It’s normal for you to feel helpless if your partner is struggling with all of the things we’ve listed in our previous article. Don’t agonize yourself, there are still steps that you can take to support your partner, and also care about yourself, if you are in this situation:
- Educate yourself.Learn everything there is to know about your partner’s eating disorder. It is extremely important that you clear up any misconceptions you have about it. Believe me, this is what will help you the most in understanding what he/she is struggling with, and how you might be helping or hurting him/her with your responses to his/her behavior.
- Support your partner.It’s likely to become overprotective, or withdrawn and silent or to be policing around him/her, if you’re dealing with a partner with an eating disorder. You may also find yourself questioning every food decision he/she makes, or on the contrary, avoiding the topic altogether for fear of saying the wrong thing. Instead, try talking to your partner in a nonjudgmental way if you notice he/she is struggling. See if you can make him/her comfortable talking and being honest with you. Eating disorders flourish in the darkness, so try helping him/her bring it into the light.
- Be careful with your words. You may not think your comments about his/her eating habits or weight are harmful, but the reality is that he/she’s constantly thinking about it, and something you say can easily trigger him/her. As you educate yourself on his/her disorder, educate yourself on what words are helpful and what words aren’t.
- Find support for yourself.You most likely could benefit from a support group, or even individual or couples therapy with an eating disorders specialist. These environments provide a safe place for you and your partner to talk about your concerns and find new ways to cope with feelings and support your partner.
There is hope for your partner, and your relationship, no matter how hopeless things may seem. You can play a crucial role in your partner’s recovery process, and you might even find that walking together through recovery actually strengthens your relationship.