National Eating Disorders Association

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Girlfriend's parents are keeping her from recovering

So. My girlfriend is 22 years old and live with her parents. I'll begin by saying that she probably can't move out yet. First of all there are economical reasons and due to the society/country she lives in, and secondly she's not ready to live alone because of her eating disorder. This something she has even stated on her own. Unfortunately I can't move in with her yet either, mainly because we are long distance at the moment and live in different countries and therefore see each other just a few times a year.

The parents of my girlfriend are very controlling parents and probably even verbally abuse. They also kinda treat her like a 12 year old. I'm pretty sure that they are the main reason why she has an eating disorder (and other mental health issues) to begin with. I should probably mention that her mom also has en eating disorder, but I don't think she's getting any help for it at all. My girlfriend is in therapy though, which is even paid by her parents.

It all started when my girlfriend was just 8 year and her parents put her on a strict diet. She was only allowed to eat certain things, had a lot of forbidden foods and was told that she's fat. This is still going on today. Despite her age, her mom tells her what she can and can't eat. She's also only allowed to eat within certain hours. A few weeks ago she caught my girlfriend eating chocolate with my friend and didn't speak to my girlfriend for a week, and my girlfriend was devastated and felt so invisible and worthless.

She has also been forcing my girlfriend to exercise the whole summer. Thank god her mom is starting work this week after having vacation for weeks. When they were at the beach she wouldn't let her lay in the sun or relax in the water. Instead she was forced to swim for hours. When they were in the park she forced her to always jog or do exercises on the ground. All this exercise.

Her mom will also say things like "You're fat", "you have to eat less", "you would be so pretty if you weren't fat" and "When I look at you I feel like crying". Her mom is the one who mainly does and says the things, but her dad isn't doing anything to stop her so I guess they're both the "bad guys".

This is a terrible situation especially since she lives with her parents and can't move out yet. She has told me that she wants to recover and is seeing a therapist, but obviously her parents' behavior are keeping her from recovering. I'm so afraid because their behavior is affecting her so much. Partly because their restricting rules and comments are affecting her directly, but also because she wants to like her mother says to avoid hearing the abuse.

I don't know what to do. If she goes against their rules and "rebels" they will just punish her some way, that's what they do. They're abusive and extremely controlling. As I said: they treat her like a 12 year old. But worse.

I want to be there for her as much as possible and maybe even find some advice for her to make her suffer less. If anyone has any advice or comment then I'd appreciate that a lot.

Girlfriend's Parents.

Hey there,

I'm so sorry that your girlfriend is having these problems with her parents. It's hard to say what the problem is with her mother - She doesn't seem willing to allow your girlfriend to live her own life. I wonder how her mom will feel when her daughter finally moves out ?

Good that she is getting therapy though. Hopefully she is discussing these matters with her therapist, and is receiving some support that way.

It's not unreasonable for your GF to want to have a good mother, and perhaps by obeying her mother's every wish, some part of her believes that her mother will finally come to see her as an acceptable child. While I'm not close to the situation like you are, from what you've said it seems that nothing will ever turn her mother into the person that your GF wishes she was, no matter how much your GF may try and please her. This can be a hard reality to accept, but it may be a truth that she will finally have to accept, if she is going to break out of this damaging cycle of involvement.

You mentioned that your GF does not feel ready to live alone, because of her eating disorder. But how much better is her ED likely to become if she continues to live with her demanding and controlling parents ??

She's fortunate to have a sympathetic boyfriend like yourself. She may need your encouragement though, if she is ever going to take the risks that she may need to take, if she is ever going to break free of this toxic involvement.

Keep writing ?