The ‘frigid’ person is someone who deprives themselves of sexual pleasure. Mary describes herself as sexually anorexic, “I cannot feel sexual even though I want to. It feels as though there’s a huge wall of resistance blocking me – it becomes a painful battle.” She feels that if she gives in to sex, she’s lost control. Bob’s sexual anorexia looks different. He is often angry at what he sees as his partner’s pressure to be sexual, and at the culture which seems to be obsessed with sex. Both Bob and Mary are reacting to past abuse, betrayal and neglect.
She dresses in a ‘dowdy’ fashion, wearing baggy clothes that hide her body. He lifts weights compulsively to bolster his sense of body mastery. Both take careful precautions to distance themselves from romantic contact, working long hours. Mary says, “I get into this place where nothing can get to me – I’m safe, righteous and in charge.” The place she’s describing is complete sexual shut-down, and it almost inevitably leads to deep despair and loneliness.