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Healthy Sex Life vs. Chronic Intimacy Disorder

Intimacy disorders are widely misunderstood, especially because there is no official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Intimacy disorder refers to a person’s inability to form close interpersonal bonds with other human beings. This can manifest in troubles with being vulnerable or truthful, both with romantic partners and other people such as friends, relatives and children.

What are the signs of an intimacy disorder?

People struggling with an intimacy disorder may display the following symptoms:

  • Erratic sexual behavior
  • Withdrawal from social activity
  • Inability to form bonds with other people
  • Jumping from relationship to relationship

What does a healthy sex life look like?

Conversely, a healthy sex life has the following characteristics:

  • Open communication
  • Honesty
  • Ability to express emotions
  • Healthy boundaries
  • Consistency

Since intimacy disorders aren’t defined by the DSM, they can be difficult to categorize in a cut-and-dry manner. In talking with a therapist, individuals will need to explain their experiences and feelings to understand whether their relationship is “normal” or they may be struggling with an intimacy disorder. Like other mental health issues, an intimacy disorder can put a person’s life and relationships into disarray and often stems from early life trauma. Intimacy disorders may take many forms, including an addiction to sex, love or pornography. Even without an official medical definition, there are treatment programs that specialize in identifying and addressing intimacy disorders and helping people build healthy, gratifying relationships.

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