I spend much of my time alone. I am in a city with no friends or family which on some days has been beneficial but others, quite lonely. I am also in a very rural area with no culture like my own which has made it nearly impossible to make friends or date. I have been here 3. LONG. YEARS. I welcomed the change in the beginning as it has allowed for me to focus on accomplishing goals without the interruptions of love and such. My mind on love is something like a hungry dog that has happened upon an open restaurant dumpster forgetting about everything else completely focused on the food. I have managed to stay out of any “real” committed, long term relationships but now as I venture back out into the world of dating I am forced to address my issues with people I barely know. It is hard enough dealing with your own stuff but now having to figure out when do I tell them and how much should I tell them brings on a bit of anxiety. When do you say “oh, by the way, I have some real food issues that cause me to binge eat a dump truck full of food on some days. Really? When is the best time to tell someone new this information?
So, I have actually done some research on this very issue and I can tell you the suggestions from the “experts” are from one end of the spectrum(tell them when you’re comfortable) to the other end (very complex reasoning around time, length of illness and the symptoms this person is exhibiting). I think before I tell you my own thoughts on when one should disclose, I feel there is a real need to explain what food addiction is for those who don’t know or don’t understand. Food addiction is when the body and brain become dependent on food and this is characterized by:
- obsessive food cravings, combined with a preoccupation of obtaining and consuming food
- repeated attempts to stop overeating, followed by relapse into addictive behavior
- the continued misuse of food (through binge eating or compulsive eating) in spite of serious health concerns
- loss of control over how much, how often, and where overeating occurs
- the need to consume more food in order to get the same sense of emotional release or comfort
- a pattern of eating alone in order to avoid negative attention of others
- negative impact on work, family life, financial status, or social activities as a result of over eating (American Addictions Center, 2017)
I felt the need to fully describe food addiction because I have, in the past, encountered those who don’t believe that this is a real issue or that one can truly be addicted to food. I say live a day of my life! My opinion? Those are people you should not be dating if you KNOW this is your issue! Now that I have gotten that out of the way. Another real truth I believe is before you starting dating you should be working on yourself and dealing with your issues. Self love before delving into relationships with others. Eating disorders frequently become so central and preoccupying they are often described as taking the place of interpersonal relationships ( Psychology Today, 2016) so as long as the issues are not being addressed it could definitely cause some real problems as to developing a deep and meaningful relationship.
Now, after I have read all the differing opinions about when one should disclose information concerning addictive behaviors I felt more confused than ever. I felt anxiety about dating someone that I really liked and wanted to make sure that I was moving forward with them being as truthful and forthright as possible. I didn’t want to withhold information as this comes across as deceptive, sometimes. It almost made me want to just not even try as the anxiety would rise up in my chest every time I thought about it. Then one night it just hit me: there is no right time or right moment. When you constantly present yourself to the world as who you truly are then those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind, in the famous words of Dr. Seuss. Sounds simplistic but human beings MAKE things much harder than they should be. I met someone who is wonderful at receiving the information that I give and WELCOMES it! Now, does this mean that this will happen every time I encounter a new person in my life? No, but what it does mean is no matter who I encounter I will know that those who are truly accepting of me were presented with the “real” me from the beginning and not just the bits and pieces that I thought they were willing and/or able to accept. So, I move forward into the dating world, with my big heart, bald head, thick legs and nagging food addiction in tow!