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Old 07-27-2013, 11:42 AM #1
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Default Living with Sexual Anorexia

So, I've had Sexual Anorexia ever since I was first capable of sexual feeling. If you're unfamiliar with the term, it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like, trying to "starve" myself of my sex drive. I have sexual impulses just like most anybody else but I wish more than anything that I could get rid of them because, to me, sexuality is something that is utterly vile and unwelcome.
Psychcentral has an article with more detail. If you're curious, a Google search of the term can tell you a lot.

This has, naturally, had a heavy effect on my life beyond things that are strictly sexual. Therapy has helped me with a lot of these issues but one in particular remains unresolved.
At almost 21 years of age I've never had a relationship with a girl. I get along fine with girls and I'm not nervous around them or anything. In fact, there where one or two girls in high school that I really liked. But having sexual anorexia means that while the idea my me being sexually active is already repugnant, the concept of being sexual with some I feel emotionally connected to is even worse.
I have always recognized that my views and feelings on sexually are in a minority to say the least. It took me awhile, but I no longer judge other people for acting on and embracing their natural impulses.
Therein lies my problem. I know that for almost everyone else, sex is supposed to be a high point of a relationship. I don't blame others for feeling this way but my own feelings are almost the exact opposite. It's for that reason that I have always either let the opportunity for a real relationship pass me by or, in other cases, actively avoided situations where a relationship might develop.

I would either have to come right out at the very beginning and tell a girl about my sexual anorexia or keep it quiet and only bring it up when things start looking like their leading to sex. Either way, sooner or later, the message would be the same: "I really like/love you. And it's for that very reason that I can't have sex with you." It would be awkward. Really awkward.

So, my question here is this: How would do you think someone would react to news like that?
I'm of the opinion that the revelation would be difficult at best. I am fully aware that for most, sex is a normal, even defining, part of a relationship. I don't like it, I don't agree with it, but I get it. I've always thought that it would be better for myself and any potential romantic interest if I just kept things away from relationship territory. Keeping things in the "friend zone," if you will. That way nobody expects something of me that I can't give.

But the thing is, I really want a relationship.
Some part of me craves the kind of emotional companionship you only find in a significant other. I just don't any sex!
A hand to hold, a strong hug, a kiss. These are the only things I could ever ask for. I'm really a hopeless romantic at heart. I guess I'm just scarred that no girl is ever really going to understand what it's like for me to see sex as something so wicked.
And even if they did, I could never hold someone to make that kind of sacrifice just for me. I'd probably end up encouraging them to find someone else who's normal and can give them what they want.

I'm very happy with my life. I've got a circle of good friends and a loving family. I've made some hard choices that I'm very proud of.
I've got some other issues, who doesn't? I've gone back to therapy to sort out some of the more unpleasant facets of living with something you wish you weren't. But other than that, I'd say I'm doing pretty good.

But this issue is never far from me. I'm constantly thinking about it. Therapy's great, but talking to one person can only get you so far. So I really appreciate any advice, words of wisdom, words of quasi-wisdom, words that wish they had wisdom, or even just plain words!
Thanks guys.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:38 PM #2
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Default Re: Living with Sexual Anorexia

AppalachianAxis, I've never written on PC about this topic because it is so personal...but, you have given me the courage to try. I admire your honesty.

I've always had problems with sex but there was a short time I sorta enjoyed it--I still had my limits. Many years ago I started taking meds that completely eliminated my sex drive. As time progressed I began to feel repulsed by sex. Not too long ago I had a dream about a sexual activity and I woke up startled and completely grossed out. Any thoughts about sex make me feel unclean and I don't want to have anything to do with it.

I'm lucky--I've had a boyfriend for many years and he has been very understanding about my situation and feelings. Recently I changed my shirt in front of him and that seemed...well, okay. He has been patient with me and says he'll wait until I'm ready. By that he means any type of sexual activity--even if we never have sex he is willing to compromise and do whatever I feel comfortable with...he says baby steps. Changing my shirt in front of him was a little baby step.

I don't know if this writing has helped you any. Although our stories are a little different I can really relate to a lot of your feelings. I hope both of us can wrok things out as best as we possibly can.....take care....D.
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Old 08-01-2013, 01:59 PM #3
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Default Re: Living with Sexual Anorexia

Perhaps you could date an asexual, another person who has no desire for sex?
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Old 08-01-2013, 05:49 PM #4
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Default Re: Living with Sexual Anorexia

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Originally Posted by DePressMe View Post
AppalachianAxis, I've never written on PC about this topic because it is so personal...but, you have given me the courage to try. I admire your honesty.

I've always had problems with sex but there was a short time I sorta enjoyed it--I still had my limits. Many years ago I started taking meds that completely eliminated my sex drive. As time progressed I began to feel repulsed by sex. Not too long ago I had a dream about a sexual activity and I woke up startled and completely grossed out. Any thoughts about sex make me feel unclean and I don't want to have anything to do with it.

I'm lucky--I've had a boyfriend for many years and he has been very understanding about my situation and feelings. Recently I changed my shirt in front of him and that seemed...well, okay. He has been patient with me and says he'll wait until I'm ready. By that he means any type of sexual activity--even if we never have sex he is willing to compromise and do whatever I feel comfortable with...he says baby steps. Changing my shirt in front of him was a little baby step.

I don't know if this writing has helped you any. Although our stories are a little different I can really relate to a lot of your feelings. I hope both of us can wrok things out as best as we possibly can.....take care....D.
Thank you very much for sharing what is clearly a very personal subject. I'm glad I was able to inspire someone!

What you describe, feeling repulsed and unclean by sexual thoughts, describes me very accurately. Only whereas you are able to point to a time in your life where this aversion developed, I've felt this way about sexuality my entire life. There has never been a point for me in my life where I was okay with the concept of being sexually active.

This might be a little too personal for some, but I even distinctly remember my first "wet dream" occurring to a bad nightmare. My relationship with my own sexuality really never improved much from there.

You're very lucky to have such an understanding companion, and for so long! Stories like yours remind me that I should try to remember that the world is full of kind, compassionate, and understanding people. I shouldn't give up hope of finding one such person myself.
I envy your ability to take baby steps, something I know I can't ever do. Sexual contact with another person is so soundly and resolutely off the table for me. That's something I just don't know if I can ask someone else to accept.

Thanks again for your input!
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:09 PM #5
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Default Re: Living with Sexual Anorexia

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Originally Posted by Secretum View Post
Perhaps you could date an asexual, another person who has no desire for sex?
Perhaps I could. That might even be the ideal solution.

But I myself don't necessarily have "no desire" for sex. As a matter of fact, at the age of 21, I've got quite a bit more desire for sex that I would like. My problem is that I've got these hormones raging around my head, clouding my thinking, and compelling me to do something that I don't want to do.
I imagine it's just like having a drug addiction. When the hormones get going, I know somewhere in the back of my head that I shouldn't be acting on this impulse, that I've done it a thousand times before and it hasn't ever made me feel anything other than miserable.
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:46 PM #6
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Default Re: Living with Sexual Anorexia

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppalachianAxis View Post
Perhaps I could. That might even be the ideal solution.

But I myself don't necessarily have "no desire" for sex. As a matter of fact, at the age of 21, I've got quite a bit more desire for sex that I would like. My problem is that I've got these hormones raging around my head, clouding my thinking, and compelling me to do something that I don't want to do.
I imagine it's just like having a drug addiction. When the hormones get going, I know somewhere in the back of my head that I shouldn't be acting on this impulse, that I've done it a thousand times before and it hasn't ever made me feel anything other than miserable.
I am not sure that the hormones are clouding your thinking. It seems that the opposite is the case: your thinking is clouded without the hormones, and the hormones attempt to un-cloud your thinking.

Because, look - food anorexia is lethal in - what, 10% of cases? So it is a potentially fatal illness.

Sexual anorexia is not as fatal, but still - how come you are comparing sexuality with a drug addiction? Sex is necessary for procreation, but drugs are not. On the continuum:
- food is the most necessary thing
- drugs are not necessary at all
- sex is in-between the two

Underlined in the quote are things that show that you seem to be consciously against your sexuality. You are trying to ration your desire. Food anorexics ration the intake, but not the appetite (unless they go to the extremes of taking appetite suppressants). You attempt to control yourself in deeper ways than food anorexics attempt to control themselves.

It seems that the issue has received very little attention because the wikipedia article offers precious little information, but from what it does state, the therapeutic goals of treating sexual anorexia include the progression towards actual sex. So...maybe this is something for the future, perhaps distant future? Maybe something to look forward to, without rushing your therapeutic process? The ultimate goal in treating food anorexia is not just patient's gaining a bit of weight to avoid death by malnourishment, but the patient's ability to actually ENJOY food. If indeed sexual anorexia is akin to food anorexia (as the name suggests), then your ultimate goal is ENJOYING sex.
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Old 08-02-2013, 09:05 AM #7
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Default Re: Living with Sexual Anorexia

Hamster, thank you very much for taking the time to write such an extensive response!

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamster-bamster View Post
I am not sure that the hormones are clouding your thinking. It seems that the opposite is the case: your thinking is clouded without the hormones, and the hormones attempt to un-cloud your thinking.

While I don't completely disagree with you, I'd say that this is a matter of personal opinion and perspective. I easily see how someone who has a normal relationship with their own sexuality would come to the same conclusion you do. However, acting on my sexual impulses has never made me feel anything less than terrible, so you can see how I come into my own conclusion about when I have a clear head.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hamster-bamster View Post
Because, look - food anorexia is lethal in - what, 10% of cases? So it is a potentially fatal illness.

Sexual anorexia is not as fatal, but still - how come you are comparing sexuality with a drug addiction? Sex is necessary for procreation, but drugs are not. On the continuum:
- food is the most necessary thing
- drugs are not necessary at all
- sex is in-between the two

Honestly, I never saw this issue as something that would end up being lethal like food anorexia.

It was in fact my old T who likened the experiences I explained to her as a "drug addiction." I only make the analogy because that's how it feels to me, I didn't mean to belittle serious drug addictions or anything like that!
It's just like you said. Contrary to what many people have tried to tell me, sex is not a necessity like food, water, or air. Sex is very strictly a want. I should have the willpower to not act on that want. But I so often don't, and that really gets to me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hamster-bamster View Post
Underlined in the quote are things that show that you seem to be consciously against your sexuality. You are trying to ration your desire. Food anorexics ration the intake, but not the appetite (unless they go to the extremes of taking appetite suppressants). You attempt to control yourself in deeper ways than food anorexics attempt to control themselves.

No argument there. I AM consciously against my sexuality and I have been my whole life.
If could just snap my fingers and have my sex drive vanish forever, I would do it. Lacking that particular option I am instead trying to do just as you say, ration my desire.
I'm trying to do this step-by-step. It's embarrassing to write, but I'm trying to stop looking at porn at all and only masturbating on a fixed schedule. I know that's weird, but it helps me feel like I'm in control of my sex drive, instead of it controlling me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hamster-bamster View Post
It seems that the issue has received very little attention because the wikipedia article offers precious little information, but from what it does state, the therapeutic goals of treating sexual anorexia include the progression towards actual sex. So...maybe this is something for the future, perhaps distant future? Maybe something to look forward to, without rushing your therapeutic process? The ultimate goal in treating food anorexia is not just patient's gaining a bit of weight to avoid death by malnourishment, but the patient's ability to actually ENJOY food. If indeed sexual anorexia is akin to food anorexia (as the name suggests), then your ultimate goal is ENJOYING sex.
It's true that there's not much info available on the subject that isn't just the same article recirculated. I guess that's because it's a fairly rare condition. that, and a lot of people just don't seem to want to believe such a thing as sexual anorexia exists for whatever reason. I've got my fair share of dismissive and insincere replies when I reveal this part of myself to other people. Even from my own family.

I should not deal in absolutes, but I'll say that I can't ever see myself enjoying sex. Asking me to enjoy sex is like asking someone to enjoy, I don't know, doing something truly horrible and immoral. I know that the act in and of itself is not so, but that's just how it feels to me.
I'm so desperately opposed to my own sexuality that right now it'll be a huge step for me if I can learn to simply tolerate having a sex drive at all.

Thank you again for your insightful comment, I truly appreciate all the help I can get.
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Old 08-02-2013, 12:21 PM #8
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I'm afraid I don't fully understand, but I want to. What I gathered from what you are saying is that you physically want to have sex but you do not allow yourself to participate in sexual activity.

For me, I'm scared of sex. I have no issue with masturbation, but the idea of being physically close with someone else scares me. I'm afraid to get undressed and I'm afraid of a man touching me. I really want to get over that fear because I do want to have sex, but right now I am scared of it. I read online that sexual anorexia is suppressing your sex drive to gain a sense of control and is often a result of the fear of intimacy that I expressed. Is it like a fear of intimacy that you justified by saying that you don't need sex? Do you feel the same way about masturbation? Do you feel like having sex is a sign of a lack of self control? Do you have any idea what is making you feel so shameful about this?

Regardless, I hope you are seeing someone about this because sex is a natural, healthy part of of life and even if you never have sex, you can't will away your sex drive. That will always be a part of you and I hope you can make peace with it.
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Old 08-02-2013, 12:39 PM #9
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Default Re: Living with Sexual Anorexia

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I read online that sexual anorexia is suppressing your sex drive to gain a sense of control
There is a common take in literature on food anorexia - food anorexia is explained as an attempt of exercise the ultimate control over something that (usually young women) do have control over, in the absence of the ability to exercise control over other aspects of their lives.
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Old 08-02-2013, 12:42 PM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hamster-bamster View Post
There is a common take in literature on food anorexia - food anorexia is explained as an attempt of exercise the ultimate control over something that (usually young women) do have control over, in the absence of the ability to exercise control over other aspects of their lives.
Is that not the case with food anorexia? I've experienced the "opposite" of food anorexia so I wouldn't really know. Binge eating was kinda a control thing for me. It was mostly a coping skill like SI. I guess there are many different explanations for every different sufferer.
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