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An eating disorder is difficult to cope with, and it becomes increasingly challenging when your partner doesn’t show any desire to understand the what and why of your recovery journey.
I was in a serious relationship when I saw this scenario unfold.
For almost two years, I was with someone who I thought would always be there for me. I quickly discovered otherwise when he displayed pure annoyance as I began to engage in eating disordered behaviours.
It wasn’t until my boyfriend angrily told me to “wake the **** up” that I thought it may be time to leave him.
But because I relied on him so much, I stuck around. I couldn’t imagine my life without him, even if he grossly misunderstood my struggle.
The more I went to the gym, the more agitated he became. He would call me to say that I was spending too much time at the gym and not enough with him. That was true, but the issue was also his unwillingness to help.
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I’m not blaming him for making my eating disorder worse, but he also wasn’t understanding or supportive.
When we went to the gym together and I didn’t stay long (about 45 minutes), he would tease me by saying, “Oh, you’re leaving? You’ve hardly been here!” You can imagine how that played with my head. If he really wanted to stop me from going to the gym, he could have forced me to leave. True, I wouldn’t have left without a fight, but I would have appreciated that he cared.
But nothing happened. His attitude toward me and my eating disorder did not improve.
The longer I stayed with him, the more he teased me about my eating and exercise habits. Finally, we decided to end our relationship.
If mine sounds like a familiar story, my initial advice would be to leave the situation before it gets worse.
I realize that every relationship is different, but I also know how detrimental it is to be with someone that sees your disorder as a joke.
Thankfully, there are ways to educate your loved ones and a variety of resources to help guide them in being supportive, even if they have no prior experience with eating disorders. While on your journey, it’s also important to be sensitive to your loved ones’ emotional state – watching a loved one struggle with an eating disorder is both mentally and emotionally exhausting.
If your partner or family member doesn’t seem to understand your eating disorder, please seek guidance.
Don’t settle for miscommunications and misunderstandings.
Help comes in many forms, including articles, counsellors, and online recovery forums that can be (and have been for me) extremely helpful for those struggling. (Editor’s Note: you can even ask for advice from Libero’s panel of Experts!)
Stay strong and remember you’re not alone.
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