National Eating Disorders Association

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Trying to support boyfriend with BED

My boyfriend and I live together and have been dating for over five years. He told me early on that he had BED, but I didn’t really understand the full extent of it until we started living together. I’ve learned to live without certain foods in the house, but that’s the easy part. What is difficult for me is that he will seem totally fine for a while, be eating normally, not counting calories or worrying much about food, then it will start small-we will forget to go to the store and end up ordering out three times in a week. Then he will text me on the way home and tell me to meet him at a restaurant, then he will start finding excuses to eat big meals... all of this would be fine, except that it inevitably ends with him feeling total shit about himself, getting mad at me for not stopping him, and then counting every calorie he eats for the next month and a half.
My challenge is this- the early signs of a relapse are hard for me to notice- I often don’t catch them in time, and then when I do try to say “maybe we shouldn’t go out again?” Or the more likely “oh I think I’d rather just stay in/make dinner, I have this new recipie I want to try” (etc) he just gets angry and either tells me I’m just trying to ruin his fun, or that I’m being a party pooper. I know this is his BED talking, but it’s hard to suggest a reasonable alternative when I know he’s just going to get angry with me. Then, when I don’t speak up, he gets upset afterwards saying “why did you let me do this? Why didn’t you stop me?” (Though when I do try to, it never works!)
I finally lost it on him tonight and told him that “it’s impossible for me to keep up with what I’m supposed to be doing to be supportive since it feels like that’s constantly changing” and that I don’t know what the heck I’m supposed to do. He got understandably upset, said that he’s “sorry it’s so hard for me to support him, that he couldn’t possibly understand how hard it is” (yes sarcastically) and didn’t talk to me the rest of the night.
I feel awful. I still feel justified in feeling frustrated and confused, but i dont want him to feel badly about his disorder or to feel like I don’t support him. I want to support him, I just don’t know what to do, and each time I ask him he gives me a different (often contradictory depending on his mood) answer.
I know that it isn’t my job to monitor what he eats, but what about when he asks me to pick up the ingredients for a heavy meal or meet him for all you can eat restaurant? If I say no, he gets upset, but if I say yes he just gets upset after we are done eating!

Post Edited

Hi Red123, welcome to the forums! I wanted to let you know that your post has been edited to remove any names of specific foods as these might be triggering to other forum members. You can find our guidelines here: keep posting and sharing!

Hey Red123. Sounds like a

Hey Red123. Sounds like a real catch 22, darned if you do, darned if you don't. That's rough. Props though, I can't imagine that this is at all easy. Also I imagine that its been very trying seperating your boyfriends words from that of the EDs. That's no easy task.
I'm no health professional, and don't have any similar first hand experience, but I do have 2 cents to offer. Who else knows about your boyfriend's ED? Research shows that when people with EDs have a healthy support network, they're a lot more likely to recover. Friends, family, and health professionals are some examples of people who can help. There are therapists (some who specialize in EDs) as well as dieticians/nutritionists who can help put together consistent meal plans.
Of course, all of this being said, changed can't quite be forced on him. He's his own person and the impetus for change is going to have to come from within him.
On that note, here's a few links I found around NEDA. Give them a look see if you feel so inclined: (good for more than parents)

Best of luck! And keep us updated.
- Adage