The Highlands Eating Disorder Treatment Center Blog

Showing Love to Someone with an Eating Disorder

We’re in the month of Valentine’s Day—a holiday that is, at its core, all about showing love to the special people in our lives, and especially to our spouse, partner, or significant other. Loving anyone comes with its challenges, of course, and eating disorders can especially complicate things. When your loved one has an eating disorder, you may not know quite what to do to show them that you care. Fundamentally, it’s all about listening to them, respecting their needs, and being there for them. Anything you can do to encourage them in their recovery—to let them know that they are fiercely loved and passionately cared for—is going to be helpful. Beyond that, we’ve got a few specific ways in which you can show your affection to a loved one who is in eating disorder recovery.

How to Show Love to a Partner with an Eating Disorder

Spend time together. Really, there’s nothing you can give that’s more precious than your time and attention. Those who have an eating disorder can feel isolated; they can also feel like they are not loved, or that they are not worthy of love. Being eager to spend time with the person can help alleviate both of these problems. Pick an activity that you both like, and make plans to do it together—whether it’s hiking, going to a concert, or simply spending an evening watching movies on the couch. Listen. All of us need to be heard. All of us need to know that our feelings and experiences are validated by others. One way you can show love to your partner who has an eating disorder is just to listen. Ask the person how they are, what’s on their mind, what’s been going on—and then just listen. You don’t have to try to fix things. You just need to pay attention to them, and to give them as much space as they need to talk things out. Pamper. Everyone loves to be pampered, and this is an especially good way to show affection for someone who might have an eating disorder. Give a foot rub. Give a massage. Or, plan a massage appointment or a spa day together. Show some love through creature comforts. Give gifts. Everybody likes receiving gifts! For Valentine’s Day, don’t hesitate to show your love by treating your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or partner to something special—something you know they’ve been wanting. Say “I love you.” Don’t just assume that the person knows it. Remember that many who have eating disorders struggle with the notion that they are fundamentally unlovable. You’ve got to actively combat that way of thinking, and letting them know, verbally, that you care about them is deeply important. Encourage them in their recovery. Hopefully, your loved one has sought clinical intervention and continues to attend sessions with a therapist, a dietitian, and, possibly, a support group. If this isn’t happening, though, encourage the person to seek this kind of medical care. You can’t force them into it, but you can stress that you are worried about them, care for them deeply, and want to see them get better. You can also pledge to support them through recovery, in whatever way is necessary. This Valentine’s Day, and throughout the month, you can do a lot to show that you care. These are just some suggestions; you may have more ideas of your own. What’s critical is that those with eating disorders are reminded, in no uncertain terms, that they are cherished. Do something to show your love today! Learn more about eating disorder treatment at The Highlands.

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