What You Need to Know When Dating Someone with an Eating Disorder
Dating is complicated, but it can become even more difficult when an eating disorder is thrown into the mix.
Here are some tips that could help you if you are dating someone who is suffering from an eating disorder:
It's Not All About Food
The first thing you should understand about your loved one's eating disorder is that the issue is not all about food and that she or he is probably trying to deal with a bigger emotional problem. An eating disorder can stem from an inability to handle anxiety, depression, body image issues, or the general stresses of life. Your loved one may also have issues with control, patterns, and coping with strong emotions.
How You Can Help: Try to reach out to him or her and offer your help and support. You can also suggest that he or she seek out professional help. However, be ready to receive a negative response to these suggestions on occasion as it can be hard for your loved one to admit that he or she needs outside help.
Don't Be Judgmental
If your loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, it is best to avoid making any judgments or comments about his or her body weight, appearance or eating habits. Many times a comment about his or her weight, whether it be about being too skinny or overweight, might trigger symptoms. Similarly, many people who struggle with an eating disorder are very self-conscious about other people watching them eat. Therefore, you should avoid making comments about what, how or when he or she eats.
How You Can Help: It can be hard to avoid saying comforting things like “You're beautiful” or “You look great just the way you are” when you are trying to lend your loved one support. Instead of complimenting his or her appearance, compliment his or her intelligence, sense of humor, or any other kind of skills that are not related to physical appearance.
Do Not Push Food on Them
It is important to keep in mind that you should not change your behavior around your loved one; don't change your attitude towards food in an attempt to accommodate him or her. Simply act normal. If you would like to encourage him or her to eat, do it in a casual way, but do not constantly try to push the person to eat. Know that when your loved one is striving for recovery, what he or she wants most is to be with normal people who have a normal attitude towards food.
How You Can Help: If your loved one has been put on a nutritional plan by his or her therapist or nutritionist, you can be supportive by following along with him or her as he or she will likely appreciate the sense of accountability that this can provide.
Be Understanding and Have Fun
If you see that your loved one is a little sad, irritated, or not in the mood to go out and eat, keep in mind that this is not necessarily due to his or her eating disorder. Like most people, he or she can get irritated by normal, everyday problems. Not all of your loved one's issues may revolved around food and weight.
How You Can Help: If you want to be a supportive partner for your loved one, just have fun. Be emotionally supportive and understanding. Furthermore, doing fun activities will distract him or her from all of the issues and problems he or she is struggling with in life. Show your loved one all of the promise life holds. If you can show your sweetheart that the world is not as bleak a place as he or she believes it to be, it will help him or her immensely with recovery.