Could I have done something different? (Boyfriend's marijuana problem)
posted by Teradactyl to Human Relations (56 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry everyone for the very long post. I am just confused and sad, and I want to get all the details out so I can get honest, helpful answers. :)
I started dating this guy a year ago. On our second date, the subject of marijuana came up. He produced a sack of weed and a pipe and asked if I wanted to smoke. I had always wanted to try, so I did, and it wasn't all that bad.
Fast forward a few months. My boyfriend and I are hanging out regularly, smoking when we do, and things are good. I had just left the confines of a rather restrictive church, and this new rebellious lifestyle was exciting to me.
A few months into it, I cut back on smoking. I was starting to realize just how much I disliked it; it made me distant and detached, and I couldn't be my happy, bubbly self around others. I just felt fuzzy-headed and sleepy when I smoked. Once, while my boyfriend and I were packing for a trip, he said something along the lines of, "This trip is going to be so amazing, I might not even need weed! But I'll bring it just in case." He did bring it, and he ended up smoking a couple of times on the trip... but that comment lit a spark of concern in me. I thought about it while we were vacationing and realized that he had been smoking a LOT of weed from my observations. In the morning before work, sometimes on his lunch break (about 2 - 4 times a week from what he told me), when he got home from work, and in the evenings when we were hanging out.
When we got back from our trip, I sat him down and told him that his smoking habits were of concern to me - what was it that caused him to need to smoke so much? And why, if it wasn't a coping mechanism, had he made that comment about not "needing it" on our vacation? It seemed like a vehicle of escapism, and I wanted him to see that. I wasn't hard on him at all, I was patient and explained my point of view calmly and rationally. He kept defending it and saying that weed isn't even addictive, so it was impossible for him to be addicted... yada yada yada. I told him there was a difference between addiction and dependency; that while he may not be physically addicted, I believed weed was providing him some kind of respite from real life. My boyfriend kept defending himself, pointing out that he held down a good job (a very true statement), stayed on top of his bills (for the most part), and was a good person (very true). He kind of took it personally that I saw his smoking as a problem when he could be very highly functioning while stoned - I can say that about 80% of the time he drove, he was high, even. But I always wondered, even if he was capable of doing all of those things while high... why get high? It had to be providing him something, even if that something wasn't the typical stoned feeling of being sleepy and melting in to the couch (although this certainly happened as well and many things he wanted to accomplish came second to smoking, such as applying for a job with a company he really wanted to work for... he ended up spending too many nights getting stoned and didn't apply in time).
I didn't seem to be getting my point across to him. He just kept defending weed and himself and missing the bigger picture. It wasn't about trying to control him at all; it was about expressing genuine concern for someone I loved and wanted a meaningful relationship with. I ended the conversation by (again, calmly, nicely, rationally) reminding him of what he'd always told me throughout our relationship: that we both had to do what worked for us as individuals, and if either of us had a problem with that, we shouldn't be together. He didn't seem to want to compromise on the weed smoking, but I told him that even though he didn't see a problem with it, it was still interfering with my own lifestyle I was spending the majority of my time with my bf who was high, not to mention his friend/roommate who was always smoking too. Seemed like those two could hang out happily for hours together, but I was always not quite there with them because I wasn't smoking. Anyway, I told him that it looked like we were heading down two different paths, and that we should both be really aware of how we felt about ourselves in the relationship. I made a point not to bring up splitting up, because that wasn't what I wanted; I really just wanted both of us to stay together and see if we could reconcile on this. He got a little upset and said that he didn't want to be on a different path from me. For a few days he cut back on smoking. Instead of 3 - 4x per day, he smoked 1 - 2. However, I noticed that while he was smoking less, he was pretty irritable. He also seemed to take it personally if I wasn't overly enthusiastic about everything all the time, meaning if I had a normal reaction to something ("How was your day?" "Oh, it was okay."), he'd suddenly start asking what was wrong, and if there was "weirdness" between us. It was hard to be in that environment sometimes. After a few days of this lessened smoking, without any provocation or discussion of weed at all, he kind of snapped and told me that we did both need to do what worked for us as individuals and if we couldn't handle that we shouldn't be together.
Things were like that for a month or so - we didn't discuss weed at all, but he would switch from being "committed to cutting-back" guy to "nobody tells ME what to do" guy. During this time I wasn't smoking at all, because I had applied for a different job that I really wanted and thought being THC-free was best. But we did go to a rock concert and I loosened up and smoked some joints, figuring, "Hell, I'm 23, I can smoke a J at a concert now and then." I should reiterate here that I never had a problem with marijuana itself, it was his extreme usage that concerned me. As far as I'm concerned, I'm fine getting high and watching a movie a few times a year if there's nothing else going on. It's recreational; it can be relaxing sometimes. Anyway. He was delighted to see me lighting up at this concert. He even said - verbatim - "I'm so glad you're smoking again." That was a huge red flag. I felt like I'd been pretty accommodating of his smoking habits, and I thought he's been supportive of my decision not to smoke, but his remark left me feeling like he'd really just been wanting me to smoke all along. I didn't say anything of it, but realized yet again that we might really have a relationship problem on our hands with this weed thing because it wasn't just me not understanding HIS choices, it was also him not understanding MINE.
Time went on. I went over there almost every night. When I was there, I tried to help him as much as I could. I cooked dinner a lot of the time and tried to get him to discuss work with me, thinking that might be a source of stress that was leading him to smoke a lot. I helped him SO much with his apartment. Most nights when I went over there I suggested we both work on the place rather than sit and watch a movie (much more favorable to me than painting/organizing an apartment that wasn't even mine) because I knew that was a source of stress for him as well, living in an environment that didn't quite feel like home. Basically, I tried my damnedest to try and eliminate all external sources of stress for him in the hopes that he'd lighten up on the smoking. And to some degree, he did. I noticed that sometimes he wasn't smoking in the mornings anymore. He still did occasionally on his lunch break, and more often than not when we were hanging out at night together, but he did cut back. I told him I had noticed that he'd been making an effort, and I appreciated it. He told me he was doing it for himself because he appreciated things more when he wasn't high.
This pattern continued for about 6 weeks. Things between us were great and he seemed content, though like I said, the cutback had made him a little more sensitive and irritable at times. I felt like we were growing together; he told me he wanted to marry me someday and he wanted me to have his kids.
The roommate came to be our undoing, weirdly. His roommate (who is the definition of stoner - 27 and jobless, parents paying his rent, no desire to do much of anything but get high and play WOW) was always encouraging my bf to smoke. And my bf COULD NOT say no to this guy. Well, long story short... a few weekends ago, on more than one occasion, my bf and I were heading out the door to go somewhere and his roommate persuaded him to sit and "smoke a bowl" before we did. This entailed me sitting around waiting for 10 - 30 extra minutes while they got high, played guitar, and watched videos. I realized how frustrated this made me and told my boyfriend in confidence that I didn't want to be around the roommate as often as I had been (I didn't explain why I felt that way, just told him that I'd noticed I was feeling negative when I was around him and thought the best solution was to remove myself from the situation). My boyfriend got pretty upset. I went home and he didn't talk to me for the rest of the night - very unusual for our loving and chatty relationship.
Well, a very long and hard week later, he broke up with me. He said he just doesn't want to be "tied down" right now, and that he wants to be free to be himself. That hurt, because I thought he WAS being himself the entire time. He seemed really, really happy with me and told me so multiple times.
I'm just really confused as to why this happened, and I guess my question (after the very lengthy background story) is this: should I have been more understanding of the weed thing? I tried for months to ignore it, and when that didn't work, I told him my concerns. He made an effort to cut back, but then that damn roommate got involved and he started regressing again... I just want some input on whether or not I did the right thing by how I dealt with the marijuana problem. I didn't ever mean to push him away, but now I just feel like I was an uptight, controlling bitch because I wasn't happy just letting him maintain his habit. I feel like maybe we were both just two different people to begin with, and for a while it didn't matter because I was experimenting and having fun with the rebellious thing. When I came back to myself, he remained the same - I shouldn't condemn him for who he always was. He's a great guy and I miss him dearly, but I just feel like I wasn't compromising enough... then again, there's a line between compromising and just giving up, isn't there? Please let me know what you think.