2. Symptoms of intimacy avoidance

Some of us have experienced the avoidance of sex as addictive, in some cases choosing to identify as “sexual anorexics”…afraid of sex because of its association in our minds with our addiction or with past sexual trauma, or because of a fear of intimacy and vulnerability. Trying to control our sexuality in this way is just another symptom of our disease. The solution lies in turning our will and lives over to the care of our Higher Power.

— Sex Addicts Anonymous, p. 72

Return to ISA landing page

Symptoms some of us have experienced include but are not limited to:

  1. Practicing avoidance of sexual thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  2. Obsessive sexual thoughts (about having sex and/or avoiding it).
  3. A feeling that our sexuality is inherently bad and something we should feel ashamed of and guilty about.
  4. Pretending that flirtation and sexual advances aren’t really happening to us and acting uninterested purely based on fear of taking risks.
  5. A pattern of sex and relationships with active sex addicts and/or other unavailable people.
  6. A pattern of addictive sexual behavior (acting out), followed by a pattern of compulsive sexual avoidance (acting in).
  7. Extreme fear of combining emotional intimacy with sexuality.
  8. Finding fault or starting fights with a spouse or partner to avoid sexual relations.
  9. Being emotionally unavailable – in sexual and non-sexual relationships.
  10. Only socializing in groups to avoid one-on-one relationships.
  11. Avoiding social situations altogether due to extreme discomfort.
  12. Only being sexual in non-intimate situations.
  13. An inability to accept nurturing and care from ourselves, our Higher Power, and others.
  14. An inability to trust and rely on others, believing that people will always let us down and it is safer if we just do things on our own.
  15. The compulsive use of masturbation, with fantasy and/or pornography, as a way to avoid intimacy with others, and prevent sexual abandonment.
  16. Mistaking compulsive sexual avoidance for recovery and/or healthy sexuality.
  17. Preferring fantasy over interacting with the people in our lives; so much that fantasy creates a wall between ourselves and the real world.
  18. Hiding the joys and pains of our life from people we know and trust, due to self-pity, false pride, and/or fear.

(Intimacy Avoidance – Another Aspect of Sex Addiction)

This list contains just a few symptoms and is not meant to be diagnostic.  Each person must determine their own pattern of intimacy avoidant behaviors, preferably with the help of a sponsor or others in the SAA program.

Return to ISA landing page