You are here:

Counseling/Relationship issues with boyfriend


My boyfriend and I have beem together for almost 3 years.  He is french, and we met and I currently live in Canada. He has always been very close with his family, talking to them on the phone several times a week. I never thought too much of this.  4 months ago he abruptly quit his job, without having a new job to go start.  He then began the job hunt, and found it very difficult.  A month after leaving work, he decided to go back to France for a month to visit his family and reconnect.  He came back, with an excellent job interview all setup.  He made the decision before he returned that if he did not get the job that he would return to France.  He didn't get the job and immediately started the process of moving back and selling all his belonings.  We have decided to stay together, since I can't move to France right now ( I have 2 kids from a previous marriage) and he is trying to decided what to do with his life.  He says that he wants to be with me, but that if he does that then he is giving up his family.  Everyone we know has told him that is not the case, and that his family will always be there for him.  He has been in France now for 2 weeks and is not any happier there since he is very sad that he left me.  How should I approach this?  I keep walking around in circles as to what he could do and how he's not choosing between me or my family.  But it seems that he thinks that he needs to be there to be with his family.  I'm beginning to wonder if there's a co-dependency relationship with his mother.  He told me before he left that he wants to be with me and that he hopes that his trip back home will make him realize this. Is there anything I can do to make him realize that he doesn't physically need to be with his family?

Hello Cristina - from your description, I doubt you can "convince" your BF of anything using logic. His decision is necessarily based on emotions and interactions with his family members. My suggestion - specially since you are a parent - is that each of you assess yourselves for inherited psychological wounds. I also suggest you both start studying stepfamily realities to become more aware of problems you will encounter if you commit to each other:

Overall. use these wiasdoms to guide your decisions:

If you have more questions, please ask - Pete


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about mood disorders, depression, suicide, relationships, communication skills, problem solving, clear thinking, bonding disorders, trauma recovery, addiction management, grieving, shame, guilt, fear, reality distortion, and trust disorders; courtship, family functioning, "problem kids," mediation, (re)marriage, divorce, stepfamilies, stepparenting, boundaries, self-neglect, abuse, parental neglect, personality subselves, ("parts work"). I cannot answer legal or medical questions.


I maintained a private therapy practice near Chicago for 27 years, and have worked with over 1,000 men, women, couples, and families on a wide range of personal and family problems. I have been in personal recovery from growing up in an alcoholic family since 1986, and have worked with five therapists to heal my own psychological wounds. I maintained a "warm (phone) line" for callers on the topics above for 20 years, and have taught over 200 seminars and classes in midwestern universities, churches, support groups, and schools since 1981. I have practiced internal-family therapy ("parts work") with trauma-recoverers since 1991.

National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council; Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit Network

# Several hundred articles in my non-profit "Break the Cycle!" Web site at These articles are augmented by over 150 educational YouTube videos .

# six books on childhood-trauma recovery, effective communication, and stepfamily courtship, coparenting, and management.

A bachelors degree in mechanical engineering (BSME, 1959) from Stanford University, a Masters degree in clinical Social Work, (MSW, 1981), and over 500 hours of post-grad training in the topics above - including clinical hypnosis, spirituality, codependence, addicrtion-management, and guided imagery. My post-grad traning includes two 9-month internships on doing internal-family therapy at the University of Illinois.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and comments from students and clients all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1,000 average Midwestern-US women, men, couples, and families. A physical disability limits me to doing telephone and Skype counseling now.

©2017 All rights reserved.