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What It's Like to Date While Recovering From an Eating Disorder

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Dating is hard. Dating with an eating disorder? Well, let’s just say it takes the phrase “it’s complicated” to a whole new level. I have dated with an eating disorder before, and it was just as hard then as it is now. However, after my most recent relapse, I decided to take a break and focus on my recovery.

Thankfully, I am in a better place. I don’t consider myself fully recovered, but I have come a long way. I have accomplished so much in my recovery, yet I know I have a long way to go. When I compare my old behaviors and thoughts to where I was a year ago, I am shocked by my progress. I can eat in front of people again, eat more regularly and can even go out to eat on the weekends. I have accomplished other things during my recovery, but these three things are a huge deal for me as they previously isolated me the most.

If someone met me tomorrow, my eating habits, attitude toward food, exercise routine, food choices and eating schedule may still come off as questionable. But I am on cloud nine with my progress and as far as I am concerned, I really couldn’t care less what other people think.

That was until I met this man. A tall, handsome and kind man who swept me off of my feet. Every time I am with him, my soul lights up and I get a silly grin on my face that lasts for hours after he leaves. He treats me like a princess and I am so lucky I found him.

But again, like with everything else in my life, my eating disorder has to complicate it. When we go out to eat, I have to be the one who picks the restaurant to remove the spontaneity which kills some of the romance. When he wraps his arm around my waist, all I can think about is how I wish I was thinner instead of letting myself embrace his touch. When he looks me in my eyes and tells me how beautiful I am, I cringe in disbelief. When I wake up in the morning in his bed and think about sneaking off to the kitchen to cook us a nice breakfast to share together, I lie and say I am not hungry. When he asks me why I order the same food when we go out to eat, I smile a fake smile and tell him that it’s my favorite instead of admitting it’s my safe food.

I could go on and on with how my eating disorder complicates such a beautiful relationship. I have not been dating him for a long time, but my gut says he could be my last and forever. Just last week, he looked into my eyes and put his hand on my check and said, “Elizabeth, you make me wanna be a better man.” It was in that exact moment I realized he makes me want be a better woman. I am proud of how far I have come in my recovery in the last year, but meeting him has been my wake up call. I can be proud and celebrate my recovery thus far, but I need to keep pushing myself; I cannot settle for limbo. I want be a better woman in every aspect of my life, including my recovery.

Dating may be hard and recovery may seem daunting, but nothing worth fighting for comes easy.

Unsplash via Tim Foster

Originally published: October 8, 2018
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