National Eating Disorders Association

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Want to tell boyfriend about past eating disorder, but no idea how to

I struggled with bulimia for four years and am now 7 months clear of purging. I made the decision to stop on my own and have been maintaining my recovery without help from family or a therapist.

Although my boyfriend knows I have a past involving an eating disorder, I wasn't able to tell him the whole truth when I did confess a few months ago. According to him I struggled with this issue for just under a year and was able to stop shortly after meeting him. The truth is my issue began shortly before meeting him and although it was on and off for the first year we were together (2010), it picked up significantly once we entered a long-distance relationship (Fall 2010 - Spring 2012) and finally began to slow toward the beginning of 2013 with only a few instances before I officially stopped in October. This 7 months has been the longest I have gone without one slip-up.

My relationship is getting more serious, we will be moving in together in August and although we've had our fair share of struggles (we took a brief break last year) we're very happy and excited to be starting this new chapter together. Lately I've been feeling the urge to share the real truth about my past with him. Given his supportive reaction to finding out I had an issue like this at all before, I don't think he would turn his back on me as a person hearing the whole truth. But I do fear him looking at me differently and that pushing him away.

I still struggle with the self-loathing and need to remind myself not to fall back into old habits, I don't want him to view me as weak or damaged. I also don't want him to focus on the fact that I lied to him previously, I'm not sure how to communicate to him that I was truly unable to share the depth of my problem with him before and it's taken this long to be ready to open up to anyone.

I want him to know because I want to be completely honest with him. And I want to be able to tell him when I am experiencing the lows that would previously make me want to purge or cause me to become inexplicably clingy suddenly, but I can't imagine losing him or losing the connection we have now. Part of me wonders if this is a secret I should live with as long the problem never begins again.

Just wondering if anyone out there has gone through something even remotely similar and would have some advice?

Thank you for taking the time to read, I really appreciate it.

i dealed with the same issue!

i dealed with the same issue! i personally never told my boyfriend because i believed its none of his business to know. As long as im not purging anymore he doesnt need to know

Hi jmb5729,

Hi jmb5729,
Thank you so much for sharing your story! It's completely normal to feel scared and nervous when sharing something as personal as an eating disorder, even with those closest to us, but you've taken a great step in opening up the conversation and wanting to maintain your relationship with honesty about your past! It sounds like you have a strong relationship with your boyfriend, and I think that being open about your past but also your current fears/worries will help him understand that your motivations to open up now are for the good of your relationship.

I personally dealt with a similar situation and had a difficult time opening up because I didn't want to be treated differently because of my past with eating disorders. For me, it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders though when I did open up, and by explaining my hesitations, it helped others to be able to support me as I recovered.

Having a therapist may also be another option. Even if you are recovered, having a professional can help you learn more about how to overcome these lasting worries about opening up about your past and help you with communicating with your boyfriend. The NEDA Helpline is a great resource for learning about other options that might be helpful too: 1-800-931-2237, M-R 9-9, F 9-5 EST. The NEDA Navigators program is another resource where you can be matched up with someone who has also been affected by an eating disorder, who can also help you and offer a supportive listening ear: Here are some other tips that might be helpful:

I hope this helps!
All the best,

Thank you so much for both of

Thank you so much for both of your responses, I truly appreciate you taking the time to be so kind and offer advice. Have a great day :)

Hi jmb5729!

Hi jmb5729!

I debated telling my boyfriend for what seemed like the longest time, and I finally did it. I actually made him guess most of it, because I was embarrassed to say it out loud. Anyways, now that he knows he is surprisingly SO helpful. I can't even believe the responses he has sometimes, perhaps your boyfriend will be the same? It is just so nice to have someone there that you can say "I'm feeling really badly about myself right now" and have them bring you back to the present, and help you think logically about the situation. Hope this helps, and best of luck.

A little belated!

Wow, my story is a little similar to yours. I was bulimic/anorexic starting at age 15 until about 20 years old is when I finally stopped. I have had slip ups every now and then over the past 4 years, but I've finally began to start loving myself even though my metabolism is beginning to slow. I myself never got treated or saw a therapist for my issues with food; some of my friends and my family did, however, know about it to some degree while it was going on. I told my new boyfriend a little bit about it because he is a recovering alcoholic, and he never judged me. I have not gone in depth about it with him either, but I would not be afraid to do that with yours (you guys have been together way longer than us). If this is someone you truly love and want to be with, then they should be able to understand your troubles and be there for you. If they cannot do that, then that might be a sign that they are not the right one for you. You should never feel like you need to hide anything from anyone, letting your inner emotions out will help you get to know yourself and be more comfortable with yourself!

Hope this helps!


This was something I also had an issue with, but knew that I had to tell my boyfriend at some point about my anorexia/binge-eating/over-exercising. After all, if we were going to make it long term, I wanted him to know about my monsters. I finally told him one night when we being particularly open to each other. I personally wouldn't have told him out of the blue, but at that moment, I knew that I could trust him with what had been my deepest secret for so long. Surprisingly, he told me he had struggled with an eating disorder too! I think you just have to trust your boyfriend to understand the guilt. Every person has felt at some point in their lives that they could lose some weight here, add some muscle there. It may be hard at first for him to understand why you lied about how long it happened for, but I know you will make him understand. I hope that telling him the truth will open up the same path to honesty that it did with my boyfriend. Good luck!