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Relationships and Dating Ask here for advice on dates, break-ups and other relationship concerns.

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Sounobvious Offline
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I think my boyfriend has some kind of body dysmorphic disorder...how can I help him? - July 28th 2010, 07:43 AM

So my extremely attractive boyfriend has been super self-conscious about this small abnormality on his chest for apparently the last ten years of his life. He has some extra cartilage that grows around his ribcage on the one side that sticks out a little bit. It really isn't noticeable at all...but cehe like didnt even show me until almost a year into our relationship and before that I didn't even notice it because well... its not that noticable...Ive looked at it and he just keeps making exuses like I havent seen it fully from the proper angles or in the right lighting but blieves its actually really bad...he says that hes not going to accept it as long as its there. It sucks because he wont go swimming or to the beach or anything like that...he's really good looking but is such a perfectionist that he cant be happy with what he has. He says his self esteem would be ruined if anyone ever said anything and pretty much thinks im just being nice when i tell him its like nothing. I keep telling him over and over that he's good-looking and amazing and something that small and insignificant doesn't matter but he thinks everyone is going to judge him. I want to help him so badly but it's really hard to get through to him....He's even to a psychologist about this. Anyone have any advice on how to deal with this and help him?
   
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Re: I think my boyfriend has some kind of body dysmorphic disorder...how can I help him? - July 28th 2010, 06:04 PM

Hey. I saw the title of this thread and had to reply as my own boyfriend has issues with his body that simply aren't visible at all, but who doesn't? Everyone has something they dislike about their body, even when other individuals cannot see them at all. You hear it all the time, friends complaining that their breasts are too small or their tummy too flabby. Usually there is nothing 'wrong' with these people's bodies at all, but our society has latched onto what we believe to be the 'perfect' body and this is shown constantly in the media, with celebrities and models. So when our bodies do not 'fit' with this supposed perfection, it can be incredibly hard to take, damage our self esteem and lead us to believe we have to change in some way. We also have a flaw as humans; we always care too much what others think and what appears such a monumental problem to ourselves, is in fact a tiny, if not completly invisible problem to everyone else looking in.

The problem is, once he's got it into his head that he has this 'problem' with his body, almost nothing you say can change his mind. He's had this issue for years and so it's grown into something he accepts as the fundamental truth. Just something he hates about his body. And it's true that the more you compliment him and try and get him to accept his body, the more he will refuse to believe that and think 'she is just saying that because she has to be nice' etc. It's great that you do tell him these things though of course, I'm sure he appreciates the effort you make and realises that you care for him very much. That much is evident in that you posted on here.

What did the psychologist say? Did it appear to help him at all? I'm not trained enough to give a professional opinion but I can see two ways of dealing with this. There's the drastic option (which goes against everything I pretty much just said) of surgery, is that possible? If he is seriously very unhappy with this and nothing else has worked, then that could be a last option, if possible. He could even get it on the NHS (if you're in the UK that is?) if he explains the problem to his Doctor.

But then there's the other option. He's basically got to learn to 'accept' this problem he has. Accept it as part of himself that won't change, but that he can gradually grow to accept and maybe even like! Maybe give an example from your own experience, of how you used to dislike your height or your bony fingers (you might actually be average height with lovely hands but you know what I mean). When you give an example from your own experience, people know you understand, or at least are trying very hard and he'll like that. He's got to learn to love his body, flaws and all. Tell him that everyone on earth has them. I'm sure you've done all this and more but I can only suggest that you carry on. As to him, it's going to be a very personal journey of acceptance and input from others will only be minimal on his radar, unless from a trained professional of course. Talk to him about going to see a cognitive therapist or someone who specialises in this area as they will help him view his body in a different way and be less self critical.

Good luck!
   
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Re: I think my boyfriend has some kind of body dysmorphic disorder...how can I help him? - July 29th 2010, 10:56 PM

I'm not too familiar on the disorders side of it. But everyone has something about themselves that they don't like. It's a lot easier for people to see bad things about themselves, but often no one else can see it. It could be that he just has really low self esteem and can't imagine why you think he's attractive, and he probably can't understand why his cartilage thing doesn't bother you as much as it bothers him.

Maybe you could help him out by not just telling him that he's attractive, but tell him why e.g. I love the colour of your eyes, your broad shoulders etc or whatever. That might help him a little bit.




Sometimes it's better to forget how you feel
and remember what you deserve


S. M ... still in my heart, forever
   
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