Could I have done something different?
October 28, 2011 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Could I have done something different? (Boyfriend's marijuana problem)

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.
posted by Teradactyl to Human Relations (56 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think this is the right dude for you, or vice-versa.
posted by box at 10:47 AM on October 28, 2011 [10 favorites]

Should I have been more understanding of the weed thing?

No. Your ex-boyfriend is a pot-head. You don't want that. He does. It's really pretty simple. I'm sorry for you that it worked out that way, but you're not at fault at all. You gave it your best. This is what's knows as "irreconcilable differences".
posted by alms at 10:48 AM on October 28, 2011 [38 favorites]

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 was being himself the entire time, if how he sees himself is as a functioning stoner. What he actually wants to be free of is someone telling him this is maybe not such a great idea. Your boyfriend his literally - not figuratively but actually - chosen pot over you. The fact that you miss the boyfriend you broke up with does not mean you didn't compromise enough; it means that he's a great guy but you wanted different things in relationships and you broke up. That's pretty much how it works. Sorry.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:48 AM on October 28, 2011 [42 favorites]

I think you were entirely appropriate in your conversations.

The bottom line is that he didn't his smoking as the problem you saw it as and he had no interest in changing. It sounds like ending the relationship was the right thing, for both of you.
posted by zug at 10:49 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

Could you have done something different? Of course. Should you have? Seems not, if your post is honest. He was fine with being a burnout stoner. You were not. Efforts at negotiation or compromise failed. cest la vie.

DarlingBri said it well too, and just a bit faster than me.
posted by Wretch729 at 10:50 AM on October 28, 2011

You were so, so much more patient and understanding than you needed to be.

You want a partner who smokes less pot. He doesn't want to smoke less pot. Both of those things are okay, but it pretty much means you're not the right people for each other.

And it sucks, for you, but man, you deserve better than that.
posted by SeedStitch at 10:50 AM on October 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Seriously Weed addiction is so freaking deceptive because most addicts are still pretty highly functional. They can go about their day to day business but then 15 years down the road they look around and try to figure out why they haven't done anything with their life.

I've seen more friends lives not get devastated, but at least just never quite get on track because of weed. Seriously - its a problem. Don't fall into this trap of believing its "okay" and you should have been more supportive. Just because it won't directly kill him doesn't mean it won't fuck up his (and by extension your) life.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:56 AM on October 28, 2011 [21 favorites]

It sounds to me like you did everything exactly right, and in an extremely mature way. You handled this better at 23 than more people do at 33 or 43. An aspect of your boyfriend's behavior/lifestyle bothered you, you addressed it, you both tried to work it out/compromise, your boyfriend found that it wasn't something he wanted to compromise on, and the two of you went your separate ways. This is exactly how it's supposed to happen. Lots of people just keep trying to smush each other into what they want them to be, make each other miserable, and end up unhappy for years. You did it right. Good job.
posted by cairdeas at 11:02 AM on October 28, 2011 [10 favorites]

Look, you didn't like his being dependent on the drug. It's okay to want someone who isn't dependent on anything. It's not wrong. You can't, however, change him. You can merely say that something concerns you and then both of you have to make a choice over what you value more. He valued smoking over you.

That alone is the reddest red flag since red came to flagtown. You were a lot more patient than I'd have been in the months leading up to that. He's not the guy for you.
posted by inturnaround at 11:02 AM on October 28, 2011 [8 favorites]

There a line of thinking that one never stops being an addict, and it's pretty much true. Very rarely does that feeling that says "let's do that THING" go away completely. The best one can do is not be in situations where it's easy to submit to it. Having a hardcore pothead friend who lives with you is pretty much the worst situation to be in if you're trying to recover.

You could've done everything in the world, but short of physically extricating himself from that situation, he would have always ended up choosing weed over something in his life trying to separate him from weed. Even if he knew things were better sober.

And it doesn't matter if he can spend 24 hour of the day high while simultaneously flying a helicopter and being the president. You didn't dig on it and it is completely in your right to not dig on it. He saved you the trouble of breaking up with him, so there you go.
posted by griphus at 11:06 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

Useful in so many arenas in my life, and I think it fits here, too:

I didn't cause it.
I can't control it.
I can't cure it.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:11 AM on October 28, 2011 [23 favorites]

I just want some input on whether or not I did the right thing by how I dealt with the marijuana problem.

I dunno, I think you could've skipped the part where you try and show him that weed is a crutch and that he doesn't need it if his life is complete and full. Some people just get high a lot because they like how it feels to be high. Just because you don't like being around people who are high all the time doesn't mean that there's something inherently dysfunctional about people who like feeling high.

Not that it would've saved the relationship, but if you were just "Hey, I really can't deal with you being high all the time" instead of "Hey, I can't deal with you being high all the time because that means something is wrong with you" I think things probably would've been smoother before your inevitable breakup.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:13 AM on October 28, 2011 [14 favorites]

Yeah. You didn't do anything wrong here. That's the bottom-line bummer of adulthood: Sometimes things suck and it's no one's fault and there's nothing you can do.
posted by Diablevert at 11:13 AM on October 28, 2011 [5 favorites]

...doesn't mean that there's something inherently dysfunctional about people who like feeling high.

No, but there is something inherently dysfunctional about being unable to stop using a substance after actively attempting to. Dude could have liked being high for liking being high all he wanted, but he demonstrably couldn't stop it even after acknowledging the fact that he was doing better without it. That's the dysfunction.
posted by griphus at 11:17 AM on October 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Don't blame the roommate, your ex was a grown-up who made his own choices.

You didn't like the fact that he was high almost every day. He didn't like the fact that you objected to him being high almost every day. This made it impossible for the two of you to be in a relationship. It happens and it's for the best.

As a data point, my fiance and I smoke weed. I had never smoked before I started dating him. We smoke infrequently, probably a couple times a month on the weekends and this works out great for us. However, had I met him when he was in college, we would never had worked as a couple because, as he tells it, he was high on something pretty much 100% of the time and that would have been a huge deal breaker for me. He is the same person now that he was then, but he has different priorities and habits and hobbies and friendships and relationships and goals and etc etc etc. The stars aligned in that we are both good for each other, concurrently, but I'm sure there are plenty of alternate universes where this isn't the case.

You weren't right for each other and that's okay, it's not really anybody's fault.
posted by lydhre at 11:20 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

You did the best you could in an impossible situation. In the end he chose pot over you, just like any addict who is not ready to put down the whatever will do. It sucks, but there is no way around it. Unless the addict is ready to deal with their problem, which many never will, then this will be the result 100% of the time.

I don't mean to be harsh, I've also lost some dear friends to pot, including my best friend. Its a strangely vicious addiction, because it comes along with an ideology that holds pot to be harmless. And it doesn't do that much physical damage. Its harder to be in denial that you're an alcohol/coke/meth addict when the damage is written all over the newspapers and all over your body. But pot, it doesn't leave visible marks, so its much easier to deny that it leaves marks at all. It doesn't make people flame out spectacularly, but its a huge ball and chain that, if abused, robs people of their intellect and energy and ability to connect to the outside world and other people.

For the record, I don't think pot is very harmful compared to other drugs and alcohol, and I like it on occasion, but its certainly not harmless. No intoxicant is harmless when abused.
posted by tempythethird at 11:21 AM on October 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Hi, major stoner here. You did more than enough. I think he did wrong by you by not saying at the beginning, "I am a pothead, meaning I smoke X times a day. Can you put up with that?'
posted by angrycat at 11:21 AM on October 28, 2011 [6 favorites]

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

Sounds like he has the right attitude to relationships, even though his usage of marijuana is somewhat disturbing. The real question is: Why are YOU still in this relationship? Clearly you're unhappy with this, clearly it's something that is repeatedly bothering you, clearly this is a fundamental problem in your relationship. So either deal with it or break up. You need to accept the other person for who they are or else you'll just be in a relationship where you spend your entire time carrying his "burden" on your back.

Why would anyone subject themselves to managing another person's problem? It puzzles me. We all have our own shit to deal with; life is too short to try to change another person's values.
posted by moiraine at 11:26 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry, I missed the part where he broke up with you. In that case, my answer still stands the same, but with the caveat that you should be grateful for him breaking up with you, because the both of you are two different people and want different things. There's nothing more you can do.
posted by moiraine at 11:30 AM on October 28, 2011

It just sounds like the two of you weren't particularly compatible on this issue. You knew how much he did (x), you hoped to change him, he made some effort for you but honestly just didn't want to change. I don't know that it's particularly fair to choose a partner who enjoys (x) more (or less) than you do and try to make them enjoy it at the same level you do instead, but you don't sound like you were a jerk about it or anything.
posted by Occula at 11:30 AM on October 28, 2011

You're looking at it the wrong way - you shouldn't have been more understanding, you actually weren't being tough enough with him. Anyone who needs to smoke weed 4 times a day just to act like a normal human being is self-medicating and ought to be seeking professional help. You could have taken over every part of his life, cooking, cleaning, doing everything for him - he still wouldn't have given up the weed. He's dependent on it, as you noticed.

You need a relationship where your boyfriend is ready to be a real partner to you, not a child you need to take care of. I think part of why you're sad now is because some part of you realizes that you should have been the one breaking up with him, not vice versa. I'm sorry you're sad now, but I'm nthing that this was for the best and you'll be happier without him soon!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:37 AM on October 28, 2011 [6 favorites]

now I just feel like I was an uptight, controlling bitch because I wasn't happy just letting him maintain his habit

It sounds like you made a great effort to be accomodating and showed great patience and generosity in trying to help your ex improve his life.

Probably you're just not compatible. Regardless, breaking up is really hard. It's normal sometimes to feel guilty or regretful, but don't pay too much heed to these feelings. You feel like you didn't compromise enough. There is no need to compromise if his lifestyle and yours just aren't fundamentally compatible.

Be patient and generous to yourself, like you were with him.
posted by beau jackson at 11:44 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Could you have done something different? Of course you could. It would have a different result. Currently, you're not dating a guy who wants to smoke more than you're comfortable with. Other options would be:
(a) still dating a guy who regularly smokes more than you're comfortable with.
(b) still dating a guy who smokes less than he's comfortable with and resents you for it.

unfortunately, arriving at
(c) dating a guy who doesn't want to smoke as much as he used to want to
depends on *him*, not on you. That's not a option that your choices can get to.
posted by aimedwander at 11:45 AM on October 28, 2011

unfortunately, arriving at
(c) dating a guy who doesn't want to smoke as much as he used to want to
depends on *him*, not on you. That's not a option that your choices can get to.

Another way to look at it would be that it's an option that the OP's choices have brought them much closer to. The guy just isn't going to be this guy.
posted by endless_forms at 11:48 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

No, but there is something inherently dysfunctional about being unable to stop using a substance after actively attempting to. Dude could have liked being high for liking being high all he wanted, but he demonstrably couldn't stop it even after acknowledging the fact that he was doing better without it.

Or maybe he wasn't acknowledging anything, he was just trying to make his girlfriend happy by saying what she wanted to hear.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:48 AM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

Well, that leaves her with either a boyfriend who has a substance abuse problem, or a boyfriend who lies to her. So, either way...
posted by griphus at 11:56 AM on October 28, 2011

In the end he chose pot over you

I was going to say exactly this, so I'll just quote tempythethird. He may be a great guy, but he didn't choose you, so you can move on and find a great guy who does choose you.
posted by The Michael The at 12:01 PM on October 28, 2011

He may need pot to deal with something, anxiety, for example. That doesn't mean he's an addict. But he should have been able to articulate why he needed it, if that was the case. So you were in the right.
posted by agregoli at 12:22 PM on October 28, 2011

I just want to echo that you handled this in as mature and sympathetic a way as I can think of, and I'm sorry to hear how it ended. If you're both around the age of 23, there's a chance the allure of weed is going to lessen for him eventually as he matures and becomes accustomed to adult life and its responsibilities, and he's going to wonder exactly what he was thinking in making these choices in your relationship. Just a hunch from this 29-year-old who used to be just a little bit like your boyfriend.
posted by naju at 12:23 PM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks so much everyone. I really appreciate all of your responses and they have all helped a lot.

Naju, your comment in particular struck me. I think the reason I stuck with it for so long was because I expected his interest in pot to just fizzle out over time. I think I eventually realized that while that was still a possibility, I was spending the majority of my time in environments and situations that I wouldn't normally choose for myself. I was only doing that because I loved him and wanted to spend time with him, but in my mind, it wasn't fair to me. He's 26 and has been smoking since 17, and before that was addicted to painkillers (Lortab and Oxycontin). That may have been pertinent to mention in the original post, but I didn't really give his past much thought while I was with him. I didn't want to condemn him for his past decisions, just had hope for the future... we had SO much potential and our love for each other was very strong. But part of me is grateful to him for ending it because it was so damn hard sometimes.

Again, thanks for your input everyone and feel free to keep commenting, it never hurts to keep hearing from different points of view.
posted by Teradactyl at 12:47 PM on October 28, 2011

He's comfortable with it being a regular fixture in his life. You're comfortable with occasional use. The disparity makes your day-to-day lives together pretty incompatible. That's okay.

Neither of you is right or wrong - it's just one of those differences of opinion that can make a relationship difficult, if not impossible. One of these days, you'll find a person whose views on this subject are better aligned with yours. As will he.
posted by perpetual lurker at 1:04 PM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

If he was addicted to Oxycontin in the past, then I don't think that his marijuana use is something that he'll just "grow out of".
posted by Melismata at 1:06 PM on October 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

perpetual lurker wrote: He's comfortable with it being a regular fixture in his life. You're comfortable with occasional use. The disparity makes your day-to-day lives together pretty incompatible. That's okay.

For what it's worth, it is possible for two people to get along fine even if they have different views about how much intoxicant use is appropriate. The problem isn't so much the intoxicant, it's how the partners choose to live their lives. The intoxicant may influence that, but it's still the day to day interactions that make or break the relationship.

There are situations where the use itself can be a problem, given that there are folks out there who are uncomfortable around intoxicants and intoxicated people and some users have objectionable habits or whatever, but that's a different situation entirely.
posted by wierdo at 1:40 PM on October 28, 2011

On preview:

Previous painkiller addictions aside, he wanted to live his life one way and you wanted to live your life another. That's all. Looking at this as "he chose smoking over you" ascribes more maliciousness to his actions than I think is fair. There are an endless variety of reasons why two people are incompatible - this just happens to be yours.
posted by perpetual lurker at 1:41 PM on October 28, 2011 [5 favorites]

Do you, by any chance, have a parent who is an alcoholic/addict, or who has a bad temper, or who was mentally ill? The things that you were doing for him in order to "reduce stress" and the way you are taking on all the responsibility here sounds like what kids learn to do in order not to set off their addict/angry/mentally unwell parent.

They end up acting like the parent, being the responsible one and trying to feel like they can keep the parent happy/functional. They also avoid being direct so as to not upset the parent or rock the boat (like you were with the roommate situation). Sometimes they carry that caretaking behavior into adult relationships.

If this sounds familiar, I hope you can find support and help. My parents had horrible angry tempers and even now I feel like I'm walking on eggshells sometimes in my own relationships.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:47 PM on October 28, 2011 [13 favorites]

I understand the importance of not pathologizing differences, but I have to say that that level of pot smoking is seriously dysfunctional. Use of *any* substance to that degree, even if it's a need to eat candy 4 times a day, is dysfunctional. I'm glad that you are no longer dating him. Your use sounds reasonable. His sounds like he will at some point need to get some professional help.
posted by 3491again at 2:30 PM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

As a daily pot smoker, I totally disagree with the assertion that by nature I am "seriously dysfunctional". Yes, if you're sitting around letting good job opportunities go by because you're too busy reloading the bong, you may want to cut back.

(It might surprise many of you to find out just how many people you encounter every day that are habitual marijuana users. Pro tip: We're not all burnouts, you guys. And a lot of us don't even like tie-dye or Bob Marley.)

OP, the only thing I think you did "wrong" was this: Instead of trying to change your boyfriend, and letting your relationship go along for another month or two after telling him you didn't like his level of usage, what might have worked better is if you'd laid out your feelings on his usage, asked if he felt like he could change that at all, and then broken up with him if he wasn't able to make the adjustment you require. Are you an uptight, controlling bitch? Not necessarily. I definitely would not call you a bitch, but having been on the receiving end of someone's efforts to change me into what they wanted, I can tell you that trying to change someone 'for their own good' is never a good idea, and can make even the saintliest person appear uptight and controlling. A person has to WANT to change, nobody can MAKE them change. It sounds like you've probably learned that lesson from this -- that's good! You also learned that you don't like being around habitual pot smokers. Another lesson! You can take these things and learn and grow from them, and I'm sure that very soon you will find a guy who's a much better fit for you. Good luck!
posted by palomar at 3:33 PM on October 28, 2011 [6 favorites]

Oh, hell, I left out a portion of my first paragraph there -- that's what I get for posting at work! It should say, after "you may want to cut back", that many daily smokers blow the stereotypical stoner image out of the water. I work in the tech industry, if they did drug testing at my employer we'd lose a good 40% of our staff. And I work for a HUUUUUGE company. Of the people I know who do use marijuana daily, every last one of them holds down a demanding job. Every last one of them pays their bills, supports their families, and is a "contributing" member of society.

It seems like a lot of people are still holding on to the stereotype, though. It's time to let go of that.
posted by palomar at 3:49 PM on October 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

He enjoys smoking pot frequently. You enjoy being someone who is sober most of the time. No one did anything wrong; you just weren't compatible.

That said, you probably did not approach it in the best way. People who don't think they have a problem don't like being told they need to change because their problem is harmful to them. You have a better shot asking them to adjust their behavior for you to satisfy your needs (which is really what happened here).
posted by J. Wilson at 3:54 PM on October 28, 2011

It's clear you were unhappy with how it affected his life, and there's nothing wrong with your reaction to it. Frankly I'd say you were _too_ supportive, in that you tried really hard to bend over backwards to accommodate something you didn't like. Deciding someone isn't right for you isn't the same as saying they're a bad person.

I totally disagree with the assertion that by nature I am "seriously dysfunctional"

While I agree in general (at least, I agree that daily pot smokers can be quite functional), anyone who drives high is not "OK" and is in fact dysfunctional (and trust me I have plenty of experience smoking). That alone shows me this guy is reckless and has little regard for how his actions affect others, which is not someone to be in a relationship with. (Every stoner I know who has insisted they can drive fine high is also one of the ones who is letting it mess up their life).

Also, in my experience the daily pot smokers who have productive lives only smoke at the end of the day / weekends, not before and during work (similar to the difference between having a beer or two every night and drinking all day long). I suppose it depends on your job, though, realistically there are jobs it wouldn't affect much.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:55 PM on October 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

He kept defending it and saying that weed isn't even addictive

Of course it is. Pretty much any behavior that gives you enjoyment can be. Addiction is defined by consequences. You can smoke pot every day -- just like you can drink alcohol every day -- and not be an addict. But once you continue to use in the face of adverse consequences, you're an addict.

The fact that this guy seemed to have needed weed in order to have a good time, or maintain any type of positive mood, also spells addiction.

Unfortunately, addiction also breeds denial.

Congratulations on leaving this behind you. But like someone else above mentioned, I wonder if you have a family history of addiction that made you put up with it for so long. If so, you might find Al Anon helpful.
posted by coolguymichael at 4:31 PM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's necessary to pathologize and judge the ex-boyfriend (whose side we haven't heard, by the way) to come to the conclusion that this breakup was for the best. Now you know that you are incompatible with people who smoke a lot of weed, and you can find partners that suit you better in the future - lesson learned!

Since your question is "could I have done something different," I'd only say that you could have cut your losses sooner instead of investing so much time and effort trying to "fix" his life for him. Trust your instincts - if you find yourself feeling like you need to fix a person, you probably aren't going to be a great match for each other anyway. I have felt this way about (ex)boyfriends before, and in retrospect it's always been an early sign of my incipient contempt for that person (and one that I frequently followed by trying to control the poor guy's life, before I learned to recognize it for what it is). That's the signal to end the relationship, not the signal that he needs to change or else he's choosing [whatever he doesn't want to change] over me.
posted by dialetheia at 6:09 PM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

You were absolutely right to ask for what you needed, but from a strategic perspective, there is another problem with telling him he needs to quit or cut back for his own good, rather than because you enjoy his company less: it doesn't have much resonance coming from somebody who doesn't particularly enjoy pot. You can tell him what he's missing out on, but in a way you don't know what you're asking him to give up.

The old painkiller addiction probably is an issue. I wouldn't be surprised if he figures this is the best harm reduction strategy available to him. A not-insignificant number of alcoholics take up weed when they quit drinking, too. All this is to say that getting him to really cut back probably would have required even more than getting him away from his roommate. I don't think you should feel slighted at all, if you feel that way. Because chances are good you weren't just asking him to give up an addiction to pot, as far as he was concerned, but to give up addiction period. Very very big and risky.
posted by Adventurer at 6:14 PM on October 28, 2011

I was spending the majority of my time in environments and situations that I wouldn't normally choose for myself. I was only doing that because I loved him and wanted to spend time with him, but in my mind, it wasn't fair to me.

Absolutely, and sorry if my comment made it seem as though you should've waited longer than you already have, in the off-chance that he would grow out of it.

It may just be that the break-up will be the catalyst that makes him figure things out with respect to his weed usage. Or maybe not. There's no way to know, and the past addiction points to troublesome signs. I can imagine what it must be like to be with someone (and his friends) who are perpetually stoned and you're in a different mindset from entirely, and I'm sure it lead to some uncomfortable and unpleasant times for you. You'll find someone who won't put you through that, I guarantee it.
posted by naju at 6:17 PM on October 28, 2011

Hi. I used to be your ex. And, until I realized for myself that I didn't want to be a pot head, nobody could have gotten me to slow down on my smoking. You tried really hard to get him to change, but he wasn't ready. This is not your fault.
posted by trogdole at 10:55 PM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Never stay in a relationship under the belief that your partner will one day change.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:15 PM on October 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

For me, the thing that stands out here is being ready to walk out the door and then having to wait HALF AN HOUR to leave. That would drive me crazy.

And that's the kind of specificity that's needed when asking for changes in a relationship. Its not the weed--on anti-weed principle-- that is the problem--its the effects on your relationship.

If I met a guy who told me he likes to lift weights and it turned out he was lifting 10 hours a day and couldn't leave the house on time because his buddy showed up and needed a spotter for the next half hour and I'm always expected to wait ...ugh.

If it turns out he HAS to lift weights 10and hours per day because he has a muscle-wasting disease and its doctor ordered and not his fault...he probably would've told me that up front.
posted by vitabellosi at 6:22 AM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Serious stoners turn it into a way of life. The first guy I dated was a stoner, which I didn't realize till we'd been dating for a bit (I was young and naive), but it permeated everything he (and we) did. Let's play video games! While I'm high. Let's watch this movie! While I'm high. Hey we're on our way to dinner but let me just stop on an errand! To my dealer's house. Look at my Pink Floyd posters and my shiny light-up LED pens and my new bong and my fancy stash box! And while I have no problem in principle with pot, or even smoking it on a regular basis, I have a lot of interest in doing things that don't involve it. He did not.

There's nothing wrong with him being a stoner. But if he's chosen to make it his lifestyle, which it sounds like he has, then you have a lifestyle incompatibility. Find yourself someone that can be a better match for you.
posted by olinerd at 7:13 AM on October 29, 2011

The things we do for love. I almost was about to try weed for this guy I'm head over heels for but... many years spent without it... I'm kinda proud at my record. I don't think I want to compromise that for anyone. That's the power of being you and recognizing you're perfectly whole as is. My best friend has been 4 years with a major stoner and she's still weed free. She doesn't like his habit but she'll let him be because he seems to be an ok guy, overall. But one thing that struck me was that you would take hits in front of him while he was trying to cut down. That is the only thing, I'd say, wasn't smart. If I'm trying to be an example of what my life is like without a subtance, the last thing I want to do is partake in it because then they feel it's ok. I'm trying to show them it's not. A female roommate I lived with had an alcohol problem. She's a highly functional adult but couldn't associate with me unless we were partying or unless she was completely sober for weeks at a time. But she has a couple of drinks everyday and there goes her mood swings. She was doing fine one month until her boyfriend encouraged her to drink again. She then went back to being moody and completely disconnected from a person like me... sober. This breakup is the best for both of you.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 8:19 AM on October 29, 2011

He wants to hang out and smoke pot. You want to have an active life, get things done, and maybe smoke pot once in a while. You have very different goals. He did you a favor.

You were tying yourself in knots trying to accommodate his wishes. That's not a healthy way to have a relationship.
posted by theora55 at 8:39 AM on October 29, 2011

To add: If any of the comments from those who think pot is a Bad Thing and those who say maybe not so much confuse you, the OP, think of it in terms of coffee (I am devoted to both things, so the analogy lines up for me pretty well).

My coffee needs do not trump the needs of my friends and co-workers (although I cheerfully ignore, along with a few others, our office's no beverages in our neck of the woods policy; that's more about a) the policy is bat-shit insane and b) I'm a better worker with my cuppa). But if I kept my boyfriend on hold while I played guitar and drank a cuppa wiith my roommate, I wouldn't be a very good girlfriend, if my boyfriend was at the door ready to go.

Neither, if coffee was illegal, would I just spring it on a boyfriend like your guy did it to you. 'Cause the law's the law and all that. Even on my OK Cupid profile, I note that weed is a thing in my life. That goes to my first point about him needing to be more up-front about it.
posted by angrycat at 8:58 AM on October 29, 2011

Yeah, it sounds like you two are just basically incompatible. You didn't do anything wrong, but you probably stuck it out for longer than was good for you.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:26 AM on October 29, 2011

Thanks again everyone. I really appreciate this.

It's been an especially hard breakup because I cared so much for him, but you've all made really valid points and they've helped a lot. In this relationship, I kept blaming myself and feeling guilty for not accepting his need to smoke regularly; I told myself it was wrong of me to be annoyed when he'd have to smoke before movies, before parties, before anything, because he wouldn't have enjoyed it as much otherwise. I was genuinely concerned about his behavior and why he seemed unable to enjoy life without weed, but I kept telling myself it was okay for two people to have different lifestyles. Despite my attempts to ignore/combat my instinctual feelings, his smoking so much always still got under my skin; I guess that meant that feeling wasn't going anywhere, huh? And judging from his behavior towards me and comments he made when I wasn't smoking, I think it bothered him that we had different lifestyles, too. Guess it's better that it ended now rather than ten years down the line, married and with kids.

Thanks guys. And feel free to keep discussing if you're so inclined.

BTW, no alcoholism/addiction/abuse in my family... I just have an overly-accommodating personality in some cases. :)
posted by Teradactyl at 10:33 AM on October 29, 2011

Teradactyl wrote: I kept blaming myself and feeling guilty for not accepting his need to smoke regularly; I told myself it was wrong of me to be annoyed when he'd have to smoke before movies, before parties, before anything, because he wouldn't have enjoyed it as much otherwise.

Here's the thing. Whether or not it improved or didn't improve his enjoyment of your activities together, it wasn't something you were OK with. That's not something you need to feel guilty about. You have your needs, he has his. When they're not compatible, it can be sad, but unfortunately that's how most relationships turn out.
posted by wierdo at 11:58 AM on October 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

While I have no doubt that very high-functioning potheads exist, I personally have known three people who have or have had what I'd call a marijuana problem (not the same as smoking on the weekends or whatever, mind you). All three of them, while they went about their daily routines more-or-less OK, are or were stuck in years-long ruts in which nothing seemed to happen. Their lives had no forward momentum. I do not believe this is a coincidence.

To the OP: there's nothing wrong with not wanting a relationship with a stoner. And, this guy wasn't just lighting up every night before bed. The whole "let's stay here and smoke a bowl for 30 minutes and watch videos while your girlfriends waits for you to go out" thing is, frankly, rude. There's nothing else you could have done.
posted by breakin' the law at 6:28 PM on October 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

i'd like to follow up on the young rope-rider's comment by suggesting that you investigate attending an Al-Anon meeting in your area.

You are not responsible for your ex-boyfriend's decisions about how to live his life. You are responsible for understanding your needs and meeting them appropriately.

I don't believe you can be in a healthy relationship with someone actively engaged in addictive behavior. Addiction is a choice, not a disease one catches. Their primary focus is the relationship they have with their substance, which then becomes your primary focus as well. This prevents the two of you from ever being fully present with, and for, each other.
posted by macinchik at 10:47 PM on October 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

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