It takes dedication from both spouses to get out of this long lasting rut. The spouse who is emotionally deprived may feel anger, resentment and disappointment. The “anorexic” spouse may feel defensive, anxious and resistant to make changes at first. Emotional deprivation or the term “Intimacy Anorexia” as coined by Psychologist, Doug Weiss, has devastating effects on the relationship. Doug Weiss, Ph.D., refers to Intimacy Anorexia being present in the relationship when 5 of the following criteria are met:
- Withholding love from partner/spouse
- Withholding praise or affection from partner/spouse
- Withholding spiritual connection from partner/spouse
- Utilizing the silent treatment or anger to control situations or push the spouse away
- Withholding sex from the spouse
- Unwilling to discuss feelings with spouse
- Utilizing criticism to cause isolation
- Staying so busy that there is no time for the spouse- this can be work, technology use, volunteering, etc.
- Blaming the spouse for things that create conflict before looking at own part of the problem
- Controlling or shaming the spouse with money issues
Often, the spouse of the Intimacy Anorexic will report that they feel more like a roommate than a spouse.
Intimacy anorexia can ruin a relationship unless it is addressed. Often, the spouse of the Intimacy Anorexic, will say that they feel like their spouse is cold, disengaged, and puts up walls. The greatest avoidance strategy for the anorexic is technology. They can sit on the same couch as the spouse, but completely “escape” connecting intimately by using social media, researching, gaming, checking email, chatting or completely tuning everything out while watching TV.
If you or your spouse can identify with the criteria above, step out of feeling emotionally deprived in your relationship. Seek out an SRT certified therapist in your area to start working on building intimacy and emotional connection. There are several techniques and homework assignments that can be utilized in order to obtain more connection in the relationship.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. Ingela Edwards Counseling serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and Sherman area.