National Eating Disorders Association

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kmarshall
How do I console her when she wants to relapse?

My partner and I have been dating for a while, and she struggles with an eating disorder and I have no idea how to help.

She's been struggling lately, and I have no idea how to console her. I find her the most beautiful women in the world and I tell her all the time, but her response is always "I don't see it that way." or "My brain doesn't think like that." And I understand that because I feel the same way about myself. I'm not sure what type of eating disorder she has, and I won't ask because I feel like that's a huge invasion of privacy. I try to talk to her about it, but I fear it makes it worse. I've read a bazillion articles about how to help and all that, but they say the same thing of just 'be there for them' and 'be patient'. I'm both, but that doesn't really help with my questions.

What should I say when she says she wants to relapse?
What do I do to prevent her from relapsing?
How do I talk to her about it, so I can better understand what she's going through?
What do I say when she needs consoling?
How do I ask if she's eaten today, without it triggering her?
How do I tell her she's not eaten enough without triggering her?

I want to help my girlfriend so bad. It's hard to see her struggle with something I can't help with. I want her to be happy with herself and to see herself the way I do. I know it takes patience and time and all that mess, but having some help from other people whose partners have eating disorders, I know will help me with my girlfriend. I can't see her relapse and I will do everything in my power to prevent it from happening. Thank you for your time.

rsever
No idea, but sounds like you're on the right track

Kmarshall, this is my first time posting on this forum. My wife has been going through a really rough time with Anorexia and your questions are ones I ask myself everyday. You sound like you're on the right track. Kudos to you for caring so much and making such an effort to understand and support your girlfriend. She is SO lucky to have you. As a partner, understanding the complexities of her disorder can really be taxing emotionally as well as physically.

So, as far as offering help...if she is actually opening up to you and talking to you about relapsing that's great (well, relatively speaking). It does mean she's reaching out for help. Maybe ask her questions such as "Tell me what you're feeling, what are you experiencing right now?" "Can you tell me what's making you anxious or nervous?" She may give you more details that you can then drill in on. You can tell her that anytime she feels like that, she can talk to you about it before deciding to act out on ED behaviors.

I'm not sure if this is the right thing to do, but I do know that, at least for an Anorexic, feeling fat is the worst thing in the universe. To that, I tell her she's so skinny. Skin and bones but she's not wearing the right goggles to see that right now. Yes, you can tell her she's beautiful but make sure you don't tell her she looks fit, or well, or healthy as that can trigger a desire to restrict, purge, or whatever else. For you, you might be saying a compliment, for her she might be hearing that she needs to cut weight. This would also be a good time to affirm her worth to you and to this world. Often, the feeling of being unworthy (of love, friends, health, you) might be what's really troubling her.

Good luck. Good for you for being there for her. Hope this helps!