Sexual Anorexia in Sex addicts
While all forms of addiction are incredibly difficult to overcome, there are a few types of addiction that present particularly unique challenges. Alcohol and substance abusers, for instance, are not dependent on the substance of their addiction for their survival, while food addicts are. Although many alcohol and substance abusers will often continue to crave the substance of their abuse periodically throughout their lives – sometimes even on a daily basis – they also do not need to learn to manage their addiction in the same way that people who are addicted to something actually necessary for survival or at least a full, rich life the way a food or sex addict is.
One particularly difficult addiction to overcome is sex addiction. While sex is certainly not as absolutely vital to survival as food is, it is still a critical part of a full, healthy life which includes intimate relationships. The same way that food addicts cannot simply distance themselves from the substance of their abuse, a sex addict will also have to learn to manage their addiction. Just as many food addicts will sometimes overcompensate into anorexia out of a fear of their own addiction, those that suffer from a sex addiction can also overcompensate into a condition known as sexual anorexia. While a sexual addiction is not the only reason for sex anorexia, it may be one of the eventual outcomes for many sex addicts as they begin to try and overcome a sexual addiction.
What is it and where does it come from?
Much like eating disorders, sexual disorders often follow some of the same patterns. Individuals that struggle with an addiction often try and cut themselves off entirely from indulging in their addiction, only to find themselves “binging and purging.” Sometimes individuals that struggle with a sexual addiction often try to cut themselves off completely from any form of contact as a way of combatting their overwhelming urges and their inability to manage them.
In other cases, sexual anorexics have been abused sexually – sometimes chronically or violently – and therefore come to fear any aspect of sex. In still other cases, sex anorexia can be the result of growing up in a highly repressed or religious environment in which they were taught that sex was “bad” and to fear their own natural sexual urges and desires. In these cases, the anorexia is not the result of a sexual addiction, but rather a complete fear of sex or sexual relationships in general.
Symptoms of Sexual Anorexia
Sexual anorexics will often do far more than just avoid sex, they will also avoid any form of intimacy that could potentially lead to sex. Sexual anorexics are often isolated and reject a number of forms of physical contact, including simple hugs or innocent gestures like hand holding. Like food anorexics, sexual anorexics will often reach a point where they can no longer contain their urges and will “binge” – sometimes engaging in hugely risky sexual behavior. Sexual anorexics often find it far easier to have sex with complete strangers or engage in one-night-stands and may even be complete unable to experience sexual arousal with someone they know.
Treatment of Sexual Anorexia
Just like food anorexia, sex anorexia is a highly treatable condition, but does generally require professional intervention and therapy. Any time an individual experiences such powerful drives towards the necessary components of life such as food or sex, recovery can be a long, hard battle. That does not mean recovery is not possible it absolutely is, it’s just not going to happen overnight. Overcoming any kind of anorexic condition involves digging down to the root cause of the issue.
In almost any type of anorexic condition, there is almost always some kind of history of abuse at the heart of the condition. Sometimes the abuse may have been sexual but even verbal and psychological abuse can result in both conditions. Sometimes, the abuse may not even seem like abuse or the abused may not even realize that the treatment they experienced was actually abuse. Abusers will often blame their abuse on “loving the person too much” or blame the abused for “forcing” the abuser to abuse them. A key component of treatment and therapy for any kind of anorexia involves digging down to the deepest root causes of the issue.
Effects of Sexual Anorexia on Marriage And Relationships
Since sex anorexia is a condition that is often developed over time, many sufferers of sex anorexia may already be married or in a long-term relationship when they develop the condition. When they get married or begin a long-term relationship, they may actually be unaware of their sex addiction. An active sex life may at first fuel the relationship and seem like a positive, healthy part of the relationship.
Eventually, however, their overwhelming drive for sex will invariably begin to have a detrimental effect on their relationship. In this case, they may retreat into sex anorexia as a way to combat their overwhelming need for sex and the destructive force it is creating in their relationship. This retreat may also involve them having a number of illicit sexual encounters outside of their marriage or relationship while still refusing to engage in intercourse with their partner or mate.
In other cases, individuals may communicate their desire to wait for sex until marriage, which their partner may respect – only to find they still have no interest in sex once they are married. The anorexic partner may attempt to shy away from sexual intercourse or any type sexual interaction or give in but remain wooden, stiff and uninvolved during intercourse. They may even make their mate feel shame at their own healthy desire for sex.
Like all humans, sex anorexics still crave emotional intimacy and may even long for a sexually intimate relationship, but just have a number of internal stumbling blocks keeping them from achieving this goal. This is where therapy and counseling can be of utterly invaluable assistance.
Myths about Sex Anorexia
There are a number of stigmas surrounding individuals that are unable to engage in a healthy sexual relationship. The term “frigid” may often be used towards an individual that is actually experiencing a severe emotional and psychological condition. One of the most damaging myths is the idea that there is simply something wrong with such an individual that can’t be fixed or that they are doomed to a life without sex. Nothing could possibly be farther from the truth. With the right supportive therapy and counseling, even the most damaged individual can eventually experience a full, healthy, satisfying, sexually intimate relationship.
How Partners Can Help
The partners of sexual addicts or sex anorexics can either be very helpful or very detrimental to an addict’s or anorexic’s recovery. In many cases, the partner themselves may benefit from therapy or may be asked to participate in therapy with the addict or anorexic. Again, keep in mind that sex addicts may develop anorexia as a part of their recovery process, which can be very frustrating on their mate.
In other cases, such as when a person waits to have sex with an anorexic until marriage only to find they are still incapable of engaging in a healthy sexual relationship, the mate may also benefit from therapy. When an individual is attracted to an addict or anorexic, there may be some issues in their own lives that need to be dealt with. This is often a hard reality for the partners and mates of addicts and anorexics to face and realize.
It is a sad but true fact that many relationships do not survive the recovery process. Many relationships are built on a foundation of the patterns of addiction and cannot survive those patterns being changed. In most cases, the only way that relationships survive recovery is if both partners are willing to make changes to accommodate the new, healthier patterns being created. This does not in any way mean that relationships cannot survive the recovery process – they can and are often far stronger for it – but it generally requires the willing and active participation of both mates and is a long, ongoing process. Healing is absolutely possible, but it won’t happen overnight.
Whether your relationship survives recovery or not, it is still an important process to engage in. As humans, we need healthy intimate relationships and this can’t happen without delving into the heart of why it is not. Sex anorexia is not “just the way you are” it is a condition with a specific cause that can be treated and dealt with, setting you free to experience healthy sexual intimacy with your partner, mate or someone you feel a genuine attachment and bond to.