Sexual Anorexia

An obsessive state in which the physical, mental, and emotional task of avoiding sex dominates one’s life.

In my work at Gentle Path, I have worked patients who are suffering from a type of behavior in which sexual contact with others is avoided at all costs. These individuals come to treatment because they have not been able to establish healthy sexual bonds even with those whom they love dearly.

Sexual anorexia is defined as an obsessive state in which the physical, mental, and emotional task of avoiding sex dominates one's life. Like compulsive dieting or the hoarding of possessions or money, deprivation with sex can make one feel powerful and defended against all of life’s hurts. This obsession can then become a way to cope with stress as well as other life difficulties and sex becomes an enemy to be constantly kept at bay, even at the price of denying a part of your self.

Sometimes individuals who are addicted to sexual behaviors outside a committed relationship are sexually anorexic within the relationship. Perhaps you are having an affair or you spend many more hours than you planned looking at pornography and masturbating but simultaneously you are unable to feel sexual when you are with your spouse.

Maybe you have a rich fantasy life and on some level long for a healthy sexual liaison, but when it comes to actually putting yourself out there, you shy away from situations that may lead to a sexual relationship. This can be just as painful and chaotic as the life of any addict.

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