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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 7664
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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Hi, I would like to have some fresh ideas about my previous

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I would like to have some fresh ideas about my previous relationship. It somehow doesn´t seem to leave my mind. We are both students of a prestigious university in a country in Europe which isn´t the home country of any of us. Coming here as international students it didn´t take long before love started to flourish between us. Both of us experienced it as love at first sight and throughout our time together we often talked about how our love was continually growing. It was beautiful to see this every day and I felt very happy as I never experienced to be loved in such a way earlier. We felt very fortunate to experience this. Even well into the relationship we were surprised (and certainly thrilled) that love didn´t fade away, as can be the case in some relationships. We had been together for more than 2 years when it ended 5 months ago. I was taking the lead in the breakup while she disagreed about my decision, however we departed on good terms. As we ended the relationship she asked not to have any contact, something which I understand and have respected. I also thought it was good for me as it would make it easier to go on as well.
The most important factor in my decision to break up was her family. I come from a liberal family which has given me full freedom and (most importantly) support to make whatever choice and path I like since childhood. She, on the contrary, has a family which in my opinion is intruding in matters which belongs to the freedom and the right to develop and live the life she wants. This is certainly having most negative impact on her, but I could also see that as a couple we were prevented to shape our life as a couple and lovers. As our relationship grew I felt that we couldn´t take those steps together that became natural for us. Simple things as going on holiday together was barely and exceptionally accepted, but never supported. She was also prevented from taking part and involve in important events in my family. All in all I felt that we were not allowed to build our life together as a couple. Just to mention that we both come from liberal and free countries in Europe and none of our families are influenced by religion. Therefor other reasons must be the basis of her family situation. I have never come to fully understand it other than having an impression of her family being very conservative.
Now, having mentioned just a couple of examples of this problem we often came into situations which became so much influence by it. We both wanted to shape a life together, but she was simply prevented to fully take part in it. I can admit that it became quite a big issue to me and I felt very sad that we didn´t have the freedom to shape and develop our relationship as 2 adults in our mid-twenties. I certainly showed understanding for her situation, but with time my own (egoistic) need to create a life with her became so important that I was repeatedly disappointed.
The breakup came at the point when I changed university and moved a 1 hour flight away. I realized that continuing as a long-distance relationship would be very difficult without the support of her family. We were already in a situation where almost everything was depending on my flexibility and so I thought that this problem would be even more evident with distance as it requires a lot of both parts. My opinion was that without her freedom it would be impossible.

In retrospect I realize that my decision to leave the relationship was very much based upon rational thinking. After 5 months my mind still hasn´t convinced my heart that I was correct leaving her. On the contrary, I am amazed how I every day can feel enthusiasm for the love that we shared. My idea and ideals about love didn´t change. At times it feels as if the love we experienced can resist in my heart no matter what I expose myself to, even dating other girls.
As time is passing I´m now pondering about the inevitable question of making contact with her and ask if she has similar thoughts and feelings as well. That is why I seek advice. I would like to have a third party opinion as I have talked with friends and family about it. With the possibility of getting back together I know that we will face the same challenges as earlier. My dilemma is therefor whether to follow my mind or my heart. My heart would accept her as my wife and mother of my future children. Then my rational thinking is buzzing at the back of my head. While I manage this great challenge of her family situation now if I already failed once? The last thing I want to do is to disappoint her by leaving her again for the same reason. What are the risks of going back to the relationship? What kind of approach is recommended if I choose to make contact? Thank you for your answers and advice!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 2 years ago.
Seeking expert testimony is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Dear friend,

One of the most important factors that shape who we are and even our personalities, are out cultural backgrounds (and that includes micro-cultures such as our family).

Both she and you are already fully formed and to have a relationship with you will damage her relationship with her family, disappoint them, and thereby disappoint herself. She has wonderful qualities and a lovely heart, and is also physically and emotionally appealing to you.

However she has different values and sensibilities, while perfectly fine in her context and culture, are a defect, in a sense, to you.

This difference, it appears to me, is a fatal flaw, which you realized when you broke up with her. Now you have forgotten about the great chasm that exists between you and only remembering the wonderful parts.

I believe that instead of trying to go back to a situation that you cannot resolve, that you try to move forward with your life and let her do the same.

You made a rational decision but you still are attached to her emotionally. If you want to risk doing this again, if you think there is a chance, then contact her, talk to her, and see how you get along and see if, after some conversations she is ready and willing to see you, and vice-versa, then you can give it a try.

I know that you would both be taking a chance, but if you are both willing, then you will at worst be disappointed once again, or at best, XXXXX XXXXX overcome your difficulties. It is worth a try.

Start small with some conversations and see how you respond to one another.

I wish you great success and to that end shall keep you both in my prayers.

Warm regards,

Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 7664
Experience: 35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
Elliott, LPCC, NCC and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.

I'm adding only one point, that for me is the key issue, from an American point of view, though it might have no importance from your own or her own points of view. Apparently her family wants to control what sort of a person she can marry, and presumably wants to keep her close to home and close to them. This is true for daughters far more than for sons, and in the majority of cultures and countries around the world. But there are daughters, as well as sons that set themselves free from such family containment, because love and/or often career draws a daughter to NOT emulate the life choices of other females in her mother's generation, to in effect, Outgrow her mother's degrees of freedom.


Families rarely accept such choices by a daughter, and few daughters will dare the disappointment, disapproval and partial or total ostracism that's likely to follow on a choice to leave the narrow orbits allowed to females in their families. But some do, perhaps because there is an inborn need to extend their personalities beyond the limits that have constrained their families before. All those women who went with their men or without a man across the ocean to the New World had to leave their families behind. They all suffered from the separation of mother and daughter. And many many daughters have also chosen the man they loved over the closeness of mother and family, or tried to split the difference, as is the outcome in the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone.


If a woman chooses to find her own identity separate from what has been assigned to her by her family, she is quite likely to disappoint her mother and violate the boundaries of her family's traditional rules. What she loses in instinctual, unconscious relatedness to her family (which is substantial), she can gain in consciousness of the breadth and depth of human nature and possibilities and of the meanings of life and of development toward her own unique individuality in relation to the whole of the cosmos and of something greater than herself.


It sounds like you don't think you have a right to "kidnap" her heart and soul against her parents' wishes to be your bride and to follow a less limited path together with you. But it boils down to HER wishes: whether she wants to endure her family's disapproval for some period of time or not. Even that disapproval will only last until the family, or some of its members decide that she's more important to them as an individual following her own desires than maintaining the family traditions and the approval of those who'd prefer to ostracize her. Perhaps you've never heard that there's a natural tug of war between a daughter's mother and her lover, and she has to decide at some point in her life which she will prioritize over the other. Your beloved might have reached that age, where she was aware somewhere inside, consciously or not, that it was time for her to make her own choices independently of what her mother and father wanted. OR she was still absolutely blindly obedient to what her family dictated as her limits and equally blind to the fact that her obedience was crippling your need to build a future with only her desires and yours as top priorities, so her parents' interference was an unacceptable hindrance.


Sicilian tradition acknowledges the absolute dictatorship of a father over his daughter's doings, but integrates the shift of authority from father to husband by arranging for the prospective husband to "kidnap" the daughter from her father's house as a way of symbolizing the transfer of power from father to husband.


Perhaps you're not getting cooperation from her family because you've not made it clear to them that you are Marrying their daughter and therefore taking responsibility for her life and future onto yourself. It's even more common in Europe than America for couples to live together and even have children without legally marrying, and that makes the traditional attitudes toward belonging and responsibility much less clear. Perhaps it's that level of commitment to an enduring future that would clarify the choices for both your beloved and her family. Then if she said YES she wants to spend the rest of her life with you and her family said NO, that's now what we want our daughter to do, you would then be in a moral position to prefer her wishes and yours over theirs, and argue at her side that she deserves to choose her own happiness over their tradition.


Of course in America our values are slanted more towards change and individual initiative and less towards maintaining traditions than they are in Europe. This, at any rate, is an American perspective on the issues you are dealing with. When you are desiring more Freedom from her parents to build a life with her, you need to be offering more Responsibility for both her and yourself as the natural condition of such freedom.

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