I’m having trouble leaving home for my boyfriend

Hi Meredith,

I've been dating my boyfriend on and off for about 10 years – sounds like a long time, I know, but there were a few things that put a hold on our relationship. For example, we started a long-distance relationship five years or so. My dad passed away, and soon after, my mom and I moved back home to Florida and my boyfriend moved to the West Coast. I never moved away from my mom or lived separately from her. Honestly, we've developed a codependent relationship, but I'm at the point where I'm ready to leave and start my own life and possibly my own family. I've had a few conversations with her and she isn't open to listening or talking this through with me. I'm family oriented at heart and would love to stay around my family, but my boyfriend is achieving his master's for counseling and can't pick up and move because of his connections and classes. I'm at this point where I don't want to hurt my mom, but I don't want to lose what I have with him and what our future could be. I'm curious to see what your thoughts are.

– Home for now


My thought is that you'll have to leave your mom – and I say this as someone who had a very close relationship with her mom.

In fact, I'm thinking of this meal I had with my mom in like … 2006. I told her I imagined that one day, she'd retire and move to Boston, and then we'd buy a two-family home and each live on a floor. I had it all planned out. My sister would visit and the it could be a little Goldstein commune. A little Goldstein cocoon.

But my mom was honest with me that day when I told her my plan. She said, "Um ... I want to live by myself – or with a romantic partner. And you should do your own thing." And that was that.

Her honesty was a great motivator for me because it allowed me to think about a new plan. A bigger plan with more possibilities. In your case, your mom might be hurt and miserable if you leave, but she'll also have cause to grow her community. That could be a gift.

The answer is clear to me. You want to have new experiences and to start your own family. You've fallen for a partner who has to do that on the West Coast, at least for now. Perhaps you and your boyfriend can return at some point (and that's something to talk to him about), but for now it's just about letting your mom know what's happening and assuring her that you'll still be there for her no matter what. Talk about the visits you'll make. Come up with a plan to have her visit you. Ask her what kind of support she needs to make this easier. Make it clear she's still part of the narrative. If she won't listen, put it in a note.

– Meredith

Readers? For those who are close to family, how do you break it to them that you have to leave town?