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How to Pick Healthy Intimates

When you get shaped by growing up in a dysfunctional family, you may not know the criteria for choosing mentally healthy intimates. Many disregulated eaters surround themselves with folks who aren’t good for them—or anyone!—then wonder why they’re driven to eat mindlessly. Here’s a list of some of what I think makes and doesn’t make for an emotionally healthy friend or romantic partner.

The person has most, if not all, of these traits most of the time:
kind, considerate, caring
generous, giving, with an abundance (not deprivation) mentality
an empathic, good listener, genuinely interested in what you have to say, questions you about yourself and really wants to know the answers, values and “gets” you
honest, ethical, has friends who are honest and ethical, trustworthy, reliable, accountable
intelligent with common sense, has good critical-thinking and problem-solving skills
comfortably admits to mistakes and failures, does things to be proud of her/himself
has interests, close friends, a good sense of humor, is a fully developed person
allows you space, your own friends, your own interests, admires your uniqueness

The person does not have most of these traits most of the time:
won’t share feelings, easy to anger, cold, aloof, withholding of love, won’t talk out problems, keeps important secrets, unreliable, untrustworthy
self-involved, unempathic, makes you feel invisible, narcissistic, talks a lot about self
refuses to compromise or meet halfway on issues, must be right, is never wrong
has an addiction to drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, work, sex, shopping, etc.
teases, shames, mocks, humiliates you or others (then denies doing so)
refuses to go to counseling when you ask
tries to isolate you, is jealous or envious of you, won’t allow you privacy or space
won’t socialize, only wants to be alone or with you, has no friends
takes poor care of himself/herself

Now, before you say, “Well, I’m not perfect, so how can I expect someone else to be?”, note that I used the words “most traits” and “most of the time.” You’re not looking to be perfect or for someone who is. Emotional/mental health is on a continuum, so shoot for the positive, not the negative, end. Develop the traits you’re looking for and you’ll attract healthier people. And, by the way, when you meet strangers, rather than focus on whether they like you, focus on whether they are worthy of you based on who they are and how they act.