Credit: GG Social Media Editor Tara Gandhi

Vent to views

By Emily Hay and Hailie Pentleton

Your questions answered by our Views Editors.

 Content Warning: Binge eating, disordered eating 

I’m a first year and during Fresher’s Week I got into a relationship – like an actual boyfriend and girlfriend relationship. I would never have imagined myself in this situation, mainly because I always thought of first year being the year of getting with random people. It feels right to be with her, but I really don’t want to look back and regret anything, especially seeing everyone around me having a great time being single. But at the same time why do I have to compare myself with everyone else? I’m really confused on what to do, I feel like I’m at a crossroad and I don’t know which direction to go in.

Emily: This is actually something I have first-hand experience with. The summer between my sixth year and starting uni I somehow ended up in a relationship. No one was more shocked than I was. I had never really had much experience with boys in high school, so the fact that I wound up in an actual relationship the minute I had any sort of freedom and a license to legally buy booze was surreal to me. We’d been together for six weeks by the time I moved to Glasgow for my Fresher’s Week, which was when the doubts set in. For me it wasn’t so much about getting off with random people – it only took a few crap kisses in clubs for me to realise it wasn’t a favourite past time, and I wasn’t comfortable enough with sex yet to feel anything other than terrified at the prospect of getting naked in front of a stranger. But I did feel, at the beginning, like it was getting in my way of fully letting go of home and throwing myself into new friendships and social events since he was coming to visit me every other week. When I went home for reading week I had hit the point where I really thought I was going to break up with him, because I felt like he was just way more into it than I was.

Long story short – it’s four years later and now I live with him. I’m pretty certain he’s my life partner. When I went home for that week I had such a great time with him that by the time I got back to uni he seemed to slot into my new life there almost seamlessly. Looking back now, I think the doubts I was having were just tied to all the upheaval and stress of moving away from home and starting my course, because from that point on he made everything in my life easier, and I never had a single problem in bringing him along to nights out with flatmates or society socials.

It’s hard to give advice on this because only you know how you really feel, but if it honestly feels good to be with her then don’t let some idea of what your uni experience “should” be like get in the way of something that could be special. In the current circumstances would you be getting off with people left, right and centre anyway? And even if you were, are a string of one-night stands and tinder dates more meaningful than a deep, loving relationship? They may deny it, but I think a lot of those singletons around you might not be having as great a time as they let on.

On the other hand, if you find yourself continually feeling like this then it isn’t fair to lead her on. That’s cruel, and will just make it all the worse when you do eventually break up – as you inevitably will if your heart isn’t in it anymore. It might be a good idea to try and plan a bit of time on your own, to get your head straight, but then make sure to spend some proper time together as a couple and talk about how you feel. Maybe she feels similar, and maybe talking through things will help both of you. Maybe things will work out, or maybe they won’t – but either way, it’s better than being in limbo.

I’m really struggling with binge eating but I don’t think I can talk to anyone about it because people don’t think of it as a real problem.

Hailie: Although I imagine you already know and accept this, binge eating is a “real problem”, and has likely been exacerbated by the adverse circumstances we find ourselves midst. The eating disorder charity BEAT reports a 50% rise in calls to their helpline, and that they’ve had an even greater increase in the number of people contacting them via social media. Although it isn’t a consolation for your own struggles, know that many people have really struggled to cope with eating difficulties because of our disrupted routines and living situations. 

I’ve struggled with my eating for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until two months ago that I opened up more about my difficulties with food. I am lucky to have a patient and encouraging therapist, but I know that more often than not this isn’t the case. Discussions about our eating habits are often uncomfortable. Binge eating, with assumed connotations of “laziness” or “lack of control” brings with it a lot of shame, beyond the slight embarrassment that comes with being shamed for putting ketchup in your macaroni, or for secretly hating hummus. 

The first step to getting help is acknowledging that your concerns are valid, and it seems that you have. To admit that you have a problem with food takes a lot of strength. Although it seems easier, this is not something you should shoulder alone. If you aren’t ready to talk to your family or friends but feel you’d like some advice, I’d recommend getting in touch with BEAT, which has a separate helpline specifically for students, and really coherent resources. 

If you do feel ready to talk it out, don’t be afraid to take it slow. Choose people you expect to be understanding and an environment that makes you feel safe. Something I’ve found important to assert is that you don’t need to hear about the health risks; you know them, and you likely encounter them before, during, and after a binge. The binge cycle brings with it a cycle of fear, shame, and regret that can be difficult to quantify in a few rational sentences. 

Often, binge eating and compulsive eating develop as methods of coping with other stressors in our lives. While perhaps not ideal, I’ve learned that it is important to acknowledge that, rather than shaming ourselves for the way that we cope. Recovery is a difficult journey, and I’m proud of you for wanting to make that first step. Have a question you’d like Emily and Hailie to answer? Click here to make an anonymous submission for our next issue.


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