National Eating Disorders Association

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sunshine33
Girlfriend broke up with me because of Bulimia

My girlfriend who I had known for a while but had been seriously dating for 3 months, broke up with me. I didn't know about her eating disorder before. She told me about it when we started dating and that she had recovered, but expressed her concern that it might happen again. I consoled her and told her that even if it happens again, I will love her and support her.
Everything was going great, she kept telling me how much she loves me and was even thinking about living together. Just then, she had a relapse and she binged. I did as I had committed, I gave her all the love and support that I promised and told her that I am with her.
Soon after, she broke up with me saying that she loves me but can't be in a relationship and that she has to be fully recovered before getting in one. I don't understand this. Is this common with people with eating disorder to push loved ones away? The fact that she loves me but can't be with me. Is this some kind of self harm? I don't understand why a good loving relationship would get in her away to recover. I am hoping that people here might help me understand with their experiences.
She says that she still wants to be my friend as she can use all the friendships but I see her in a romantic way and I don't know if I can see her just as a friend. Don't know what to do. In pain right now.

BobJ48
Pushing away.

Hey S33,

"I don't understand this. Is this common with people with eating disorder to push loved ones away?"

I worked on another site for partners for ten years, and yes, this was absolutely the number one thing that partners would show up to talk about. The pushing away thing.

I also work on a board with people who have EDs, and I'm still not completely sure why this happens. My sense is that they KNOW that you are going to be waiting for them to get better. Waiting to see them making the effort, when a lot of the time they don't feel like making the effort at all. Granted, the majority of people with EDs wish they could be rid of the thing, but on the other hand it's a coping method for them, and often a way that they deal with stress. Of course, sometimes that stress is over the fact that they have an ED in the first place. There are all sorts of reasons why people might not want to recover.

But they understand that at some point you'll be expecting to see them to put in the effort to recover, and that you might feel disappointed if you knew what they really were thinking. They also don't want to be an emotional burden to anyone, so often things can seem a lot less complicated and less stressful overall, if they deal with this by just breaking things off.

So yeah, it could have to do with their knowledge of the (understandably reasonable) expectations they believe that their partners will have, and to be honest, some of the disappointment they may feel towards themselves as well.

One thing you may want to do is some reading. If you can manage to put yourself inside her head, it may help you craft your responses to her in ways that can remain loving and supportive. EDs are pernicious problems though, and recovery can be a long and emotional process. It's going to depend on her own attitude towards the situation. Your ability to remain supportive can make a difference, but at the same time you may want to temper your expectations, as things like this rarely change overnight.

Keep writing ?

sunshine33
Pushing Away

Hey Bob. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

From what I see, she does want to recover. And she actually has. Its not as bad now as it was before. Just one relapse in many months. Probably because of stress.

When she was breaking things off, she did say she that she'll disappoint me and I should find someone who is ready; because she hates herself. However, looking at that she was moving in the right direction and wanted the disorder to go away, I had faith in her and that's why I wanted to be with her and give it a chance. I do love her. I didn't expect that the disorder would go away like that. I know that it'll take time and she has actually made a lot of progress in the last years. I told her the same.

She says that she won't date anymore until she is fully recovered. I find it really illogical. First of all, I don't know what fully recovered is. Isn't making progress enough? It is enough for me. I don't understand what dating and finding love has to do with fighting the disorder. I tried to explain it to her that a loving relationship will not get in her way to recover but she won't listen. I am doubting if she really loves me; despite her admitting that to me many times. How can I be supportive if she just doesn't wanna give it a chance.

We aren't talking since we broke up. She wants to be friends. I don't know what to do right now.

c.cake214
Pushing Away

Hey Sunshine! I'm currently recovering from an ED, and while I couldn't completely speak for your girlfriend, I just wanted to thank you for making this post in a weird way.
See, I'm on your girlfriend's side in the sense that I've wanted to break things off with my own boyfriend for the EXACT reason. He brings up my eating disorder, and it really bothers me. He's been nothing but loving and supportive, but honestly, I just feel that he doesn't need to be burdened by feeling as if he needs to look after me. I just didn't feel worth it. I wanted him to go out and be with other women that are healthier mentally and physically.
I live with myself and this ED every single day, and I feel as if I'm being forced to live inside a vessel. I have a hard time loving this vessel and I have a hard time seeing how anyone else could love it too. Perhaps your ex's feelings might align with my own. I'm really sorry that you guys are going through this. I honestly am sure she loves you because I love my boyfriend too. I want him to be happy, I just felt as if I was dragging him down.
However, reading your post has made me see that there are literally other people going through this same conflict and that there CAN be a journey there. You had really powerful things to say there. Thank you so much.

sunshine33
Hey c.cake, thanks for

Hey c.cake, thanks for sharing.

Did you actually breakup or just wanted to? Looks like he still is your BF. What made you stay?

I never bring up her eating disorder. We only talk about it if she wants to. How do I make her feel that she is worth it? To me, she is a very desirable woman, with all the other qualities she has. She doesn't seem to understand that why would I still love her despite her ED. That I can look beyond it.

I hear your thoughts. Have heard the same from her. I don't think that she is dragging me down. Don't know how to make her believe. Is there any hope?