Sexual Anorexia

While some people use sexual ‘acting out’ as a way of coping with their feelings, others move to the opposite end of the spectrum and become fixated on avoiding all sexual behaviour. This is known as sexual anorexia and is simply the other side of the coin of sex addiction. It can be compared to starvation dieting used by some people with eating disorders.

The influencing factors leading to sexual anorexia are similar to sex addiction and may include childhood sexual abuse, childhood wounds caused by a lack of parental attachment, emotional neglect and/or abuse, traumatic life experiences and inability to manage strong emotional feelings.

Sexual anorexia or ‘acting in’ can be quite damaging to a marriage relationship at an emotional and psychological level. It is not uncommon for sex addicts to attempt to control their sex addiction by becoming averse to any sexual behaviour. This is similar to the binge/purge cycle common in a number of addictions.

It is also common for a spouse of a sex addict to become averse to any sexual intimacy. Often the more out of control the sex addict is, the more closed down sexually the spouse becomes. This highlights the importance of couples entering a recovery program together as one person’s sex addiction invariably affects a spouse.