National Eating Disorders Association

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Partner relapsing

First time talking about this to partner has said they're struggling bad at the minute and is seeking professional help again (they're good like that).

I was a little surprised and hurt that they didn't tell me they were struggling before. I know it's an ongoing thing but I thought their recovery was still going well and am annoyed at myself for not noticing things were getting bad again. Little habits I've noticed have started to creep back in. Like I bought three different types of small canned cocktails for us and they chose the only one which had the caloric content stated. They said it was a comfort thing, to know how much they were consuming. A few years ago when things were really dire, I remember them telling me certain foods affected their periods (and, like an idiot, I bought into it), but really they were just scared of the calories. It was very worrying

Anyway, just venting a little I guess. I'm scared things are going to get REALLY bad again, like they were a few years ago when we were trying to date for the first time. The disease consumed them so much they literally didn't have it in them to continue the relationship with me. When we got together properly in the summer of 2020, they promised they were better now and they'd never, ever let themselves get that sick again. I truly believed they meant it when they said they were better but I very quickly discovered that wasn't the case.

I'm glad they get help when they need it but they don't believe they'll ever overcome those thoughts and that it's all about ignoring those thoughts, not getting rid of them. I'm just so scared they'll die young. That's my ultimate fear, that even if they do 'recover', all the damage they've done to themselves will ultimately end in a premature death. Their liver is already very damaged and their skin is often yellow, so I know organs have been affected. According to their doctor, they're a 'healthy weight' at the moment, but there's still no periods. They've just started running again and dancing most nights and doing up to 3 hours of yoga. I think it's too much for a recovering body.

I'm hoping this is just a setback, not a full blown relapse because I don't believe our relationship will survive it a second time. My anxiety is sky-high and I'm trying so hard not to let it show because they are the most sensitive person in the world and have said so many times they don't ever want to be a burden on me. They aren't, but this disease is. It's affected everything. I'm not the one suffering with it but it's on my mind all day everyday as well. We don't even live together yet, but plan to at the end of this year. This worries me, because they eat well when we're together for the one full day we get a week when we're not at work, but I know they have many secret eating habits that I don't see but will be hard to hide when we live together. I hate that this is something I have to think about. It's like a third member of the relationship, we've even named that part of their brain! I hate it and feel so guilty at the thought that I truly don't know if I would have gotten back with them had I know they were still suffering. I love them so much but I'm not sure my own mental health can cope with this for the rest of our lives.

Sorry if that was a lot, it's just a bit tough at the moment.

Hi holzi, Welcome to the

Hi holzi, Welcome to the forums! We wanted to let you know we edited your post to remove mentions of certain foods, as it can be triggering to other users. You can check out our community guidelines here. In addition, you can check out our resources for loved ones here. Keep posting!


" I'm not the one suffering with it, but it's on my mind all day everyday as well. "

No kidding, ED's effect everyone who's involved, so I hope you won't feel bad about the fact that you care about this as much as you do. It's unsettling, it's true, but it's also a reflection of the caring sort of person you are. So I hope you can see it from that angle too.

As far as the relapse goes : That can happen. She may have honestly thought she was past it all, but as you are seeing, it can come back again too.

Who knows what the trigger was. Maybe she felt she was "undeserving" of being your partner, or having a relationship at all. People can become worried about that. Rather than you telling her that you think she's wonderful, and trying to reassure her (which is our natural inclination in situations like this) instead you may want to say "I know you may worry about how our relationship might go."

But yes, all the running and yoga and etc ; People can equate that with "being in control" and "being good enough". It's not an ego thing, it's often an insecurity thing, where they are trying to reassure themselves of their self-worth.
Which only they can do. Our efforts to reassure them often don't do anything.
But what can feel reassuring is when they fell that someone else "gets it" about what they are going through. Which is often a lot of self-doubt, and worries about the future. "I know you must worry about what the future may hold." That may not be the sort of cheery outlook that we're all supposed to take these days, but she'll feel less alone with her feelings if she knows that you understand that.
And yes, it's authentically hopeful that she's seeking help. "Taking a step for ourself" is a very good thing to hear that she's doing, so I think you can draw hope from that as well.
Otherwise, I hope you can keep writing if it seems to help. It's not weird that this is having an effect on you. If it wasn't you wouldn't be the sort of person you are.

Medical Symptoms

Hi holzi, we’re glad you’re here on the forums. We’re sorry to hear about what’s going on. You mentioned some medical symptoms and we encourage your partner to seek help from a medical provider about these concerns. The following are just some of the signs of a serious problem that demands immediate medical attention:

  • accidentally or deliberately caused themselves a physical injury
  • become suicidal
  • confused thinking and is not making any sense
  • delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (experiencing things that aren’t there)
  • disoriented; doesn’t know what day it is, where they are or who they are
  • vomiting several times a day or has uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea
  • experiencing dizziness or fainting spells
  • too weak to walk or collapses
  • painful muscle spasms
  • experience pain in the lower legs
  • complaining of chest pain or having trouble breathing
  • blood in their bowel movements, urine or vomit
  • a body mass index (BMI) of less than 16
  • an irregular heartbeat, and fast heartbeat, or very low heart beat (less than 50 beats per minute)
  • cold or clammy skin indicating a low body temperature or has a body temperature of less than 35 degrees Celsius/95 degrees Fahrenheit
  • experience dizziness, nausea, fever
  • wounds/cuts heal slowly
  • feel tingling in the hands or feet
  • blurred vision

If they experience anything above, we highly recommend seeking help from a medical professional as soon as possible. Seek medical help soon on an outpatient basis if they:

  • have significant heartburn and/or a burning sensation after eating
  • have other gastrointestinal concerns
  • have high blood pressure
  • struggle with significant joint or muscle pain
  • have difficulty sleeping (falling and/or remaining asleep)
  • struggle with fatigue, sudden weight gain, and/or hair loss
  • have frequent urination or unquenchable thirst
  • have gained and lost significant weight repeatedly
  • have gained significant weight in a short period of time
  • struggle with chronic diarrhea or constipation

Please also feel free to reach the NEDA Helpline at 800.931.2237 M-Th 11am-9pm ET and F 11am-5pm ET to talk about options for treatment that are available to you. You can also chat with us online M-Th 9am-9pm ET and F 9am-5pm ET.Please don’t hesitate to reach out, and take care.