National Eating Disorders Association

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Girlfriend with bulimia for several years

I've been seeing my girlfriend for a few months and for the duration of our relationship she has been openly bulimic the entire time. What I mean is she is open to me about the problem and even tells me when she's going to be sick after a meal or when ever. She knows she has a problem and that she needs help, the problem is that she is a very very stubborn and single minded person and she has decided she can't get help. She grew up in foster care and has had a traumatic upbringing in other ways as well as having had bulimia for several years. I desperately want to help her and have suggested on many occasions that she needs help. I have offered to go with her, to pay for private care, to go to group therapy, to go the gym with her to healthily lose weight, I've offered to diet with her in a safe, healthy way and probably other things as well. But the vast majority of the time having these discussions ends with her diverting her frustration back at me. Because of her upbringing she's naturally extremely defensive and so the moment that to her I start suggesting things that she doesn't want to do, she loses her very violent temper. Not physically violent, she just has a very fiery temper. I'm at a complete loss at what I should do in this situation. It's gotten to the point where because I'm terrified of the consequences, when she tells me she is going to be sick I just allow her to do it and even sometimes indirectly support her in doing it. Because if she can't be sick then it makes her far far worse and I don't want her to feel like I control her or would try even try to control her. She has to feel completely in control at all times.

Anyway, can anybody offer any realistic advice? Or at least has anybody experienced a similar situation before themselves?

Hi CharlieDB7,

First of all, thank you for reaching out to the forums. I can tell how much you love and care about your girlfriend, and I'm so sorry about this situation. I was in a similar situation with my best friend who suffered from an eating disorder. I was the only one who knew what she was going through and I consistently encouraged her to get help. She was very resistant at first, but eventually she came around and told her parents. It sounds like you've already been persistent and have given her many options. One step I think you can take is to call the NEDA Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (M-R 9-9, F 9-5 EST). The Helpline volunteers can give you specific resources in your area, from therapists to support groups. Maybe if you approached your girlfriend withs specific names and locations, she would be more open to it. Obviously I can't tell you how she'll react, but I definitely think it's worth a try.

Please don't forget to take care of yourself too! I hope to hear from you again soon.