Starved for Love: Intimacy Deprivation in Sex and Porn Addiction

  • By apsats1
  • 19 Feb, 2015
By DrJaniceCaudill One of the least discussed but most painful experiences for partners of sex or porn addicts is the deep level of intimacy deprivation that many endure both before, during, and after their spouse’s recovery. The love-starved often come to exist on crumbs of affection, particularly those dealing with a spouse’s sex or porn addiction that occurs in combination with a relationship pattern called intimacy anorexia.
Intimacy anorexia, first described by recovery expert Doug Weiss, PhD, is a form of love avoidance that involves the intentional withholding of emotional, spiritual, and/or sexual intimacy from the primary relationship partner. The withholding or sabotaging serves to put the anorexic in control of the level of closeness or distance in the relationship. More importantly, it puts the anorexic in control of the level of intimacy and nurturance his or her partner receives. The anorexic pattern of behaviors dooms the partner to intimacy deprivation.
A recent survey* of the emotional, spiritual and sexual intimacy experience of those dealing with sex, porn, or intimacy anorexia recovery suggests high levels of deprivation in these couples. Over 67% of the participants, primarily the partners of sex and porn addicts, report they experience very frequent intimacy deprivation and 68.6% report feeling ‘married but alone.’
The highest levels of distress were reported by those experiencing sexual deprivation in combination with emotional or spiritual withholding: 59% reported lengthy periods of little or no sex due to their spouse’s lack of interest; 49% reported their spouse withholds sex very frequently; and 60% reported feeling sexually rejected or unwanted by their spouse very frequently. Alternatively, 46% report their spouse does not withhold sex but engages in objectifying rather than relationally connected sex. Results indicate these behaviors are associated with severe distress for a high percentage of the participants.
In addition to sexual withholding or objectification, the survey addresses a number of other tactics for sabotaging intimacy. These include withholding love and praise, unwillingness to share feelings and lack of interest in yours, silent treatment, blame shifting, unfounded criticism or hypersensitivity to perceived criticism, control issues about money, using anger as a barrier or manipulating you into anger so that you pull away, or unwillingness to share spiritual practices.
This is an online survey that allows you to participate anonymously. If you would like to take this survey, click on the link below.
** Results tabulated with N=78
Dr Janice Caudill is the founder and Clinical Director of McKinney Counseling & Recovery. MCR offers individual, couples, group therapy and 3-day intensives for partners of sex addicts and wounded hearts struggling with sex addiction, infidelity, love addiction or love avoidance, intimacy anorexia, or relational trauma in the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Richardson, Frisco, Prosper, Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and surrounding areas.
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