How do I navigate my eating disorder with my (likely former) boyfriend?
March 17, 2015 11:30 PM   Subscribe

At my therapist's suggestion, I want my boyfriend to treat my binge eating as if it is not negative, but actually positive. He claims that this is insane and akin to buying drinks for an alcoholic. This difference of opinion led me to say that we shouldn't see each other anymore, and I want to know if I made the right decision, or I am indeed being irrational. Long story ahead.

I am a gay college student who has been dating a man twice my age for the past year, and I love him quite a bit. He is the first person I have told about many of my mental health issues, and his understanding and acceptance of them has made me more content than I have been in years. Among the information that I have disclosed to him is that, for the past thirteen years, I have had an eating disorder, a fact that I have not told anyone outside of my parent and doctors. I go through binge and fast cycles and am obsessive and anxious about my appearance and spend half of my income on clothing. My eating disorder stems from the fact that I feel ugly and fat and disgusting, and I eat in hopes of getting caught and having somebody else confirm my suspicions. I have only used the language of an eating disorder in the past two years after it was diagnosed by a therapist, and I have been very anxious about the term, especially as my mother does not understand the term and has minimized it, telling me that I simply need to punch myself in the face and get on with my life. I have spoken to a therapist for the past six months and he asked how I would feel if other people's responses were different, and that instead of shaming or scolding me, the person acts supportive. His belief is that if I am not being shamed, my urge to eat will diminish, or at least not be fueled.

My boyfriend and I have recently had issues in our relationship after he broke up with a man he was in a polyamorous relationship with for four years. After a long conversation with my boyfriend, the subject of my eating disorder arose, as I felt that when I mention the ending of this relationship and how he's processing it (a subject we don't agree about), he mentions my eating disorder as something he has to deal with about me. I feel this is unfair and combative, especially as the two are not equivocal. I said that the way he mentioned it--this is an issue I am working on but do not actively discuss--was unhelpful. He asked how he should react, and I suggested he try the suggested method above. My boyfriend believes that this is crazy to ask, that he can't act as though my eating disorder is positive because it fundamentally is not, and that my binge eating costs him quite a bit of money, and he isn't going to treat me "with kid gloves." He likens my suggestion to buying drinks for an alcoholic. I said that I understood his problems with it, and am not asking him to fundamentally change his beliefs or buy me jumbo bags of potato chips, but put on a pretense so that I am not getting the shame I want, in hopes that the problem minimizes. I mentioned that this was an idea suggested by my therapist, and that his current solution of scolding me has been the default solution for the past thirteen years and it clearly hasn't resolved matters.

His concession was that when I get a job (I am currently unemployed) I could buy my own food and binge as much as I want and he wouldn't say anything. I told him that that's not a solution for me, and will not alleviate the problem in the long-term. He says that that's him meeting me halfway, and that I need to do the same. I feel that this is my first issue first and foremost, and I want him to respect that my opinion and the opinion of my therapist could potentially be more helpful and informed than his own. He said that's unreasonable to ask, and I said that that if he's not willing to do this for me, then we shouldn't see each other anymore. The conversation then moved to the phone, as we had previously been sending each other messages, and after going back and forth and reiterating the same points, we both became angry. I told him that we're saying the same things and we shouldn't continue seeing each other, because this is a fundamental schism between us. He told me that I'm being petty to walk away from a relationship because I'm not getting my way on this issue, and that nobody will ever be able to do what I'm asking, that I will never date anyone who will do this for me, and that I am crazy and need serious help. I hung up. In a moment of weakness, I asked if we could talk in person, and he said that he was going to sleep, but if I wanted to talk, we could do so over the weekend. This feels like a very clear break, and I'm not sure if I want to talk in person and if talking in person will change anything, and so, with the concession that insofar as this affects my current (or previous) relationship, it might all be moot:

Am I being irrational? My wanting to end the relationship was less about this specific issue, and more about his seeming inability to respect or understand my beliefs. I am in love with the man still and he is the only person I have (or had) at the moment, as my long-lasting fears of other people reacting similarly has made me very withdrawn. While I have considered ending the relationship for the past week, this all feels very sudden. Additionally, in the interest of full disclosure and at the risk of sounding delusionally careerist, I planned to live with him during the summer, and without that plan, will have to return to an even less understanding home at the other end of the country and upend any summer internship plans, as it is unlikely I will make enough to afford the city I am currently in. My last relationship ended with my then-boyfriend making similar comments about me being insane, and I am worried that I am acting indeed crazy.

Is there any chance to patch things up? If there is, should I accept his concession and make furtive efforts to resolve this issue by myself? Am I in the wrong?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total)
Can your therapist talk to him and give him a clearer rationale that doesn't come through your filter? I bet he's worrried he'll make it worse and getting frustrated because your solution is not an intuitive response. A good therapist could help you both talk about this so he gets a clearer understanding of what's going on, and why this unexpected response is being suggested. Hugs possum, you sound sad and exhausted.
posted by taff at 11:47 PM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

Text messages and phone calls are really hard ways to communicate break ups. At the same time, I totally get the desire to avoid seeing him again lest your resolve weaken.

I agree with taff that he could possibly could get a clearer description of the issue. (That doesn't justify his reaction, which sounds really unsupportive and hurtful to you.)

An alternate way to explain what you need:

"I have underlying self esteem and body image issues that are going to take me a long time to unlearn. I use a variety of coping tools to deal with this. Some are more positive coping skills that I'm working in with my therapist, such as journaling, guided relaxation, and [whatever]. But I've also picked up other ways of coping with this issue, such as binge eating.

I'm not a weak or bad person for coping with my pain in this way. I've only been trying to cope in the only way I knew how. I am working with my therapist to use healthy coping skills more and more often. To do this, I need you to stay neutral on what coping skill I choose to use when I am dealing with my feeling of inadequacy.

To stay in this relationship, I would need you to be happy for me that I am finding a way of dealing with my issue, and to be supportive of me. Shaming and berating me are the exact opposite of what I need."
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:15 AM on March 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

I think it would be reasonable for another party to be confused by the way you have put this. Possibly your therapist could put this better.

There is a big difference between not being shamed for something, and viewing it as positive. It is reasonable to explain that feeling bad fuels the binging, therefore shaming => feeling bad => more binging.
However, it is not reasonable to expect something someone views as harmful to be viewed positively, or to tell someone else that they need to view it positively.

Finally, there is the whole issue of him paying for your binges? First, this sounds strange. I'm going to assume this actually makes a significant debt in the food budget, or he is just being a controlling jerk. If you are kind of codependent, not breaking up because he is looking after the rent etc, is usually a bad dynamic to be in. My gut impulse would be break up, don't drag those unhealthy situations out.

Secondly, if binging is something he genuinely worries about for you (not for him, or how it makes him look), then no, I wouldn't find it reasonable to be directly funding a partner's self harm either. Is there some way you can negotiate around this? Such as paying for some food yourself, or even agreeing that you have personal spending money, and that binges come out of that? I know that sounds like a silly layer off distinction if he is still giving you that spending money, but I know that I couldn't stomach paying for a partners alcohol or blades, if I loved someone who was an alcoholic or a cutter.

But seriously, being in a dependent relationship screws with your self esteem in and of itself, and just feeds into some kind of parent dynamic that the shame cycle with the binging can also come from. Wishing you all the best in independence.
posted by Elysum at 12:41 AM on March 18, 2015 [33 favorites]

OK, there's a lot to untangle here, but on a fundamental level I think your dude here is being rude and wrong. That said, let's untangle.

"Treat my eating disorder as if it's positive" does, in fact, sound odd as a request. I agree with what I believe your therapist was probably saying, which is that shaming a person about their anxious behaviors is really unlikely to have good effects and fairly likely to have bad ones. Giving your boyfriend the benefit of the doubt, if he thought you were asking him to say "Hurrah, you're binge eating!" that would in fact be weird. But it doesn't really sound like that's what you said to him, or what you want.

Like you, though, I am less concerned with whether he would do this thing (behave in certain ways around your eating behaviors), and more concerned with the way he's acted in this whole episode. It sounds like he brought your eating up in a conversation about his other ex, in order to shame you. Then he was condescending ("kid gloves") about what you told him you wanted. Then he said he'd break up with you if you didn't agree with him. Then said you were being petty to break up with him. Then he called you crazy (which I would call DTMFA territory if you guys weren't already breaking up). None of that is kind, none of that is attempting to see your side of things, and a lot of it is actively behaving like an immature jerkwad lashing out at you, perhaps because he's upset about his other relationship. I'm glad he was able to love you and give you positive regard over the last year. Maybe the recent breakup with his other boyfriend has sent him on tilt, because the man you describe here is exhibiting some seriously unkind and immature behavior.

Lots of people have compulsive behaviors. Tons of people have eating disorders. Tons more have drinking or drug problems, or sex problems, or play World of Warcraft all day. There's a sort of corny but I think important saying "Treat everyone you meet with kindness, for everyone is fighting a hard battle." Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that your eating isn't as shameful as you and your ex seem to think it is, and there will be a lot of people who will be able to hear about it and accept you happily, without being jerky or calling you names. Maybe a group therapy or OA might be nice to try, so you can have some more positive experiences of self-disclosure. I'm sorry this guy has acted the way he has.

Anyway, I don't think you're being irrational, either about your request, or about being concerned with his behavior around the request, or about thinking this is dump-worthy territory. Part of me wants to say sure, live at his house over the summer but pack your psychic bags for the fall, but that's a borderline situation and only you can make the call. Please do know that you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness, though, whatever choice you make.
posted by feets at 12:56 AM on March 18, 2015 [7 favorites]

You're not crazy. When someone uses crazy in this context, what they're saying is "You are not behaving the way that I feel you should be behaving." It's a weapon that's often used against women--which I realise you are not, but same idea--effectively telling the person that their behavior is just ridiculous and incomprehensible and whatever--but the underlying message is that if you weren't crazy, you would agree with him and do what he wants you to do.

No one who cares about your mental health will tell you that they're concerned by telling you, during an argument, that you are crazy. That's how you dismiss people; how you make their concerns and feelings irrelevant. It's not ok.

Also, what you're asking isn't that crazy. You're saying hey, treating this problem I'm having isn't working as well as hoped, and my doctor suggested different treatment. Can you please help me with it, or at least not actively work against it? And he's responding to that totally reasonable request by telling you that your doctor is wrong, and also that lol no, he's not going to help, because he knows better.

You will have other people in the future. This man is not treating you well, and you deserve better than this.
posted by MeghanC at 1:02 AM on March 18, 2015 [19 favorites]

I think you're asking way more of your boyfriend than is reasonable. There's a dissonance in your therapist's suggestion ... asking the BF to treat binging as a positive is being.done precisely because it's a negative that the therapist is trying to help you stop. You know this, the BF knows this, so it's asking the BF to participate in a (in my opinion) silly charade where he praises or at least pretends not to be bothered by an expensive bad habit.

His position (your BF's) is made stronger by the fact that he's having to foot the bill. Groceries are expensive and it's dumb to suggest he shouldn't have a say in your food bingeing.
posted by jayder at 3:25 AM on March 18, 2015 [22 favorites]

I think it is inappropriate of your therapist to make requests of your boyfriend without speaking to him. This makes me think of couples counselling where only one half of the couple is allowed to speak but both are expected to buy in and take ownership of a problem. Your therapist is only receiving information about your side of the issue, and what you are relaying to your boyfriend is your interpretation of what your therapist suggested (I am in no way suggesting you are deliberately distorting what your therapist said). That your behaviour is funded by your boyfriend adds another layer of complication that your therapist is not addressing.
posted by saucysault at 5:01 AM on March 18, 2015 [12 favorites]

Wow, there's a lot going on here. My take:

You've phrased your request a few different contradictory ways here ("be supportive and don't shame" vs. "treat as positive"). The former is completely and totally reasonable for you to ask, and is in fact like the bare minimum your boyfriend should be doing as a decent human being who purports to care about another human being who is going through a thing. The second is arguably less reasonable to ask of another person.

Which leads me to your boyfriend: Being in a relationship with someone with a serious issue like an eating disorder can be hard work, and one of the ways to do that successfully is to set and maintain boundaries around what you personally can and cannot live with. Your boyfriend gets to set those boundaries for himself, and I personally feel it would not be unreasonable if some of those boundaries were "I will be supportive and never ever shame you, but I will not pretend your eating disorder is a positive thing", or "I won't be the one to pay for your binge-eating purchases."

All of that said, I think everything else here is trumped by him calling you petty and crazy. Even in the heat of the moment that is not okay, and suggests to me that this is not someone with whom you can create the supportive environment you're looking for. If you really want to try to save this thing, I would suggest couples counseling to help you two mediate this stuff - but honestly I think you should trust the instinct that made you call for the breakup to begin with.

You're being really brave and strong to be working through this stuff and to open up to a partner about it, and it sucks that it didn't work out the way you wanted it to. But I would suggest you focus your energy now on trying to make an alternate plan for the summer and building up better social networks so you're not so reliant on one person for approval/support, working with your therapist to continue the progress you are making, and taking good care of yourself.
posted by Stacey at 5:19 AM on March 18, 2015 [8 favorites]

I see so many red flags in your description of your boyfriend. It's like a parade. And you say you love him very much, and it seems like you're trying to be fair to him.

I am a gay college student who has been dating a man twice my age for the past year

He is dating someone half his age. Yes, this is sometimes fine, but not always. Some people look for people half their age because younger partners don't always realize that they don't have to put up with their shit.

It also seems like he has a lot of power over you -- he provides your food and your lodging. That can be fine for some couples, but here it seems like he's holding these things over you.

he mentions my eating disorder as something he has to deal with about me. I feel this is unfair and combative, especially as the two are not equivocal. I said that the way he mentioned it--this is an issue I am working on but do not actively discuss--was unhelpful. He asked how he should react, and I suggested he try the suggested method above.

You didn't spontaneously ask him to do this for you. He asked how he should react to your eating disorder, and you told him your therapist's suggestion.

He likens my suggestion to buying drinks for an alcoholic.

The fundamental difference between eating disorders and alcoholism is that you can survive without alcohol. You can't survive without food.

He told me that I'm being petty to walk away from a relationship because I'm not getting my way on this issue, and that nobody will ever be able to do what I'm asking, that I will never date anyone who will do this for me, and that I am crazy and need serious help.

The "nobody else will ever love you like I do, don't you know how good you have it? You're crazy!" train. This is a common refrain in unhealthy relationships. Moreover, it's not true. There are tons and tons of men out there, and many of them are not assholes! True story!

Am I being irrational? My wanting to end the relationship was less about this specific issue, and more about his seeming inability to respect or understand my beliefs.

From how you're telling this, it doesn't seem like he respects your beliefs. It also doesn't seem like he is treating you as an equal in the relationship.

It's not that he's not willing to do this for you; that would be a reasonable boundary. It's when and how he drew the boundary, and the fact that he told you you were crazy and unreasonable and nobody else would ever love you.

That shit isn't cool.
posted by pie ninja at 5:49 AM on March 18, 2015 [15 favorites]

Your request is an odd one and difficult to process and I can imagine having a hard time wrapping my head around it or wanting to do it. I can imagine it mainly because I've been through it for myself.

I went through a program on eating normalcy in which one of the most powerful messages was about giving ourselves permission to eat. That part of the spiral for a lot of yo-yo dieters, bingers, etc is the feeling that if they don't eat it now, it's all going to be taken away (by their diet, their partner, their willpower) and also the feeling that what they are doing is bad and wrong but they can't help it and they are bad and wrong people because of that.

I mention these things mainly because I want to set the ground work that your therapist's suggestion is not actually wildly outside the norm of the practices around normalizing people's eating habits. It seems counterintuitive, and it is counterintuitive, but it is not counter actual working practice.

Having said that, even if it was really bizarre and truly a huge ask to request that your partner try, his response to it would still be so far over the line of not appropriate that I can't even. He belittled you, patronized you, shamed you, called you crazy. These are not supportive, appropriate behaviours.

You may never find another partner who will be able to fully embrace the concept of what your therapist is suggesting (I still have trouble with it, and I went through an entire therapy program), but you can certainly find a partner who is willing to engage on this issue in a way that isn't mean-spirited and entirely unhelpful. Or you can go through that journey as a single person. What will certainly not work is going through that journey with this guy sabotaging your efforts and treating you badly along the way.

If you weren't already pretty much broken up, I'd suggest you DTMFA.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:52 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, it sounds like you are pretty much broken up. s someone who has lived with people who binge, I have some sympathy with him because it is really, really hard to live with someone who binges, BUT he didn't have to be such a dick about it. He's in a tight spot, but that doesn't mean what he's doing is good for *you*.

See if there's another way you can stay in the city over the summer. People survive on very, very, very small amounts of money. I know finding and keeping good roommates can be extra-hard if you have an eating disorder, but maybe there's something out there for you.
posted by mskyle at 6:49 AM on March 18, 2015

I agree with a lot of what's been said above, but I also sympathize with his position of basically getting bossed around by your therapist. If it were just you making this request, you two would be working on the problem together and coming up with a strategy you're both comfortable with. He could more easily challenge the reasoning behind this strategy because you'd be on equal footing.

From his point of view, any discussion like that has been shut down with "but my therapist is the expert here and you need to do what he/she says." It only makes it worse that the therapist knows details of his private life and there's sort of a one-sided intimacy/invasion of privacy there--he's not the one visiting the therapist, the therapist is only getting your side of things, and yet he's getting orders. It'd be a little like getting Strong Advice from your boyfriend's mom about exactly how your relationship should work.
posted by cogitron at 6:56 AM on March 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

The thing is, your therapist is the expert here. This is not a relationship issue, where the people actually in the relationship are the experts; it's an eating disorder, and your therapist knows more about treating eating disorders than your partner does. If he's balking because your therapist is not the boss of him, then he's prioritizing his ego over your mental (and, given that it's an eating disorder, physical) health.

I agree with others that while he was within his rights to deny your request, he responded to you in a belittling, controlling, shaming manner. I would not want to be in a relationship with someone like that, and if I was engaging in disordered eating that was fueled by shame, I might think about whether the relationship in general was contributing to that.
posted by jaguar at 7:01 AM on March 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

Mod note: From the OP:
To clarify, I do not live with my boyfriend at the moment, and am not dependent on him for my meals or housing. I am currently in a dormitory but spend a considerable amount of time at his apartment. Come summer, my campus housing will be unavailable, and he suggested that I live with him.

My therapist also did not make a request of my boyfriend. His suggestion was proposed as a thought experiment two months ago and I did not mention it to my boyfriend at the time, and only did so during the aforementioned conversation when he asked how I would prefer he responded.

Outside of meals that the two of us eat together, about $10 of his food--say a box of granola bars--is consumed when I compulsively eat, and I haven't had (what I would define as) a large binge in front of him. I do not select groceries and have not requested that he buy more of a particular food for me. My boyfriend's want for me to stop binging is first and foremost a financial concern, as his budget is already limited.
posted by taz (staff) at 7:25 AM on March 18, 2015

I would participate in a thought experiment like that for a partner. The way you explained it makes total sense to me. But then I used to be a binger so I know that a lot of us binge precisely because we feel negatively about ourselves and the whole cycle relies upon negative reactions (or silence.) I might have questions and reservations, but I would do it for someone I cared about. I think he was unduly mean about it and to me his reaction seemed to betray a lot of anger bubbling under the surface.

Good luck with your progress and in someday finding a nicer boyfriend.
posted by kapers at 7:44 AM on March 18, 2015

I think it's reasonable for him to object on budgetary grounds.

However, the way he seems to be dealing with this issue overall does not sound reasonable. He sounds condescending and not very loving and supportive in your time of need.

I think you deserve a big hug and the opportunity to find someone better than this.
posted by cosmicbeast at 7:48 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Okay, well this:

His concession was that when I get a job (I am currently unemployed) I could buy my own food and binge as much as I want and he wouldn't say anything. I told him that that's not a solution for me ...

and this

To clarify, I do not live with my boyfriend at the moment, and am not dependent on him for my meals or housing.

seem totally at odds with each other. Since you are not dependent upon him for food, then why is his statement "not a solution for you"?
posted by jayder at 7:48 AM on March 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

My boyfriend's want for me to stop binging is first and foremost a financial concern, as his budget is already limited.

Is he at all concerned with how your ED is affecting your life? I understand he might not get your therapist's approach, but that doesn't really matter. His response is completely insensitive. Rather than listening to you and respecting that this is how you are currently working through an issue with your therapist, he has made it all about him. At minimum he's unhelpful. At worst, he runs the risk of derailing you from work you need to do to deal with a serious health issue. I think breaking up with him was the right thing to do. People that love you will at least try to understand what you are doing even when they disagree.
posted by marimeko at 7:51 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Mod note: One comment deleted. Ask Metafilter is not for discussing or arguing with other commenters; please just give the OP your helpful advice. Thanks.
posted by taz (staff) at 8:03 AM on March 18, 2015

I think he's wrong in saying your breaking up with him is petty. He's entitled to his opinion, but I don't think it should be your role to convince him your reasons are valid. You've done what you think is right, and you need to find ways to remember that. You're the one who gets to set the criteria about when to stay or go. You care about him and I understand that it's troubling that he thinks you're wrong....but really, it's irrelevant. He doesn't think you're qualified to decide how to handle your eating issues, and he doesn't think you're qualified to decide if breaking up is the right thing to do. You don't need his approval.
posted by wryly at 10:23 AM on March 18, 2015

I feel like an ass bringing this up. All my social justice/non judgmental/been near broke myself instincts are saying, don't be that guy! But.... a at minimum 35+ year old person is having enough financial difficulties that $10 every so often is a huge financial burden? AND then you follow that by saying hes mostly concerned that your serious health problem is a burden mostly because of cost? ...yick. I don't think you painted a very good picture of this guy, and enough of my red flags have been set off that I think I'd run. Sorry if I'm being too harsh on him, but... meh. Red flags are red flags.

I think it might be time for the tried and true metafilter advice: Disengage, spend all your time and effort and energy on making you the best you you can be!
posted by Jacen at 3:03 PM on March 18, 2015

One element here that I didn't understand on first read is that the whole argument began in response to you criticizing how he is behaving in his other breakup. I wonder what you said to him and if he felt attacked and was attacking you in response. He acted very badly in this fight, but I guess the question is, was his bad behavior in character for him, or out of character? If the latter, it might be worth it to try to talk through the discussion, with a goal of hearing each other and being gentle and respectful about both of your sore spots. He may have heard the argument as "you are acting crazy and being a pain in my ass about your other breakup. Hey wait, are you criticizing me in return? That is forbidden!" Which maybe when everyone is in a calmer mood could be productively talked through. But yeah, if this is his typical arguing behavior, you're well off to break up with him.
posted by feets at 3:11 PM on March 18, 2015

Did you eat his granola bars without asking or replacing them? Because if so, you sound a bit overly demanding. He responded badly, but the idea that you're going to live with him, randomly eat all the tasty food in the house, and he then has to see that as a positive thing. Well, I'd react badly to that too.
posted by kjs4 at 7:06 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think the proposition to see your eating disorder as "positive" is indeed confusing. Obviously it is not a positive thing as it is negatively affecting you, and you can't ask him to fake his reactions. Instead, you could ask him to understand that binge eating is part of coping like how Juliet Banana frames it above, and ask for acceptance.

Given what you've described, I would definitely side with your boyfriend, to be honest. You sound entitled to his support, and you basically tell him he's arrogant to think that he knows better than you or your therapist, when in fact all he's trying to convey is that he cares about your well-being, and he cannot possibly fake the positive attitude towards binge eating, not to mention the cost. You then proceed to an ultimatum (even if it's not entirely due to this single incident), and that completely closes the dialogue. I don't think you're considering enough his role in what you're asking, as you're not at all willing to compromise or meet him half way. This is a difficult thing you are asking, but instead, you seem to think that just because your therapist (the authority) recommends it, it's the best for everyone.

Honestly, I think you weren't able to successfully convey what you wanted to your boyfriend. I suggest talking to him again about this and assure him that it's not about faking his reaction so that you can both see binge eating as a great positive moment. He also probably got defensive as you demanded his support by hiding behind authority. You should've framed this as "My therapist said this, and I feel it could help. What do you think, do you think you can help me with this?"
posted by snufkin5 at 3:00 AM on March 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Nthing the fact that there's a world of difference between acting as if something were positive and not shaming a person. Now, if it's true that his primary concern is financial, that's awful and you should not be with someone like that (what if you were just a big eater? would he be equally upset about that?!), but if it's not true, then you should consider the fact that you're effectively asking him to praise something that he sees hurting you--to praise not you, but your symptoms.

I have suffered from disordered eating in the past, and what I've learned is not to see it as a good thing (because it wasn't), but just to see it as a thing. It happened. It was not the best thing, but it was also not the worst thing. It is a historical fact. It might be easier for him if you frame it as a request to not be shamed, rather than a request to be praised. But again, if he's actually this worried because of the cost of the granola bars and not the mental and emotional cost to you, he's probably not worth your time anyway.
posted by dizziest at 7:58 AM on March 19, 2015

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