Your spouse doesn’t date you anymore, and their behavior shows they really do not love you. You feel more distant from your spouse than ever before. You have doubts about your spouse’s love and loyalty toward you. You have no evidence of an affair, but it has crossed your mind more times than you can count.
Your spouse is a good person who works hard to support the family. Everyone thinks you are so blessed to be married to such a wonderful person.
You have tried counseling, but it does not go anywhere. After a few sessions, the counselor begins to side with your spouse as though you are the crazy one. I assure you that you are not.
You have never felt close to your spouse. Even the day after your wedding, you felt something was wrong. You could not put your finger on it, but it just felt distant.
You did not fully have your spouse’s heart, nor did they fully want your heart either. Truth be known, you may have married an intimacy anorexic.
7 Behaviors to Consider to Help you Identify if you have Married an Intimacy Anorexic
- Questions vs. Statements
You may well know being married to an intimacy anorexic feels like you have to make all the decisions. An intimacy anorexic has a difficult time making statements like, “I want to make love to you,” “I want to go out for Italian tonight?” Or, “I want you to pick up almond milk.” Generally, they make questions out of most decisions they do not want to be responsible for. “Do you want to make love to me?” “Do you want to go out to eat tonight?” “Do you want almond milk or soy milk?”
- The Photo vs. The Movie
Generally, in counseling, an intimacy anorexic will only give the “photo shot” of an event, not “the movie” or context of the event before and after the photo shot. The photo shot of information they are giving is generally when they are being “victimized” by their partner. The payoff is that the intimacy anorexic will look “good,” and the spouse will look “bad” to the unseasoned clinician.
- Needed vs. Wanted
Many spouses who are married to an intimacy anorexic have told me many times, “I want to be wanted, Cory, not needed!” They will explain to me that they have children who need them, but feel like they are married to a child who has never grown up. They got married to be wanted and desired emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and sexually. An intimacy anorexic is often not developed emotionally to be a healthy spouse or to pursue and protect their partner. They have a very difficult time being the mature spouse they need to be.
- Give to Get vs. Give to Give
Generally, an intimacy anorexic expects their partner and family to love the things they love to do. An intimacy anorexic has a very difficult time entering the world of their children’s or spouse’s hobbies or activities without sabotaging the experience. An intimacy anorexic appears very giving; but in the end, they keep score. They do not give to give but give to get something in return later that might appear appropriate at the time. In the end, it is very manipulative.
- Passive vs. Assertive
Similar to questions vs. statements, an intimacy anorexic is very passive and has a difficult time speaking assertively. They use what is known as “mitigation speech,” which can cause a great deal of confusion in trying to communicate their needs or expectations. It is difficult for an intimacy anorexic to say what they mean and mean what they say, as they do not want to rock the boat. This can also be closely related to codependency and codependent behaviors.
- You are to blame vs. I am Responsible
An intimacy anorexic will also go to great lengths not to be seen as “bad,” because they generally have a strong core belief that they need to be perfect to be loved. If they are imperfect, they are unlovable, so they will keep the appearance of being seen as “good” or as the nice guy or gal at all costs. To keep this appearance, they will accuse, blame and criticize.
- The Bully vs. The Gentleman/woman
The final behavior is that an intimacy anorexic is a quite a bully behind closed doors toward you as their partner. In public, they are the gentleman or woman. In private, they are not able to maintain this image or behavior, as they use many of the above behaviors to persuade you with shame and guilt to betray yourself and your values. In the end, it is pure manipulation and nothing more than being a bully.
If you see any of these behaviors in your marriage or in the marriage of someone you love, seek professional help by a clinician who specializes in intimacy anorexia. Men and women who struggle with intimacy anorexia are very challenging clients to work with.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.