Relationships can be difficult to navigate, and then when you throw body-focused repetitive behaviours (BFRBs) into the mix, it can become even more daunting. This goes for all kinds of relationships, too, not just romantic ones. Telling your parents or your best friend can be just as daunting as telling a romantic partner and the closer you are to someone, the harder it is. Stigma tells us that everyone will reject us for our BFRBs, so there’s often a huge build-up of anxiety and dread at the thought of revealing that part of us.First and foremost, you’re not obligated to tell anyone about your BFRB. So, that’s you’re first decision to make — do you want to tell people? If you do, here are some tips from us at CBSN based on some of our own experiences.
When to Tell Someone You Have a BFRB
Tell someone you have a BFFB when you are ready to tell them.
“When will I know when I’m ready?!”
It might feel like you’ll never be ready, but you will be at some point. Here is a tip you can use to help you determine when and even if you should tell someone.
Bring up BFRBs or even just mental health in general as a topic of conversation and see how the person reacts. You could say something like, “Oh, I saw an article about this, what do you think?” or something of that nature just so it’s casual. Depending on how they react, then think about whether you want to share more information about your situation and your BFRB with them. If it’s a positive reaction, it may be a good time to share.
How to Tell Someone About Your BFRB
- Sit them down and explain — this is perhaps the scariest because it can feel like a confessional, but if this person is someone you trust, then they will likely be willing to wait patiently as you go through it and show you love and support at the end.
- Print out information or give them a pamphlet — another option is to print out some information to give them or even write it out in a message, whether a text or on paper. Sometimes the written word is easier than the spoken one because we can think meticulously about what we want to say beforehand, so this is definitely a viable option as well. Be prepared for the questions that follow, however.
How to Explain BFRBs (Especially When People Don’t Get It)
If after you’ve told someone about your BFRB, even if it’s year’s later, and they still don’t get it, that can be super frustrating. The best bet is to provide them with as much information as possible, whether its research studies, pages from websites like CBSN’s, or even personal stories of people who live with the same disorders. You can also invite them to information sessions about BFRBs (such as CBSN’s annual Breaking Down BFRBs event).
You can also ask them what would help them understand better. Maybe they need to speak with a professional in the field to get it, maybe they need you to go super in depth with your experience. Try to work as a team to figure out what’s the best way to get the message across.
How to Deal With Negative Responses
Negative reactions are an unfortunate possibility when it comes to sharing about your BFRB. Sometimes sharing can seem to shift a person’s entire perspective on who you are and make them behave differently towards you because of this new information, even though you’re literally the same person you were before you said it. What you have to do in those situations is decide if this is someone that you want to continue to engage with. It absolutely sucks, but sometimes cutting your losses is better than dealing with prolonged grief and upset of dealing with that person.
To deal with that hurt, turn to your friends and family who do accept you. These people have already proven they love you no matter what, so they can definitely give you the comfort and support you need.
Another option is to bring it to support groups. There have been times at CBSN’s Toronto Peer Support Group where people bring dealing with these struggles to the group to see what other BFRBers have done to get through it. They can also completely understand the frustration of it without you having to explain it, so that’s a great bonus, too.
There are probably many more questions people have about relationships, but we felt these covered some of the most answered questions in support groups. Again, it’s difficult. We get it because we’ve been there and we’re here to help you through it, too. We welcome any additional questions — reach out to us via email or through our social media — and we hope this has gotten you off to a good start in figuring out how to be honest with your BFRBs with the people in your life.