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Help with my boyfriends problems...


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I need advice on my relationship with my boyfriend. We've been together 6 months and were best friends for over a year before that. I love him to bits, and all I want to do is make him happy. But making him happy is hard. I feel he has a form of dysmorphia, and he is obsessed with his body and constantly calls himself fat, and how he needs to go to the gym, when in reality, he's extremely in shape, and barely has an inch of fat on him.

Because of his dysmorphia, he often has mood swings, he feels pretty miserable due to the dysmorphia and also because he feels bored, bored with life in general.

I try and say things to boost his confidence, and cheer him up. Tell him how much I love him, and compliment him. He tells me off for complimenting him, and I don't know what to do. I want to do things with him, new things, to help him feel less bored and try and take his mind off his dysmorphia. However, I'm a student, which equals constantly poor. I need two bits of advice really:

  • What's the best way to deal with his condition, and the best things I could do to help reduce it (baring in mind, if I tell him he's gorgeous and not fat, he shouts at me)?
  • Things/activities we could do together to keep him occupied that doesn't really involve spending money?



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Do you have health services available to you? It sounds like he needs counseling and possibly/probably medication. His boredom is probably due from depression, which often accompanies BDD. Once a person starts down such a path in their life, it is really difficult to pull them back without a skilled professional. If you really want to help, that's what he needs. This is a serious disorder, and rarely gets better on it's own.

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Thanks for your help. I've told him before I believe he has the condition, and have told him I think he should get help. His response is 'I don't have that, and if anything I wish I did have it, so I'd be more deluded then I can look better.' It's really sad, I even mentioned it to his mum about it, and she kind've laughed it off as though I was just calling him vain. I think because not many people know of the condition, which doesn't help. When I've mentioned it to him and his family they don't take it seriously because they see it just as being vain and image conscious. He also sometimes gets annoyed with me because I think it's gotten worse since we started dating. He's gotten comfortable around me, and sometimes uses that excuse when he misses a day at the gym. I need help convincing him/his family that he actually needs help. I don't know what to do, it's like talking to a brick wall.

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I hate to turn to the obvious site, but wiki explains it best [for some reason it won't let me post an url address, so if you search body dysmorphic disorder on wikipedia, it'll give you a proper run down of the disorder]


Basically he has a very deluded perception of his body. And on that link he has about 3/4's of the symptoms.

He is really in shape and barely has any fat on his body at all, however he feels he's 'disgusting and fat'. I tell him the truth and he refuses to believe what I say. If he misses a day at the gym, he gets very irritated and miserable and he often grabs the skin on his stomach and pulls on it really hard like he's trying to pull the 'fat' off. He has days where he doesn't eat at all. He's a heterosexual male, and if out, only checks out men, not women... to study and compare their physique. The majority of the time he talks about the gym, how he wants to buy exercising equipment and how he 'needs to get back into training'. He is constantly checking his reflection, which is usually when he starts calling himself fat and grabbing his stomach. When he loses motivation to go to the gym, he becomes extremely miserable and nothing I can say can even remotely cheer him up. We recently went on holiday together and he missed 5 days at the gym, and he was going insane. He found old pictures of him, and he couldn't look at them (he weighed about 28 pounds more in the photos) and said the photos made him feel sick. He once even mentioned something that disturbed me. He doesn't really have a gag reflex. He said 'I wish I did, I could throw up after I eat.' He wants to be bulimic.

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Oh boy, there's really not much you can do without being at least semi codependent. Compliments aren't going to work - they will feel like daggers. I would be supportive of his gym time. If he uses you as an excuse to miss a day, try to help him find a way to get there. That's his crutch, much like an alcoholic, and your helping him to get his "medicine" will strengthen your bond. If he notices this and turns it around and says you're pushing him to the gym because of his (fat, whatever), turn it back towards him and say you know how important the gym is to him and you're trying to be a good GF. For activities, I would also push towards physical activities. Walk, bike, kick a soccer ball around, whatever will simulate some exercise. If he's active and moving, at the end of the day he'll feel like he's accomplished something towards his "problem," and that may brighten his mood a bit, and feel like you're a good partner as you're pushing him towards a "solution." That said, once you do this for a bit and he's maybe feeling slightly better about himself and more bonded to you, that's when you can start to intersperse comments and "thoughts" that will lead him towards seeking treatment. Getting him into treatment is the key. Start working on avenues (options, finances, logistics, etc.) towards that end while you're doing the above. And be fully aware, everything above is only a band aid.

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Wow, that actually is such great advice, I couldn't thank you more. I've been tearing my hair out over this. I have done the trying to motivate and encourage him to go to the gym before, to the point where I said if he wanted me to, I'd go with him. He was really happy about it, but unfortunately due to me constantly having no money, I couldn't continuously afford to go. So I'll try your other piece of advice of trying to do more physical activities together like sports. Thank you SO SO much

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I just hope you really understand these activities are temporary, only to strengthen your bond and trust so that you can eventually convince him to get into counseling. They are not a cure. If these codependent activities go on too long, they will reinforce his BDD and make it worse. Read that again. These activities will make his BDD worse. Counseling is the only cure.

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