National Eating Disorders Association

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How to start helping my partner

Hi friends! Thank you in advanced for your valued help! I'm starting a relatioship with my partner, she has Bulimia Nervous from almost 18 years ago, she just told me about it today, but I know her since 15 years ago, when we had a previous relationship, so after 15 years we started a new relationship again, and she is still struggling with bulimia. The past week I started to talk and meet with her so we started to talk about a weight reduction plan and diet and so on, but I was not aware that she was being affected for bulimia yet, so I told her about a plan that I'm doing with the one I lost more than X pounds in a year with little to no changes in my life so she was amazed with it, and today she told me that she was trying to lose weight due to my advice (I did not adviced her, just told her my story) so she started a diet plan and it sent her directly to relapse with Bulimia, to the point that last night she started to vomited blood, and she had started to eat as a crazy (binge) and purge X times a day... To make it worse she works as waitress in a Marriot restaurant so there she can eat as much as she wants to, so she can't stop and is beggining to have problems with their job due to that she is going a lot to the bathroom so her boss is starting to think that she is avoiding her job and she does not wants to tell them about his disease for fear to be fired off. So my question is, how can I start to help her? We have not money right now to pay for professional help, but I can't wait a second to start helping her, so please help me to know where to start, what exercises can she start doing at least to start recovery (don't purge herself). I know a lot about addictions, I'm coach and activist for pornography and sex addiction, so I know a lot about behavioral and substance addictions, but Bulimia is something new for me, so please guide me to help her. Where does Bulimia starts in life? For chilhood neglected, traumas, social anxiety? Some Kindle or ebooks that could be helpful to read? In the meanwhile I would read as much as I can this website, and forum, also I will suggest her some exercises we do with sex addictions to set up boundaries and start loving oneself. Your help would be fully appreciated, thank you so much!


First off, welcome to the forum. Bulimia can be a mysterious thing, so it's good that you are looking for answers.

There are many aspects to bulimia, but you are right about the addiction part. If she has been struggling with this for 18 years, all of the issues regarding addition apply.

Also it is important to understand that eating disorders are about personal control. Or at least the were when she first began doing it. People need to eat, but they also want to lose weight. And purging can seem like a way to gain control over their situation. As time passes, the connection between purging and being in control establishes a mental association in her brain that becomes extremely difficult to change or get rid of. Even when they realize that their behaviors are OUT of control, the association between purging and control still remains.

As a result, when situations arise in their life where they feel insecure, or not in control of things, bulimia can often get worse.

Eating can have it's mental associations too. If a person eats, that can symbolize being out of control, even if the logical part of their brain knows that it isn't.

What I mean is, keep the control issue in mind, when you see her struggling with things. It may not even be a conscious thing for her (because now there is also the addiction part going on) anymore, but dealing with it will play a big role in any attempts to recover that she makes.

One other thing to keep in mind - The idea of taking risks. Any change from her normal patterns will feel upsetting and filled with uncertainty. Which can set off concerns about control, which leads to….well, you probably have seen what it leads to. So she's going to have to be willing to take some risks for herself, and be willing to step into some areas where things are indeed uncertain and unpredictable.

So yes, taking risks, and dealing with uncertainties - These are things that she will have to be willing to face, and try and tolerate as best as she can.

Also, slip-ups are certain to happen. After all these years they are almost inevitable. She needs to understand beforehand that this is the case. These will always feel like losses of control, and now that you understand bulimia's association control, you probably know what that means. Given that the person is sure to slip up along the way, fighting against relapse, and understanding that one slip up does not have to signify total failure, will be a big part of recovery too.

In any case, these are a few of the things that it will be important to understand, along with the reading you're doing. Bulimia can be extremely difficult to get rid of, because of the sorts of associations that seem to actually hard-wire themselves into the person's brain, so I do hope that you'll keep writing.

Medical Signs and Symptoms

Hello. We're sorry to hear about what's going on with your partner. You described some concerning symptoms that your partner is struggling with. We wanted to provide with an additional list of signs and symptoms of a medical emergency to keep an eye on: A person does not have to be underweight to have an eating disorder or to require emergency medical care for one.Seek medical help immediately if your loved one:• accidentally or deliberately causes themselves a physical injury• becomes suicidal• experiences confused thinking and is not making any sense• experiences delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (experiencing things that aren’t there)• feels disoriented; doesn’t know what day it is, where they are or who they are• vomits several times a day or has uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea• experiences dizziness or fainting spells• feels too weak to walk or collapses• experiences painful muscle spasms• complains of chest pain or having trouble breathing• observes blood in their bowel movements, urine or vomit• has a body mass index (BMI) of less than 16• has an irregular heartbeat or very low heart beat (less than 50 beats per minute)• has cold or clammy skin indicating a low body temperature or has a body temperature of less than 35 degrees Celsius/95 degrees Fahrenheit Or for any other serious medical concerns.We highly recommend that you seek medical attention as soon as possible for your partner. Another option is 911.