How to Express a Dating Deal Breaker Respectfully
September 29, 2013 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Later tonight I will be going on a second date with a new guy that seems like a promising fit. One thing he brought up during the first date is that he's about to go to Amsterdam for a few days and that while there he's looking forward to relaxing and smoking pot. Pot use is a deal breaker for me, but I want to make sure I have all the facts before I let him know that. How do I collect that info respectfully, and then let him know that pot's a deal breaker for me without sounding really weird?

Basically I plan to say something to the effect of, "Hey, so last time we hung out you mentioned that you're looking forward to Amsterdam and that you'll be smoking pot there. Is that something you do regularly, or just once in a while like 'when in Amsterdam'?" If he says it's something he only does once a year when he takes a trip with a certain group of friends, I think I can deal with that. What I don't know is how to respond if he does say "yeah I love weed, this is a big part of my life". Everything I've come up with so far sounds judgmental or patronizing and this guy is a cool dude and I don't want to impart that if I have to say, "Damn, you're super cool, but pot use isn't for me and it's not something I'm looking for in a partner."

Are there any other ways I could phrase this so that I don't sound really weird when asking about his usage or letting him know that I wouldn't want to pursue a relationship with him if he is a regular user?
posted by These Birds of a Feather to Human Relations (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think how you've phrased it in your question is fine. You don't come across as weird.

"Hey, so last time we hung out you mentioned that you're looking forward to Amsterdam and that you'll be smoking pot there. Is that something you do regularly, or just once in a while like 'when in Amsterdam'?"

"Damn, you're super cool, but pot use isn't for me and it's not something I'm looking for in a partner."
posted by Snazzy67 at 11:14 AM on September 29, 2013 [28 favorites]


Say what you just said here. It doesn't sound patronizing.

It is judgmental, but we all make judgments about what we want in a partner, there's no getting around that.
posted by mai at 11:16 AM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Tell me about your trip to Amsterdam" is a way to open the conversation, and if he mentions weed, ask whether he enjoys smoking often.

And I don't think you need to tell anyone why you feel they're not a good fit, whether it's smoking weed or anything else.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:16 AM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Honesty works pretty well when communicating between people. Packaging thereof is an art. Some folks seem to be naturally good at it, but most of us learn on the job.

Predicting his reaction is not possible from a two paragraph mefi exposure. I can imagine a lot of different reactions. All speculation, of course, and thus, they pale next to the real thing.

See how you do. If you are any good at it, pat yourself on the back. If not, what have you lost? The world is just packed with neat men who don't smoke pot at all. Or drink. Or cheat. It's tough sorting through all the possibilities, and even tougher dealing with all the changes that pop up once you choose one or find out you left off something critical in your checklist. It's good to know what's really important to you. Pays to do the homework and due diligence up front.

Good luck.
posted by FauxScot at 11:17 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I don't know is how to respond if he does say "yeah I love weed, this is a big part of my life".

Some variation of: "That's a dealbreaker for me. I don't think we're a good match, sorry." I'm pretty sure he'll understand.
posted by John Cohen at 11:21 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the way you've phrased the question is perfect. The worst-case follow-up could be tweaked a little if you want it to sound more like your issue than his: "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. You're a super-cool guy, and it's nothing personal - but due to past experience, I've had to make pot use a hard dealbreaker for me in relationships." After that, don't give in to any urge to apologize if you have one. Just tell him sincerely to have an awesome trip and let him know you're glad you got to meet him.
posted by northernish at 11:26 AM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not weird and it's not judgmental. It's simply what you believe in, and that's 100% fine. I think the fact that you used the word "cool" to describe him explains why you are worried about being seen as weird. If you stop focusing on coolness and start focusing on substance, then expressing your requirement won't feel weird at all. One thing you should consider is what's the best way to make sure you get the truth from him. Asking should be the easy part. Knowing whether you are getting the truth is the harder part.
posted by Dansaman at 11:31 AM on September 29, 2013


As someone mentioned above, you are technically being judgmental here but in a way that is totally acceptable and totally your right, in my opinion: judging someone's fitness as a mate based on their habits and preferences. So, you may inevitably feel "weird" or judgmental during this conversation, but it doesn't mean you're in the wrong or being a bad person. You're being honest up front, which is good. You've just gotta own that you are being judgmental, not about his worth as a human being, but as a potential partner for you.

The way you worded it in your question seems just right to me:
"Damn, you're super cool, but pot use isn't for me and it's not something I'm looking for in a partner."

The conversation will probably be uncomfortable at least a little, but that doesn't mean you should avoid it.
posted by dahliachewswell at 11:35 AM on September 29, 2013


Don't ask, tell.

Tell him that you're not interested in a relationship with someone who regularly smokes, and wanted to bring that up now, and let him decide what to do with that information. It's possible that he is currently a regular smoker, but would be willing to stop in order to keep dating you. If you simply ask him about his pot use, and decide based on this, you're not allowing for this possibility.
posted by kickingtheground at 12:04 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


And think of it this way--if smoking IS a big part of his life, he's going to want to know you're not cool with it just as early in the dating process and will appreciate knowing this about you.

As someone for whom just about any drug use is a dealbreaker even for friends, I'd say think a little bit about your line, since his answer may lie between your two theoretical answers. If he smokes at big blowout parties a few times per year at home? If he self-medicates with brownies for occasional anxiety? If he never smokes but hangs out with a group that does constantly? If he uses harder drugs on vacation? Depending on what part of the pot use bothers you, some of those scenarios may or may not be okay.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:11 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


You are not being judgemental - you are seeking facts to make a judgements about your life. This is how being a person works. You are not only allowed but encouraged to be this way.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:16 PM on September 29, 2013


And think of it this way--if smoking IS a big part of his life, he's going to want to know you're not cool with it just as early in the dating process and will appreciate knowing this about you.

Yeah for most people who are comfortable/relaxed weed smokers, this is just a bad fit scenario and being up front about it in the way many people have suggested is good news for both of you. It's possible you might get someone who thinks you're being uptight or whatever by having these feelings/opinions and that is totally on them and you don't have to further manage it. Some people are just weird and pot smokers can sometimes be weird.

That said, if you're someone for whom pot is a dealbreaker, I'm not sure a once-in-a-while pot smoker type is going to be a good fit anyhow. Put another way, this line of discussion from him may have specifically been so that he could determine if you were cool with pot usage generally. In my opinion as not-much-of-a-pot-smoker but someone who knows a lot of them, this sounds like a feeler type of discussion topic. So I would not be surprised if it turns out that year, he's sort of a pot smoker (nothing wrong with that, imo, and nothing wrong with it not being something you want in a partner).
posted by jessamyn at 12:22 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


You say you "think you can deal with" once a year pot smoking, this choice of phrasing makes me doubt that. Anyway, after one date you shouldn't already be thinking of things you might have to deal with in a prospective partner.
posted by epo at 12:28 PM on September 29, 2013


"Damn, you're super cool, but pot use isn't for me and it's not something I'm looking for in a partner."

i think what you've written here is fine to say. i've read that over 80% of communication is nonverbal so a lot of it is in the delivery, your facial expressions, tone, etc. there is a difference between making a judgment and being judgmental. everyone makes judgments, not all are judgmental about it. you are obviously try to be respectful rather than judgmental.
posted by wildflower at 12:38 PM on September 29, 2013


Just let this guy go. You don't like pot smokers, so don't deal with it. What happens if there happens to be a 'special' party sometime after his trip to Amsterdam, which makes it twice a year? Are you good with twice? Maybe three? Where's your cutoff?

One date--you don't have much invested. Cut it now.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:40 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Damn, you're super cool, but pot use isn't for me and it's not something I'm looking for in a partner."

I smoke pot and if it were a deal breaker for someone I would want them to say it like this, and I would want to hear about it early on.
posted by OsoMeaty at 12:42 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is only a second date, so I think you can relax a bit and just be open about this. I think the suggested, "So, tell me about Amsterdam!" Is a good opener.

You don't (do you?) want to interrogate the guy, you are just tying to get a better picture, see if you two are compatible. I'm going to guess probably not, and that's okay. It doesn't have to be a judgey thing, more like, "Hey, I like you a lot, but we are so far apart on this thing, I just don't see us becoming a couple."

No harm, no foul.
posted by misha at 12:51 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


What you said here is fine. I would just tell him this boundary of yours and ask where he fits.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:40 PM on September 29, 2013


You know he enjoys smoking pot. If this is a hard deal breaker for you, why even bother with a second date?
posted by ottereroticist at 1:43 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


You're planning to ask him about his overall outlook on pot use. It's pretty probable that he'll follow up his answer (whether it's Amsterdam-only or dude-I-love-pot) with looking for a confirmation from you, or reciprocating the question. As in: "I smoke (occasionally/frequently). How about you? Have you tried it? Is that something that bothers you?" I suspect this will be an easier conversation to have, than you're afraid it will be.
posted by aimedwander at 1:45 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


An interest/willingness to smoke pot in Amsterdam doesn't necessarily indicate an overall enthusiasm for pot smoking. Personally, I haven't smoked pot in 12+ years (and the last time was just for the novelty of sharing a joint with my parents!), wasn't a regular user before that (perhaps a dozen times as a teenager), didn't enjoy it that much, and don't particularly want to smoke it ever again. But if I were in Amsterdam, then I might smoke it there just to check that box on the tourist to-do list.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:11 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Your phrasing is fine, but I think the context of means the deal has been broken already. If he's comfortable enough to bring up smoking in Amsterdam on the first date, he definitely has a different outlook on pot than you do.

In my mind, you're setting him up for failure. Find a nice guy who has the same mindset you do, don't put it on him to downplay his recreational drug use.
posted by shinynewnick at 2:58 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


For those of you saying I should just pass on this guy, wouldn't it be worse of me to text him right now and cancel the date? I feel like that's beyond rude, especially since I don't know what the real deal is with him bringing pot up in the first place.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:30 PM on September 29, 2013


you should call him rather than ask him on the date, because if he does smoke pot somewhat regularly, it is disrespectful to waste his time going on this date.
posted by cupcake1337 at 3:31 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's really bad to go on the date tonight. Not any worse than giving a second date to someone you had doubts about for any other reason. In your shoes I would probably be planning to pass on him since there are so many people who don't smoke pot at all. But it's not a sin to go on a date because you aren't sure and you might have fun, to say nothing of changing your mind.
posted by BibiRose at 3:43 PM on September 29, 2013


I elected to give him a call but he didn't answer so I left a message saying I wanted to clarify a detail about our date. Hopefully he'll call me back and we can have a quick chat. I don't want to waste his time or mine.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:49 PM on September 29, 2013


to clarify: i think a call or sms is more appropriate is because you've made it clear this is a deal-breaker for you and it's relatively easy to ask him his position on it. in contrast, having vague doubts about someone, not getting a spark yet, not getting the right vibe are not as easy to measure and actually dating is the best way to figure it out.

like, if you go on a date with this guy, would you ask him early, or late in the date? if you ask early, to you cut the date short? if you ask late, how will you feel knowing you just spent all that time together? either way, one or both of you could feel crummy.

on preview: the OP called, ok. i just wanted to get my rational out there.
posted by cupcake1337 at 3:51 PM on September 29, 2013


For those of you saying I should just pass on this guy, wouldn't it be worse of me to text him right now and cancel the date? I feel like that's beyond rude

It's arguably less rude than wasting his time/money going on a date thinking there's some potential interest if you know you're not interested.
posted by John Cohen at 4:15 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


He called me back, revealed that he smokes weekly, so I told him the truth and he was slightly perturbed but polite. I'm glad I asked because he thought I was on board with it too and was surprised to hear that it was a deal-breaker for me. Thanks for the advice. I've marked replies containing verbiage I used as most helpful.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:48 PM on September 29, 2013 [23 favorites]


Good for you! Glad it went so well.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:51 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know a lot of people who have been to Amsterdam. Oddly enough, the ones who indulged in a few doobies over there are people who already do it at home, be it occasionally or regularly. The ones I know who didn't smoke it to begin with didn't bother with it there, even though they could try it legally.

Just saw your update. Sorry it didn't work out but I think you handled the situation perfectly.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:53 AM on September 30, 2013


Perfect! I hope this stands as a testament to being up front about what you want in terms of a relationship. You directly and calmly stated your thoughts on a certain manner, rather than keeping it hidden away, and it worked out better for everyone involved. Kudos.
posted by shinynewnick at 11:51 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


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