National Eating Disorders Association

16 posts / 0 new
Last post
Girlfriend with Bulimia

I started dating my girlfriend (we'd known each other for several years prior and had worked together) in early January. Shortly after dating she confided in me that she suffered from bulimia and was going to be entering treatment. At first she was very reluctant to spend much time with me, we'd see each other 3 to 4 times a week, but after she informed me of her bulimia she started wanting to hang out more. I let her know that I was there for her, whatever she needed. She told me she felt weird having a boyfriend be as supportive as I was, but she said that it was really helpful and that she didn't have symptoms or thoughts when we were hanging out. She also started coming to my house more frequently as she told me she didn't have issues while there. Things were going well, she entered out patient treatment, and we had a schedule set up for when we could be together (she's doing treatment during the day but was unable to leave her work). Shortly into therapy she started becoming very combative and distant. I expected this so I wasn't necessarily caught off guard. There'd be days without contact, and then she'd text and want to come over every night. She just seemed so depressed all the time but kept thanking me for my help even though she seemed very annoyed with me at times. This just got worse and started giving me anxiety, never knowing what was happening between us, how she was doing at treatment, etc. I could tell the relationship was strained but I imagined the last thing she needed was me bothering her with my worries. I'd ask about it, but i never pressed. A little more than a week ago she asked me to attend a counseling session with her. I said I would and it went very well, I learned some things, also found out that she had been missing days, got a little insight as to the origins of her bulimia, and was able to ask her questions without her becoming combative due to the presence of the counselor. I talked to her afterwards and volunteered to attend every week if she felt it would help. In the nine days since she has completely pushed me away. The final straw was the other night I went to grab the something out of the fridge. There wasn't any. It'd been there the previous night when she stayed over. So I looked in the trash and sure enough I found the wrappers. This was very disappointing to me as she'd sworn at the counseling session that she'd never had symptoms at my house. When I asked her about it later she erupted saying she didn't want to talk about it and that I was just trying to make her feel bad. I didn't hear from her for 2 days and then in the middle of the night I get a text that simply states, "we should talk tomorrow". I found it incredibly manipulative to leave me that text at 3 in the morning and then know that I'd be worrying about it all day. We did talk and she ended our relationship saying that I was detrimental to her recovery and she couldn't have me around. Needless to say I'm fairly heartbroken about this as I really care for her and she gave no specifics as to how I had been a detriment. She said something about the relationship moving too fast but I didn't hear her then she just got in her car and left. I want to reach out, but at the same time if this is what she wants then I don't want to upset her further. I'm worried that because she'd had symptoms at my house and that I'd confronted her, that she no longer felt safe and therefore no longer needs me around.I've been reading some other posts here from people with partners that have eating disorders and just wanted to share my story. Thank you for reading, it's been a very difficult 3 months and writing this helped.

Hi confusedex,

Hi confusedex,

I am so glad to hear that sharing on this forum helped you get through this hard time. I want to encourage you to continue posting if it is a good outlet for you. I am so sorry to hear what you have been going through. ED's can be so complicated and manipulative, try to remember that none of it is your fault! There is no one to blame with ED's. The support you gave your girlfriend through recovery is admirable!
As I said I encourage you to carry on using these forums as a support network by sharing your story and reading others!

Keep us updated!

Thanks aiclarke14

Thanks for replying. It has been a very hard month, and I've found myself feeling anxious and worried quite a bit. After the counseling session I attended I felt much better about us as a couple, and she actually sounded happy on the phone when we talked later. This is why I'm so saddened about how abruptly she ended the relationship, I thought things were coming around and that my staying with her and supporting her was making a difference.

I don't know how people with bulimia see relationships, so I'm just wondering if I should text her in a few days and see how she's doing or if that would be unwise and maybe do more harm than good?

It clearly has been a

It clearly has been a stressful month for you! Like I said remember to not be too tough on yourself. Have you thought about talking to someone about your experience, whether it be friends, family, or a professional. Completely up to you, it might help being able to talk through it with someone.

Im so glad you have found a place to share your story!
Keep us updated and good luck!

Very often, people with

Very often, people with eating disorders will isolate themselves in order to be able to keep engaging in behaviors. I have gone through a similar situation as this a couple times, only I was the one with the disorder. I would get very comfortable with my boyfriend at the time, and not feel the urge to engage in eating disorder behaviors for a while, but then it would come creeping back. I would slowly start to pull away and retract into my old ways, which would then lead to me pushing away and ending the relationship. Luckily this time, when I started to fall into this old pattern with my current boyfriend, I was more aware of what was going on and we got through it and are much happier because of it. What made it different this time was that I really wanted to get better and not be like that anymore, which is what your girlfriend has to do as well. You sound so incredibly supportive, and like you are doing everything you can to try and help but not intrude. Unfortunately, you alone cannot cure her or make her want to get better, it has to come from within her as a decision and commitment she makes for herself. If you want to text her in a few days to check up I don't see how that would hurt, it might show her that someone truly does care. Good luck!

Thanks brookespre

Thanks for writing back, I'm glad to hear that you're doing better, the more stories like these that i read the more hopeful I become that she'll get better. When she went in I saw one of her charts and her potassium level was critically low, that was when I realized how bad this was for her. I realize that she needs to do this herself, and I tried to be there as much as possible for her without smothering, but I can't help but think that questioning her about the missing food upset her. I felt that in that situation she needed to tell the truth and be accountable for her actions in my house. That incident though coupled with her missing days at her program (which she tried to accuse me of saying I needed to be better about getting her out of bed in the morning) made me start questioning everything, is it all lies?
Anyways, thanks for sharing, I was thinking I was going to text her in a couple days and see if I even get a response, hopefully I do, and she's doing good.

This is just my perspective,

This is just my perspective, but she might have been defensive about the missing food because she was embarrassed about bingeing and eating it all. I know that's what I would do in that situation. It took forever for me to admit to someone that I had binges, and even still I feel completely ashamed by it. Her missing program days is not your fault, and she could just be using you as a scapegoat for why she isn't going. It isn't your responsibility to make her get out of bed and make her go.


Hi confusedex,
Thank you for posting! Your comment was very slightly edited to adhere with community guidelines about mentioning a specific food ( Please continue posting :)

So I reached out to her, sent

So I reached out to her, sent a very long involved text addressing how little is known going into this, how much I'd learned from it, and how I would always be here if she needed anything. I asked if there was a way we could get together and talk. She responded that she'd be up for that. It's been a couple of days and while I'd really like to talk to her, there's a part of me that thinks I shouldn't get my hopes up and start thinking about moving on. I feel like the more I dwell on this the more anxiety and worry and doubt I create in my life.

I'd say that it's definitely

I'd say that it's definitely important to think about yourself as well confusedex. You don't want to be brought down by your girlfriend's disorder into one of your own. That being said, if you care for her than I think you know what to do. And you don't have to be the only one that tries to get involved with this. You might be able to reach out to her family or friends and encourage them to try to help her as well. Good luck. Be pragmatic, but but patient. Let us know how things go. And I say keep hope that recovery is still possible because it always is.

Hi confusedex,

I just wanted to check in and see how things are going! Did you ever meet up with your girlfriend or text her again? I'm sorry you're feeling so much anxiety and doubt! That must be so stressful. If you think it will help, you might want to try calling the NEDA Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 M-Th 9-9 EST or F 9-5 EST. They might be able to help you figure out how to best support your girlfriend with her struggles and its always beneficial to talk to someone.

Please keep us updated!


Hi confusedex,

my wife is a 20 year bolmia sufferer. We've been together 10 years, but live apart because of my job, so she kept it hidden from me until recently.

It's a very fine line between being push and supportive, I was definitely too pushy on her at first (making her eat...not purge....etc.)

I've found that often she pushes me away when I try to help, but then decides to do things herself, that I might have suggested.

I'm constantly pulling back, waiting, then waiting for her to let me in again.

The main thing to realise is that your girlfriend has 2 personalities fighting each other. One is her real, logical self, and one is the illness. It's the illness part that is pushing you away, not your real girlfriend.

So try not to blame her at all (as you clearly are doing, respect), keep your distance, and let her come to you for support and help when she has those moments. Hopefully, that way, very slowly, she'll let you in, and there will be progress. It's a heartbreaking patience game, but you appear to love her much, as I do my wife.

Good luck.

Thank you for the replies

I'm going with everyone's advice here and just giving this space and being patient. I've sent her a few texts just asking if there's anything she needs and to see how she's doing. There have been no replies with the exception of one text at 3:30 in the morning last Saturday that simply stated, "I miss you". Waiting and being patient thru this is difficult, but it seems to be my only option. Thank you everyone for your replies, advice, and support.

Hi confusedex,

It's great that you're working so hard to be supportive. I know from personal experience how hard it can be to support a loved one in a situation like this. (The ED makes it hard for them to be grateful for your help!)

Like others have said, patience is important, and giving space but letting her know you're there is so valuable. Sometimes it doesn't feel like enough, but it can be incredibly helpful. Don't forget to take care of yourself in the meantime. Your health is important, too! Here are some pages from around NEDA that might be useful for you:

Good luck! Please keep us updated on how things are going. :) We wish you and your girlfriend the best.

Out of the blue

Well, I texted, asked if she was doing alright, and she gets back to me immediately. We start chatting and make plans to meet up in a day or two. We ended up getting together and had a really nice talk. She became visibly irritated when I told her that I'd been reading about her ED online, she kept saying "you can read all you want, I'm not that girl", and I kept telling her that I was doing that for me, not her. Anyways, it was very nice, I was able to tell her a lot of things, she was able to tell me a lot of things, and then there was crying and hugging. She's symptom free, at my point of writing, for 13 days, and has reupped her treatment after her vacation. We agreed when she returned that we'd hang out and see if anything comes of it, but as of right now, I want her to focus on treatment and it'd probably be best if I had limited contact with her for my own wellbeing. Anyways, thanks again for all the responses and support, it's been a huge help. Thank you.

I'm so happy to hear that you

I'm so happy to hear that you met up and it went well! Communication is so important in any relationship, but particularly in one that also involves an ED. I'm so glad that she's doing well now, and that you're conscious enough to give her space and let her recover. It's awesome to hear that the forums have helped you, and I encourage you to continue posting if you ever need anything, or have helpful advice for others who may be in a similar situation.

Thank you so much for being a part of our community! Best of luck!