Eating Disorders: Generational
Advice to My Sons: Give All Your Dates "The Hamburger Test"
Recently, a dear friend (and mom of three sons) shared the fact that her boys complain to her about how “weird” the girls are about eating when they're out together as a group or at school. While some girls diet in order to get skinny and attract boys, there are those who starve themselves because they have NO interest in the opposite sex. By returning to a pre-pubescent body, they are attempting to stave off the anxiety that comes with turning into a sexual being.
More often than not I hear guys say they like to date girls “with meat on their bones.” They hate the thought of asking a girl on a date only to have her order salad with dressing on the side. And while there are some who are as body-obsessed as the media indicate, I believe the majority of guys would rather be with someone who is self-confident (and curvy) than insecure (and thin).
As far as the guys go, I’ve seen it all:
- Narcissistic men who actually encouraged their dangerously thin wives to maintain their unhealthy lifestyle in order to achieve some media-generated body ideal.
- Loving men who stood by their partners through the most excruciating phases of recovery and served as key support people in the recovery process.
- High-quality guys who walked away from a loved one because the eating disorder had destroyed the relationship.
But for young men seeking a healthy partner (and young women who want to attract one) this tale might provide a clue:
My cousin is tall, blonde and buff from years of surfing the California waves; he is the total Malibu Package. He looks like a Ken doll and could have had the pick of any Barbie on the beach. But he’d known plenty of women who were obsessed with their appearance or guilt-ridden around food, and he was uninterested in signing up for a life-time of this. He was seeking a life partner who would share his love of fun, healthy adventure. So when it was time for him to search for his future bride, he devised an ingenious screening device: The Hamburger Test.
He asked every first date out for a burger. And he watched.
Did they ask the waitress to hold the bun? Skip the cheese? Keep the sauce on the side? Or, God forbid, hold the meat?
The Hamburger Test was his own personal Rorschach, providing valuable information about how his date felt about experiencing pleasure, taking risks, showing up in her life without guilt, claiming her space, owning her appetites.
On his first date with Heidi, a beautiful (and healthy!) pre-school teacher, she ordered the burger—AND the fries. Ten years and two children later, they have shared many adventures and many hamburgers. They also eat organic food, do yoga together and are raising their children with a lust for life, encouraging them to embrace all their appetites; for fun, music, art, dance-- and food.
These days it can be a challenge to find women (and men) who live this balanced a life. When a person’s relationship with food is out of balance, it may be an indicator that other aspects of their life need some work. The best preparation for a healthy relationship with a partner is a healthy relationship with yourself. Listen to, respect and honor your appetites. Proudly take up space here on the planet. Doing so will make you attracted to (and attractive to) just the right partner.
Dina Zeckhausen is a nationally known clinical psychologist and author who specializes in treating eating disorders and body image in both adults and adolescents. She is a weekly columnist for ShareWiK.com. You can visit her on the web at dinazeckhausen.com and MyEdin.org.
© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009