National Eating Disorders Association

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Boyfriend Bulimic/Depressed

I have just recently found out that my boyfriend of 7 months is dealing with an eating disorder and has been depressed. I myself dealt with ednos 2 years ago and have recovered since. I also had severe depression that is much reduced but comes back ocassionally on a much less severe level. Being through this myself, I'm extremely concerned but I dont know what to do to help. He admitted to wanting help but is to afraid to go to a therapist or doctor. I directed him to the professional chat on this site as I used it in the past but I am in need of advce... anything or experiences you can share may help. Thanks


Dear Concerned,

Since you've been through it yourself, you know how it can be I'm sure with the behaviors part. People get all obsessed, and then they can't get rid of it. It may have seemed like a good thing to begin with, but that part doesn't last too long. And people can get depressed just from their EDs.

But it does seem like he's moved on the part where he's tired of it, and although he feels awful that's some progress at least.

And what you said about him being afraid to get help. I think people usually all go through that part too.

You mentioned his fear, which usually means that he's reached the point where he's going to need to take some risks for himself. While a part of him might not be happy about that. So it probably feels like a big dilemma to him. Like what may he have to do next ?

Take a risk. That's pretty much it.

So you can help with that part I think, just by letting him know that you understand where he might be having mixed feelings with this. Because that's probably where he's at now. If can let him know that you understand how he must be feeling, then that might help him feel more free to discuss this with you.

I know this all must seem obvious, but trying to stay in sync ( by using your own knowledge I mean) with what must be his most current struggles, that may give him some of the empathy he needs, when it comes to him figuring what to do next.

Because we want them to be the ones who make the decisions about that part you know ? Which may be a pretty tough thing for him now.


Hi Concernedgf -

Your boyfriend is really lucky to have you in his life right now. You can empathize with him in a way that most others couldn't. Your understanding and concern can be heard by him coming from a place of personal experience. I would expect that you have a unique ability to get through to him amid the confusing noise of the ED and also the depression. Perhaps you could explore with him what exactly he fears in seeing a therapist and help him recognize that experienced professional help is probably the very best way to start leaving the ED behind?

I hope that you will continue posting and benefitting from this forum.