National Eating Disorders Association

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Hello everyone! I'm new to this site! Like most people, I came here looking for some help cause I'm lost, and not sure what path I need to take? Just being able to talk with others that are going thru some of the things I am would be of great help!
I'm engaged to a man who has a daughter. We've been living together for 7 months now. When I first started dating him, I was aware that the "Mother" hasn't been in the picture for 3 yrs. We talked a lot about what role I would play in her life, but it was obvious she really needed a female role model in her life! At this point in my life, I had raised 3 boy's, who are for the most part pretty successful in life (I thank God everyday for it) I'm not the kind of person who would come in and try to take the place of her Mother because she has one. It's just sad that her Mom doesn't care! I just want to be that person she can turn to for whatever she needs.
I did notice that the D was very affectionate with her dad. She would always lay on him if we were just sitting around watching TV. There were times when it would just be he and I sitting together and I would be holding his hand or he would have his hand on my leg etc. I can remember the first time she saw our affections for each other and she stopped in her tracks, almost as if it really upset her to see it. I understood why it would bother her somewhat, cause she was used to always having her Dad to herself. I started to pull back by not holding hands etc. when Dave pulled me aside and talked about how important it was for his D to be able to see a normal, loving relationship. He's right about that so I continued to be affectionate as I had before (I'm not a person who's into PDA I'm quite shy actually) This is when I started to notice that the D started to obsessively talk about weight, she's a very beautiful young lady! Anytime she engaged with us, it was always about her appearance, and I would sit there while Dave would talk/lecture her for hours about this. It got to where if we had friends over to play cards, she would interrupt the game to talk to her Dad about her body. If Dave and I were watching TV, the D would be there to but she would always be facing away from the TV just laying there, staring up at the ceiling, saying nothing, except a deep sigh every 10 min until Dave would say "what's wrong baby" and then the same concerns about her body. On several occasions I would give her a make-over and talk to her about how pretty she was etc, but it didn't seem to matter. I have been really patient and understanding with this, but sometimes I would get frustrated especially after I had a job change, so now I put in 80 hrs a week at work. I'm barely home, and the the few times I am there, it's always the same to where she's so miserable and she makes it well known. I feel bad for her cause she has no friends. And when there has been times where we've got a kid for her to meet etc. she doesn't want any part of it! Her dad is the only friend she has, and that's the way she wants it!
Her Dad became frustrated at times by telling her thatt there was nothing more he could say differently to her about that subject (plus the fact he's a man lol and can't relate to it much, but he tried) and told her that he would talk about anything other than that. I was feeling like it all had to do with me and feeling like I'm trying to take her dad from her, which I'm not! Because of my job, and the fact that I put in 80 hrs a week and we never have time together, and the little time we did get to spend together, was always with the D laying there, looking deeply sad, and wanting all of Dad's attention to discuss exercising, etc. he finally told her that when we were all together that we wanted to enjoy family time with her, but just not the obsessed behaviors she was displaying.
Don't take this part wrong, while I was at work he would take her to the grocery store and show her healthy foods, etc. They took walks together, and other activities with just the 2 of them.
I started to notice that she started to restrict. She was starting to look unhealthy to me. When I would say something to her Dad he would say that he didn't think there was a problem. I started to get angry with Dave because I felt like he wasn't taking it seriously enough. One day the D texted me asking for me to buy a scale for her! I told her dad about it and told him that I was against getting the scale for her because it would only be a tool to enable her symptoms. He agreed with me, or so I thought! At this point I'm getting really concerned because I'm well aware of the path this young girl is about to go down, with possible death being the end of that road! I'm VERY angry that her Dad decided it was ok for her to have this scale after we discussed that she didn't need it. I tried to explain to Dave that it was similar to putting drugs in front of an addict and telling them to not touch them! I've even discussed that she needs some kind of help, that maybe we should consider therapy. Dave thinks it's a phase she's going thru and once she starts back to school, things will change. I'm in a really hard spot here because I have no say in this really. it's hard to watch someone especially a kid go thru this and I feel helpless, because I want to save her!
This is the second week of school, and I'm at work when I received a text from her that she stayed at home because she's not "feeling well" because she's to disgusted to even look at herself in a mirror!
I've also noticed signs of her becoming a binge eater. Again I pointed it out to her Dad, telling him how they will over eat, then go purge. He says she's not purging cause he would hear it. I talked about how the ED person becomes secretive and hide symptoms. Again he doesn't think so!!! Last night this girl I watched her binge, and I kept track of how much she ate. After a certain point I stopped keeping count!
I'm the type of person who will analyze things over and over, and somehow I feel like I'm the problem? Maybe it's cause she's feeling like I'm taking her Dad away from her? But I'm rarely home, and they have lot's of time together. Then I think that maybe she's looking at me and how I look? I know a lot could be the fact that Mom's not around, and we've talked about that, but she insists that she is happy her Mother isn't around cause they don't get along! I know that it has to hurt, and is some of the reason this young lady has these issue's! But we can't really change it for her unfortunately.
I don't know what to do for her at this point, except to let her know I'm always here for her! I'm upset that her Dad has let her stay home from school when she's not sick. She just has more time to be alone and to obsess more! I believe she needs to be in school so she's not alone! Maybe I'm wrong? Dave say's "she gets 7 days to miss every semester" no big deal! My thoughts are that if you're not dying, you're going to school!
Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to give you a little background on how we got here! I do feel like she is in the beginning stages of developing an eating disorder. I do feel like Dave is very blind to all this, and his way of dealing with it is almost nothing. I do know that if something isn't done, than we're going to lose her and that's not an option for me! I love and care for her deeply, and just want for her to be happy. If you haven't noticed already, I'm the "fix it" type person, and I'm losing so far...
Feel free to ask anything! All I know at this point is that I love this family, and I'm in it for good or bad! I haven't dealt with anything like this before, and I just need some guidance, and would appreciate any advice at this point. I can take criticism to! Whatever it takes, I will do! I just don't want to anything wrong at this point!

Hi, Carol44!

First, welcome to the forums! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. I hope you find some of the help and support you're looking for here.

It certainly sounds like your heart is in the right place and that you have your family's best interests in mind. I think some of the behaviors you've mentioned definitely sound concerning, and are worth looking into. EDs are not a phase, and behaviors like this don't just go away on their own. Perhaps your fiancé has a lot of misconceptions about EDs and doesn't understand the symptoms or how serious they can be.

The NEDA website has a lot of great information, but a great starting point for you and for your fiancé to look at is the Parent Toolkit: . Here are some other great pages:

It might help to have your fiancé get on the same page as you, and then you might consider approaching his/your daughter. NEDA has an online screening tool that asks questions about disordered eating behaviors and thought processes, and that might be another way to see if she may have a problem:

I would also recommend trying to find her a psychologist or therapist who specializes in eating disorders. If you need help finding a professional in your area, you can call the NEDA Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (Mon-Thurs 9am-9pm EST, Fri 9am-5pm EST).

I hope this information helps, at least as a starting point! Please keep us all updated here on the forums. We want to hear from you, and we all wish you well. You aren't "losing this battle"; even if it feels very "uphill" right now, recovery from EDs is possible. Your determination to help your family is clear, and I think that will be a major asset for you all in the future. Keep reading and learning about EDs, keep trying to express your concern to your fiancé, and look into consulting with a professional. Good luck, Carol44!