How To Date Some Who’s Had An Eating Disorder

by Eden on March 19, 2013

Over the years, I’ve gotten dozens of emails from all sorts of people regarding dating and juggling eating disorder recovery.

I’ve gotten emails from women suffering from eating disorders venting about how its affected their relationships. I’ve even gotten emails from boyfriends and husbands on how to handle what their girlfriend (or even boyfriend) are going through and how to gethelp for eating disorders.

I think this calls for a post on how to date someone who’s had an eating disorder. I say “had” because I’ve never gone on dates when I was truly in my eating disorder. I think  its extremely hard to find room to have a good relationship when you are that sick and not trying to recover.

So here’s what you should know:

1) Don’t Push Food

Just be normal.

Suggest grabbing a bite if its dinner time, but don’t constantly try to push the person to eat.

As someone who pursued my own recovery, I was just trying to strive for a normal approach to food. When I got out of rehab, a lot of my friends had eating disorders too and I just wanted to be with normal people that have a normal attitude towards food.

So just be normal, don’t be a Jewish mother (even though I don’t have the mother part).


2) Don’t Respond To Questions About Weight

This isn’t just for women who’ve had eating disorders.

I never do this, but I’m gonna hit caps lock or what I’m about to type:


I don’t make the rules. But if you want to get laid that night or sometime in the near future, you’ll do the right thing.


3) Not Everything is “Because We Had An Eating Disorder”

If we get a little sad, irritated, or not in the mood to finish a pizza it’s not always cause we used to have a problem.

We are normal people underneath it and we get irritated by normal things that don’t have to do with food and weight. Stuff like traffic, gum on our shoe, Miley Cyrus, etc. And luckily, I’m at a weight that I can afford not to finish a pizza and not fall through the shower drain.

Go me.


4) Have Fun

Seriously, if you really want to be supportive and just an all around awesome boyfriend/girlfriend, just have fun.

Fun distracts you from all the shit in your life. Whether it be a former eating disorder or anything really. And if you think of it, things that make us happy are things that distract us from the shit in our lives. I do believe if you really like someone, even doing simple things can be fun. Stuff like jumping in puddles, building pillow forts, making out in pillow forts…all wonderful distractions.


Do you think someone with an eating disorder or some other mental illness can have strong relationships? What would you add to the list?


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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellen March 19, 2013 at 12:34 am

Good list. As someone who has dealt with depression and an eating disorder more of my life than not, I definitely know we’re able to have strong relationships, though if I weren’t lucky enough to have some amazing friends ( I don’t have lots, but the ones I have are super-close) I think my eating disorder probably would have left me friendless. I was so anti-social when I was deep into it.
Oh, and I wish my mom would take tip number three. I can’t blink without it being attributed to some psychological problem of mine or another…


Eden March 19, 2013 at 12:38 am

Absolutely. I think eating disorders are very isolating. Its a little world in your head that no one can really grasp. I think its partly why I enjoy meeting new people, it’s like one step further away from being a hermit again.


deva by definition March 19, 2013 at 7:07 am

I love tip three. I’m almost seven years removed from my disorder and I still get asked if I dont’ want a lot of ice cream or dessert at all if I am doing okay. It’s really frustrating.


jack24 March 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm

tip three i am going to tatoo on my foreead and just having fun stupid things to do.


David March 20, 2013 at 9:04 am

Be supportive but don’t be that overbearing parent figure. I agree with you on having fun. Nothing better than trying new things and enjoying each other to forget their disorder. Also know where you can and cannot touch her will help eliminate awkward moments.


Bob March 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Sure. People with eating disorders are no different than anyone else. We just think we are. When you run in to someone that is not dealing with multiple issues past and present, let me know!


Lawfrog April 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm

It’s got to be difficult, especially in the US where nearly everyone has an unhealthy relationship with food anyway (or so it seems). So much of our social lives revolve around food and people practically want to shove it down your throat all the time. God forbid you say “No thank you, I don’t care for dessert.” You’ll be subjected to the third degree and/or cajoled. It’s annoying. For someone with an eating disorder, I can see how people could become way over the top since many of them are that way already.

People don’t realize that perhaps you don’t want dessert or the rest of the pizza because you care about clogged arteries, not because you’ve relapsed. Or maybe you genuinely are not hungry. Whatever the case, people can go a little crazy with food in general.


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