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My Girlfriend has an eating disorder

JamesT344
Community Member

My girlfriend has an eating disorder and its caused a severe rift between us. She‘s self aware that she isn’t well and has just started seeing someone about it, but I fear it won’t be enough. Her diet alone is bad enough (less than 800 calories, sometimes as low as 400) but on top of that she exercises 5 days a week doing long runs, and dances full time at a dance school.

It makes no sense to me. Before her ‘diet’ she had a body most girls dreamed of- thin waist, toned muscles etc and she ate whatever she wanted. In my eyes she was perfect. She was always happy, always laughing, always was out of the house with her friends or doing something, we never argued, she was very affectionate. Now she’s a completely different person physically and personality wise. She has lost all her muscle, curves everything quite literally just skin and bone.

She always looks sad even when she says she isn’t, has a short temper, rarely laughs, has become super stubborn, doesn’t like leaving the house anymore. Her family, friends have all noticed the change.

Recently she’s been trying to take it out on me, saying our relationship isn’t the same anymore and that ‘I’M’ the reason for it. She doesn’t understand that it’s the consequences of her eating disorder thats changed her personality making her feel that way. She takes everything I say as a personal attack on her when pre- her ‘diet’ she would always ask and be appreciative of my advice. I’ve told her countless times that isn’t the case and that I just want the best for her but she won’t accept it.

To be honest when she had a go at me it made me pretty frustrated. From day 1 of her diet I warned her not to go extreme and the consequences that it could lead to (I have fairly good knowledge of caloric requirements and how to diet since i’m into fitness). I’ve internalised my own unhappiness that her disorder has brought because I wanted the focus to be on her getting better and I didn’t want to make her upset telling her I was unhappy. I can’t type enough to thoroughly explain but some examples are that she no longer has the energy to spend time with me, doesn’t say much and only stays over on rare occasions because she gets anxious when she isn’t in her own bed (at the beginning of our relationship she wanted to stay over ALL the time)

This leads me to the position i’m in. I want her to get better so things can be similar to before but I’ve stuck through months of this and can’t take much more.

5 Replies 5

JamesT344
Community Member

I don’t know what to do because it could go several ways. I guess i’m just worried that if I ended things now and she recovers after we’ve broken up then while it may seem selfish i’d probably feel like I wasted 3-4 months enduring the stress/ unhappiness that trying to support her and her eating disorder has caused me for nothing.

I want to stick it out and hope she gets better but early signs are telling me the therapy isn’t going to work and things are just going to get worse and we’ll end on bad terms. I say this as whilst she has started to eat slightly more, she has counteracted that by doing additional exercise so she doesn’t gain weight from that additional food.

Sorry if this became a rant. I usually keep everything to myself because I’d like to think i’m fairly mentally strong. I’m the kind of person that’s hard to upset, rarely feels down or stressed but it’s at the point where I can’t even get a goodnight sleep because i’m up all night thinking about this stuff. Hence my 2am post with work in 6 hours. I just really want her to get better, so does everyone, she’s got so much support from friends and family but only she can make the steps to change her problem, something at this point of time she doesn’t want to do

JamesT344
Community Member

I wrote a really long post but my computer shutdown and I lost it all so this post isn’t going to be anywhere near as in-depth as I wanted.

The decision was made for me as today as she decided she wanted to break up with me. Her reasoning was that she felt I didn’t care as much about her anymore and she didn’t want to see anyone so she could focus on recovering by herself.

This was very abrupt for me- I know most girls don’t make their mind up overnight but up until 1 and a half weeks ago there were no indications. In fact barely 3 weeks ago it was my birthday and she posted this lengthy post about how appreciative she was of having me as her boyfriend and that I “encouraged and motivated” her to do things she didn’t think she could. Making long term plans that she wanted to go on a holiday with me next year when the borders opened which I agreed to.

If anyone was going to initiate a break up I thought it would have been me due to my original post. I’ve endured the last few months with the burden of trying to support someone who isn’t mentally well. I suppressed my own feelings of unhappiness towards our relationship for the best interests of my girlfriends recovery. I watched the girlfriend that I loved deteriorate physically into someone I was no longer sexually attracted to, and seen her personality flip from a happy, funny, affectionate girl that I loved to be around, to one that always looked sad, was distant, went from a high sex drive to having no energy or desire, had to tiptoe around as discussions of food would trigger an anxiety attack etc, would still come over and see me but wouldn’t stay the night as out of nowhere she developed anxiety when sleeping somewhere other than her own house. All the while I put up with it in hopes she’d be able to get help, never voicing how shit it made me feel that my own girlfriend didn’t want to stay the night anymore- in fear my unhappiness would impact her recovery. The change in her mood correlates exactly with when her weight drastically dropped, and she ticks all the behavioural change boxes that eating disorders caused.

I was prepared for the physical change when she began her eating disorder but had no idea her mental state would get this bad.

I don’t know how I feel yet. I don’t feel sad at the moment because the girl that broke up with me wasn’t the same girl I began dating. I think if she ever recovers from her eating disorder is when I’d feel sad as I wasn’t there for it

JamesT344
Community Member
Just wanted to add some additional confusions I had with the breakup reasoning. We had a discussion on Sunday (day before I mad my original post) where she voiced for the first time that she wasn’t happy either. The main things she said she wasn’t happy with on that day was that she felt we did the same things all the time and wanted to do new activities. I pointed out that I wanted to do more things aswell, but we have only just came out of lockdown where it was unreasonable to expect that. I had been intending to make an effort before she even said that, that very same day I already had things planned for us to do before we had this argument. Regardless I said to her that we can go do whatever activities she wants, and we both agreed that the following weekend we’d do that. So that’s where i’m confused about what changed in those 3 days where she no longer felt she wanted to give her own suggestion a chance. Gyms reopened and that was a big part of what we both used to do together, we both went together on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I had work and our interactions where the same as they’ve always been, so I don’t know what sparked her to go ahead with this Wednesday night when I decided I wanted to see her, as part of doing something different as we typically didn’t see each other during the week due to school and work. I can only suspect her friends had involvement as they don’t have a good track record with their own relationships. (One of her best friends cheated on her ex of over a year with her ex’s best friend because apparently her ex was too nice and she got bored of him)

Hi James T344,

Welcome! I'm glad to have you here and talking about what's been going on for you. I sense a lot of mixed feelings in there, from concern to worry to frustration and all the way back again.

I hope that it's been helpful to write this down? I feel like with these posts maybe a journal could even be more helpful so you don't have to worry about word count. In a way, it does help us too because I'm reading your posts and not quite sure where to start because there is so much going on.

What I will say though is that I am glad your girlfriend is in therapy (or agreed to go to therapy). Even if you're afraid it won't work, it is a good step. That means that your girlfriend has some sort of incentive and insight there about her eating disorder. It can be really hard, because at the beginning it can be something people struggle with, and then identify with, until sometimes we don't even recognise them because their eating disorder has changed them so much. It sounds like this has been the case for you hearing about all the changes that's happened both with her and with you as a couple.

The one resource that I'd really like to recommend is Butterfly (They've changed their name from The Butterfly Foundation). They have a support line and a webchat, and I kind of wonder from your post if this real-time chat would be more helpful than chatting on the forums. To be clear too, the support is for loved ones and carers not just those struggling with eating and body-image issues. I'll link to it here if you're interested - https://butterfly.org.au/ 

I hope this helps a little - I know I haven't covered all of the things that you've talked about in your posts but hopefully writing it down was helpful in itself.

rt

Hi James,

Welcome to our forums: a place where users discuss their concerns in conversation based on their own experiences with mental health.

It sounds like you have been through a lot in recent weeks, especially the past couple of days: you've endured a long lockdown with a girlfriend who has developed an eating disorder which is affecting her personality and you are struggling to find ways to help her, leaving you contemplating the future of your relationship. Concerned for her wellbeing and the sleepless nights you were having out of worry for her, you reached out here and shared your story and before anyone in our wonderful online forums community was able to offer you any peer support or advice, your girlfriend breaks up with you leaving you even more confused than before.

That's a lot!

As mentioned the forums are for conversations and dialogue. This is why we have a character limit on all posts, which you can read more about in our FAQs here: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/welcome-and-orientation/the-forum-faq-thread...

We just ask that you keep this in mind in future. While the support offered here is often quick, it is not immediate. For immediate support, please reach out to the mental health professionals at our support service who are available 24/7 to provide brief counselling, support and referral on 1300 22 4636.

Once again, welcome to our valued online forums community where users give and receive support to one another based on their own experiences of mental health. We hope you find it helpful. You can read more about the underlying Beyond Blue forums principle here: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/welcome-and-orientation/forums-etiquette-giv...