One of the most important aspects of a marriage and a committed relationship is emotional and sexual intimacy.
For the great majority of us in our love relationship, we want to have our partner as our primary emotional partner as well as our only sexual partner.
That means not only do we commit to being sexually exclusive with our partner, but we also share more about ourselves with our partner than with anyone else, and we assume that our partner also wants to do the same.
For most people, this shared intimacy is some of the most core and important aspects of being in a loving relationship. It is the lifeblood of our relationship.
In the courtship phase of any relationship, there is usually much time spent in getting to know each other, and sharing personal details of all sorts, including life dreams, interests, along with past painful experiences and emotions.
However, after the honeymoon, or after you have moved in together, over time some people start retreating from this intimacy, keeping more and more to themselves emotionally, and sometimes sexually, with a resultant deteriorating of the closeness and vitality of the relationship and bond.
Doug Weiss, a US Psychologist, believes that Intimacy With-holders actively withhold both emotional and sexual intimacy from their partner in order to make themselves safe, distant, or in control.
This can take the form of forming many other superficial connections with others outside the relationship, and seeming to give intimacy to strangers and friends while withholding it from their partner.
It can be with-holding compliments, praise, affection and joyful times together from your partner.
It can involve leaving at the first sign of unhappiness or conflict.
It can be refusing to talk about issues.
It can take the form of giving your partner the silent treatment for hours or days.
A partner can deny they are sexual or engage in as little of themselves as possible when making love.
They can punish their partner by refusing to have sex with them.
They can make sex only about the physical aspects and not connect on an emotional level. (one dimensional sex)
The following are ways we can withhold intimacy and closeness from each other.
1. Busy - Staying so busy with work, volunteering, video games, internet, books, outside relationships, gardening etc that you have little time for your partner
2. Blame - When issues come up your first reflex or response is to blame your partner
3. Love - Withholding love from your partner when you know how they have asked to be loved
4. Praise - Withholding praise from your partner
5. Sex - Withholding sex from your partner or not being present during sex
6. Spiritual - Withholding spiritual connection from your partner
7. Feelings - Being unwilling or unable to share your authentic feelings with your partner
8. Anger/Silence - Using anger or the silent treatment to control your partner
9. Criticism - Having ongoing or ungrounded criticism (spoken or unspoken) towards your partner
10. Money - Controlling or shaming your partner regarding money or spending
To be an Intimacy With-holder you only need to have five of these characteristics. Not all intimacy with-holders have all ten; however, you will have your particular core characteristics to withhold from your partner.
Doug Weiss has found that many who withhold intimacy from their partner may also have an active Sexual/Porn Addiction.
This usually occurs because their core problem is Emotional Withholding, but they still want sex. So the kind of sex they go looking for is disconnected from their relationship. It is not intimacy or making love. It is sex as a separate entity.
By acting out with themselves through porn, masturbation, fantasy, lusting, objectifying, or with others, as in prostitutes, they can avoid having to be intimate with their partner.
Alternatively someone who withholds intimacy in their primary relationship may cut off their sexual side altogether, suffer from low to no libido, and not allow any pleasure to be enjoyed personally or inter-personally.
If you feel either you or your partner have developed an avoidance of intimacy, come and see us for how to understand why and to rebuild the intimacy you once had.
You will find that your relationship will become much closer, more alive, more vibrant and spirited.
Please get in touch with us if you find you or your partner need some help with these things. Our relationship Psychologists in Sydney and all other capital and large regional cities in Australia can help you today.