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Bulimia Struggles and Dating

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  • #363757
    limbikanimaria
    Participant

    I have been struggling with bulimia on and off since I was 17. I am currently 28. I have worked with three different therapists at various points, but found that therapy was only helpful to a certain degree. So, now I am managing the eating disorder on my own and find that mindfulness, keeping a routine, meditation and yoga are most helpful tools.

    I have been in series of unstable relationships in my adult life, with my last actual relationship (we were together for 9 months) ending in December 2018.  Since then, I have taken breaks from dating, tried casual dating on and off, and just did whatever felt best.  I am at a point where I would like to create a healthy long term partnership with someone.  But, I am struggling with the questions – should I take a step back from dating until I have been “recovered” for an extended period of time? Or, should I continue trying to date as an active struggler of bulimia, allowing it to create vulnerability and authenticity in a relationship.

    I will explain my thoughts on both sides.  One of my thoughts is that if I took significant time and space away from dating and didn’t re-enter the dating world until I was “recovered” for an extended amount of time, it might set me up in the best way possible to enter a potentially healthy, long term partnership. Being stable by myself first and foremost could allow for that best case scenario, with me at my “best self”.

    On the other hand, I also think this could be the perfectionist side of me talking, the part of me that believes I am not worthy of a healthy, long term partnership until I am significantly recovered from my eating disorder, and “have it all together”.  The part of me that believes I am not worthy of love or fulfilling relationships because I am “flawed”.

    Will I ever “have it all together”, or am I holding myself back from relationships as a way of self protection? Could dating, and allowing myself to feel that vulnerability be a step in my healing journey? These are some other questions I am asking myself before I move forward towards or away from dating.

    There is a part of me that knows this eating disorder has taken so much from me, kept me from living my life, and kept me from allowing myself to have fulfilling relationships with others. I also embrace that my eating disorder has taught me a lot about life and myself, and it was part of the darkness/madness that I came to experience as a human. I think that even if I took a significant break from dating now, all of the intimacy issues that I left off at would be waiting for me when I re-entered the dating world months or years from now, and would still need to be faced and worked through at that future time.

    I think of this particular story in a book called “Brain over Binge” by Kathryn Hansen, where she struggled with bulimia in the form of bingeing and excessive exercise for many years.  There is a part in her book where she explains how she used to binge until she felt sick, and would sleep on the kitchen floor because she felt sick and too unworthy to sleep in bed with her husband (or boyfriend, I can’t remember).  On those nights, he used to come out and sleep on the floor with her.  Could I have this type of relationship as an active struggler of bulimia, with honesty and vulnerability in a relationship, or was this man in Kathryn Hansen’s book just some kind of unrealistic unicorn? Were they just codependent?

    I realize this is a long and scattered post, but please share your thoughts if you have any. I am trying to take a hard look at myself and make the best, most conscious decision moving forward.

    #363775
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Limbikanimaria:

    “should I take a step back from dating until I have been ‘recovered’ for an extended period of time? Or, should I continue trying to date as an active struggler of bulimia”?

    I struggled myself, terribly from restricting, bingeing and excessive exercise for years. Here is my answer: if your bulimia at this point is far from being at its worst, do start dating for the purpose of “a healthy long term partnership with someone”.

    There is no point where the eating disorder is stops and your life begins, not in my experience. (Every day I still feel distress when it comes to food, even though I am not binging, and even though I didnt injure my body for years because of over-exercising.  If I ever come to a time when I don’t feel distress when eating or about to eat- I will be oh, so very grateful!)

    Therefore, I say: if you put dating on hold until such a time that your eating disorder is completely gone, you will never date.

    Like you wrote: “even if I took a significant break from dating now, all of the intimacy issues that I left off at would be waiting for me when I re-entered the dating world months or years from now, and would still need to be faced and worked through at that future time”- I agree. And at that future time, because of those returning issues, your anxiety will go up and so will the distress involved in your eating disorder, if not the behavior itself.

    Here are my tips for that healthy, long term partnership that you are hoping to have, as a person with an eating disorder:

    1. Don’t look up to the man as Mr. Perfect who needs to help you in regard to your eating disorder. The man you will be involved with will have his own struggles. Present yourself to him not as Miss Weak needing help from Mr. Strong, but as an equal, willing to  help and be helped- both.

    2. Don’t overwhelm him with your eating disorder thoughts and feelings: he doesn’t need to know every time you are distressed, every time you have a food thought and feeling, you don’t want him becoming uncomfortable with you whenever food is introduced.

    Is this helpful to you?

    anita

     

    #364186
    limbikanimaria
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Yes, that was helpful. Especially

    “There is no point where the eating disorder stops and your life begins, not in my experience.”

    Thank you for sharing your own experience and the helpful words.

     

     

     

    #364190
    anita
    Participant

    Dear limbikanimaria:

    You are very welcome. Do post again anytime, on any topic and I will be glad to read from you and reply.

    anita

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