Intimacy Anorexia: When Hearing the Words “I love You” is as Exciting as Purchasing Toilet Paper
Written by: Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, National Certified Counselor, McKinney, TX.Supervised by: Debra Dian Larsen, MS, LPC-S
Want to hear another weapon utilized by the intimacy anorexic person? It is the meaningless “ I love you” words. The words are spoken, but the intended recipient of the words feels empty, sad and frustrated. The spoken” I love you’” words had meaning in the past. You may have been the recipient of empty I love you words. You desperately try to tell yourself that the words have meaning and are true. You tell yourself that your spouse loves you because they said so. Intimacy anorexia may be pulling you on an insanity rollercoaster.
At some point, you realize that the” I love you” mean as much as saying: “Add toilet paper to the grocery list.” At this point, reality stares you in the face and you know and understand that the “I love you” words are simply that… just words. You come to realize that there have not been behaviors or actions to show you that you are loved, cherished, respected and important to your spouse. Some people state that they feel like a puppet- moving to the strings that are being pulled by their spouse.
Why would the intimacy anorexic spouse utilize the “I love you” strategy? You have probably already been exposed to the shaming, blaming, criticizing and the rest of it. In an attempt, to keep you hooked onto the puppeteer’s strings and to keep you moving to the tune of the intimacy anorexic spouse, they need something to add to the arsenal of intimacy anorexic toolbox to keep you hooked. They keep you hooked by the “I Love You’s”. This does not take much effort. It takes a second to say the words and they know that you are hooked again. You so desperately want to believe the words, so you do. Until one day, when you see that you have taken the intimacy anorexic bait for a while. Love is shown by actions; love is felt in your soul and you are not feeling it.
This “I love you” weapon is very powerful and is great for the intimacy anorexic spouse because their emotionally starved spouse is drawn back in. You are not threatening to leave, you hold on to the emotionally starved relationship and the intimacy anorexic can withdraw again, and the cycle repeats. The vicious circle goes like this: Intimacy anorexic spouse withdraws and emotionally starves their spouse. The starved spouse now gets angry and addresses the issue. The intimacy anorexic spouse gets afraid of losing their spouse, so they utilize the”I love you” weapon. The emotionally starved spouse now calms down and the intimacy anorexic can withdraw and withhold again until next time.... until you change the pattern.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC, therapist at McKinney Counseling and Recovery, specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. McKinney Counseling & Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Dallas and Sherman area.
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist