How Anorexia Affected My Sex Life

For years I only had one lover: anorexia. Then I stared dating the man who is now my husband, and anorexia got in the way of our lives together. No matter how my husband pushed and prodded, anorexia fought harder. I knew all of the horrible statistics, all of the detrimental effects of this disease, and so did my husband.

I thought marriage would save me. I can admit that now. And for a short time, it almost seemed to be true. My dreams all seemed to be falling into place. Then we got back from the honeymoon and returned to work, and everything started falling apart.

My husband and I joke that we share the same brain. We often finish each other’s sentences, or say something and one or the other of us exclaims, “I was just going to say that!” We like a lot of the same foods, and enjoy the same odd and quirky sense of humor. All of these things are not enough to hold a marriage together, obviously. We did our best to keep things fun during the early days, and we still do. Two years ago, I was happy. We were happy. Until we weren’t.

It’s taken a long time for me to see through the fog and storms, to finally admit that love simply wasn’t enough. We could have the best day together, my husband and I; and yet going to bed after a mere chaste kiss was obviously affecting both of us deeply.

My husband often tried to talk to me about intimacy, and I shrugged him off. Not only was it a sore subject for me because of never talking about it with anyone else, but also because in the midst of restriction and body image issues, I never wanted to be intimate. Emotionally, I feared attachment. Physically, I flinched at his lightest touch. We were at a loss.

I felt horrible about avoiding my husband. Many nights I would pretend to be asleep when he came to bed, to avoid feeling like even more of a failure. This went on for over a year, living with an elephant in the room.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

Sex. It’s everywhere. In movies, books, the media. I hated seeing those scenes in movies, they only seemed to reiterate my own problems. It was hard to sit there next to my husband and watch an image of a couple doing the things we never even attempted anymore.

I felt a wave of relief wash over me when I went to the doctor and she told me to abstain from sex. Now I had an excuse, a doctors order! I was at the doctor for my first appointment of many, in an attempt to get help and recover from anorexia. The doctor told me to avoid sex because of the slight chance I might get pregnant, and not be able to carry the baby to term.

I told my husband the doctors “orders” and for months, we barely kissed. In fact, I moved out of our house and into a cottage a few blocks away. I didn’t talk about it, but my sex drive was dead and I was stressed to the max.

Over time, I gained weight and became less depressed. Finally one night, I was ready. Neither of us had to say a word, we just knew. This is only my side of the story, with few details, but I hope someday it will help another woman who is in a simile predicament. Things can, and do, change.

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