Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ED Dating

So, now that it's been, like, a month since this came up, I thought I'd address the questions that I received about dating with an eating disorder.

When I met David I was already seeing a therapist and my team of ED practitioners, including a medical doctor and nutritionist. I would estimate that my process of recovery had only been "going on" for approximately three or four months when we met and began dating; this, as you all noted, seems like it would pose problems for a new relationship.

In the very beginning of our relationship, I did my very best to never let on that I was struggling with an eating disorder. In my mind there was no point in letting David "in on the secret" if our relationship was never really going to pan out.

In terms of practicalities, i.e. going out for dinner dates, I tried my best to eat, but not too much. On our first date, for example, David and I met for drinks and appetizers at a local bar/restaurant (The Kitchen Upstairs). Our date wasn't until eight p.m., so I purposefully ate a "meal" that I felt was "safe" beforehand and decided to only pick at the appetizers that we had.

Another thing going in my ED favor was the fact that David and I are both physically active vegetarians who prefer healthy food. That meant that not only did our dinner dates usually focus on food that was on the healthier side (sushi rather than burgers and beer), but our initial dates were often activity-based. I was into road biking pretty intensely when I met David, so several of our first dates consisted of me trying to get him to like road biking over his preferred mountain biking. We also took trail runs around his house.

As our relationship progressed, however, and it became clear that we really cared for each other and wanted to make a relationship work, things got more tricky for me. At some point--and I don't remember when or how--I had to come clean with him and admit that I was working through some pretty serious issues. He was astoundingly helpful and caring, and that made it easier to keep working through my issues despite the fact that being in a relationship made having an ED much more difficult.

When you're very happy it is hard to keep denying yourself food. More specifically, when you're very happy it's very difficult to turn down pancakes made by someone you love, even if it is eleven o'clock at night and you usually stop all eating by seven p.m. It's also difficult because an eating disorder needs structure--rigidity, more like--and being open to being with someone means that you can't always eat dinner or lunch at precisely the time you "need" to.

Ultimately, I'd say that dating with an eating disorder isn't that difficult, though being in a relationship with an eating disorder definitely is. What it boiled down to, for me, was just continuing to try, even though at times I really suffered with all the change, the uncertainty, and the fact that I was gaining weight.

As far as David's side of the story? He doesn't really remember much--he's more "go with the flow"--but he does remember that my collarbone and chest were "really bony." (What a compliment for a woman, right?)

*Did you keep any secrets to yourself at the beginning of your relationship with your "person?"

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