National Eating Disorders Association

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Fiance has bulimia but won't do anything about it


I figured I would type my story here and hope that other people who have gone through a similar situation might have some advice.

My fiancé and I have been dating for 8 years and have now been engaged for only a couple of months, with the wedding scheduled for next summer.

He first told me that he was bulimic about two years ago. He would go on nightly binges while I was asleep- usually walk to the nearest convenient store. Binge on that and purge. At the time when he started we weren't in the best situation, we were both finishing up school, and thinking it was a good idea to save money, lived with my parents. He hid what was going on. He was also going through depression at the time (still is), after his brother's long term girlfriend had passed away, and was trying to help and be there for his brother.

Now, his brother is doing much better, but he has fallen into a routine, which he seems to be unable to get out of. On days when he's home and I'm at work, I come back and see evidence that he has binged. When he cuts out the junk, his meal portions are huge.

He knows he's bulimic, as his doctor has told him. He also has acid reflux issues. His doctor had prescribed him medication to help with the acid reflux that basically doesn't allow his stomach to create acid. Due to this, he believes that he is avoiding the effects that come with bulimia- since his teeth cannot decay if there is no acid. He believes he can control this if he wants and believes that bulimia is his way of controlling the binging. He feels that he is extremely obese. He believes that I am obese too, as I have fallen into the trap of eating the same serving sizes as him, though I've been trying to control that a little more.
I just don't know what to do anymore. I want to be there to help him, perhaps enroll him in a program or get him therapy. I found a program at a local hospital and he started the process of getting a referral from a physician, but after a few weeks decided against it. It sometimes feels that when we take two steps forward with this, we then go another 15 back. His depression, though medicated, is another issue that's there. He's gone to see a therapist before, which seemed to help a little, but had stopped because of the costs.

Hi Atloss142

Hi Atloss142,

Thanks for posting on the forum! From your post it is clear that you are very concerned about your partner and want to help him get well. He is lucky to have someone that cares about him so much. ED are very tricky disorders and the feeling of moving two steps forward and then going 15 back is very common, you are not alone. I would encourage you to continue to try and help, recovery is possible but it may take some time for your partner to realize and be ready to get help.

If you need someone to speak with about finding additional resources you may want to contact NEDA’s helpline - available Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST) at 1-800-931-2237.

Here are a couple of additional resources that can help you have a fruitful conversation with him about going into treatment:

Good luck and please take care of yourself! Please continue to post updates on the forum.

There remains hope!

Hey, Atloss142. The two steps forward, fifteen steps back feeling is surely discouraging. But it's also just as common. My closest friend and recovery support (your parallel, if you will) strongly urged me to tell my parents and get help, nearly daily, for two years, but I just as strongly refused, because the ideas of people knowing the truth about my mental state and surrendering control of it honestly petrified me. Four years into the silence, I finally spoke to my doctor about it and got a therapist and a team and everything. Each disorder and recovery is very unique; some people reach for help after a couple months of ED symptoms, while others take years to accept the proper help. Of course early intervention with eating disorders is of high importance, but as you have experienced, it's not as simple as recognizing the symptoms! Your partner has to agree to recovery and professional help, too. And this takes time. So just because he's struggling with these things doesn't mean he always will - there is always hope for treatment and recovery.
Definitely give the Helpline a call or connect with a Neda Navigator when you find yourself in need of some trained support and direction!
You are doing great things by supporting your partner in the ways that you can. I'm praying that more peaceful times find you two. <3
Anna Naomi

other physical consequences


If your fiancé believes he's avoiding physical health consequences by taking acid reflux medication, he's very misinformed (or willfully ignorant, as those of us with eating disorders often become). I was bulimic for many years and experienced both the reflux and the tooth erosion, but (thank goodness) never experienced any of the more serious side effects, which include low blood pressure, arrhythmia, and even heart failure, due to dehydration and ion imbalances. He may be avoiding the more obvious side effects, but he needs to realize that he's still doing harm to his body, as well as to your relationship. I second mycatblue's suggestion to utilize NEDA resources to plan a serious conversation with him about seeking treatment.

It's really obvious that you care a lot about him and wish you the best of luck with his recovery journey and in your marriage!