Hi Arline. So I’ve been dating this girl for a few weeks and I really like her. One day she told me that she is anorexic and I accept her. The thing is whenever we go out to eat, she insists that I pay for her meals, which I’m fine with, but she doesn’t eat any of her food. And she orders A LOT of food. I support her and everything, but these food costs are really breaking my bank here. I care about my girlfriend and all, but I can’t afford this. I don’t know if I’m being selfish or not.

Dear Reader,

First of all, it is good to hear that you are concerned more than anything. Clearly your girlfriend trusts you, because she confided in you about her eating disorder. This is a very interesting and complex situation, so I do not think you should feel selfish. She has acknowledged her problem, but continues to rack up the bill on food she knows she won’t eat. I think that there are a few ways you can approach this, but all of them involve talking to her directly about the problem.

Photo by: William Wrobel

Photo by: William Wrobel

I suggest that when you go out to eat, you encourage her to order whatever she wants. However, it might instigate her to eat some of her meal if you ask her how it tastes or if she is enjoying it. If this does not work, perhaps you should suggest sharing a meal together. This will reduce the cost, while encouraging her to eat her portion.

Has your girlfriend tried to find help? It is a difficult conversation to have, but as somebody who cares about her, it is appropriate for you to ask her if she has someone to talk to about the problem. You might suggest that she speaks with a nutritionist in order to find out where her health stands. There are countless groups, counselors and doctors who are much more experienced  on the topic of anorexia than I, so I suggest you encourage your girlfriend to seek help from a professional. If she refuses to speak to someone, you might have a conversation with a professional yourself so that you can get an expert perspective on the whole situation.

You could ask your girlfriend why she orders so much food if she isn’t hungry. I know that you probably do not want to say it, but there is nothing wrong with admitting that you can’t afford the costs of the meals. While you are trying to be supportive, it is not right that she takes advantage of your wallet, so bring it to her attention that you are running low on funds. To reduce the cost of eating with your girlfriend, you could suggest cooking dinner together rather than going out every night. This might help your girlfriend to eat because she could pick the ingredients of the meal.

As I mentioned before, I am not an expert when it comes to the subject of eating disorders. Although I have offered you some suggestions, I think that reading a book on the subject, consulting a doctor or joining an anorexic support group will lead you to a more solid approach to this problem.

It is not selfish for you to have a limit to the money you spend on meals. It is your money, and there is no reason that you should spend more than you have. Whether your girlfriend has an eating disorder or not, you can only afford what you have the money for. Approach your girlfriend about this problem. Open by explaining that you care about her and continue by explaining your concerns regarding her health and finally, your concerns regarding your bank account. Offer to go meet a professional with her so that you can move forward from this problem together.

Best of luck,

Arline