Should I talk to my boyfriend about my food problems?
October 28, 2012 10:25 AM Subscribe
What are the ethics of disclosing an eating disorder to your partner if you're not prepared to tackle the problem?
posted by terretu to human relations (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For a couple of years in high school, I had a subclinical eating disorder (the details aren't really relevant here). I didn't get any professional treatment at that point, but more or less "recovered" - I've eaten basically normally for four or five years now, though my body image/the psychological stuff hasn't always been great in that time.
Long story short, a couple of months ago a confluence of stressful things happened - I took a vacation with my parents (we have a difficult relationship), I was trying to finish the first draft of the book I'd been writing, I'd been doing my boss' job as well as my own for the previous eight weeks while she'd been recovering from surgery, my GP recommended I stop taking the antidepressant I'd been on for three years (and I, for some reason, didn't think this would be the worst idea ever), and my boyfriend was going through a rough patch & our relationship was a little rocky. The combination of these things flicked the "I can't deal with this now" switch in my brain, and sure enough the disordered eating behaviours came back in full force, and stronger than any of the minor recurrences I've had since high school.
Fast forward a couple of months. I've lost a noticeable amount of weight, and people are beginning to ask me about it. I've spoken to one friend about it (only in the last week), and he's being supportive without putting any pressure on me. I'm seeing a therapist for unrelated reasons, but I don't really want to bring it up in therapy, both because I feel completely unwilling and unable to deal (with a view to normalising my eating) with the problem right now and because I'm deeply, deeply ashamed of what I'm doing to myself. At the same time, it's becoming more apparent by the day that I'm in this way deeper than I thought I was, and that it's going to be a hell of a hole to dig myself out of when I am ready (or when someone forces me to, as happened in high school). It's the first time this has happened to me as an independent adult, and the fact that I can pretty much do what I like with no one to stop me and minimal need to conceal my behaviour is pretty terrifying. I am grudgingly aware that it is, at this point, basically out of control.
My boyfriend's rough patch hasn't really improved, and, after a couple of months of skating around the issues we're facing both together and separately, we've finally decided to sit down and talk it through tomorrow. There's a significant part of me that would like to open up to him about everything that's going on with me - I could use the support - but I'm very concerned that it would be unfair and deeply emotionally manipulative to bring this up with him at a time when I'm neither willing nor able to take steps to fix the problem. He's the only person I eat normally around, and I don't think he's noticed the weight loss, so I don't have reason to believe he suspects anything. I'm also scared, though I know it's the irrational part of me speaking, that he'll try to make me start eating normally.
He's also in the middle of a pretty shitty time himself, and I don't want to burden him with anything more than necessary when he almost certainly doesn't have the emotional energy for something on this scale. In case it's relevant: we've been together six months, he knows about pretty much all my other issues and is generally very understanding.
I guess what I'm asking is: what are the pros and cons of having this conversation with him?