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Sexless Marriage? Alone, Disconnected, Unwanted, Rejected? It Could Be Intimacy Anorexia

Sexless Marriage, feeling Alone, Disconnected, Unwanted, Rejected; Intimacy Anorexia; blame, guilt, shame, criticism, withholding sex, praise, anger, silence, victimhood, money, feel like roommates

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to like to reveal a condition or state that might explain your sexless marriage and if you feel alone, disconnected, unwanted, or rejected: Intimacy Anorexia.

First a quick update: 

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Now, let’s talk about a condition or state that might explain your sexless marriage and if you feel alone, disconnected, unwanted, or rejected: Intimacy Anorexia.

Although, I don’t like the term Intimacy Anorexia, it does offer some insights into possible causes of a sexless marriage where you feel there is something wrong with you. Consider it as starving oneself and/or one’s spouse of intimacy.

Intimacy Anorexia is a term coined by Dr. Doug Weiss for the “active withholding of emotional, spiritual, and/or sexual intimacy from a spouse or significant other” without regard to its effect on the other spouse.

Please be aware, Intimacy Anorexia is not a recognized term by the mental health field, and Dr. Weiss has even made the term a registered trademark. I don’t know of any other labels for mental health disorders that are registered trademarks. Further, if you are in a sexless marriage, there are other possible causes such as abuse, addiction, toxic or self-destructive behavior (addictions), health issues (low testosterone or low thyroid), attachment style (Dismissive or Avoidant), or past traumas.

Nonetheless, the 10 main characteristics that Weiss identifies are truly damaging to a healthy marriage or committed relationship.

The person who exhibits the following behaviors, identified as Intimacy Anorexia, is doing so with the intention of avoiding closeness or intimacy – sexually, emotionally, and spiritually. Ultimately, all forms of intimacy form the connection between two people.


Intimacy is Into-Me-You-See: I allow you to see into me


Remember, your spouse may be seen as a wonderfully warm, loving, affectionate and open person to others, but at home with you, he/she is a different person.

10 Reasons You Are In A Sexless Marriage – Intimacy Anorexia


1. Busy – The intimacy anorexic looks for ways to distract and thus avoid connection and interaction. He/she is always busy with children, friends, FB, internet, TV, committees, work, and other tasks/projects

2. Blame – By blaming you for problems in the marriage (real or fabricated), he/she triggers guilt and shame within you as a means to build a wall and avoid intimacy. You feel persecuted and rejected. He/she fails to be responsible or accountable, and fails to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”

3. Withholding Love – Each one of us has their own love languages, and the intimacy anorexics are skilled at withholding love in the form of your love languages, in the ways that move you to experience love. When it is in their best interests, they will express love in your love languages.

4. Withholding Praise – They praise others in public, but they fail to praise or validate you. This action drives you further away and leaves you feeling disconnected, unwanted and rejected. Your private moments are empty of praise.

5. Withholding Sex – Even if it is not a completely sexless marriage, your spouse might be disconnected from you when engaging in sex, and you feel alone and used after sex. Alternatively, he/she rarely initiates sex or you go for weeks, months or even years without sex

You have a sexless marriage and you feel like roommates! Intimacy Anorexia!

6. Withholding Spiritually – Sharing faith, religion and spirituality (a belief in a higher power or a life of purpose) is an important part of intimacy and connection. Withholding spiritually is another block to intimacy, connection, and vulnerability. He/she might be ‘busy’ at church or temple but fails to share that with you.

7. Unable to share feelings – They are closed up or refuse to tell you what they are feeling and experiencing – joy, sadness or disappointment. They might share with friends but not with you. Again, their choice to not be vulnerable encourages you to progressively give up and shut down also, or think that there is something wrong with you, and that is the reason they are withholding sex, praise or their feelings.

8. Anger or Silence – Some intimacy anorexics use their anger, rage and outbursts to control you by scaring you and making you feel unsafe. If you’re afraid of their anger then you won’t want to be near them.  Alternatively, they punish you with silence, and for long periods. This is also referred to as stonewalling or it can simply be the action of choosing not to respond to your bids for emotional connection. Perhaps the intimacy anorexic just responds with a few words but does not further engage with you.

9. Criticism/Victimhood – Constant criticism or unfair, unwarranted criticism. This strategy can also be recognized as always looking to find something wrong with you. You cannot seem to win, and you feel unheard, bad, guilty, invalidated and rejected. Either way, it tears you down and repels you from your spouse. Criticism kills the desire for you to be close to someone who puts you down instead of building you up. When not playing the persecutor , the anorexic loves to play the victim, and this serves as another excuse to not be vulnerable to you and to push you away.

10. Controlling Money – By withholding or limiting money, your spouse can control you, and make you feel weak, scared or insecure. Alternatively, they can criticize you from a place of abundance: ‘I buy you everything.’

If you or a friend need help to know how to deal with, respond and heal your relationship with a person of intimacy anorexia, do what so many others have done: Resolve it rapidly and be set free of the pain by experiencing my SRTT process. Book a one-on-one session with me.

You can add to the conversation below.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.

Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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