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Leave the advice to the professionals and, as an intimate partner, just be a shoulder to cry on. (And if it doesn’t pass, then please remind your partner to call a therapist or qualified professional for help.)Changing your language and your lifestyle in order to be someone’s partner is an inconvenience – true.But if you’re a heavy drinker, and you to date a recovered alcoholic, you learn to stop suggesting dates at the wine bar.That said, it doesn’t get you off the hook if your partner has disclosed an eating disorder to you.Think about it this way: Casually talking about your diet, your weight, or your workouts can be as triggering to an eating disordered partner as casually telling a rape joke in front of a partner who has been raped or sexually assaulted (and I’m going to make the bold assumption that you’re not the kind of person who thinks it’s a good idea to casually make rape jokes in the first place).In other words: If you require nightly trips to the pub where everybody knows your name, don’t date someone who is working the twelve steps.There is a fine line between having your partner’s best interests in mind and playing the food police.Treat your recovered or recovering partner the same: Honor the illness for what it is, offer what support you can , and give them time to feel the feelings.
Eating disorders thrive when they’re fed with guilt and shame – guilt for taking part in bad behaviors and shame for Guilt and shame about food may drive your partner to feel like they need to hide the behaviors from you – and eating disorders multiply in the darkness. Obviously, if you see serious and repeated self-harming behaviors that require intervention, that’s a different story, and you can reach out to family members or qualified professionals who can assist in the case of a relapse.However, you can learn to express your excitement by channeling that energy into something you can do together, like a movie night or a trip to a karaoke bar.If that doesn’t seem like something you can do – – then you and your partner might need to have a conversation about ending the relationship.Weight and food are, like the weather, easy targets for starting cocktail party conversations – because everyone has to eat.Moreover, we build entire tribes and identities based on our diets and workouts.