisizing their partner

A don't know that it makes me feel any better that this group of behaviors has a name attached to it. To me is looks like a list of behaviors for someone who has been emotionally tramatized. Some acticles said that often sex addiction or other addictions are involved. It said that I can get worse over time.
So this leaves a lot of us wives and partners between a rock and a hard place.
Currently I deal with my husband's behavior by just doing my own thing. But now I'm wondering if that will only add to our problems. My H will only go camping or do any activities with me if we do it with another couple. I feel like my hands are tied. What do you guys think? What is the best way to handle a spouse with "intimacy anorexia"? He isn't ready to seek help and pushing just makes things worse.
_________________________
Everything comes from within

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#445335 - 08/24/13 11:42 AM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
sugarbaby Offline


Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 329
That is an interesting set of issues and unfortunately I have been dealing with this lately.

I googled it and found this - from the spouse's point of view: "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."

This year, honestly, I have just given up. I tell H how I feel and he chooses to ignore it. A couple months later I tell him again and again he chooses to ignore it. I told him "you keep ignoring me and I WILL go away." So far, nothing from his end and I'm not banging my head on this wall anymore. I've been on the couch for months. So be it.

It's a shame really. He is a wonderful person. I don't think he ever wanted to marry me though....he married me because I made him feel safe.

I have to look into this more. I am surprised it came out now....which is why I feel he didn't want to marry me in the first place.....I would think that now, this far out from his therapy, it should be a cake walk (as much as it can be)......not so much.

Thank you for posting this. I had been at a loss to explain this and so I hadn't posted my feelings about his behavior.

Wow, so many of these points hit exactly what is going on in my house. The anorexia and the reactive anorexia......

Intimacy Anorexia http://www.ingelaedwardscounseling.com/1/category/intimacy%20anorexia/1.html


Edited by sugarbaby (08/24/13 12:34 PM)

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#445377 - 08/24/13 08:22 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: sugarbaby]
pufferfish Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6819
Loc: USA
Nearly every guy goes through a stage like that in their marriage. It happens when they are in recovery from sexual abuse experienced in their childhood. It seems unavoidable. But it can be worked through.

However, boys who are abused very young have an attachment disorder. They are unable to bond with others. They can't be expected to get over it by themselves. They actually need help to get out of it. It's like falling in quick sand. They will sink in it if somebody doesn't help.

This concept is from a book by Phyllis Stien,
Psychological Trauma and the Developing Brain: Neurologically Based Interventions for Troubled Children
This book is not an easy read.

There are other books that might be better to help with this problem if you are a more casual reader. There's one by Zimbardo,
The Shy Child : Overcoming and Preventing Shyness from Infancy to Adulthood

I had early abuse. I'm still struggling with it.

Puffer

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#445409 - 08/25/13 11:06 AM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
sugarbaby Offline


Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 329
Thank you Puffer for your input. I am very interested in this.

I debated on mentioning it to H but felt that withholding info really is not productive so I did.

His first reaction was "I'm so busy..."

I cut him off and said "Being to busy for your spouse is the first symptom."

He listened more closely after that which was a surprise to me.

We shall see where it goes.

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#445467 - 08/25/13 11:41 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: sugarbaby]
pufferfish Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6819
Loc: USA
There are also two books that I know of for spouses of surviving males. Many men can perform normally within a marriage until the memories of the sexual abuse they experienced surface. Then they go out of whack for a few years until the "dust settles". If you love him try to hang on and help him. Make sure he goes to a competent counselor who understands these issues.

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#445472 - 08/26/13 12:33 AM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
traveler Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 3322
Loc: somewhere in Africa
Sounds like how I was. I could sometimes manage sex. I really did love her. I tried to show it with gifts and work. But never words or touch. There was NO intimacy. I couldn't do that. Didn't know how.

Sugarbaby - he may not be ignoring you. He may be incapable of what you want. I wanted to do it different and right - but it was like I was paralyzed until I got help from a T. I had step by step lessons and practice to learn how to attain intimacy. My wife had to participate. She was patient. It was hard. But we made it.

Lee
_________________________
As my life goes on I believe somehow something's changed
Something deep inside...
I've been searchin so long to find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning
Now I see myself as I am, feeling very free...
When my tears have come to an end I will understand
What I left behind: a part of me. Chicago


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#445502 - 08/26/13 02:12 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
lucylives Offline


Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 357
Hello HD, welcome to my life. We have lived with this for quite sometime.

Have you read Intimacy Anorexia by Robert Weiss or Sexual Anorexia by Patrick Carnes?

Both are excellent and really opened my eyes to a lot of things I had never heard of but when I read both these books, I was like, aha, that is my marriage/husband. For me it was hard to understand how my husband felt safer acting out with total strangers/ prostitutes and such then he did with me. These explain it all.

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#445509 - 08/26/13 04:27 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: pufferfish]
Disappointed Offline


Registered: 08/11/09
Posts: 540
Loc: U.S.A.
Puffer,
My friend is a recluse at home and he doesn't like to be around me, and his exs all said he was "emotionally unavailable." His abuse started at 5.

I thought people with an attachment issue were generally found to be sociopaths. Is this incorrect? He is a good person, so this doesn't fit.

So, how would you "help" someone out of this?

Thanks.
D.


Edited by Disappointed (08/26/13 04:28 PM)
_________________________
Female.

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#445512 - 08/26/13 05:20 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
GoldStone Offline


Registered: 05/28/13
Posts: 220
Loc: Far East
If you go to alanon or coda youll find some useful tools.

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#445521 - 08/26/13 05:47 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: Disappointed]
pufferfish Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6819
Loc: USA
D.

I don't "get" the sociopath part. No I don't agree with that. Abuse of me started before my 4th birthday and went on for about 8 months. It consisted of sexual abuse by other small boys (but a few years older) before a movie camera. Under those conditions a boy will dissociate. He will acquire dissociative disorder. One he learns to dissociate he can do that whenever needed the rest of his life. This would certainly apply to a boy 5 years old also.

So I have had DID or dissociative identity disorder. The guy you mention probably also has DID. The book I mention above (by Stien) talks about the effects of repetitive abuse on a young child. They (we) tend to become withdrawn or reclusive. They (we) have to learn to trust people. Usually a small child like that will naturally trust people but it gets extinguished and has to be reignited. Stien recommends that a small boy needs some "shepherding" into a social relationship. When they discover they can trust some people they will start to open up. Having a little animal (dog or cat) also helps them learn trust.

I have read a book called Dibs In Search Of Self. It's a brilliant book. The boy Dibs is about 5 and he's taken in for therapy. The book describes how he first gains trust in the therapist and then he's able to start trusting other people. At first he is very reclusive and he won't communicate with others. Gradually he becomes very communicative. It turns out that he's quite intelligent and quite communicative. He just needed to relate to a therapist who could then allow his personality to bloom. I was very much like Dibs after the abuse I experienced at 4. My mother took my sister to the school so she could start. I was in there with them but I was hovering fearfully against the registrar's desk. The principle said to my mother: "Who is this little fellow?" My mom replied that I was too young for school...but I wasn't. They took me in but I was a social blockhead. I wouldn't play with the other children and I hid under a table. That's how Dibs was. So what turned me around? We later went to live with a loving grandmother and grandfather. That was all I needed. I have some pictures of myself here in MS, where you can actually see me before and after this period of time.

So how does this apply to an adult? I think it's the same thing as to the small child. They have to learn to trust maybe just one person. Then they can branch out to trust others. I think also that an adult needs to learn a new role for themself in life. This is called reinventing myself, but it's not really inventing, it's discovering who they are. There is so precious little love in our world and a lot of people can be very pushy and it doesn't help people like me or your man friend. They need a real gentle hand.

If they (we) have learned dissociative disorder, then they have more trouble learning who they really are, and then they can learn that they don't have to dissociate to make friends.
They have trouble putting on the little happy face that makes others want to be with them. They have trouble projecting a warm and loving personality to a potential new acquaintance.

Puffer

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#445525 - 08/26/13 07:40 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
lucylives Offline


Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 357
Puffer,

I think you hit the nail on the head with the attachment theory, the intense fear of intimacy, maybe even needing another person is very scary for fear they will leave yu or something.

I definitely see the attachment issues with my husband as well as other issues with intimacy with me and every other person in his life. It is getting better and he is really working on learning to have relationships with people who really KNOW him and all his secrets.

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#445533 - 08/26/13 10:15 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
GoldStone Offline


Registered: 05/28/13
Posts: 220
Loc: Far East
Here is some good reading material.

Chapter 3 might help.

http://www.slaaindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/slaa-basic-txt-entire-book.pdf


Edited by GoldStone (08/26/13 10:19 PM)

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#445547 - 08/27/13 12:01 AM Reclusive Behavior [Re: HD001]
Disappointed Offline


Registered: 08/11/09
Posts: 540
Loc: U.S.A.
"There is so precious little love in our world and a lot of people can be very pushy and it doesn't help people like me or your man friend. They need a real gentle hand. "

"If they (we) have learned dissociative disorder, then they have more trouble learning who they really are, and then they can learn that they don't have to dissociate to make friends.
They have trouble putting on the little happy face that makes others want to be with them. They have trouble projecting a warm and loving personality to a potential new acquaintance."


Dear Puffer,
I've been talking to this same man for close to 5 years. He still won't invite me over to his home. EXACTLY how gentle do I have to be after all this time? Seriously?

Yes, he had DID. You and I have talked about it many times.

Thanks,
D!
_________________________
Female.

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#445550 - 08/27/13 01:12 AM Re: Reclusive Behavior [Re: Disappointed]
pufferfish Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6819
Loc: USA
OK Disappointed

I thought I remembered talking with you before.

Yes, having DID is different for everybody, but it can be a lot like seeing life through one of those little tubes some of us had as children where the design changes every time you turn it.

But people with DID usually have one of their selves to serve in different situations. They may have a sweet loving person in there somewhere.

Puffer

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#445559 - 08/27/13 07:14 AM Re: Reclusive Behavior [Re: pufferfish]
sugarbaby Offline


Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 329
Quote:
Sugarbaby - he may not be ignoring you. He may be incapable of what you want. I wanted to do it different and right - but it was like I was paralyzed until I got help from a T.


He is surprisingly interested in this so he is going to pursue getting the book and learning more. None of his Ts ever mentioned it.

I guess it was rough on his side of the 'wall' as well but, like me, he didn't have enough info to pinpoint the problem.

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#445578 - 08/27/13 11:08 AM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
lucylives Offline


Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 357
Wow, Gold, thanks for posting that.

Sometimes I feel like I am the addict........addicted to the addict in my life, his actions, his lack of actions, his feelings, his recovery etc. Ugh.

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#445579 - 08/27/13 11:09 AM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
lucylives Offline


Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 357
I guess that is the disease of codependency.

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#445591 - 08/27/13 01:41 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
HD001 Offline


Registered: 07/30/12
Posts: 244
Loc: us
Gold Thanks for the post. It was a very interesting read. Like Lucy said that the feeling of being addicted to an addict is something I felt in the recent past. But now something inside of me has changed.
I still love my husband, I still hope for his recovery and happiness but I no longer really see it as having anything to do with me. I've detached and not in a grumpy, pouting around the house giving the silent treatment kind of way. More in a "okay you are acting insane so I'm going to go over here and do my own thing" kind of way. I don't think about him nearly as much as I used to. When he is upset I don't care if he talk to me or not. I no longer spend my days thinking of ways to fix him or cheer him up. I no longer pretend to be interested when he talks about cars or the NASA program. SNORE!
I guess if I'm honest even though I know the return to myself is a good one. And being able to detach mostly with love is also good, I have this little bit a guilt that pops up from time to time. It surprises me. I think my husband loves me, as another survivor mentioned I think he tried to show me with work and fixing things when needed. I used to feel sorry for him, I don't anymore.
I still have compassion, it's much more detached. The guilty little voice pipes up from time to time and tells me that what I'm doing is wrong and that it will ruin what is left of our marriage. I don't listen to this voice.
My H has everything he needs at his disposal for a true recovery effort. He has a loving wife and a network of supportive friends. He has available therapists, and a way to afford them. If he chooses to be miserable then there is no sense in me feeling bad about it or taking it personally.
Its a bummer that I'm not spending the last little bit of my twenties with a Husband who wants to have adventures with me and stay up by a campfire and talk about the meaning of life, and our dreams etc. But I'm blessed to have friends I can do that with.
I a bit of a new-age sort and spirituality is very important to me. At time when I want to shake my husband and say "wake-up!". I calmly look at him and say to myself. "He is a manifestation of the universe that is giving you the chance to learn patience, and unconditional love." Then I go into my art studio and paint for a bit.
_________________________
Everything comes from within

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#445628 - 08/27/13 07:52 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
lucylives Offline


Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 357
Good for you, HD. When I get in that mode, I fear that the relationship will just fall apart because I am not there to keep it going but it isn't my job.

when I get to a place of pretty good detachment, wouldn't you know, that is when progress is made and he opens up more. Go figure.

It is kinda like in middle school where we are taught not to chase boys....when I don't chase, he comes rushing. When I am desperate to make it work, he is not as engaging.

I love this quote from a movie "desperation, the world's worst cologne."

I also believe in what Patrick Carnes says about being with an addict, as long as we are still engaging in the dance, they know they still have us in their grips so there is no reason to change. If we detach, it is frightening.

This may not be true for most of the men on here but if you are married to an addict, read what carnes writes about this.

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#445954 - 08/30/13 11:45 AM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
sugarbaby Offline


Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 329
I have been quite amazed at my H's efforts to overcome this issue. I absolutely did not expect that.

I am quite imperfect here though because I keep waiting for the effort to stop, so I'm guarded.

He and I have to work on this.

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#445993 - 08/30/13 07:22 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
HD001 Offline


Registered: 07/30/12
Posts: 244
Loc: us
Hey sugarbaby
That's awesome that you husband is working on it. I know the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. If you can try to stay in a positive place with it though I think it will only encourage your H that much more. I see such a shift take place with my H when I am able to believe in him. Some days I suck at it but both of us benefit when I am able to be present to the good that's happening. I know that I feel better and even when the hard times return they aren't as quite as bad.
Try to keep the good vibes going and on the days that you can't its okay.
_________________________
Everything comes from within

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#447098 - 09/13/13 10:04 AM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
sugarbaby Offline


Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 329
Well......I guess I just got thrown a crumb because that interest he showed was preeeetty fleeting.

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#447134 - 09/13/13 06:54 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
lucylives Offline


Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 357
Oh Sugar, I so get that. It seems we are rounding a corner and then my husband goes right back.

I am so tired of 2 steps forward, 3 steps back crap. It sucks. Just when you think it is all gonna be allright. ugh

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#448868 - 10/01/13 09:27 AM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: pufferfish]
sugarbaby Offline


Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 329
He bought a book on this and started reading it. We will see where it goes.


Edited by sugarbaby (10/01/13 09:28 AM)

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#449464 - 10/07/13 09:07 PM Re: intimacy anorexia what do you think? [Re: HD001]
gettingstronger Offline


Registered: 09/24/13
Posts: 148
Loc: Virginia
sugarbaby,

If he's reading up on it and pushing himself as much as he can to get better, it will get better for the both of you. I know every survivor has a different level of ability and willingness to work on this, but if he's really trying to push forward, things should get better in time.

I don't know what he saw modeled by his parents as far as being a loving couple goes, but in my case I've had to reinvent what that means from scratch. My earliest memories of my Dad were of how "fat and ugly" (his words) my Mom was, how cute the woman at the bank down the street was, etc. While they kissed once in a while in front of us kids, I knew from my earliest days what a sham it was.

The point is, I grew up without a clue about what being in a happy relationship looked like, and your husband might be in the same boat. I know this sounds like it should be self-evident, especially if your parents were happy and showed it, but believe me, it can be harder than it should be for some.

I love my wife to death, but I have to go out of my way to show her that frequently (and sometimes I don't do it nearly as well as I should.) For me, this means making time, being there even if I'm tired, etc., being involved in things that matter to her, and so on. While most guys would do these things automatically, anyone who's watched his parents hate each other for however many years might be on a learning curve. All I can say is that my heart is with you and I hope things get better soon.

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