National Eating Disorders Association

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Food / Control

I've been dating and living with a girl for about a year with a severe ED. We knew each other online before so I was aware of her issues going in and have tried to be as understanding and helpful as possible along the way. As anyone with a partner who struggles with an ED will well know, it can feel sometimes like you are doing everything wrong or saying the wrong thing in the wrong way a million different times. It can be a slow process figuring out what triggers and what is helpful as sometimes these things can even appear to be dynamic in nature in some cases.

A major issue in the house of course is food. Initially I would eat out a lot.. or not eat myself hardly at all and never around her as this seemed to trigger horrible binge / purge cycles. I don't want this for her of course so I reacted by making changes. But as finances struggled I found myself eating cheaper things like bread at home more. But anything food related I bought into the house was gone before I could eat it myself so I went along barely eating or eating out in cheaper ways. I then decided I would only purchase healthy items.. fruits, veg, eggs etc. in the home, so that if she takes them the night at least she's getting whatever nutrients she can from them before purging. So I did that lately, she didn't take everything but most of it. The food in the house not being enough of course, (despite her being in pain from fullness)she'd go out and eat more taking my money or money from our dual account and spend insane amounts over time. She was always very specific about what food she binges on and none of it is cheap. She doesn't work herself and I'm helping her get through school but we can barely pay rent because of this issue. Recently I resorted to making my own account and explaining that I understand she can't seem to help these urges but I can't have her spending our money for rent on this. Doing this has caused huge arguments.. accusations of mistrust etc. She thinks I'm being controlling etc. I decided recently to give her a certain amount of money for food a week she can spend how she chooses but she spent it all straight away and then had nothing to eat and started acting like I was starving her and being abusive. So I've just bought her food myself in reasonable amounts but she's been taking that and also borrowing off friends and family for the extra binges and hiding them. I really don't know if the way I'm approached things is the right thing to do, she is making me feel like a controlling monster and our relationship is really suffering for it.

I guess I was just wondering how others with partners with a similar binge/purge ED handle food in the house and if anyone has better ways of dealing with this. I feel like everything I do or try is wrong and makes everything worse. :(


Binge hauls.


Yep, the "binge haul" thing, as the girls often call it. You can go on ED forums and see where people actually post pictures of all the things that they've bought to binge on. They often have a pretty good idea of what they are up to, I mean.

And really, many of them feel terrific amounts of *shame* about the amounts of money they are wasting. I'm not sure if your GF has reached that stage yet, but it's reasonable to think that this might be behind much of the edginess and irritation you've noticed when you try and bring the matter up with her.

As far as what to do is concerned, perhaps she might have some suggestions herself ? Rather than you trying to come up with them, I mean ?

Perhaps she's not reached the point where she would have some suggestions, but you never know.

When it becomes a practical matter like this, it becomes hard for them to ignore the financial end of things, and even more unsettling for them when they feel that they have no control over it.

So you might want to see what she might suggest ? Granted, such a question might just upset her more ( in the moment at least) if you asked her in person, so you might send her an e-mail or something, and see what she says once she has some private time to think about it ?

In any case, just some thoughts.

Bob J.

( See my response to some of your other questions on the partners forum )