National Eating Disorders Association

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Boyfriend in denial over bulimia

I've been in a relationship with my boyfriend for almost 2 years now, and it was only until autumn/winter of last year that I ever found out that he used to make himself sick. Under the impression that this was a past situation, I completely ignored the matter and carried on with the relationship. Until a few months ago, I found out from his family that he has actually been bulimic since he was 16 and still is now (23yrs old).
I always wondered why he never gained weight whilst I did, yet he just claimed that he exercised everyday in his room; I was completely oblivious to it all and now I feel like a right idiot for thinking nothing of it.

Ive tried to talk to my boyfriend about it, yet he just doesn't want to talk about it. He says it is something he hasn't done in years and leaves the conversation at that. However his family tell me he does it everyday not long after meals; I assume it's when he goes downstairs for a cigarette. A few times I have found a bottle of a certain drink in the downstairs bathroom hidden behind a basket, one time being today, and when I asked him about the bottle he said he has no idea how it got there and that it wasn't him (he drinks loads of that to make himself vomit).

He is in complete denial over the situation. He won't talk to me about it, his own girlfriend, and he wants to live with me later in the year despite him knowing that I have a phobia of vomiting. He gets so defensive when I try to talk to him about it... I have always said that I will never judge him, because I'm not that kind of person.

I am so worried about his health yet he won't open up to me about it. I feel so lost and useless. Please tell me I'm not the only person who feels like this...

Welcome to the forums!

Hi Georgia7721

You are definitely not alone in feeling lost, opening up a conversation about a topic as sensitive as an eating disorder is incredibly hard. It may take a few false starts before you are able to have a productive conversation but don’t give up, he may be embarrassed or even in denial about his behaviors. Just letting him know that you care and want to support his recovery is huge; a support network is really important in recovery.

It may be helpful to learn a bit more about ED and plan out how to approach him. NEDA has some great resources; I included a few links below that I have found helpful. They also have a helpline if you prefer to talk with a volunteer, they can help you locate resources to prepare to talk to your boyfriend. Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm @ 1-800-931-2237.

Can I ask whether or not his family has tried to talk to him? Has he been in treatment before? It sounds like they are aware of his behaviors but maybe haven’t approached him a while about his behaviors.

I wish you the best, please keep posting, we're here for you! Please remember to take care of yourself too! Eating disorders can be very stressful, if you find yourself overwhelmed think about seeing a counselor or joining a support group.



You're right in thinking that his inability to admit to, and talk to you about this issue is a very big problem. Particularly when you *already* know what's going on ! Not only does he have a problem, but not being able to admit to something the *both* of know about….that's a problem in itself for sure.

So one thing I can suggest is that you write him a letter. Like the kind that's on a piece of paper, you know ? That way he'll have some time alone to consider what you've said, and the time to consider how he wants to reply, without it being the sort of face-to-face thing where he might just instinctively deny the whole thing.

When you write him ( or should you end up talking to him in person) the approach I would take is not to *question* him about if there's a problem or not, but rather to come at it from a position reflecting the fact that you already know that there is one.

Because you *do* already know, you know ? And wallowing around in whether it's happening or not is not something you want to get dragged into. That just stalls the whole situation, and prevents the both of you moving forward.

So that's the stance that I hope you will take.

That you already know what the truth is, you know ? Because the fact of the thing is you do !