Are You Starved for Closeness? 15 Ways Women Suffer Without Intimacy

Intimacy is like oxygen for the female soul, yet so many women today are gasping for air. 

A lack of affection, physical touch, and emotional closeness takes a toll on women in ways that often go unrecognized. 

From increased anxiety and depression to low self-esteem and chronic loneliness, women suffer profoundly when deprived of intimate connections. 

This intimacy deficit impacts women across all ages and stages of life.

What Are the Different Types of Intimacy in a Relationship?

Intimacy comes in many forms in a romantic relationship. 

While sex is often equated with intimacy, true closeness goes far beyond the physical to include emotional and intellectual connections as well. 

man sitting on bed woman looking away what lack of intimacy does to a woman

The different types of intimacy include:

  • Physical intimacy – This refers to any affectionate, sensual, or sexual behaviors between partners, including kisses, caresses, cuddling, hand-holding, etc. Physical touch triggers the release of oxytocin, the “love hormone” that promotes bonding.
  • Emotional intimacy – Also known as psychological intimacy, this involves building trust, vulnerability, and empathy. Partners open up to each other, share feelings, and provide emotional support.
  • Intellectual intimacy – Known as cognitive intimacy, this means engaging each other's minds through meaningful conversation, sharing ideas, exploring common interests, and problem-solving together.
  • Experiential intimacy – Doing new things together and sharing experiences helps build closeness. Novel activities stimulate dopamine and create bonding moments.
  • Spiritual intimacy – For some couples, connecting through shared faith, values, and beliefs can foster deep intimacy.

True intimacy weaves together all these types of connections over time. 

It expands partners' interdependence and makes their relationship more meaningful.

What Does Lack of Intimacy Do to a Woman? 15 Ways Women Suffer

Intimacy is essential for a woman's health and well-being. 

When physical affection, emotional connection, and social support are lacking, women suffer in profound ways. 

Here are 15 specific issues women may experience when intimacy needs go unfulfilled:

1. Increased Stress and Anxiety

Living without intimacy activates the body's threat response, keeping women in a constant state of stress. The lack of oxytocin and natural relaxation that come from physical closeness causes anxiety levels to remain high. Women deprived of intimacy often struggle with racing thoughts, worry, and feeling on edge. 

Without affectionate touch and emotional security from a bonded partner, the mind perceives isolation as a danger. This triggers the release of cortisol and adrenaline, leading to chronic stress. Physical affection from a trusted partner is calming; without it, women experience none of the usual stress relief. The ongoing anxiety can result in panic attacks, insomnia, muscle tension, headaches, and other stress-related disorders.

2. Higher Risk of Depression 

Humans are wired for social connections. Without sufficient intimate bonds with their partner, women become vulnerable to loneliness and isolation. This detachment from others increases the risk of major depressive disorder. Women lacking intimacy are more likely to experience prolonged sadness, loss of interest in life, and hopelessness about the future.

The emotional neglect that comes from a lack of intimacy mimics loss and grief. With no empathetic partner to listen and provide support, feelings of sadness accumulate without relief. Isolated women may withdraw further from social contact, leading to a downward spiral of depressive symptoms. 

3. Lower Self-Esteem

Intimacy provides external validation that boosts self-worth. When women lack affirming words and physical affection from a partner, they can begin to feel insecure and inadequate. Emotional neglect may lead women to criticize their own appearance and competency. Over time, a lack of intimacy can diminish self-confidence. 

When a partner is no longer engaged, women are deprived of the mirroring effect that comes from adoration. The indifference can feel like rejection, breeding self-doubt. She is left without the intimacy that helps counter society's unrealistic beauty standards. As a result, her body image suffers. She may also question her talents and intelligence without supportive feedback. This gradual erosion of self-esteem takes a heavy psychological toll.

4. Increased Jealousy and Suspicion 

When couples stop sharing thoughts, feelings, and experiences, mistrust can grow. Women may become preoccupied with what their partner is doing without them. Lack of transparency and communication with their partner can cause women to imagine infidelity or deception. They may become jealous over benign interactions.

man on computer woman frustrated trying to talk to him what lack of intimacy does to a woman

When intimacy disappears at home, women assume their partner must be getting that connection elsewhere. Insecurity breeds jealousy as she monitors his friendships, texts, and social media for signs he has become involved with someone new. Even harmless exchanges may be perceived as threats without reassurance gained through intimacy.

5. Greater Substance Abuse Risk

In the absence of natural feel-good chemicals from intimacy, women may turn to unhealthy habits like alcohol, drugs, smoking, or overeating. Self-medication helps numb the emotional pain of isolation but carries long-term health risks. Women lacking sobriety support from a partner are more prone to addiction. 

The comfort of physical closeness and loving words releases endorphins that organically improve mood. When lacking this intimacy, women lose their main source of happiness. Unhealthy substances that stimulate feel-good neurochemicals serve as a substitute to fill the emotional void. Enabling partners may further entrench addictive behaviors. 

6. Compromised Immune System

Research shows intimate relationships support immune function. Without regular affectionate contact and support, women become vulnerable to infections and inflammation. Lack of intimacy weakens the body's defenses.

Positive social interactions reduce susceptibility to colds and other viruses by minimizing stress hormones. Hugging also exposes women to their partner's beneficial microbes, strengthening microbial diversity. When these natural immune boosters are missing, women experience more severe and prolonged illness symptoms. 

7. Increased Risk of Heart Disease 

The strain of unmet intimacy needs takes a toll on cardiovascular health. Deprivation of affection and loving connection makes women more prone to high blood pressure, stroke, and coronary events. Isolation and loneliness drive up resting heart rate, blood pressure, and inflammatory markers. 

The chronic stress and anxiety of living without intimacy taxes the heart. Without the protective benefits of intimacy in their relationship, women experience faster progression of atherosclerosis. Rates of metabolic syndrome also rise. Poor sleep, depression, and inactivity related to low intimacy further compound heart disease risk.

8. Diminished Sense of Well-Being

Satisfying intimacy is key to a woman's happiness and outlook on life. Without physical displays of affection, regular sex, and emotional closeness, women report lower levels of well-being and life satisfaction.

Brain scans show intimacy activates pleasure centers linked to dopamine and oxytocin. This promotes positive emotions fundamental for mental health. Deprived of these natural mood boosters long-term, women become more pessimistic about relationships and achieve less personal growth. 

9. Increased Sexual Dysfunction

While lack of sex may result from intimacy issues, it also contributes to problems like low arousal, pain, and difficulty orgasming for women. Without the trust and comfort intimacy fosters, sexual activity becomes mechanical.

The connection from non-sexual intimacy leads to more relaxed, satisfying sex. Without this foundation of sensual touching and emotional openness, insecurities plague the bedroom. Women experience less natural lubrication, tighter pelvic floor muscles, and distraction from anxious thoughts. They become stuck in their heads rather than being present. Over time, negative experiences accumulate, making sex seem more like a chore than a joy. 

10. Accelerated Cognitive Decline

Social and mental stimulation from intimate relationships helps maintain cognitive abilities as women age. In the absence of such connections, the risk of dementia increases. Engaged partners continually challenge each other's thinking with ideas, puzzles, and mental exercises.  

Shared activities and conversations strengthen neural connections and grow new brain cells. Physical intimacy may also benefit cognition by reducing stress hormones. Without these neuroprotective effects, women's memory, focus, and agility of mind deteriorate more rapidly. 

11. Weakened Sense of Identity

Intimate bonds provide a stabilizing force and source of meaning in women's lives. Lacking a close confidant leaves women feeling rudderless and insecure about who they are. Partners serve as mirrors reflecting back who we are. Without this defining feedback over time, women struggle to cultivate a firm sense of self. 

woman sad sitting on sofa covering face what lack of intimacy does to a woman

Emotional isolation deprives women of the self-knowledge and validation that come from being vulnerably known. Feelings of emptiness and disconnection from their core identity follow. Women lacking intimate partners report more confusion about priorities and values as well.

12. Increased Hostility and Conflict

The frustration of unmet intimacy needs often provokes anger and arguments. Women may lash out or withdraw when feeling deprived of affection and support. Passive aggression and nitpicking are common.

From an evolutionary perspective, anger functions to warn others about unfulfilled social needs. But displaced hostility toward innocent parties serves no good purpose. Without a safe relationship in which to process hurt feelings, women find anger constantly simmering below the surface. Harsh criticisms and irrational conflict result. 

13. Greater Susceptibility to Abuse

Predators will leverage a person’s need for connection to gain trust before exploiting victims. Women starved of intimacy are more vulnerable to manipulation and abuse. When intimacy seems out of reach in healthy relationships, women become desperate to meet unfulfilled needs in any way possible. 

This mindset leads many back repeatedly to abusive partners. Even clear warning signs get ignored when abandonment fears kick in. Seeking crumbs of affection in destructive bonds is preferable to the profound isolation women face without intimacy.

14. Distorted Self-Image

Objectification and superficial judgments are inevitable without the anchor of intimate partners who cherish women for their whole selves. Women come to overvalue looks and sex appeal. Partners in intimate relationships affirm a woman’s inherent worth, intellect, and character. This tempers the distorting impact of external appearances-focused messaging. 

Without this consistency, women adopt others’ limited perceptions of who they are. Rather than being cherished for their whole selves, they rely on attractiveness for validation. Eating disorders, plastic surgery, and risky sexual behavior often follow.

15. Loss of Emotional Resilience

Intimate bonds provide the security women need to cope with stress and trauma. Bereft of intimate ties, negative events become harder to handle and recover from. Trusting partners help restore equilibrium through difficult times with empathy, perspective, and renewal of purpose. 

Their support buffers the effects of negative life events. Without intimacy, women lack this ballast when buffeted by challenges. Each new insult and injury further erodes optimism and resilience. Healing becomes delayed when there is no safe haven to seek shelter.

Why Do Women Experience a Lack of Intimacy in a Relationship?

While intimacy issues impact both genders, women more commonly report feeling deprived of affection, communication, and closeness from male partners. Several factors contribute to this deficit:

  • Differing intimacy needs – Women's oxytocin motivates connection, while men often focus on instrumental tasks. This mismatch leaves women wanting more closeness.
  • Poor communication skills – Partners may be unable to articulate needs and emotions in a vulnerable way that fosters intimacy.
  • Relationship inertia – As the exciting early stage fades, couples forget to nurture intimacy. The bond gradually deteriorates.
  • Neglect – When men feel secure, they may withdraw effort. Women still yearn for ongoing nurturing behaviors.
  • Distractions – Career, children, hobbies, porn, and technology detract time and attention from the relationship.
  • Infidelity – Affairs and using porn signal intimacy needs are being met elsewhere, depriving the primary partner.
  • Resentment – Built-up anger and disappointment block emotional intimacy and fuel avoidance. Grudges linger.
  • Incompatible values – Differing worldviews, politics, faiths, or visions for the future divide couples.
  • Abuse – To gain power and control, abusers deliberately isolate targets from intimacy. The trauma can linger.

While it takes two to build intimacy, often, women put in a disproportionate effort trying to bridge the growing divide. Their unreciprocated vulnerability leaves them lacking intimacy.

What Does a Lack of Touch Do to a Woman?

A lack of affectionate, intimate touch starves women physically and emotionally. Human skin has an entire sensory system designed to respond to loving touch. When activated through hugging, cuddling, massage, and sex, it releases oxytocin and natural opioids that reduce stress, ease pain, and create bonding. 

Deprived of these touches from a partner, women are more anxious, depressed, insecure, and withdrawn. Tension builds along with a sense of emotional emptiness. The inability to “fill their cup” through intimate touch leaves women touch-hungry yet touch-starved. Satisfying touch is as essential as food and water.

Can a Lack of Intimacy Make a Woman Fall Out of Love?

When intimacy vanishes from a relationship for an extended time, the emotional bonds holding a couple together weaken and can eventually dissolve. Without ongoing expressions of affection, open communication, empathy, and mutual understanding, a woman feels increasingly alone even while partnered.

The accumulation of loneliness, hurt from neglect, unresolved conflicts, resentment over unequal effort, and diverging values detaches her heart from her partner. She grieves the loss of closeness they once shared. But, she realizes the shell of the relationship cannot sustain her needs for emotional security and growth. 

After enough pain, her self-preservation instincts kick in. To protect her wounded heart, she begins detaching and focusing her energy elsewhere. Her love has no nurturing soil in which to sustain its roots, so it withers. Reigniting passion requires major reconciliation work and a renewed commitment to intimacy.

How to Renew Closeness When You Feel the Effects of a Lack of Intimacy in a Relationship

If you identify with the painful impacts of low intimacy described, take heart – there are ways to turn towards your partner and revive affection and emotional closeness. With consistent effort, you can rebuild your foundation of trust, understanding, and caring support. 

Speak Up About Your Needs

Have an honest discussion when you're calm. Avoid blame and explain vulnerably how the distance makes you feel, keeping the focus on your emotions. Ask how your partner feels and suggest concrete ways you both can improve intimacy.

Schedule Quality Time

Work with your partner to make your relationship the priority it was when you were courting. Set up regular date nights and shared activities to reconnect without distractions. Savor the chance to talk, be silly, and create new memories. 

Initiate Physical Closeness 

Prime oxytocin production with hugging, kissing, hand-holding, and sensual touch. Be affectionate without expecting more. Enjoy reawakening your physical bond. If your partner doesn’t respond, tell them how the lack of physicality is harming you.

Practice Generosity  

Offer compliments, small gifts like a coffee or flower, and acts of service to make your partner feel special. Express daily appreciation and validate their efforts. Surprise them now and then. Your efforts may reinvigorate their desire for physical and emotional closeness.

Get Professional Help 

A therapist can provide perspective, teach communication skills, and help you overcome hurts related to your intimacy issues. Having a neutral third party mediate conflicts arising from emotional distance can open doors to understanding and restoration of trust. Don't wait until problems have festered – seek help early.

Final Thoughts

Intimacy is the heartbeat of a thriving relationship, delivering vital nourishment. Without it, emotional starvation can turn you into a shell of the woman you want to be. But through open communication and a commitment to honor your bond, you can feast on affection and mutual support once more. Prioritize intimacy, and your love will be bountiful.