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How Eating Disorders Influence Your Romantic Relationships
My eating disorder caused havoc on various aspects of my life: my academic achievements, relationships with family, and friends. But above all, my romantic relationship suffered the most from my body-image issues. Let's take it from the very beginning of my relationship when my boyfriend and I first started seeing each other.
Going on dates was hard. I wanted to make sure that I looked good, which at the time was equivalent to being skinny. Being skinny meant that I had to keep up with my diet even on our dates, especially on our dates. I wanted to go to restaurants where I could get food that fitted my dietary restrictions. But at the same time, I did not want to be that girl who is not fun or spontaneous because she is always on a diet. And the problem did not end there. Even if I chose a place, deciding on what to eat was another problem. I always waited for him to choose his meal first and made my decision based on his choice. If he was eating a burger, that meant I was ''allowed'' to have something similar, on the ''unhealthier'' side of the spectrum. But if he was having a salad, there was no way that I was eating a burger or a bowl of pasta. It always had to be somewhat healthier than his meal.
While walking on the street together, holding hands happily, and enjoying our date, I would suddenly become self-conscious and start comparing my body to his. Did I look bigger than him? When he carried me around, was I too heavy for him? When we laid on the grass playfully, was I crushing him? The dates that were supposed to be pleasant and exciting turned into distressing events for me.
When we had sleepovers, I would starve myself until he was hungry too. Make no mistake, he was not holding food back from me. It was my own doing. I could never ask for food or say ''Hey! I am hungry. Let's eat.'' because I was terrified that he would look at me and think ''Wow, she is eating so much. No wonder she is fat''. Thus, I avoided saying that I was hungry or at least made sure that I was not the first person to say that I was.
A few months into our relationship, I could not hold the cool and spontaneous girl façade anymore. I started sharing my struggles with him which to my surprise, brought us closer. I would cry in his arms wishing that my eating disorder just went away. I would tell him when I felt stressed when we were choosing our dinner spot for the night. Being much closer came with a price though: he also had to put up with my mood swings. There were moments when I would be very happy to be with him, which were suddenly disrupted by a glance in the mirror. Some days I did not want to do anything, besides lay in my bed and cry. Sometimes I would stop talking to him after a meal because I wanted to be alone and I wanted to devote all of my energy to hating my body. And some days, I simply did not have the energy to be in a relationship. Having unstable eating habits made me weak physically. All of my mental energy was wasted on thinking about how I looked and what I was going to eat.
Our fights were quite interesting. In my delusional mind, every fight was caused by my weight. Does he feel distant? It is probably because I gained weight and he doesn't find me attractive anymore. Is he distracted? He is probably thinking about his ex-girlfriend who has a better body than mine. Is he mad at me for something? He probably does not love me anymore because of how ugly I am. I attributed every little problem in our relationship to me not looking good enough: ''If only I were skinny enough'' I thought to myself, ''none of this would have mattered''.
We split up for a while. During that time, I became aware of how my behaviors and refusal of getting help strained our relationship to the point of breaking up. I understood that it was on me to take care of myself, not him. I realized how he was a source of support for me that I would not be able to benefit from unless I got proper treatment. This became a strong incentive for getting help. As I started healing slowly, our relationship healed with me. Despite the fact that my relationship had suffered the most as a result of my body image issues, it ended up being the most valuable source of support that greatly aided my recovery.