National Eating Disorders Association

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Convincing parter to seek treatment?

About one month into our relationship my girlfriend told me about ED. Apparently she'd struggled with it for years but entering a relationship brought it back full force. Before our relationship she binged/purged once a week or so, and was very unhappy with herself but she chose to ignore the problem and that gave her a sort of comfort. Ever since telling me she's been forced to confront it daily since it's out in the open. She often tells me she regrets telling me and wishes she could go back to when she just tried to ignore it.

Here I am 5 months later. I absolutely adore this girl, but over the last few months I've seen ED really start to take a hold of her. I want to be with her so much, but I almost feel like the girl I met and fell in love with has almost completely disappeared. We've talked about marriage but as much as I love her, it's hard to want a future that looks so bleak. There is so much shame and guilt in this. I think I'm just having a hard time because I live in a new city and don't know anyone but her. I can't tell anyone because she's asked me not to. I think things are just really staring to get to me, especially when I feel like she's given up. It's also hard because I don't feel like I can express myself, she's already dealing with so much guilt and pain, I feel like expressing my disappointments and frustrations would only make things worse. I just have to be okay and positive all the time. I do want to make it clear though that I love this girl more than anything and I do believe she can get better, and I plan to be here for her and see this through. She feels so guilty for getting me into this and often tries to push me away. She's often distant, angry or depressed and we never go out anymore. It seems that everything good we had has been replaced by ED and the sorrow and frustration he brings. I myself have not suffered an ED, but I have been through some very deep depression and I know we can get through this, but she is very hopeless. Most of the time I feel she's already given up and I feel like I'm fighting this alone.

At first she was very adamant about not getting help from a therapist or councilor. She has seen a few in the past and had some bad experiences, even though she does admit that at the time she was not completely honest with them. I'm just really struggling in getting her to accept that therapy is really what we need to do to beat this. Every thing I've read about my roll in this pretty much says "offer unwavering support, unconditional love and convince your loved one to get treatment." So that's what I've been doing but she's just so afraid. She's also worried about money since neither of us have insurance times are rough. I've tried to tell her that there is nothing more valuable we could spend our money on than getting her healthy. She still resists. I asked her if I could look into a couple and she said that would be alright. I even convinced her to let me put a therapists number in her phone. I've offered to call for her, or with her... but she says she needs to do it herself.

Sorry that was a bit all-over-the-place, this is the first time I've really talked about it since it started. I just really need to get her into therapy. Does anyone have any advice? I feel like me saying "Hey, no pressure, but did you call the doctor today?" Is never going to get us anywhere. I feel like I do need to apply pressure but I don't want her to feel threatened. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanking you in advance,

Hey Georgeman!

Hey!! Thank you so much for trusting these forums! I think that you truly do love your girlfriend!! You have devoted a lot of time in trying to get her help!!

I know that the path to my recovery was very chaotic and was very hard on my family. But, I think the thing that resonates with me the most now is that back before I agreed to have treatment, I felt like I needed to fix everything by myself. Once I invited others to help me in the recovery process and entered treatment I saw how important having support from many different people was. I truly believe that it was the professionals I met through my treatment that helped me believe I could recover.

I feel sad and can emphasize with your situation and I am sad that your girlfriend has those fears. I know that you can't "force her" to go into treatment, but if you were able to involve some professionals it would be helpful. Have you tried seeing a physician that specializes in eating disorders? If you call the NEDA Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 they can help find specialists in your area. I know that when I was in my eating disorder I could not think very well, so I was not very good at making decisions for myself. I know how hard it is for the recovery process to start especially when someone is fearful to begin. But, I think that the most important thing that you can do for your girlfriend is to make sure she knows that because you know she deserves to recover and that you love her.

I know you said that this has been emotionally draining to you as well. Have you considered seeing a therapist for yourself for support? Even if your girlfriend does not agree to come the first few sessions, she may be more willing after you have gone a couple of times. The NEDA Helpline can also help you find a specialist!

I know that my suggestions seem to be very vague and I am sorry for that!! Like I said before, I think that for right now making sure she is medically safe is the best way you can help her right now.

I hope that things have improved a little! Please let me know if you have any questions!