National Eating Disorders Association

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AS9797
Supporting my gf through her recovery

My gf and I have been dating for about a month now. She has been open about having an ED since our first date. She is happy to tell me facts about it, etc. But, when it comes to her struggles and feelings with it, that is a different story. Like for example, Saturday night she insisted she was fine. Then, she went to the bathroom for a long time and I later figured out she had been crying the whole time. I tried to talk to her about it, but she refused to tell me what was wrong. She finally said it was ED related when I asked, but she wouldn't tell me how she was feeling, or what had happened. She just said she did something stupid. I feel very shut off when this happens. It feels almost like she is trying to push me away. She says it feels like I don't care, which I really don't understand. She has admitted in the past that she doesn't think it's something I do, but I feel like I need to change my approach. I tell her I'm there for her, ready to talk about it. But, if she won't tell me specifically what is going on, I feel like I have to make super generalized statements and really don't know what to say. I feel like I just end up saying the same things over and over. I ask if there is anything I can do and she says there is nothing. I do feel like part of it is a self esteem issue. I have a hard time believing people care about me as well. I know I can't fix the problems, nor is that my goal. I not be able to help directly, but I want her to feel loved and supported. Any advice would mean the world to me. Thank you!

BobJ48
AS97

Hey there. I'm glad you took the time to write.

And yes, EDs and the way sufferers deal with them can seem mysterious alright. I'm not sure what your GF's behaviors were before, but it's not too difficult to imagine what must have happened in the bathroom. My guess is that she may have had a bulimic episode, which if this is not a normal behavior for her, can feel like a big failure to the person.

You are also right about how there are "the facts" and then there are the feelings that the person is having. And you are right about the self-esteem issue too. What seems to us like them acting like a normal day-to-day person, can feel to them like they are struggling, and are barely able to put up an acceptable social front. Because of what horrible human beings they actually are, and etc. Not horrible because they have an ED, but just horrible and unworthy in general. This crumbling of self-esteem is really common among people with EDs, and is one of it's most unfortunate symptoms, because as I suspect you've seen, your GF is not a horrible person at all.

" But, if she won't tell me specifically what is going on, I feel like I have to make super generalized statements and really don't know what to say."

I talk with a lot of people who have EDs, and for myself, I don't really need to know the details. All I really need to know is that the person is struggling. And as you might expect, I make a lot of super-generalized statements too. Which despite not being particularly specific, can be fine, and a comfort to people. " I know things must be difficult now "….I mean, how general is that ? And yet it's a true statement, and people can feel a little bit better, knowing that someone else understands that part.

" I may not be able to help directly, but I want her to feel loved and supported."

Well exactly. While we may not be able to come up with an actual "thing" we can do, support is something that we can provide. Depending on how much of that the person will allow, of course. My sense has always been that our best responses come when we try and put ourselves in the other person's shoes. Like we can't necessarily think of something that another person can "do" for us, but if we feel like the other person understands us and our situation a little, then that's where the comfort comes from I think.

Anyhow, I'm not sure how helpful this note was, but keep writing ?