Alexandra Katehakis, MFT, CSAT, CST is a Senior Fellow at Gentle Path at The Meadows. The following is an excerpt from her book “Mirror of Intimacy: Daily Reflections on Emotional and Erotic Intelligence.” You can find it at www.TheMeadowsBookstore.com or on www.Amazon.com.

Withholding love or sex is psychological abuse and results from early trauma. Withholding is altogether different from not having sex or not reciprocating love. People don’t have sex for many reasons. They might be traumatized. They might suffer from sexual dysfunction. They might be practicing self-care and setting appropriate boundaries for them. They might even be engaging in the political act of a sex strike in an effort to enact social change. There are equally many reasons why people might not reciprocate love. But to withhold sex or love as a punishment is a different matter altogether, and is always the result of learned emotional or mental abuse. Manipulating loved ones might appear to be a thought-out strategy, but it’s always compulsive.

Withholding exemplifies how deeply we hurt ourselves when we try to hurt others, and how deeply hurt so many of us have been. The phrase, “This hurts me more than it hurts you” (commonly uttered before corporeal punishment), is actually true. A caregiver doling out physical pain literally experiences the punishment along with the person they are hurting. Unfortunately, s/he is also reinforcing a psychological pattern that brings psychic agony and isolation. Likewise, those who purposefully withhold love or sex certainly feel the pain of isolation from their actions.

Like any addiction or compulsion, such habitual behavior doesn’t just disappear. Because withholding is often masked in denial, it can be difficult to confront. Withholding is a very human quality; most of us at one time have given and received “the silent treatment.” Since most solutions to human troubles involve caring, attention, and love, to withhold means to deny solutions. Such withholding is probably a leading factor in many personal, social, and global conflicts.

Help for Sex Addiction and Intimacy Issues

If you’re a man who’s struggling with sexual compulsions or intimacy issues, the Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows offers 5-day workshops which may help you break free from self-destructive behaviors and strengthen your relationship with your partner or spouse. The Men’s Sexual Recovery Workshop helps participants to address sexual obsessions and compulsions, broaden their views about sexuality, maintain positive relationships and avoid the harmful patterns of the past.

In A Man’s Way™ Retreat you learn how The Man Rules™ affect all your relationships with others and yourself. You will also look at how past experiences affect your ability to be present in your relationships and stand as a healthy man in the space you have created for your life.

And, for those who need a more comprehensive treatment experience for complex sexual addiction and intimacy issues, The Meadows Outpatient Center offers a Sex Addiction Intensive Outpatient Program, and Gentle Path at the Meadows offers a 45-day inpatient treatment program based on the work of world-renowned expert Dr. Patrick Carnes, who is also a Senior Fellow at The Meadows.

For more information on these programs and many others call The Meadows at 800-244-4949.