My Boyfriend is a Pothead but Will Quit If I Ask Him. Should I?

I have been dating my boyfriend for 13 months. We get along well and up to this point it has been easy. 

This past weekend I asked a very specific question about smoking pot which revealed he is a regular smoker. I am shocked and hurt for two reasons. First, I feel deceived because we had conversations early on in our relationship about drug use. Second, I am confused because I don't smoke myself so can't relate. I understand this is a personal choice, but I am not sure how to move forward when our values are different on this topic. 

He has apologized for not sharing this information fully. He also said that if it is an issue then he can quit. I wonder if this would lead to resentment. Where do I go from here? 

Thanks,

Cary

When I was 17, back in the “Just Say No” 80’s, I stormed out of my parents’ bathroom, and accused my Mom of smoking pot. With a straight face, she told me it was just a cigarette. I accepted her answer, even though I knew – from a few firsthand experiences - that pot smelled different than cigarettes.

Sometimes, it’s easier to believe what you want to believe.

Cut to seven years later. I’m home for the weekend from my job in the William Morris mailroom in New York City to watch the Jets game with my Dad. I turn to my left and in the big glass ashtray sits a half-smoked joint. “Dad, you left your joint in the ashtray!” I scream downstairs. He does not reply. For two years.

Sometimes, it’s easier to believe what you want to believe.

Age 25: I’m living in Los Angeles, working for the TV show “Ellen.” My father comes to visit and takes me out to a fun dinner at Chaya in Venice where I can almost start to feel like an adult. I finally ask him about the weed. He tells me that both he and my Mom have smoked pot regularly since the 70’s. “It relaxes me,” he says, simply.

My father has since passed away.

My mother is 71 and still has a dealer.

Point is – for me, anyway – that it seems a bit overheated to make value judgments over what may be benign behavior. That doesn’t mean that pot is not a drug, nor that it is not possible to be addicted to it. But as long as there are no consequences to his smoking – it’s not destroying his memory, his motivation, his ability to function as an employee or boyfriend, I would do my best to categorize marijuana in the same category as alcohol.

That’s the intellectual argument, anyway.

On a more practical level, my wife and I are more like you: we don’t smoke and we still kind of hold it in a different class than booze. However, I think that’s more of an emotional argument than a science-based argument, since studies show far lower levels of addiction, death and violence as compared to drinking.

Ultimately, your pot issue might as well be ANY relationship issue.

-Watching football
-Not staying friends with exes
-Getting a better job

All are things that some women don’t like about their men. Some women are accepting of these perceived flaws and manage to live happily ever after. Others think that their boyfriends should act the way they want even though that’s not their decision to make.

It’s up to you:

Plan A: accept him as he is, presuming his pot habit is manageable and doesn’t affect you in any way other than your own judgment about it.

Plan B: ask him to quit, thereby eliminating the “problem,” but revealing that you don’t accept him as he is, and putting yourself in the role of mother/moral scold.

Plan C: don’t ask him to quit, but keep resenting him for smoking, thereby creating a permanent underlying tension between you.

Seems to me that Plan A would be ideal, but that requires you to shift your thinking on pot, which you may not be able to do.

We all resent being told what to do and that, usually, the least effective way to deal with others is by forcing them to change against their will.

As to which is a better option between Plan B and Plan C?

Beats me.

I’ll just point out that, in general, we all resent being told what to do and that, usually, the least effective way to deal with others is by forcing them to change against their will.

 

Join our conversation (23 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 1
    Jeremy

    Hmmm, I think that this could be a big issue, depending on your stage of life.  If you are a young woman who is looking for a husband to raise kids with, and if your stance against drugs is strong (as is mine, for good reasons), my advice would be to let this guy go – unless you want the father of your future children to be a pot smoker.  Because where I agree with Evan is that if you have to ask this man to stop smoking, he will do one of two things: either he will tell you he has stopped and continue covertly, or he will stop and resent you for it, or at least feel that you owe him something big because of the sacrifice he has made for you.

     

    For me, back when I was dating, smoking and/or recreational drug use was a total deal breaker.  I wanted to marry someone that I wanted my kids to model their behavior after.  And that was a big deal to me.  Is it a big deal to you?

  2. 2
    Gala

    I had firsthand experience with pot smokers. I wouldn’t ask him to quit, because he won’t. He will just try to hide it from you. Pot addiction is real. It negative effects are real and you will see them as the relationship progresses. It is also expensive. If drug use is a deal breaker for you, walk away now. That said, see if this really is a deal breaker. Pot addiction is not the worst thing. Yes it will make a person lazy and unmotivated (not my opinion, a fact: but may be you’re ok with it.

  3. 3
    Stacy

    Evan said, ‘My mother is 71 and still has a dealer’

    I LITERALLY spit out what I was drinking to laugh at this…OMG…TOO funny.LOL

    Well, I am like Evan…I have never even tried a cigarette, never tried any form of drugs although I grew up around pot smoking as my father was a  heavy user. What I disagree with Evan about is that it is not necessarily a ‘benign’ habit.  And pot has been proven to affect memory loss, can lead to paranoia, sexual issues, and decline in IQ/motivation.  Also, for me personally, there is a huge difference between casual user and addiction. I personally could not date someone where I had to smell that all the time.  It’s just not sexy to me.

    However, only you can know what you are willing to put up with.

     

    1. 3.1
      April Hunter

      I think Evan covered this topic perfectly. I can offer this; I’m a bit older and wiser now. I’ve been dating for a long while and learned a lot. I can tell you this – everyone has SOMETHING going on…and you cannot change them.

      You have two choices. You accept it, or you move on. People are like shoes…they ain’t gonna change to fit your feet. That said, the non-disclosure may be a bigger issue, but perhaps that stems from a) constant judgment (or him feeling like he would be judged and not wanting to lose you) or b) the fact that pot is mostly illegal.

      At the end of the day, there are bigger things to think about: Do you love this man? Is he the last thought you have at the end of the day and the first in the morning? Does he make you want to be a better person? Do your friends/family like him? Does he treat you well and make you a priority? When you are with him, does the rest of the world fade away? Are you guys a solid team? Is he the first person you want to tell any news to, good or bad? Is he your best friend?

      And then this: Is his weed habit just a minor thing, or is it interfering with life in any way? Unlike some here, I do NOT agree that weed is addictive. While I don’t use it, there’s no denying the scientific proof and medical benefits of marijuana…and how it’s often preferable to alcohol as far as long-term health issues. There’s a reason the states voted to make medical marijuana legal and Canada’s been that way for years. Countries that predominantly use pot don’t have much for drug or violence issues as a while and never seem to have weird man-made drugs like meth around (along with exploding apartment buildings) either. Unlike most prescribed drugs, pot IS long term tested to be safe.  I think people who have no real experience with it tend to have a narrow view, knee-jerk reaction (“drugs are bad…mmmkay?”), or are uneducated about the real facts. They hear drugs and assume pot is in the same class as crack. That would be like Arnica gel and 2 Advil being in the same class as Oxycodone.

      If you decide to accept it and him as a whole, then I suggest sitting down with him and having a discussion about there being absolute honesty. And if he IS honest about something you don’t want to hear, then you must respect that and not punish him for it.

      Either way you go, I wish you the best of luck. Please bear in mind the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and the next person may not have a thing with pot, but he may have a screen or game addiction… be a gambler…or have Borderline Personality Disorder…it honestly never ends. You just find the one who is your Lego and has “the thing” you can accept -where their crazy matches yours. Because guess what? You have “a thing” too. And he may be writing to a columnist talking about it right now as well. 😉

       

       

  4. 4
    GoWiththeFlow

    Evan has really covered most of the ins and outs here.  One additional thing I would caution against is if you or your boyfriend has a job that requires certain state licenses, such as a medical, nursing or teacher’s license.  Even in states where recreational or medical marijuana is legal, you could still get in trouble with the licensing board if you fail a drug test or you run afoul of law enforcement.

    1. 4.1
      Lisa

      Or even if she has such a job, and they live together or marry. I have a friend who was up for secret clearance and one of the investigators came to the home she shared with her fiance, and it reaked of weed.   Want to guess what happened?

  5. 5
    Lisa

    The non disclosure to me is actually more of a problem than the actual pot use.   I would want to know specifically what was discussed but I suspect he knew he should have said something, but did not for fear of judgment.  It would have been better for him to just be honest then, before this couple got attached to each other, because if he smoked heavily, and she did not want to date someone who did, they could end it they are not compatible.

    If they are in a state where it is not legal, or only legal with a medical card and he does not have one that’s a problem.  She could be putting herself in legal jeopardy.  What if she is driving his car and there is weed in the car and she gets pulled over?     Even presuming she is in a state where it is legal, if she works for the federal government, has high security clearance or works in a myriad of other jobs that do not allow drug use at all even off duty, this raises a HUGE problem for her.  It should not be taken lightly at all.

    Finally, yes if they are going to have kids, she needs to seriously consider what type of example he would be setting for the children.   Is she telling them this is okay behavior?

    I don’t believe he will quit, not for a second.  If he is a frequent smoker.   I knew a man who smoked every day, and although he was not physically addicted, he was addicted. He could not sleep without smoking, he could not relax without smoking, it was a huge problem and his wife eventually left him. Not to mention the tons of money he was spending on the stuff instead of paying his part of the bills.

    I fully support legalization of weed.  That being said I would never be in a relationship with someone who smoked it, at least not a regular basis.  I am not judging the person in anyway, as I said I support it being legal. I just do not want it as part of my life or my relationship.  I also would not want to be with someone who would not be honest with me about this early on.  that’s a huge red flag.

  6. 6
    Michelle

    I’ve had to shift my thinking on pot as my fiance smokes every night as it helps him relax and sleep. When I met him I’d just come out of an emotionally abusive relationship with a man who had a heavy addiction to pot and it made him lazy and also aggressive. Since being with my fiance I have realised that my ex smoked hash which is a much stronger and addictive form of pot and what he smokes is the weed that doesn’t cause the weird psycho effects. I still have hang-ups about weed a bit but it’s only because of my memory associating it with my ex. Look at your boyfriend’s behaviour, like Evan says. My fiance always puts my needs first, is kind, generous and wants to go out and enjoy things with me. I don’t see his weed habit affecting his behaviour or personality like my ex plus if he didn’t smoke it to relax I’d probably have a highly strung and stressed fiance! He absolutely loves the fact that I accept him as he is because his previous partners always wanted to change some aspect of him. I guess if I hadn’t been with a crazy guy before him I doubt I’d appreciate how wonderful he is.  It’s why he proposed to me only after a year of dating!

    1. 6.1
      Skaramouche

      Not to rain on your parade or doubt the awesomeness of your fiancé but doesn’t the daily smoking worry you?  I don’t mean because it’s pot but because I’d be similarly worried if my partner said to me – “I need my daily whisky…I can’t function otherwise.”  Anything that’s “needed” daily sounds like an addiction to me.  Or maybe he is semi-addicted and you accept it, as you would – “I  my coffee every morning.”  I just think the effects of one joint a day are probably worse than the effects of one cup of coffee a day.  Then again, we all have our vices…

      Wishing you the best on your upcoming wedding!

      1. 6.1.1
        Michelle

        Yeah I can see your thinking and I do feel a bit uneasy about it. But I’ve started hearing more and more the health benefits of cannabis and how our bodies have cannabinoid receptors all over. I’ve even started taking CBD oil to help me sleep but also it’s a great healer. Honestly, if his daily habit affected his behaviour then I’d be worried but I love being with him and we make each other happy. I’ve already been with guys who don’t have vices but they made me miserable!

  7. 7
    Tracy5437

    This would not be a deal breaker for me, in moderation and outside…

    As a member of the medical community, I will say that its good advise for some people to smoke a little weed, rather than take benzodiazepines or hypnotics, tolerance issues lead to dose escalation; this is  not something I remember ‘back in the day’ with weed.

    I also chuckled at the ‘Mom still has a dealer reference”, though not sure I would post that on the internet…LOL…. guessing the laws in her state have changed, to not make that an issue….=).

    Spot on advise again, Evan and well written options to consider in making a decision, thanks again !

    1. 7.1
      Michelle

      I think there’s a huge stigma surrounding weed because it’s labelled as a drug. But essentially in weed form ( not the modified stuff) it’s a plant/herb and most medicine originates from plants/herbs. There’s a lot of people taking CBD oil now for medical benefits even cancer cures.

  8. 8
    Mary

    Had this exact experience, and it was the first time I’d ever had to deal with it with someone I was dating, and I knew if I made an ultimatum that it would be a dealbreaker and would break us.  I thought we could work through it.  We talked about it a lot.  I told him that I wasn’t going to ask him to quit, but that I didn’t like the smell of it, didn’t like the taste of it (when we kissed after he was smoking it), and I couldn’t have the smell on my clothes, as it could risk my job.     It still ended up causing fights, because if he came over to visit me and I tasted it on him, I would casually remark about it “Oh, you smoked!”.  It was just an observation, but he felt judged.   He also didn’t like that I wouldn’t kiss him as deeply after he smoked it.  I guess he thought I was punishing him, but I really didn’t like the taste of it.  There were a few times he ended up screaming at me about it.   It ended up not being the pot so much as the screaming that I could not live with and ended up breaking us up.  Apparently the pot didn’t relax him enough!

    I’m still not sure if it is a dealbreaker for me, but frankly, cigarettes definitely are a dealbreaker, so pot smoking is not far behind.   Occasional recreational use at a party, like the occasional drink, is probably fine.   But daily use is too much for my tolerance, I think.  I don’t really want to live with a smoker or a pot smoker.  I don’t want to be around it.   And I don’t want to be with someone who continues to do something that I just don’t like at all.   So, I guess maybe it is a dealbreaker for me.

  9. 9
    Aly

    I agree with Lisa. I would be much more concerned about not knowing such a major thing for so long.

  10. 10
    Ashley

    I am of the opinion that since she didn’t even NOTICE he was ever high for 13 months, she should not turn this into a bigger deal than it is. Or if she can’t do that, let him find someone he feels comfortable enough to share that info with right off the bat. There’s a reason he felt he had to hide it and it’s probably a bad sign about their long term compatibility.

  11. 11
    Trixie

    My ex-husband smoked pot although never inside the house since I hated the smell of it.  I knew he smoked before marriage but well he was a great guy so it seemed similar to his beer drinking.  Once we bought a house his friends would come over with their stash but they only smoked in the garage.   The most annoying part for me was how he behaved after a day of smoking he would pig out and then go to sleep.    He was already on the lazy side and his pot smoking just exacerbated it.  opinion is  if you are not both into it there is going to be resentment .

  12. 12
    Mrs Happy

    I’ve known many pot users.  They all had lowered motivation and energy as a result, which annoyed their family/partner, and the drug always caused a rift.  A pot-using parent of children doesn’t pull their weight.  An acquaintance of mine is right now divorcing her chronic pot-using husband who did nothing but work and use pot for the last few decades – she hasn’t had a life with her partner, he has been out of it, it has just been her and the kids doing things alone on weekends and evenings because of his lack of engagement.  I was at a children’s party this weekend and realised while in conversation with the father that the reason he is so permanently vague, clueless, slow, and late to school etc, is serious pot use; he has lost his driving license, the mum has to manage the household and kids as well as run their various businesses, and he takes hours to do a task that takes his wife 20 minutes.  Perpetual infant. Essentially mildly brain damaged/slowed from years of drug and alcohol use.

    This question to Evan saddens me much like the vampire romance novels such as Twilight etc sadden me – are decent men so thin on the ground that a woman has to consider a vampire, or write to a dating coach about a chronic drug addict who has been lying and secretive, maybe being an okay partner, if if if….?  I am shaking my head in disbelief and sorrow.

    Any addiction to drugs or alcohol was an absolute don’t-look-back dealbreaker for me when I was dating. Seriously, life is going to be challenging enough over the decades without adding the load of chronic maybe illegal drug use to your shoulders.  I want a healthy partner.  A healthy life.

    1. 12.1
      Stacy

      @Mrs Happy

      You are like, always  on point.

  13. 13
    Clare

    Like Lisa, I think the non-disclosure on the part of the boyfriend would be a major concern for me. How does she date this guy for 13 months and not know that he is a regular smoker of pot? Unless he was going to some effort to hide it?

    Also, it depends what he means by “regular.” I can’t say I have a problem with people who smoke weed now and again, but someone who smokes it every day suggests an addiction. I do think the motives and the intentions behind the weed-smoking matter. Does he control the weed, or does it control him?

    I ask because I dated a guy for over a year who smoked weed every day. Unfortunately that was not the only thing he was dependent on. He took benzodiazapines and drank alcohol every day as well. None of it was on a scale that was alarming, but the mere fact that he needed all of these substances to function was worrying. Someone who has an addictive personality is problematic to be in a relationship with. He would get very defensive about all of these substances, insisting that he was not addicted, but then not being able to go a day without having them.

    Weed is also exceptionally expensive, or it is here. My ex earned a decent salary, but he never had money. He was in a lot of debt, and would prioritise buying weed over important expenses and paying down his debt. This was very problematic for me, and I was forced into the role of being the financially responsible one.

    As Gala mentioned, weed can also make someone lazy and unmotivated. It was very hard to get my ex to do anything, whether it was go for a walk, visit a friend, or make dinner. He mostly liked to spend his free time moping and smoking. I can’t tell which of the things he took may have had this effect, but he was also very paranoid. I have heard weed can do this, and I have known other people who smoke it regularly who also struggle with paranoia. My ex would have crazy bouts of irrational jealousy, and he was suspicious of everyone outside of a very small, close-knit group of people. Reassuring him became extremely tiresome.

    Then there was the smell and the mess of the weed (on top of the cigarettes which he also smoked). It was revolting. Not just the ashtrays, but also the joint paraphernalia and papers and what not. Just gross. And I’m a really neat person. Oh, and I’m a bit asthmatic as well, so that was also fun. The arguments we had are something I am thrilled are no longer part of my life.

    In short, I felt like a parent, and it is no great surprise that I broke up with him. If you do decide to get involved with someone who is a regular pot smoker, just know what you are getting yourself into. I certainly would not do it again.

  14. 14
    Malika

    As a former pot user and heavy drinker to boot myself (clean for ten years, yeah) i still fully simpathize with this being a no-go area for the LW. It does tend to make you lazy and avoidant. Using it on the regular is like stepping out of reality, and there are usually reasons why you choose, on an everyday basis, to step out of the real world. I would advise her to have a conversation with him as to why he feels the urge to partake of it so often. If he feels he needs it in order to relax and to fully function, that might be a red flag. People who need to chronically escape are often not the best of partners and often don’t have the emotional room to be fully in the relationship. From my own experience, i am a far better daughter, sister and friend now that i have stopped. When you use regularly you enter an arrested development. You can only develop yourself and learn life lessons when you get past the need to brain-fry yourself.

    Having said that, he managed to keep it from you for 13 (!) months. By regular, he might mean the odd weekend. Is that something you could live with? It’s not ideal, but the effects are much like my having the odd Netflix binge weekend (once you start Gran Hotel, it does suck you in). It’s not the most productive of passtimes, but it’s only a temporary break from reality, and once you step back, you return to life as usual.

    Only the LW can tell where it’s chronic or harmless, i hope she is able to answer that question for herself accordingly.

  15. 15
    Lauren

    I’m not sure what you mean by regular.  Whatever the frequency, if Option A (of accepting him as he is) isn’t an option to you at his current frequency, I would encourage you to take this issue very seriously and possibly seek the help of a therapist who knows a thing or two about substance use/abuse.  I say this as a child of a regular pot smoker and a non pot smoker who were poorly matched because of their differing values and habits, even if it didn’t appear to be so bad when they were early in their relationship.

    My father quit smoking pot for my mother early on in their relationship.  At some point he started smoking again, and he hid it from her.  I spent my childhood in a household where my mom was constantly catching him, threatening to leave, fighting, etc.  He went to great lengths to hide his use, and was never able to maintain sobriety.  He was highly functioning in many areas, but also using the pot to numb and medicate.  And this cycle continues, 30+ years since they started dating :/

  16. 16
    wilderness_anni

    Several points. First off, I’m a lurker here and have gained much in what everyone adds to this blog so thank you all. This is my first post so please be gentle. Background info: I’m 62, widowed 13.5 years ago, lonely and dating. It’s journey.

    *He waited 13 months to bring it up? Um…no. What else is hidden? I have my issues and I bring ’em up way early. I believe in full disclosure. This is not a game. The fact that this was not shared earlier raises my hackles.

    *I work as a civilian in law enforcement and I love my job. I meet many men who are users, especially coming from our young days in the 70’s and now they are approaching their 70’s and often using medically. What I need to remember is my job is number one right now and I get drug tested. This needs to be considered as either one of you might encounter possible employment with drug testing in the future.

    *Money. I have no clue what it costs to buy the stuff, but I recently learned in Arizona a medical marijuana card is $300 a year. That’s gonna add up.

    *Raising children…I raised four and gave up alot in order to be a good role model. I know I would not have been comfortable with pot around the house at all as I would have felt I was lying to my children if either myself or my husband was using, but discouraging my children in doing so. That doesn’t even begin to address the effect of the drug on the children which I can’t speak to as I have no knowledge of it, but less drugs in anyone’s system has to be a good thing…. right?

    *I want my man to get high on life and/or me and I want to do the same for him. Addiction to anything (alcohol, gambling, drugs, tv) I don’t see as a good thing.

    Thanks for letting me share and I wish this young lady the best in her journey.

     

  17. 17
    Greta

    Well said Evan!  And if Plan A cannot be achieved, and Plan B and C are unappealing, there is always Plan D…discontinuing the relationship due to irreconcilable marijuana differences.  A very refreshing blog and I love that you offer the male perspective!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *