Sexlessness And Fear Of Intimacy

Fear of intimacy – is this what keeps our spouses from having sex with us?  I’ve been researching  ”Fear of Intimacy” with the express purpose of seeking an answer to this question.  The following has been distilled from a wide range of sources.   (I apologise for not attributing information – where I have quoted directly, the words are in italics.)
 
What is intimacy?
Emotional intimacy is one of the most wonderful experiences we ever have.  Nothing else really comes close to the experience of sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings with another, being deeply seen and known, of sharing love, passion. . . .
 
. . . Emotional intimacy is a special set of interactions in which a person discloses something about him or herself, and a partner responds to the disclosure in a way that makes the person feel validated, understood and cared for. (my emphasis)
 
Intimacy usually requires most of the following:
  • Willingness to disclose one’s true thoughts, feelings, wishes and fears
  • Willingness to trust a partner for care and emotional support
  • Willingness to engage in physical intimacy (my emphasis)
  • Sharing of tenderness, caring and affection
  • Lowered defences and allowing yourself to be fragile and vulnerable
 
And those who fear intimacy?  What are their characteristics?
  • Inability to develop trust in another
  • Fear of being vulnerable to being hurt
  • Avoidance of risk
  • Inability to let go of hurts and fears even if they occurred long ago, especially those from previous relationships
  • Fear of loss of approval; fear of rejection
  • Chronic defensiveness
  • Fear of being too exposed or being found out for who you “really are”
  • Inability to show affection, tenderness or caring
  • Inability to be open and honest
Many of these characteristics can be seen in the “refuser” partners and spouses on ILIASM.
 
Fear of intimacy is very often completely unrecognised by the sufferer.  In fact, many people with this fear actually want and desire a close relationship, but unconsciously sabotage this if it happens.  The fears that combine to constitute “fear of intimacy” are:
  • Fear of rejection or abandonment
  • Fear of being smothered, engulfed and / or controlled
  • Fear of the pain of losing the loved one, through death or divorce
So it is NOT the intimacy itself that is feared, it is that bad things can happen that are sometimes part of an intimate relationship.  (More about these fears later.)
 
These fears stem from earlier life experiences which the sufferer has not been able to manage effectively.   One very interesting point is that these causative childhood traumas need not be dramatic such as sexual or physical abuse.  Many children are born with an inherited trait to anxiety, shyness, fearfulness and mild depression.   Attachment theory researchers have found that even a child’s perceived feelings of rejection and abandonment . . . can start the ball rolling on later intimacy issues.
 
Some others, who have experienced similar or even worse experiences, are not affected.  These are the people who, for whatever reason, WERE able to cope with, manage and survive these experiences without this damage occurring to them.

Fear of intimacy is described as a personality disorder.  It impacts most seriously on that most intimate of relationships, marriage.  But it can also impact on all human relationships.   It often affects the person’s ability to make friends, to attend social functions and to be a well integrated social being.    (Many of us on ILIASM have noted that our spouses have few friends, dislike social occasions and have difficulty functioning in social environments.)
 
Some of the factors that contribute to “fear of intimacy”:
  • Fear of exposure – “I am not the person I appear to be – I am not a worthy person.  I need to hide my real self from my partner.”
  • Fear of failure – “if I set myself up for failure, I at least “know” why I failed – and it is within my power to control.  (Can also be described as “fear of success”!)  I cannot cope with being a failure if I give everything I’ve got and it STILL fails . . . .”
  • Fear of rejection – “once my spouse knows the “real” me, s/he will not like/love me”
  • Fear of responsibility – “I’ve ‘always’ been made to feel that failure is my fault, and I don’t want that responsibility any more.   So I’m going to do everything I can to avoid that responsibility.”
 The tragedy is that these fears actually work AGAINST the person – acting from these positions of fear is the very thing that brings about exactly what they fear most.  This effectively reinforces their fears, leading them to redouble their (already unsuccessful) efforts . . . . Catch 22.   It is important to recognise that these motivations are unconscious in the person manifesting them – or at the very best, only dimly perceived.   So any discussion of this is likely to bring forth indignant denials and a refusal to consider that this might be the case.
 
So why, if these people are so fearful of intimacy, do they get married (or into committed relationships) to begin with?  Why do so many of us experience what seems to be the “bait and switch”?  It is important to bear in mind that people with a fear of intimacy are (almost always) unaware of this fear.  In fact, sometimes they are actually “intimacy addicts” – they constantly seek out experiences of “intimacy” to affirm to themselves that they DO not have a problem.  All of us have an urge to feel a basic sense of belonging to somebody.     Unfortunately, every time they get close to someone, their underlying condition asserts itself and sabotages the relationship.
 
The three stages of love are described as:
  • Romantic love – basically, lust, driven by our hormones (oestrogen and testosterone)! Endorphins soak your brain and you’re immersed in intense pleasurable sensation.  The lovers are exhilarated, high and infatuated.
  • “Lovesick” love - physical attraction and power struggles characterise this phase.  You’re trying to shape your lover into your ideal partner – which is where the power struggle comes in.  The relationship becomes more realistic and strong emotional attachment sets in – if it is a positive relationship.  Infatuation is wearing off.  Some on ILIASM have reported a falling away of sex and intimacy even before the marriage – or very shortly after it.  This suggests that one partner - “the refuser” – has NOT moved on to a strong emotional attachment.  Instead, once the initial infatuation has worn off, the fear of intimacy begins to reassert itself and to further sabotage the person’s desire to build a truly loving intimate relationship.
  • Emotional attachment – acceptance, commitment, partnership.  You both accept each other’s positive and negative traits.  You work towards a healthy and loving relationship – or NOT!!


Avoidant Attachment theory –how does this impact on “fear of intimacy”?
The two types of “avoidant attachment style” are likely to have problems with intimacy.  One type is fearful and the other type is dismissive.
Dismissive Avoidant:
These people have a very positive view of themselves and strive to be independent.  They also have a very negative view of others. Independence and self-sufficiency are very important to them.  These people are more comfortable without close personal relationships and see themselves as invulnerable to the feelings associated with close emotional attachments.  They often deny needing such relationships. 
 Characteristics:

  • Defensive
  • Suppress and hide their feelings
  • Distance themselves from any (possible or actual) sources of rejection
Fearful Avoidant
These people have a very negative view of both themselves AND others.  They are very uncomfortable getting close to others and show anxiety in social situations.  They want close emotional relationships but find it difficult to trust others.
 
Many on ILIASM could recognise their spouses in these descriptions.  So how do these people feel about intimacy?  WHY is it so hard for them?
 
Fear of rejection
The crux of this is poor self image and low sense of self worth.  If one’s self image is too closely connected with others, these “others” become very powerful in terms of the person’s perception of their own self worth.  Any criticism is a body blow. . . . Their opinion of themselves fluctuates wildly, depending on other’s points of views.   Fundamentally, they don’t like themselves very much.  
Effects of this:
  • Anxiety in social and especially in intimate situations
  • Avoiding situations of significant risk (e.g. Sexual relationships)
  • Protecting themselves by lying
  • Spend lots of energy trying to keep their “truth” hidden from others
  • And in some instances, devaluing those who really DO like / love them!  (The feeling here is that they are such a poor specimen of person that it reflects badly on YOU if you care about them!)
These people EXPECT to be rejected.  They do not believe they are truly lovable.
 
Fear of emotional engulfment
If a person is uncomfortable with feelings of high emotional intensity (emotional and / or physical), they may feel overwhelmed by the other person.   All the issues relating to emotional engulfment stem from an inability to manage emotions.
 
On ILIASM some spouses are very “loving” in all but physical situations – this suggests their main area of discomfort lies in the physical.  Other spouses are not comfortable with any type of emotional intensity and are withdrawn both emotionally and physically.
 
Loss of control
Avoidant attachment types are particularly likely to fear loss of control.  If they let someone get close to them they feel very vulnerable that there is a possible source of hurt and rejection that they are not in direct control over and seek to distance themselves from this to avoid it.
 
Sadly, it sometimes the very things that are “good” about a relationship that makes the person fearful.   The relationship makes them feel good and makes their life easier – so they come to fear the dependency this might be engendering in them for their partner.   Because the other person is outside of their control, s/he is unpredictable.  The “only way” this person sees to control the situation is to withdraw from it before the partner or spouse can “let them down”.    The irony is that this ego protective behaviour in fact often delivers the very result they were trying so hard to avoid.
 
One of the saddest aspects of all this is that the person with a fear of intimacy probably needs years of psychoanalysis to probe family of origin issues.  This type of therapy has fallen out of favour with the therapeutic community so the track record for curing these problems is still fairly dismal.
 
In conclusion, I want to make the point that I realise this “fear of intimacy” is NOT a catch-all diagnosis for the “refuser” spouses.   There are other causes.  For example, those who have had a great relationship for twenty years, which suddenly “goes bad” are unlikely to have a partner with fear of intimacy.   But for many of us, the concept of “fear of intimacy” is useful in determining “why” our spouses have refused us.
 
Instinctively, many of us recognise that our spouses are not “bad” or “evil” people.  They did not deliberately (in most cases) set out to deceive us.  They are not by nature cruel or unkind.  But their denial of our emotional, sexual needs and their apparent refusal of their responsibility to be intimate partners in the relationship, makes us question whether we have really poor judgement.  Perhaps they really ARE “bad” people . . . ?
 
It seems much more likely that they are sufferers just as we are – it is only that they suffer from a “fear of intimacy” that severely curtails their ability to develop the loving intimate relationships that are everyone’s birthright.  Our tragedy is that each of us chose a person with this debilitating condition to be our life partner.
 
 
enna30 enna30
56-60, F
57 Responses Jun 24, 2010

So... I am a husband of 26 years, and my wife deals with pretty much all of this. I will be there til death do us part. How do I support her and make the relationship better for her? I certainly have my own selfish needs... It seems like the more I try the more she pushes me away. Talking about it just upsets her more and makes her feel inadequate. So honestly, what can I do to make marriage better for her?

I recognize myself and hubby in some of these. Having been together for 25?-ish years I think we've both had phases and in differing times then handled or addressed issues and then one or the other slips back into unhealthy dysfunction. It just feels like - what is currently going on is an acute case but if I honestly reflect - I think it had chronically occurred off & on in varying degrees the whole time we have known each other.
Much food for thought. Thank you so much for distilling it!

I just came across this - it is really interesting, I want o know more and begin to understand

I realise your article has been here for some years enna, but I just want to thank you for writing it.

It has given me a lot to think about, and one of those things is that I am worried that I will develop a fear of initimacy with my partner's continual rejections and refusals. I can already see my self-esteem and self-confidence deteriorating, and I am becoming fearful of trying to initiate because I am most often refused.

I used to be very open sexually, I have a high sex drive ... now I don't want to try because every refusal shatters my heart a little more.

Is there any way to protect yourself from further damage without leaving a relationship, I want to try to work through the problems and see if something good can come out of the place we are now.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

This article touched me! I have been struggling with intimacy in my marriage for so long. I find it really hard to remain open to my husband because of little hurts and resentments and wonder if I will ever feel the courage to
let him in again. Its really hard to be in a marriage where both partners have issues with intimacy. I dont know where to go from here, except to focus on my own happiness and work on my own intimacy stuff. My deepest fear is that my husband is repulsed by me and isnt in love with me anymore. I wonder why he doesnt seem interested in sex anymore. If I can stop thinking about him and only ponder on things about myself, I feel better, like I have control over my side of things. Taking responsibility for only my side is scary, because then I risk rejection, failure. I guess the current status-quo wont change if I wont change...

Hi Enna, great article. I am someone who suffers greatly from a fear of intimacy but I crave to be intimate. I have only just discovered this about myself as I have met an amazing person. Is it possible to overcome fear of intimacy if you're aware of it and you want to overcome it?

Nothing else really comes close to the experience of sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings with another,

Perhaps this is why we all keep coming back to EP

SOO...SAD...

how does a sexless marriage go on a vacation together? my friend who is having problems said they live like college roommates...it has become awkward for him too simply go for a drive with her....its really sad

oh how realistic this reading was had to read it twice to grasp only most but there is alot of truth in it

Well, this seems like a remarkable post. I will limit myself to very few comments for now, as I am quite tired; this deserves thoughtful comments.

As this is written in quite an authoritative way (I mean by this, as if by someone who is quite an authority on the subject, who is quite versed in it, who, at least, is reasonably qualified to make such statements (which may indeed be the case, here)), I would invite you, for purposes of transparency and openness, to let us know what formation you have and what work you do. And I would invite you to attribute information, to give references. One reason being that noncritical persons may take what you write (what I write) at face value, for granted, for the truth, without verification, especially when it’s written in an authoritative way. Another reason is that you may have made honest mistakes; we all do.

You will find me very critical; I am. I take it that we are looking for truth, that we are trying to really help ourselves and others; not looking for fame (I’m not implying that you are). In such a case, transparency, openness, humility, inviting criticism, review seem indicated. I believe in setting high (though reasonable, realistic) standards and trying to live by them; in science and in most other fields. I’m a great admirer of people like Sigmund Freud (though psychoanalysis has come to be much criticized), Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, to name only those three, as there are so many, who made great work in psychology and related fields.

The fully functioning person (according to Carl Rogers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Rogers))
Optimal development, as referred to in the following proposition (Rogers’ theory of the self (as of 1951) was based on 19 propositions):
Psychological adjustment exists when the concept of the self is such that all the sensory and visceral experiences of the organism are, or may be, assimilated on a symbolic level into a consistent relationship with the concept of self.
results in a certain process rather than static state. He describes this as the good life, where the organism continually aims to fulfill its full potential. He listed the characteristics of a fully functioning person (Rogers 1961):
1. A growing openness to experience – they move away from defensiveness and have no need for subception (a perceptual defense that involves unconsciously applying strategies to prevent a troubling stimulus from entering consciousness).
2. An increasingly existential lifestyle – living each moment fully – not distorting the moment to fit personality or self-concept but allowing personality and self-concept to emanate from the experience. This results in excitement, daring, adaptability, tolerance, spontaneity, and a lack of rigidity and suggests a foundation of trust. "To open one's spirit to what is going on now, and discover in that present process whatever structure it appears to have" (Rogers 1961)
3. Increasing organismic trust – they trust their own judgment and their ability to choose behavior that is appropriate for each moment. They do not rely on existing codes and social norms but trust that as they are open to experiences they will be able to trust their own sense of right and wrong.
4. Freedom of choice – not being shackled by the restrictions that influence an incongruent individual, they are able to make a wider range of choices more fluently. They believe that they play a role in determining their own behavior and so feel responsible for their own behavior.
5. Creativity – it follows that they will feel more free to be creative. They will also be more creative in the way they adapt to their own circumstances without feeling a need to conform.
6. Reliability and constructiveness – they can be trusted to act constructively. An individual who is open to all their needs will be able to maintain a balance between them. Even aggressive needs will be matched and balanced by intrinsic goodness in congruent individuals.
7. A rich full life – he describes the life of the fully functioning individual as rich, full and exciting and suggests that they experience joy and pain, love and heartbreak, fear and courage more intensely. Rogers' description of the good life:
This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-hearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one's potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life. (Rogers 1961)

Hierarchy of Needs (according to Abraham Maslow (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Maslow))
5. Self-actualization(highest needs): morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts
4. Esteem: self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others
3. Love/belonging: friendship, family, sexual intimacy
2. Safety: security of body, employment, resources, morality, family, health, property
1. Physiological: breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion

I believe in that hierarchy (though it may not, it probably is not perfect), as it corresponds to my experience of life. If it is right, then meeting the needs of sex, sexual intimacy are somewhat requirements to being able to move on to meeting higher needs; if we don’t meet the needs of sex, sexual intimacy in a satisfactory way, we somewhat get stuck at that level, seeking satisfaction of those needs and having difficulty moving on to meeting higher needs. And I believe the theory implies that we are driven to meet higher needs, as the meeting of those needs brings much satisfaction, a sense of much self-actualization.

I will want to read on the subject of Sexlessness and Fear of Intimacy, as I find it quite sad that people experience sexlessness, ploblems of intimacy (whether as the sufferer or as the refuser) in relationships, as I find it very important to meet those needs, very satisfying to meet them, as I am not familiar with the subject and as I want to make verifications. I will start by reading Sexless marriage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexless_marriage) and Fear of intimacy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_of_intimacy).

With much kindness,
Charles

This is truly brilliant, Enna. Should be required reading!!!!

Wow. This describes me very well. I prefer anonymous sex. I am able to have a close relationship with my kids and hug, kiss, and cuddle them but over time I've grown more and more averse to any physical contact with my husband. I have read done of the info about being asexual and I identified with some of it but I do have sexual feelings towards others I am just scared as hell when it comes time to act on it. I have to be at least a little drunk to have sex.

I didn't know I was like this when I got married. I've been trying to set my husband free for years. And set myself free from the guilt I feel for not being able to meet his needs.

I think this is a big part of what is behind my depression and wishes that I were dead or could get a terminal illness. It's the easy way out.

To those whose spouses are like this I'm sorry. Someday they may be able to understand this about themselves but at least for me knowing it doesn't make it easier to change. I don't think I want to change its too scary.

I do feel very sad for you because intimacy is a wonderfully rewarding part of life. However, if both you AND your husband are happy without it, then there is no problem. If your husband is NOT content with this situation, you may be wise to seek personal counselling to assess how you can move forward in your marriage. I wish you happiness with whatever you choose to do.

@whpher

"I think this is a big part of what is behind my depression and wishes that I were dead or could get a terminal illness. It's the easy way out.
To those whose spouses are like this I'm sorry. Someday they may be able to understand this about themselves (Could you rather have meant ourselves?) but at least for me knowing it doesn't make it easier to change. I don't think I want to change its too scary."

All I can say for now, Ms., is not to give up, as much as possible. Making some progress (as little as it may be, may seem) in trying to overcome such important difficulties is often well worth all the efforts.
And not to hesitate to seek professional help, if you feel like it, if possible; there is certainly no shame in doing so, all the contrary.
With much kindness,
Charles

<p>I'm bumping this up again, because there is currently some discussion on ILIASM about the role played by "fear of intimacy" in sexless marriages. Whilst this may not describe the situation in your marriage, it is certainly a viable and important consideration for many relationships.</p><p>One reason that some people reject this possibility is the fact that their spouses ARE able to have sex with others - thus seemingly refuting the possibility of "fear of intimacy" as a reason for sexlesness.</p><p>Yet it is common for people with a fear of intimacy to readily have sex with someone UNTIL they find themselves in an intimate relationship. One night stands, short term dating lives and "the sex was great till we got married!" are all examples of this IMO.</p><p>Once a relationship moves beyond the phase of limerance, and deepens into something that requires fewer hormones and more intimacy, this fear can reassert itself.</p><p>Those who see intimacy aversion as contra-indicated because a spouse can form a loving relationship with a pet, are assuming that the relationship between a pet and its owner is the same as between two spouses. Personally, I cannot see a sufficient argument for this position!!</p><p>Those who see that a person can have a loving and intimate relationship with their children, but not with their spouses, are also missing the point IMO. The relationship between parent and child can be deeply loving and very warm and affecionate. BUT it does not replicate the adult spousal relationship - nor should it! Parents and children always have a power differential operating in their relationship which rescues the intimacy averse adult from needing to develop the same levels of intimacy with a child as with a spouse. </p><p>For some intimacy averse adults, their relationship with their children provides sufficient intimacy (albeit of a different kind) so that they feel no need for a more equitable and mature level of intimacy with their spouses. This is often seen on ILIASM where the poster comments that their Refuser spouse is a loving and involved parent - but cannot meet the needs of their spouse. . . . . </p><p>Being intimacy averse is a curse. It is not part of the natural world IMO - as in, people are not born with intimacy aversion. Rather it is something that develops as a reslt of their life experiences, often from the earliest days of their lives. Many will probably not be able to remember "what" caused the problem, or have lived with it for s long that it seems "normal" to them. </p><p>Refused spouses here will often say their Refuser spouses have called them "abnormal" or "obsesssed" with sex. This is probably how their Refusers truly feel! Because for the Refuser, it feels "normal" to NOT want intimacy - and thus to avoid sex.</p><p>Some Refuser spouses are happy to ********** and / or to use ****. IMO this is a good reason to suspect intimacy aversion as a cause for the sexlessness of a marriage. The Refuser spouse wants the pleasures of sex - but does NOT want the intimacy involved in having sex with an adult partner. </p><p>There is no reason to think that "intimacy aversion" describes all Refusers. Some are asexual; some have serious psychological / emotional / personality disorders. Some are simply turned OFF by their spouses - for whatever reason. But there are a lot of Refusers whose "reasons" for being unable to maintain sexual intimacy in their marriages may well be that they suffer intimacy aversion.</p>

It's interesting to recognize that an avoidant can be very sexual and display affection (words and touch), provided that it is divorced from true emotional intimacy. The flip side of my trying to understand my refuser wife is that I am also trying to understand, should it come to that--and it just might, depending on how the therapy pans out, how to identify and (run don't walk!) stay away from fearful-avoidant women who will abandon me in a lonely, emotional wasteland. Never mind avoiding all the other wild cards that get thrown people's way, like having a spouse decide / realize that they're gay, mental illness, physical illness and so on.

Bumping this up.

I read this article twice! As I have recently entered into therapy for the purpose of trying to understand my wife's issues, it was suggested to me that my wife most likely suffers from fear of intamacy. In learning the traits of a person with fear of intamcy, I was somewhat convinced that this indeed was the case. After reading this, I was absolutely amazed and 100% convinced that my wife has fear of intamacy. As I continued to read on, I was just taken back and felt like the author was actually speaking about my wife. It is the hardest thing for a husband, a faithful one no less, to live a life with a women who is cursed by this disorder. I always hold out hope that things will change but I do catch myself every now and then realizing that I'm only kidding myself. For some strange reason I don't find myself lonely but I do intensely yearn for a true life partner. Thank You for this extremly accurate portrayal of this topic!

Enna for President!!! This is an awesome post!

Thanks for this post as well explains somewhat both my husband and myself really just have different aspects of the fear... Mine is trust but I can have sexual relation his is overall emotion control is what I gather, he was more passionate almost to much when he was young , we met up again years later and he changed a lot, he has managed his emotions to the point of severe suppression is all I can come up with. He is such a mystery. By the way when people refer to "love" I often wonder what they imagine, a romantic unrealistic movie type? Which is not real! Isn't love trust, patient (which by definition means "long suffering" ) not easily angered, respect things of this nature???? Then love by this definition is truly a high standard and not easily met !!!

you might find imago interesting (keeping the love you find seems to address the theory the best)...

Yes...This. My wife fears intimacy. Glad we're ending it.

WOW thank you again... book marking that analysis..

I know I'm necroposting here...But I needed to read this. I think both of us are afraid of intimacy...except I'm aware of it, I'm aware of the cause, and actively trying to grapple with it, not that this is easy. My heuristic is that the people you love...will destroy you...and while that is indeed my experience with my parents, that's far from universal. I irrationally fear my wife hitting me when she shouts, but she never has hit me.

Look up <br />
Emotional Deprivation Disorder.<br />
Get ready to be amazed

Hoopless, my heart aches for you. I find the fact you have taken so much time and effort to discover the root cause to be a wonderful tribute to your spirit and your character.<br />
<br />
Have you found that recognising the issue helps you to find ways to address it? Or is it such an all consuming issue that it is virtually impossible o address?<br />
<br />
You sound like such a fine person - it is so terrible to think of you missing out on these important human interactions, even though you long for them to occur. I hope very sincerely that you find a solution to your issues (even if it is only partial) that allows you to experience the joys and pleasures that you so richly deserve. {{{Hugs}}}

There are so many variables in this complicated life. Isn't that true? Your article here brings out many of the issues I see in my wife. She most closely holds to the "fearful avoidant" classification. The past experiences of life weave through every aspect of our daily lives. Some cope better than others, and so should we as spouses expect that if our "refuser" is not coping well, we are cleared from the vows we made when we married and look elsewhere to fulfill our intamacy desires? (Open ended question for discussion.)<br />
<br />
Over the 20 years or so my wife and I have been together, we have had "some" truly valuable discussions about her feelings and what she has even referred to as self-fulfilling prophecy to have a "bad marriage". After some of the talks, we get along better for a while, but she eventually falls back into the dis-respectful treatment and avoidance role that she plays so well. <br />
<br />
My heartache is in dealing with myself and how I feel that the love I devoted to her was a full commitment including helping her through life including all the bad... even if that means my desires are put on the back burner. I read one article on EP here discussing that kind of love. Some say it is self destructive to love that way, and some say it is the only way to love. Your article helps to at least bring into perspective some of the sources of and explanation for the personality traits that my wife exhibits.<br />
<br />
Thank you so much for the insightful and helpful article.

Thank you for your wonderful "story". <br />
<br />
There is much insight there, both into what makes us tick, but also our significant others, both towards intimacy, as well as away from it/us. As understanding is advanced, our choices increase, thereby empowering change, if so desired. <br />
<br />
This was a huge find for me. Many thanks.

maybe ...I will make a copy of that.comment..so I have it in writing..so if it ever comes up..i can say....uuh .uuh.. Enna says that is not true...see..look at this.it says so right here...<br />
<br />
hugs.

"You are WRONG Neui!!"<br />
<br />
Actually, I truly believe that you ARE wrong - because I think that the treatment which causes a person to be avoidant and reluctant to be involved in intimacy must occur in early childhood (probably in the first five years of life) for it to be a life long issue.<br />
<br />
I suspect many of us who survive a SM are cautious in our new relationships, and (if you are like Baz and I have been!) inclined to "over think" them, but I do not believe it would be enough to make you intimacy avoidant.<br />
<br />
I also believe that the very fact that you have LONGED for and wanted an intimate connection (that has been missing in your SM) is proof that this is NOT a part of who you are. There may be those for whom this is true (Ulae? I wonder if he would agree?), but for most of us I truly believe it is a non-issue.<br />
<br />
{{{Hugs}}} to Neui - and anyone else doubting their own capacity for intimate connection.

After reading all of this..and how the fear of rejection affects you and creates a fear of intimacy...I fear all of us here..will now have an intimacy problem, and end up joining the ranks of refusers...If your logic is correct..that is what should happen..it seems to me..you can't be rejected in so many ways, for so many years, and not have it affect you...<br />
<br />
tell me I am wrong Enna.....please...

I am quite sure I will turn refuser in any future relationship.

Because of fear, my friend . . . . ???

Not fear, not really. And I am already (counter, but who cares) refuser in the current marriage. No, the reason is that I dislike human sexuality because it has caused me and my wife (not "us") such grief. Now you might say "most or many women are more sexual beings than your wife" but, even if that is correct, I no longer have the time or assets or energy to explore. I accept that situation. I accept my dead sexuality. So (unlike my wife) I won't try to "win" partners as security or trophy. Unlike my wife, I own this 100%.

Wow, Richard, that is very insightful comment - and a consideration that had not occurred to me previously. I think you may very well be absolutely on target with this.<br />
<br />
As a "touchy feely" person I am often tempted to touch others when I'm talking to them or expressing my emotions in any way - and I mean here, in the public arena! But others are sometimes very reluctant to be touched or to be physically expressive. . . . which would correlate with what you have said.<br />
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Thanks so much for adding a valuable perspective to this topic - which I find fascinating!!

enna,<br />
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Thank you so much for yet another brilliant post which has successfully served to put me into thoughtful and analytical mode. <br />
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Whilst rationally theorizing on many traits and aspects of why our partners fear intimacy could it also be true that some of us just have an innate love of at least physical intimacy whilst others do not? Is there necessarily always a psychological reason if someone merely dislikes messy physical intimacy?<br />
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Could it be the case that our partners do not actually fear intimacy but just do not like it in the same way as we might not actually have liked kissing an older relative when we were children. <br />
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Is the default human condition necessarily that of loving intimacy or is there just a bell curve frequency describing our intimacy differences in exactly the same way as it describes our basic sexual desire, or height or IQ? We come back to the nurture or nature argument which can be used to explain nearly every human condition.<br />
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Thank you again enna for encouraging us to think about and seek answers and explanations for our partners behaviour.

This is very insightful! Thank you for taking the time to post this!

That made an awful lot real clear to me. Thank you, enna

My husband has dismissive avoidant attachment disorder. Life is hard and painful with him. I am with him and support him all the way. It is good to know the explanation for our problem. We found out after 6 years of marriage. But understanding is not helping to solve it. After a year of therapy, I can tell, even he wants so much to get better, and I support him, it is very difficult to heal. I actually not sure if there is any hope. We will wait and see.<br />
Thanks for shearing.

If it works for you to call your spouse "crazy", then I'm happy for you. If it works for you to separate sex and intimacy, I'm happy for you. If it works for you to deny something exists unless or until you have concrete "proof", I am happy for you. If it works for you to be suspicious and distrusting of modern psychology, I am happy for you. If it works for you to oppose all my posts for whatever reason, I am happy for you. <br />
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Why? Because I have no investment in "converting" people to "my" way of thinking. I am not seeking universal approbation or concensus. I am seeking to share my own thoughts, studies and reflections with others in similar situations. For some, these thoughts will resonate. They will see some connection between what I've written and what is happening for them. . . .<br />
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Others, like you AC, may never catch any glimpse of similarity. That concerns me not at all. If my post is not valid for YOU, that is immaterial IMO. I do not seek to invalidate your position, neither do I expect you to validate mine.<br />
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Our one similarity on ILIASM is the "sexless marriage" issue. The greatness of this forum lies largely in the thoughtful, considerate and carefully thought out contributions of its members. It does NOT lie in seeking to convert everyone to one view point. Nor is it a popularity contest. It is a place for widely disparate people with a complete spectrum of opinions to share those opinions. And for me, this has been a blessing above and beyond my greatest expectations.

DChamp, <br />
I never said that marital sex can not be intimate. It just does not have to be intimate or no more intimate than non-marital sex. <br />
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Enna, <br />
You are right. I am entitled to my opinion. Here is one more opinion: Refusing ****** is crazy. <br />
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Spouses who refuse sex because of a fear of intimacy are crazy because sex does not mandate intimacy. To put it a different way, our refusers still have the ability to enjoy an ****** whether it comes about with the contact of our flesh or not.

What a great post. Very insightful. I don't recognize any of these patterns in my fiancee, but a few of them in myself. I am very anxious about the idea of marriage, but here I am doing it anyway. I've looked into the idea of a therapist, but its just not in my budget right now. A few self help books have been really helpful but I wonder if that is enough?

How about you get off EP and come to bed and bang me silly !!!! ??????

Paco - Right on! I agree with you. I like reading about things that I could put to use in my own marriage. Enna did a great job posting this for us! Thanks so much Enna!

Well presented information. I'm glad to read a constructive story on this topic rather one which presents their partner as a demon.and or evil doer. Sadly, life is not that straightfoward. <br />
Thank you for offering a more balanced presentation of both sides. <br />
:)paco35

MR and AC, you are both entitled to your opinions that such information is of no value to you. I respect your rights to your opinions. MR, I recognise and appreciate that there comes a time when you no longer seek to understand. And AC, I suggest that the actions of your wife (as described above) are not entirely explainable by Fear of Intimacy. It would seem your wife has more serious mental health issues from the descriptions of her behaviour you have written.<br />
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LC, thank you for adding your most recent post!! I had read this article too and was considering adding it to my story . . . But I thought it might be a side issue for many on ILIASM.<br />
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However I DO believe there may well be a number of sexless marriages where your description fits most aptly. I know of certainty about one of these - and am sure there must be more.<br />
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I also think your post describes those spouses who are into **** excessively, or into on-line relationships rather than being with their spouses. The absence of true intimacy in these situations would allow the necessary sexual tension and excitement that truly "knowing" your partner prevents for these people.<br />
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Thank you so much to all who have commented that this is useful or interesting. I sincerely appreciate your comments. My contributions to ILIASM are NEVER intended to convert people to beliefs they cannot support, only to shine a light onto dark areas for everyone to consider. I do this purely because I am interested - and have suffered seriously in a SM - NOT from any position of expertise. For me, understanding my situation better helps me to cope with it better. And I'm seriously hoping these insights benefit my new relationship too.

So, let me get this straight: Marital sex MUST be intimate?? I guess that must be written somewhere in the psychologists cannon laws. <br />
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Now, all we need to do is ob<x>jectively delineate what constititutes intimacy from all other human actions. <br />
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I await the science but I have more confidence that That Messiah will arrive before that.

So..... some of our refusers are crazy. The average person on the street could have told us that. <br />
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This is interesting. Marital strife, nagging, being an ******* or a *****, etc. could all be directly caused by the spouse afflicted with Intimacy Aversion syndrome. Being nice and cordial tends to attract people. <br />
Can you think of a better way to avoid attracting a person than being an *******?? <br />
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Alternatively, maybe we are stuck with the bad actors.

I think that is veary true,and would recomend that you talk about this with your spose.if ur not sexuallly atracted to ur partner its not gunna work out

All of us have some of the issues that you outline in your very complete analysis. It is very helpful for us to learn what they are. We can induce change in a relationshio by recognizing the problems we bring to it. Psycho Analysis even if it were avalable is so extremely time consuming and expensive. Cognitive Behavioural therapy as developed by Beck also has a good record in bringing helpful insights and encouraging change.

Enna as I am sure you know all too well, you have described my STBX to a complete T. In fact, when I left, my husband told me straight out it was a self-fulfilling prophecy for him. I find it so utterly sad. Knowing all of this today tears at my heart. It makes me ask why? Why couldn't he have let me help him, why couldn't he have gone for help in the beginning when I begged and begged. <br />
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I know, it's all a mute point at this stage, but hurts like hell jus tthe same.<br />
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Thank you Enna for sharing and helping others.

Very interesting. I love reading up on human behavior. Fasinating things aren't we? lol

WOW.<br />
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Talk about hitting the nail on the head! So much of what you've researched applies to my refuser spouse.<br />
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THANK YOU!!!

Wow, Enna thank you so much for sharing that! I really enjoyed reading it. <br />
Yes, I do think that fear of intimacy could play a role in a lot of sexless marriages. At least I think it does somwehat play a role in mine. <br />
I'm going to try to remember this post in the future. Truly enlightening!

Enna, You are delightfully brilliant and I see hubby so clearly in your writing. I have a question for anyone who has read it - are you going to share this information with your spouse? Would you think it wise to do so or destructive to do so? <br />
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I would like to share it but I don't want to cause any more insecurity than already exists for him. However, I am not going to alter my life any more just so he can remain afraid - I think the time has come for him to realize the truth or for the marital situation to change/end. I don't want it to change - I love him a great deal but I need to love me too. Besides, batteries are getting expensive!

Interested in a PhD, Enna?? Fascinating, and one story I will refer to frequently. While it doesn't change the fact that we're sexless, it may well help me live with it better.<br />
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Laughing: That's why I will now have sex with a new partner right away...so I can be sure I don't develop avoidance (LOL)

wow, Enna, what a great analysis. <br />
What you write is so true. <br />
Thanks for setting the tone for the discussion.

It certainly could happen LA, altho it seems that we usually form this part of our personality when we are very young. An adult who has a healthy self esteem and finds him / herself in a sexless marriage might certainly suffer enough to make them very cautious about future relationships. But whether it would result in becoming a sexless spouse . . . ? I doubt it.

Very informative Enna and thank you again for writing a story that makes me think and also understand better how events happened the way they did in my life. Your constant sharing of information is an inspiration. D.

Thank you, Enna!! One of the best I've ever read!<br />
Princess Iswowed

Thank you very much.<br />
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That was extremely helpful for me. I'm glad you took the time to post it. Both my wife and I are very loving sensitive people, but I think we both have some of these characteristics.<br />
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Frank