Bulimia nervosa afflicts approximately 4% of women and 0.5% of men in the US. Nearly 4% of those suffering from bulimia will die from the disease and nearly all struggling with the illness experience serious medical and/ or emotional effects. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.
People who are diagnosed with an eating disorder often believe that they are the culprit of their own hurts and frustrations. But this is among the many myths involving eating disorders, which include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. This misconception adds insult to injury, leading to worsening of the symptoms and making recovery impossible. Consequently, these people do not only hurt themselves but the relationships that they establish, especially romantic relationships.
Love relationships cannot survive if one is obsessed about her weight or if she has an extreme case of an eating disorder. It is because these disorders promote negative thought patterns, pessimism, and insecurities, and these can tremendously impact one’s chances of maintaining a beautifully healthy relationship. Below are some reasons why.
People who suffer from an eating disorder are most often secretive and have trust issues. As we may know, trust is a vital component in every relationship. If there’s no trust, a relationship will have trouble flourishing. If one is to keep her binge eating or calorie counting from her partner and she has been doing this for years, then she is hiding an important aspect of her life from her partner, perhaps out of fear of being judged or rejected. And when there is a feeling of fear or hesitancy, she may not be able to return the compassion and intimacy, which make for a meaningful relationship.
Anyone who is has an eating disorder is very invested in maintaining the thoughts and behaviors that fuel it, so when a loved one expresses concern they may be met with anger or defensiveness. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA
A person with a bulimia or anorexia tries to avoid going to parties and other socializing events for fear of eating too much, and this may bother her partner, especially if he doesn’t know why she is so adamant at refusing to socialize with him. So she finds a reason not to go because she doesn’t want him to know the truth. What if it’s his birthday celebration? Wouldn’t he think any excuse would be insufficient?
Living a life in fear and embarrassment builds limitations and blocks around us that destroy our self-confidence. Despite not telling their partners, a bulimic or anorexic often shows a dissatisfaction of themselves.
Dysfunctional eating and weight dissatisfaction cause shame, which then leads one to keep secrets from her partner. On the contrary, opening up to one’s struggles with weight will possibly increase intimacy between partners and help diminish shame.
Denying the problem and thereby denying its effects are not uncommon. Patients sometimes lie also about the severity of their condition, further hampering the selection of appropriate treatment options. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS
Eating disorder is a serious mental illness that makes us think less of ourselves. We become ecstatic one day because we’ve lost 4 pounds just to gain them all back with just one sitting of pizza and beer. We’d feel crazy depressed and frustrated. Then our partner wonders why we act the way we do, but we can’t tell them. We begin to feel so low, thinking that by now they’d feel differently about us.
That is how an eating disorder can destroy one’s self-image and one’s life. The inflicted individual will not be proud of almost anything she has because it is engraved in her thoughts that she is defective due to her eating issues.
Choosing A Partner
If she were not yet in a romantic relationship, her criteria for a partner would be lopsided because of her eating problem. Because she wants someone that she can be open with or not be ashamed, she might look for a partner who has the same mental health issue, or perhaps someone with another mental condition. She will be looking for someone who is flawed, as she believes that is what she deserves. Or it could be because she wouldn’t feel half as bad.
These are only some of the more common reasons why dysfunctional eating can negatively impact a romantic relationship. Although it can be different in other relationships, it is almost always true that where there is an eating problem, there is always someone who is suffering from shame and low self-esteem, which will inevitably come between the love of two people in the relationship.