For all the men thinking woman are complicated, an eating disorder makes her 50x more complicated.
There is absolutely no doubt relationships in recovery are hard. Time and time again I hear my therapist say “I see lots of relationships end during recovery, you just find out who you truly are and realize it doesn’t work like it used to”
I myself have questioned whether I could pursue this new me, holding hands to someone who knows the old me (the skinnier me).
Unfortunately, I still have no idea.
But I can offer a few tips that my partner and I have come to rely on.
- Communication– The most obvious but most forgotten. Communication is everything. I mean everything. This is something I am continuously reminded works but continuously forget to do. Unfortunately, a lot of this relies on the individual suffering from an eating disorder. Time and time again, my boyfriend and family ask if I’m okay or if I need anything, about 50% of the time I’m probably not but I will say I am. I don’t know why it’s so hard to admit I’m struggling, but it’s a common challenge. The best thing to do is to make clear you are there for them, asking “What can I do to help?” can start the conversation, but don’t be upset if “I’m not sure” is the answer. This is a practice, it takes time. Continuously checking in and letting them know your free to listen and not judge is the only way to open the communication.We’re working on implementing a once a week check-in where we both have the time and space to talk about anything bothering either one of us.
- Redo First Dates– Okay..the cheesiest perhaps but it works! You are reborn in recovery- it may sound dramatic but if you’re in it, you get it. Taking the time to plan special dates or fun activities together can really help explore the patient’s news self. It’s fun for both of you, you’ll be shocked by how different things can be once your loved one has reached a certain stability in recovery
- Practice Self-Care Together– This is a biggy, but I recently just learned it. While I was away from my partner for 9 months, I had a ton more time to do yoga, practice positive self-talk, journal etc. Once I was back by my boyfriend’s side, I found myself spending my typical self-care time on him instead. I started to slip but continued to fail to practice self-care. Make the most out of your time by practicing self-care together. Yoga has become crucial to managing my anxiety and body image, so we decided to start practicing together from time to time. He’s also great at participating in my positive mindset practices.We usually discuss the 3 best parts of each our days during dinner.
- Don’t make assumptions– If you’re dating someone in recovery, your most likely dating a much different person. The key is to not make assumptions. Don’t assume they are going to the gym that day. Don’t assume they won’t eat pizza for dinner. These assumptions act as guidelines a patient may feel constricted to. Obviously eating pizza is a toughie, and I face a ton of negative thoughts before, during and after the event… but you assuming “Oh they have pizza you won’t eat that” Just because I wouldn’t be caught dead eating it a year ago, doesn’t mean I won’t try it today. If I’ve worked up the strength to try that slice of pizza, you assuming I wouldn’t eat it just reminds me this isn’t something I wouldn’t have eaten so I shouldn’t eat it…