Signs of Sexual and Intimacy Anorexia

1. Avoiding or dreading physical, sexual, spiritual, social or emotionally intimate situations.

2. Withdrawing from intimate or social situations because we don’t feel comfortable or safe.

3. Restricting or controlling levels of anxiety around intimacy by isolation and avoidance of relationships or social situations.

4. Having inappropriate boundaries. Finding it hard to ascertain who it is safe or suitable to share with, often sharing too much with the wrong people or not allowing ourselves to be open or vulnerable with the right people.

5. In childhood many of us felt disconnected from our parents, siblings, families, peers and ourselves. As a result, we tend to internalize feelings and spend a lot of time in fantasy.

6. We may have had periods of ‘acting out’ but overall, we did more ‘acting in’. Often addicted to intrigue; forbidden fantasy; wanting to be lusted over; longing to connect but too afraid to actually connect; or getting involved with unavailable people; or in relationships where we give our power away.

7. Unwarranted inhibition and embarrassment in what should be a normal discussion around relationships, intimacy or sex.

8. Acting aloof, and not creating or maintaining true friendships. Not telling people who are important to us that they are, and letting these people slip out of our lives. Feeling isolated and alone as a result.

9. Low self-esteem, self-hatred, shame, guilt, remorse, emptiness, pain, a feeling of disconnect, a lack of love and support in our lives, a sense of isolation, not knowing how to love oneself, not knowing how to receive or believing one is worthy to receive or not knowing how to give, compulsivity, cross addiction (work, food, exercise, drugs, alcohol, codependence) etc.

10. A feeling of being ‘in the club’, of being accepted, in certain friendships or with partners. However not maintaining balance or relationships outside these ‘cliques’, then having no one or feeling alone when these people were away, or the relationships end.

11. Being too scared to lose ourselves in relationships we avoided and/or created chaos and drama in other areas of our lives, around family, friendships, money, work, often having one or more crises to contend with.

12. Our sexual and intimacy anorexia often comes hand in hand with anorexia or overcompensation around other areas of life including food, time, money and/or work. We may overeat to numb feelings or create a physical barrier; or be restrictive with food, maintaining control and under nourishing ourselves; use time inefficiently; overwork and/or underearn; not having money or time to properly care for ourselves, our appearance, our basic needs, hygiene or self-care. (Our own needs come last).

13. We feel we need to appear perfect; in control; got it all together before we can enter a relationship or allow ourselves to be present/seen in some social environments.

14. We fear being judged, exposed or hurt about our choice of partner, their imperfection in appearance or behavior, we compartmentalize our intimate/sexual relationships from our friends and social lives.

15. We suffer from response paralysis – shame, fear, freeze, fight or flight in response to difficult situations.

16. We do not feel free to be sexual. We feel physically shut down or are blocked around acts of sexual and even some kinds of physical intimacy, often only with partners. When in a relationship we have a lack of enjoyment around sex often having sex because our partner wants to, out of a sense of duty, obligation or guilt.

17. We are not authentic with ourselves or others.


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