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Relationships are the foundations in our life that give us emotional stability and safety. While positive and fulfilling relationships thrive on the collaboration of two parties, it can become difficult when one of the partner suffers from mental issues such as an eating disorder and/or body dysmorphic disorder/body image issues.

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Eating disorder recovery relationship

This is because eating and body dysmorphic disorders mean the opposite of a “working together“ in a relationship. Instead, eating and body dysmorphic disorders consume the affected partner with negative and destructive thoughts and behaviors. This is why the disorder can eat away a loving and fulfilling relationship if the right actions aren’t set early enough. 

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The affected person becomes entirely consumed by the disorder which makes the other partner, family, friends and the outer world in general gradually disappear. The difficulty in this scenario is that eating and body image issues grow insidiously where the affected person tends to not take it very seriously by thinking they have it under control. However, the ridge between “having it under control“ and “completely losing control“ is very narrow. 

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The suffering person will slowly start to isolate themselves and turn away from all loved people without even being aware of it until there only remains them and the eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder. 

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Another difficulty that arrives with eating and body dysmorphic disorders is that relationships can become very imbalanced in the sense of a patient-therapist constellation. That means, the suffering partner slips into the patient role while the other one acts like the therapist. This might seem helpful in the beginning, however in the long run it can lead to an imbalanced relationship that loses its dynamic of mutual support; whereas the suffering person becomes emotionally and mentally dependent on the support of the other partner. In some way the disorder becomes the center of the relationship which disrupts the harmony of two loving persons. 

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Eating Disorders and Relationship

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Another factor that incriminates a relationship is that the person who struggles with eating and their body can experience challenges with sexual intimacy due to a low libido caused by hormonal imbalances and by a distorted body image. Physical contact can become very uncomfortable since the suffering person him or herself doesn’t feel attractive and therefore prefers to avoid physical intimacy and others seeing his or her body. While the mind is constantly consumed by the disorder and self-loathing thoughts, there’s almost no space for physical love any more.

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In order to protect a loving relationship from the destroying effects that eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorders can bring with, you will need to take the right steps.

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Here are my 5 recommended steps if you struggle with any kind of eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder/body image issue:

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  1. Speak to your partner

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Eating Disorders and Relationship

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A relationship is about honesty and mutual support in good times as well as in bad times. However, supporting each other is not possible if there’s a hidden secret in between of two loving partners. 

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Communication therefore seems to be one of the most important tools within a relationship as it is the requirement of mutual giving and taking. If the partner who doesn’t have a disorder is not aware of the eating or body struggles of the other partner, it won’t possible for them to provide solid assistance.

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Therefore, informing your partner about your struggles is a crucial and indispensable step of keeping a loving relationship alive.

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2. Seek out for help

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Another important step is to seek out for help together with your partner. By that I mean, your partner will also benefit from attending a therapy regarding your eating and body issues. This is very recommendable as your partner probably doesn’t have a proper education in the fields of eating disorders and therefore is not able to support you in a proper way. This can lead to an overwhelming situation for your partner and the feeling of helplessness which in return can cause tension within the relationship. 

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In order to avoid these uncomfortable obstacles it is very recommendable to work together with a professional that can offer advices and guidance to your partner. This will make your partner able to understand the situation, support you more appropriately and with confidence. 

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3. Plan outside activities 

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Eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorders can become a very present and consuming part in someone’s life as well as in the relationship of two people. However, it is important to set boundaries and act intentionally in order to prevent the disorder is becoming the center in both’s lives and in the relationship. 

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My advice would be to plan outside activities. Of course, an eating or body dysmorphic disorder is hard to overcome and living a normal life is not easy while suffering from one, nevertheless it is necessary and crucial to plan breaks and get out into the world. Choose supportive activities such as traveling to inspirational and therapeutical places, go to meditation, take painting classes, take a walk into nature, visit a concert and just try to have some fun together. 

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Planning these activities on a regular basis will keep a relationship healthy and alive.

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4. Gain social support

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The next step is to gain social support from other people. By only getting support from your partner the risk of the development of the above mentioned patient-therapist constellation increases. One person alone is not able to support you in a proper way. In fact, it takes a whole supportive system or environment of caring people that stands by your side and helps you to overcome this phase of your life. Family and close friends become a crucial part in someone’s recovery process.

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5. The will to recover

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The last and probably most important step is that you are committed to recovery 100%. If you are not committed to overcome your struggles with food and your body then your relationships will suffer and the risk of losing loved people becomes very high. 

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The will to recovery is the requirement of keeping a relationship happy, healthy and long-lasting. 

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I hope this article is helpful for you and if you have any further questions you’re welcome to write a comment down below or send me an e-mail to christina@waistlove.com.

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You may are also interested into Extreme Hunger After Food Restriction – Leptin Resistance or Abdominal Weight Gain After Food Restriction And Dieting

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