Dear Dr. Romance:

I recently read most of your book, It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction 
It Ends With You
and loved it. I work at a center where in talking to our clients, we have found repeated patterns of  dysfunction (generational),  over and over and over again, so your book would help us out. I  can have clients  read parts of it as homework.

I personally believe that so many of our clients need professional counseling to help them sort through their problems, but as you have mentioned in your book, they aren't easily going to do something if it's not something they grew up with, and vice versa.

Anyway, I myself have seen it in my own relationship with my boyfriend.  I was raised in a small, quiet, calm conservative family.  He was raised in a larger, louder family with an alcoholic dad.  Yikes!  It's been trouble.  That is why I bought your book.  I don't know how, but by luck I bumped into it.  And it turns out that most of the things he defends are because he doesn't know anything different than what he grew up with.

We are both Latino, yet he says I was raised "white" (a little silly perception of his), just  because- my family doesn't yell, my family actually discusses issues, my father sent us to private school, we've gone to family counseling together and my father doesn't drink, unlike his dad who drinks beer as if it were water.  Those are just a few examples.

Anyway, it's been a struggle helping him understand that some things aren't right because they are destructive, especially things like drinking, which he continues to say, "there is nothing wrong with drinking beer, my whole family does".  And, I'm thinking, HELLO!! Exactly!!! There's a problem, and unfortunately the whole family has it. (I've had to point it out to him, so now he is working on it.)  It was like a lightbulb lit up after he read parts of your book. 

So, I thank you for such a good book (easy read and not overwhelming for our clients - who are actually pretty simple people just trying to survive.)

Also, unfortunately, even though my boyfriend has had his Aha!  moments  when something like this has been revealed to him (about  generational dysfunction), he is still stuck in his bad habits, and apparently wants to keep  them. Just today he again said...I'm gonna keep drinking and smoking even though they cause my health harm because that is what I grew up with. Terrible, terrible. Ho hum!  Oh well. At least your book has allowed me to see things  differently and the next time I am looking for a boyfriend, I can screen a little better. I want to be able to screen for some of those very deep rooted  issues.

Dear Reader:
Thank you for writing.  I'm so glad you found It Ends With You helpful.  I'm so glad to hear it helped you get through to your boyfriend  about family dysfunction.  Both of you might enjoy reading my new book, Money, Sex and Kids:  Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage 

Money, Sex and Kids

which also talks about how dysfunctional relationship patterns are handed  down in families.  "How Not to Fight" explains myths about fighting.

Your boyfriend's response is an  indication that he doesn't care enough about you to change his bad habits; or that he feels so badly  about himself that he doesn't think he's capable.  It could also be posturing; protecting his  'macho' self-image.  If it is posturing, he'll start to change, but won't want to be told that's  what he's doing.  If you're still wanting to be with him, I suggest you just ask him to change  specific things:  "Please don't speak to me in that tone of voice" and not respond at all to his bad behavior: if it doesn't work, he will do what does work.  This takes a lot of thought and effort on your part, but it can be very worth it.

"How to Keep Yourself Out of a Violent Relationship" will help you learn to recognize core behaviors.

For low-cost counseling, email me at

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.

Dr. Tessina, is CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for, a website designed to strengthen relationships and guide couples through the various stages of their relationship with personalized tips, courses, and online couples counseling. Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC News.