Anyone who is married to an intimacy anorexic spouse knows that every little crumb counts. That little crumb is what keeps you going, keeps you
engaged and also maintains you in a vicious cycle of emotional starvation. You
probably do not feel cherished or nurtured in the marriage. You are more likely to feel like a roommate, employee or nanny than a spouse. You may have become used to this pattern and depend heavily on the “crumbs.”
The intimacy anorexic spouse will MOST of the time be the one who shames, blames, withholds sex, praise, and/ or love. Your spouse may also rely on controlling and creating distance between the two of you by using silence or angry outbursts. Feelings are not often openly shared with you. The intimacy anorexia arsenal is used on more of an “on average” basis because the intimacy anorexic will not utilize these deprivation tools ALL the time. The anorexic spouse will actually throw you a crumb now and then.
The crumb will be thrown out for you to grab and hold onto when you complain that you do not feel loved, cherished or important to your spouse. The anorexic will soften momentarily and send you a crumb that can consist of an “I love you” text or an occasional hug. These crumbs may be confusing at times because MOST of the time you feel emotionally starved, yet on an occasion, there is a hug, an
appreciation or an affectionate kiss.
Psychologist Doug Weiss states that the intimacy anorexic behaviors are intentional. The behaviors are purposefully done to maintain the intimacy walls in the relationship. When you attempt to get emotionally close, the anorexic can throw out the silent treatment, anger outbursts or the blame/shame game to get you off their back. Sometimes, they will throw out a little affection to get you to back off on your confrontation regarding the lack of emotional or sexual intimacy. The intimacy anorexic’s intentions are normally not to divorce or leave you because that makes them look bad. They prefer to have you there, yet have the emotional walls up, and keep you emotionally starved.
Nurturing and cherishing one’s spouse should be consistent over time.
If you are receiving crumbs and feel emotionally starved by your spouse, you may benefit from reading Intimacy Anorexia by Dr. Doug Weiss, or seek a therapist who has specialized training in this area.
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, Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and Sherman area.
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist