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  • Writer's pictureSherri Elliott-Yeary

Are You a Pleasure Anorexic?

Are You A Pleasure Anorexic?

“Uhh—am I what? I ate lunch if that’s what you mean.”

Not what I mean. We’re not talking about eating disorders, but it’s the same concept. Anorexics don’t eat enough to meet their daily nutrition needs, and they may do this for a lot of reasons. Some of them truly do have low body image and think being slimmer will make them happy. Others are just looking for a small piece of their lives they can control.

What Is Pleasure Anorexia?

Pleasure anorexics deny themselves the pleasure required to have a happy and satisfying life. Maybe because they don’t believe they deserve happiness. They may have trauma buried in their muscles they aren’t ready to let go of. Some people may not even be conscious they are denying themselves pleasure. A lot of women have just been trained to make sure they’re meeting the needs of others, and this often results in not prioritizing their own needs.

Pleasure Anorexia Versus Sex Anorexia

Pleasure anorexic is a term I coined to describe myself because I was forty years old before I had my first orgasm. But pleasure anorexia goes deeper than that. We’re not just talking about the inability to enjoy sex, though that’s part of it. I struggled with my weight for a long time, because I was eating my emotions. I was eating more than enough, but that didn’t mean I was necessarily enjoying my life.

I was too preoccupied with work to focus on my needs or what would bring me pleasure.

Sex Anorexia is a term first used by Nathan Hare to describe people with a pathological aversion to sex. They may find pleasure in other areas of their lives. They just avoid sex. Meanwhile, a pleasure anorexic might be missing the joy in areas of their life unrelated to sex and sex but not actually have an aversion to sex. Ever heard of a woman faking an orgasm?

How Do I Know If I’m A Pleasure Anorexic?

When’s the last time you felt thrilled with pleasure? I don’t mean the piece of cake you tolerated at your nephew’s birthday last week, or a lunch out that was nice. When was the last time you were bursting with energy? “OMG! This is my day!”

If you can’t remember or you really had to think about it, maybe it’s time to take stock of the pleasure in your life.

How satisfied are you in the bedroom? And are you ecstatic or just satisfied? When you’re at a party or holiday meal are you laughing with your friends or are you behind the table serving and walking around the room trying to make sure everyone else has what they need?

My gut reaction is if you have to think about it, you could probably use more pleasure in your life. But if you’re looking for a way to determine if you’re a pleasure anorexic, keep a journal for a week. When you’re out with friends, having dinner with your family, or on a date night are you having fun? Are you really having fun or do you just feel like you should be?

Be mindful of it. And everyone has a bad day here and there, so if once or twice things that should spark joy, don’t that’s probably okay. But if nothing really brings you joy, that’s when it’s time to start looking for solutions.

What Causes Pleasure Anorexia?

Pleasure anorexia can have multiple causes, some as simple as the media messaging women are bombarded with that putting yourself first is “selfish” or “self-centered” and some as complicated as deeply rooted severe trauma.

For me, my pleasure anorexia started in my troubled childhood. I’m not sure if it was the childhood sexual abuse I endured from a relative or the deep abandonment issues I faced. My dad moved out to be with his girlfriend and I was later taken in by another family when they learned of the sexual abuse I experienced at home. It was probably a combination of my dad leaving, my mom being unable to protect me, and the relative abusing me. If your story is as complicated as this, there is hope once you work past the trauma.

But pleasure anorexia can have more mundane causes too and either way, you deserve a pleasure-filled life.

Overcoming Pleasure Anorexia

The best steps for overcoming pleasure anorexia are self-care and mindset work.

Having a healthy diet and exercise routine helps your body stay nourished. It’s hard to find pleasure in life when you’re not feeling your best physically. For a lot of women, self-care goes a long way towards building confidence, and confidence combats pleasure anorexia. When you’re not confident, you may not feel worthy of pleasure. Women still carry a lot of the mental load at home and now even work. If you’re not enjoying life because you’re over-scheduled, find ways to make time for yourself whether it be a massage, a fancy dinner, a night out, or a night in bed.

Even for the busiest of us, I don’t like having to “schedule” pleasure. That means life isn’t lighting you up, so it might be time to try something new.

If you’re doing all these things and still not finding pleasure in your life, it’s time for mindset work.

Mindset work is difficult, and you don’t have to do it alone. Give me a call, and I’ll coach you through this.

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