Boulder Recovery Blog

Understanding Intimacy Disorders Definition and Examples

Life can be pretty lonely if you have an intimacy disorder. Your disorder doesn’t allow you to truly get close to others. You keep your emotions guarded and people at arm’s length. But you can overcome this loneliness and lack of true connection with intimacy disorder treatment and coping strategies. 

Understanding Intimacy Disorders: Definition and Examples

Intimacy is “a close, familiar, and usually affectionate relationship with another person or group.” True intimacy allows us to feel seen, known, and accepted, and to provide that to one another. An intimacy disorder is the inability to be close to someone else and the feeling of acting within a fake persona rather than an authentic self. There are also various intimacy disorders since there are numerous ways to be intimate with someone else. Most, if not all, intimacy disorders can be tied back to unresolved past trauma.

Types of trauma that can cause intimacy disorders include:

  • Physical Trauma. Physical abuse by a stranger or someone you know well.
  • Emotional Trauma. There are many types of emotional trauma, including negativity, belittling, and the constant presence of high-stress levels. 
  • Sexual Trauma. A stranger or someone you know can perpetrate this unwanted sexual contact. 
  • Betrayal Trauma. Being betrayed by a person you trust. The betrayed person may doubt their judgment and ultimately not trust anyone else anymore. This outcome may also be a byproduct of any of the above types of trauma.

While you might think sex addiction is the only kind of intimacy disorder possible, there are multiple classifications that can afflict people. Most of them stem from past trauma.

Other types of intimacy disorders include:

  • Sexual Anorexia. This disorder is an obsessiveness with avoiding sex. It involves a common history of trauma and toxic relationships with a parent.
  • Love Avoidance. Marked by a desire to stay in control of the frequency and intensity of emotional connection, this intimacy disorder is indicated by exhibiting a “bachelor for life” persona, as well as many intense on-and-off relationships.
  • Love Addiction. Those with this type of intimacy disorder can’t balance being smothered or abandoned by a partner. Unfortunately, they tend to select an unhealthy partner because healthy relationships can cause them anxiety.
  • Sex Addiction. Like sexual anorexia, this intimacy disorder can stem from a history of trauma or toxic relationships. It drives a person to constantly seek sexual gratification to overcome or cope with negative emotions.

Intimacy Disorder Treatment and Coping Strategies

Intimacy Disorder Treatment and Coping Strategies

Now that we’ve defined intimacy disorders and discussed those conditions caused by adverse experiences and trauma, it’s time to turn toward what’s possible and how to work toward healing and recovery.

Coping strategies to consider:

  • Find Places in Your Life to be Authentic. Find a safe person or group to talk with about the feelings of loneliness and isolation where you can feel supported and heard.
  • Turn Toward Jesus. Intimacy disorders often affect your relationship with God, causing you to see him as cold and distant or dangerous and wrathful. Examine this, am I projecting my traumas onto God? If so, engage with the Jesus as he represented in the Gospels. Meditate on the Parable of the Prodigal Son or the redemption of Peter after his three denials. How does Jesus really feel about those who struggle? 
  • Have Some Self-Compassion. Think about yourself as a child. What did they want? Who did they want to be? What kind of relationships did they need? Have compassion for the child. You can learn to care for yourself now as adult in ways that were impossible then. 
  • Look At Your Past. If you can, think about a simpler, more pleasant time before an intimacy disorder took hold. Whether it’s the earliest days of a wonderful relationship with a loved one or your faith in Jesus Christ, remind yourself of what you had, how you felt, how good life was, and how it could be again.
  • Set Goals and Review Them. Take stock of your situation, setting and regularly reviewing your goals for your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Remember that you should use your goals as things to strive for. You need to work on your mental and physical health and your relationship with God.

But you don’t have to limit yourself solely to coping strategies for an intimacy disorder, especially if you’ve tried repeatedly to no avail to manage it. Professionals are waiting to help you. You just have to ask.

Intimacy disorder treatments include:

  • Group Therapies and Support Groups. You can find a men’s group for discussing and dealing with intimacy issues to help you communicate your concerns with others who are also recovering.
  • Speaking with a Pastor. Though clergy specialize in helping people draw closer to God, many of them also have specialized training in dealing with relationship and family issues. And if your pastor doesn’t have that training, most likely, they can recommend a professional counselor who does. 
  • Professional Treatment. You can seek help from a mental health professional through regular counseling sessions or a residential treatment program to help you cope with unresolved trauma and heal your intimacy disorder.

Willpower can help you deal with your problems, but it can only take you so far. You don’t have to deal with your issues alone. There’s no shame in reaching out for help.

How Boulder Recovery Can Help

Boulder Recovery is here to offer the help you need. We’re a Christ-centered, Scripture-based, and clinically innovative men’s program specializing in treating intimacy disorders.

With our 14-Day Men’s Intensive, you’ll be able to address the trauma that can cause various intimacy disorders by learning techniques to help heal trauma and attachment issues.

You should have no fear or shame in reaching out for help. Get in touch with Boulder Recovery to begin your road to healthy relationships.

  • Category: Relationships
  • By Lawrence Buddoo
  • October 14, 2022

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