Hi guys!! I’m so excited you’re here to learn about having better relationships while in recovery from an eating disorder. Today we’ll go over 3 essential strategies that you’ll use to communicate effectively and build trust.
PART 1: How to Ask Your Partner for Support
The main idea of this entire post is to share some essential strategies for communicating effectively in relationships… any relationships! It works with a BFF, parent, friend, or romantic partner (so don’t worry if you’re not in a “relationship” 😉) this still applies to YOU!
The first, most important thing to realize is that…
1️⃣ You will learn along the way.
There is no playbook that gives you a magical fairytale ending where you are recovered and in love (or super close if we’re talking about friends or family here) and it’s all super easy without any work. 😂😅It takes some hard work on both parts. Even if this person is your soul mate or has known you your entire life, it will be challenging and frustrating while you learn how to work through the growing pains of communicating effectively.
Why is it hard work? 👉Because the process of recovery is about healing. Healing from what? Painful things in your life that are coming to the surface. Recognize that.
Which leads me to…
2️⃣ If you’re struggling, it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.
You won’t have all of the answers, it will be hard at times, but DO NOT let that scare you ☺️ When you go on this recovery journey WITH someone in your life, it can be an absolute blessing. But only if you BOTH CHOOSE to go on it together.
You both have to clearly understand that it won’t always be easy, but if you really care about each other 😍 it will be worth it a MILLION times over. Trust me, Mick (my boyfriend of almost 8 years as I’m writing this post) has been my best friend through my entire recovery journey. Even though we started off incredibly close, this has made us even closer because he understands 100% of who I am and how my brain works. Having his support is the best thing that ever happened to me, but teaching him how to support me was MY JOB. And it took me a long time to learn how to communicate effectively so that we both felt like equal partners in our relationship.
That exactly why I say it takes work on both people’s parts. This is something new, so you have to practice in order to find out what works. You can’t be discouraged by what feels like a “failure”. Moments of struggle are learning lessons that you can apply next time something similar happens. Experience it, learn from it, and grow for next time.
PART 2: How to Communicate Your Needs
So, this person is already committed to you… or it’s not necessarily that serious just yet 😉 but you believe you have a future together…
HOW do you let that person into your recovery journey? ✨
A.K.A. your sacred space where all the scary things hide that you never tell anyone about? 🤫😥I get it, it’s not always the easiest thing to talk about your thoughts, emotions, and experiences that you’ve never had to tell someone.
There have been many times where I stood in front of Mick crying 😭 and NOT saying anything. I couldn’t put my pain into words, so I just cried. But he was patient. He waited for me to be ready to talk about it ❤️ and I did, eventually.
1️⃣This is about TRUST.
If there is no trust, this will not work. You have to feel safe enough to spill your guts to someone and that can be scary AF. So build that trust. Building trust is a part of EVERY successful, lasting, healthy relationship. And that’s done naturally by sharing your lives together and supporting each other in what you both want. Trust is a muscle, so work it so it can be strong 💪🏼
2️⃣Don’t leave it up to the other person.
For the love of avocados, 🥑 PLEASE DON’T TAKE A BACKSEAT. In this, you have to take the lead because that person won’t understand what to do if you don’t tell them. And it’s not fair to them to expect them to! They haven’t had an eating disorder, so how can they understand?!
Put yourself in their shoes. They need help understanding what you need from them. So the only way this works is if you clearly express what YOU need from them.
One thing that honestly helped Mick a TON, was editing my content for me. He learned so much about me from reading this blog and my Instagram posts. So, if you can’t figure out what to say to them, try having that person read one of my posts that you really connect with. I have a TON to choose from here.
3️⃣Communicate clearly and be specific.
Don’t just talk about what you need. Tell them what YOU need from THEM.
Have you ever said something like, “I just want you to listen!” or “I want you to show up for me!” While I understand what you mean, they might not 😬🤦♀️
So what DO you mean, really?
What do you want them to do? BE SPECIFIC AND CLEAR.
Give them an opportunity to ACT instead of feeling helpless. When you need something, give them the power to meet your needs 🙌🏼
In the beginning, when Mick would talk to me about my eating disorder, he felt helpless because he didn’t know how to help me. Instead of being upset at the lack of communication, it challenged me to look within and FIGURE OUT WHAT I NEEDED. Actually, this helped me AND HIM because I found ways for him to help me AND new ways for me to help MYSELF.
PART 3: How to Set Boundaries Without Ruining Your Chances to Grow
Have you ever told yourself you didn’t want to do something, then completely changed your mind? 🤦♀️ Yeah, that’s EXACTLY what can happen when you set boundaries.
So don’t just set boundaries, let them know what happens when the boundaries are crossed, and let them know if the boundaries aren’t what you need at that moment.
- YOU set the boundaries.
- YOU tell that person how far you want to be pushed.
- YOU share how you want to be treated when you’re emotional.
- ‼️and tell them what THEY can expect from those situations.
YOU have to help THEM understand YOU.
If you’re crying after ‘x’ happened, what do you need from them? If that doesn’t work, what can you tell them to expect instead? What else might be going on that they should know about? What can they do for you? Can you warn them that you might lash out, but if you do, you don’t mean it? THAT is the kind of communication and boundary setting I’m talking about.
✨LASTLY, know that this person can’t be your ONLY support system.
Mick and I had to treat each other with respect, always. If I was struggling, he respected my emotions. And if he was struggling, I respected his space. I had to learn that not everything was about me all the time 🙄
Sometimes, I had to be patient and learn to take care of myself. (Grab you free Food Freedom resources right here, so you can work on this.)
And remember, this person is NOT you.
The people you love and care about are humans with their own pain, their own challenges, and their own LIFE. Sometimes, they won’t react how you want them to because they have to take care of their own 💩So be kind, be aware, and be there for them, too!
But at the same time, this person should understand when you REALLY need them. And they should be there for you ❤️
TAKEAWAY: Relationships are Strong if You Build Them That Way
The simple solution? ✨Talk it out, build a strong relationship, and build it on a foundation of trust and understanding.
And make sure it’s a 2-way street where BOTH people feel supported. It can’t always be “you + me + ED 😬 Sometimes it needs to be about you and them, or just you, or just them.
That kind of wisdom takes time. If you’re good for each other, are kind, can set boundaries, and communicate well, you can come out of this stronger than ever. Yup, 7 years strong with Mick and we are closer and happier than we have ever been 🥰
Guys, there’s hope. There is more than hope. If you find it in yourself to build a strong relationship with someone who truly cares about you, it is your job to help them understand what you need.
YOU CAN DO THIS.
Did you learn something today? You might be interested in finding Food Freedom! Using the 3 strategies in this food freedom ebook to learn how I healed my relationship with food. I’m sharing my best tips for healing your relationship with food (including lessons from my experience with orthorexia, binge eating, over-exercising, body image, weight gain, weight loss, and restrictive dieting). In this super special 30 day program, you’ll learn how to create a sustainable Food Freedom action plan that works for YOU.