When you have an eating disorder friends who are attracted to you are attracted to who you are and how you respond with your eating disorder intact. Friend change as you change throughout your recovery work.
How you and your friends change as you recoverWhen you are deep in your eating disorder your friends and associates have a relationship with a sick person. When you start to get well your attitudes, choices and responses change. Your friends' responses will change too.
- You are more caring and respectful of yourself.
- You resist sacrificing your personal resources (time, money, skills, energy) because you no longer believe that others are more important than you.
- You begin to use your resources to make your own dreams come true, dreams you didn’t know you had because they were buried by the eating disorder.
- You no longer engage is high risk behavior for thrills or because you are going along with everyone else and are numb to your fears.
- You feel and can bear your feelings.
- You gain a more clear mental perspective on what you see and hear..
- You have opinions.
- You have a point of view.
- You matter to yourself.
- You say, "No," where you used to say, "Yes."
Friends Change when they Object to Your Recovery
The friends in your life who were attracted to you as you lived with your eating disorder symptoms are psychologically matched to you based on those symptoms. They may object to your changes as you move toward a more healthy life.
They can be ruffled, disbelieving, disappointed, hurt and angry.
If they can grow themselves and accept your healthy attitudes then your relationships and friends change and grow.
If your friends cannot grow and adapt, if they need a relationship with a person who goes numb, who says yes, who sacrifices and feels guilty and responsible for other people's needs, then those friends will grow both resentful and bored.
If you remain on your recovery path your friends change. They will not be the same as they were before recovery work. If a friend cannot accept your healthy changes your relationship will fall apart. If you are truly in recovery, you will not or cannot go back to your illness to support people who require a self sacrificing person to fulfill their needs.
People who have their own solid self esteem and are willing to be responsible for themselves will become visible to you as you become visible to them. Some of them may already be in your life and cheer your recovery.
Getting Better and Gaining Friends
If your friendships are changing you might feel angry or confused or lonely. This is a time for patience and trust. Most of all, its a time to stay committed to your healing. This is a time to wait for your more healthy way of life to be visible to your future friends. You live your life in recovery. People who are attracted to health will be attracted to you.
In recovery and growing health, you have more and different choices. You can have more satisfying friendships based on your more healthy attitude and lifestyle.
Thought and journal questions
- How have your friendships changed as you move on your recovery path?
- What are your losses?
- What are your gains?
- What is new in your life now?
Joanna Poppink, MFT, is a depth psychotherapist in private practice. Her specialities are working with adults dealing with eating disorders, PTSD, anxiety narcissistic abuse and depression. All appointments are virtual. She is licensed in CA, UT, FL, AZ and OR. For a free telephone consultation e-mail her at
*Harmony of Creatures, painted by Margret Hofheinz-Döring