National Eating Disorders Association

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Savill26
Girlfriend with ED broke up with me out the blue

Hi all, I’ve seen quite a few similar posts on here which I’ve read through, but for my own peace of mind just wanted to post/ask about my own experience.

My ex has been suffering ED since well before we met, but it was something we were both aware of from early on in the relationship. My mum had severe anorexia when I was younger and thought I might be in a better position to provide support for her.

As with many of the posts I’ve seen, I thought our relationship was in a great place. We were both deeply in love, I had a connection that I’d never felt with anyone else before and both of us seemed to believe that it would go the distance. There were obviously times when the ED was hard, it was difficult for her when I went to exercise, or for some social situations. She also often had suicidal or self-harm thoughts.

The last time we were together was on Boxing Day, and it was one of the happiest days we’ve had together. After that we went into lockdown (didn’t live together), so we were unable to meet at all. In that time we messaged and calls most days and I never got the sense anything was particularly wrong. Suddenly, after 3 weeks in lockdown, she calls me out the blue and starts talking about how bad the ED has made her feel about herself, how she needs to focus on recovering on her own, how she needs to focus fully on her final 6 months at uni. The whole thing completely shocked me and all I can really remember is how matter of fact and certain she sounded about everything.

I can definitely come to terms with certain parts of that, like why you’d want to push someone away or feel like you need to work on it alone for a while etc. I just don’t understand how her feelings could have changed that quickly. Is it common for that to happen? Or was her ED confusing her? Or is it more complicated than that, perhaps that she doesn’t feel like she can or should love someone in her state? This question has been bugging me for months. I feel guilty, but part of me wishes that she had seemed more sad about it.

We haven’t been in contact that much, on occasion I’ve reached out when I feel really depressed (for better or for worse). It still sounds like she’s sure of her choice. She says that she does miss me and cares about me, but she’s not said anything about actually feelings for me. She also mentioned that she thought she might be gay now. How should I react to hearing things like this? And what might be causing her feelings and emotions to be fluctuating like this?

I obviously miss and love her deeply, and after 4 months am still struggling to let go. I feel like I know more about what she’s going through than most of her friends and family and I genuinely want to be there for her. Like I said, she says she still misses me and cares about me, but hasn’t made any effort to reach out in the last 4 months. Do I take this as a sign that she doesn’t actually need me, or that it’s actually a really tough time for her and I need to find a different way of letting her know that I can be there for her?

Thanks in advance for any comments and thoughts.

BobJ48
Savill.

Yes, the "pushing away" thing. I'm sure you've seen it mentioned over an over here, so it really is something that's common. Common, but unsettling, that is.

"I just don’t understand how her feelings could have changed that quickly. Is it common for that to happen?"

People with EDs often talk about how "fake" they feel, and how much energy it can take to seem "normal". Like they are always having to put on an act, when they are trying to "act like themselves". So it's possible that those feelings became overwhelming for her, and she felt a need to cancel her relationship with you, because she was really a different person than you thought that she was and etc.

Which is ED talking I'm afraid, because often we can see the person much better than they can see themselves, when ED is in control.

" I feel guilty, but part of me wishes that she had seemed more sad about it."

EDs really can have an effect on people, to a point where they can feel like there's no room in their life for emotions. Like they really have to get serious about things, you know ? With none of this romantic foolishness. My sense is that she would normally be feeling sad about this, but…self-discipline, you know ?

"She also mentioned that she thought she might be gay now. How should I react to hearing things like this? And what might be causing her feelings and emotions to be fluctuating like this? "

People with ED's can find themselves suffering from "sense of self issues". Their thoughts are pulling them in so many directions that they can have a difficult time defining themselves. You've seen what a wonderful person she can be, but there's also a reason that EDs are defined as a mental illness. They can have emotionally disruptive effects way beyond just the food and the eating aspects.

And yes, four months is a while to not be getting any energy from her, particularly when things seemed so good in the past. You can often hear people with EDs speak with regret about how they ruined their relationships too. Which may be how she feels. That she's ruined things between the two of you. I've been in situations like that myself, where it was the other person who screwed up, through lying or through other reasons, and despite my willingness to forgive them, they don't want to have anything more to do with me or the relationship. That the relationship reminds them of too many personal faults which they believe that they have.

I'm not sure what you can do in this situation. It's likely that she's having some real difficulties with her ED, and has a lot of ambivalence about where she wants (or is able) to take things, and that that may be what's at the heart of all this.

So " I know things may be being rough for you" may be the best response you can give her right now, because that's likely the truth of the matter.

In any case, just some thoughts.