I would prefer not to spend time with my friend when she is very stoned
November 28, 2013 12:31 AM   Subscribe

Is there any good way to tell a dear friend I don’t really want to chat on the phone or spend long periods of time with her when she’s very, very stoned?

I have a dear friend I’ve known half my life. She’s a terrific person and has been there for me (and I for her) through many ups and downs. Mostly our friendship has been a beautiful and lovely thing. My friend has been a heavy pot user upwards of fifteen years. That’s fine by me; lots of my friends smoke; I’m not anti-marijuana, think it is perfectly ace and should be legalised and there’s no moral judgement here. She smokes every day, a lot in the evenings but often all through the day too. But she’s super functional and manages her life just fine. Aside from the occasional week or month when she’s gotten serious about quitting (during which time I’ve been very supportive), she’s smoked constantly gets through a fair bit. I don’t really smoke (once a year if it’s offered to me) and that’s okay too. I think she is dependent (she has smoked through three pregnancies and breastfeeding and the lot) and probably self-medicating anxiety and depression with the pot but I respect that it’s her choice and she’ll quit (or not) if she wants to. Still, I’m having trouble negotiating our friendship around the pot. I’d prefer, at least now and then, to talk to her/spend time with her when she’s straight-ish or at least not totally out of it. I’d prefer if we had more time that didn’t seem underscored by her being stoned. Not because of the marijuana as such but more about how distant and fuzzy and disconnected it seems to make her when she’s really high. The last year or two, I’ve noticed a lot of distance between us. We’ve both had lots of major life changes and lived a long way from each other for some of that time and I’m sure these are all factors too. I've moved back to her city and was excited about seeing lots of her again. But gradually I began to feel that part of the problem was that when I saw her or we talked on the phone she was very stoned. As in, not able to keep conversational threads straight in her mind stoned. Drifting off or abruptly announcing she was too tired and had to go to bed stoned. She smokes even more when depressed/anxious. Sometimes, if we were speaking on the phone, I wouldn’t realise until ten minutes into the conversation that she was really out of it…and it was kind of disappointing, I guess, or weird as if she’d disappeared into her own little world and I felt disoriented and a little frustrated, like she wasn’t really there in the conversation with me. The obvious solution is to avoid her when she’s stoned but she is stoned…a lot. I only see her about once a month and she’s almost always smoking then (or stoned when we meet).

She has responded badly when others have criticised her in the past (for smoking while pregnant, for instance) feeling judgement and scorn from those who have commented. Her new partner is a massive pot-head too. I love this woman to bits and don’t want to hurt her feelings or for her to imagine I’m judging her lifestyle (I’m not). Any suggestions for what to say or how to raise this with her? Right now, I am leaning toward just stepping back a bit and keeping my distance rather than trying to talk it through. She’s forty and says pot relaxes her and lets her switch off the anxiety and depression so I doubt it’s gonna change. She’s also a tad defensive and doesn’t like confrontation (has a more passive-aggressive style). I want to reiterate that she’s a clever, warm, heart of gold human being though.

Part of me thinks it’s none of my business – except now it’s actually impacting on the friendship. Usually (and in the past) I’ve tried to find activities for us to do together (so if she’s spacey it’s less noticeable and often she isn’t stoned when we do them anyway) but these days she’s working from home and caring for kids so this isn’t really practical. I’m sad that we seem to have a much harder time relating, that there is this distance and that I feel thrown or confused and then catch on to the fact she’s totally baked. In those circumstances I just feel less likely to talk from my heart or to try to get through; she also seems more irritable/critical but that may be cos she’s having a hard time in general. She’s a sweetheart and I used to love spending time with her…I just feel that increasingly her being stoned so much makes it hard to actually talk properly (she has trouble concentrating, following what I’m saying, keep track of what she’s saying).

If you’ve been in this situation, what did you say? Did it help? Did it make any difference? Was your friend receptive to listening? If you’ve been her, what would you like to hear (if anything) and how would you respond if this was discussed with you? Would you want to told outright or is there some way to kindly hint or work around the issue?

FWIW my brother smokes a couple of joints every night and it has not affected our relationship one bit. So please know I’m not all anti-marijuana in general.
posted by JayAlfred to Human Relations (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "Hey, I just can't talk with you when you're stoned. I'll talk to you later, okay? We're cool, I'm just not on that wavelength."
posted by RainyJay at 1:02 AM on November 28, 2013 [11 favorites]

I had a friend like this and sadly, we are not friends anymore. We grew apart and developed different ...interests. I think you've answered your own question: this is who she is right now, and she's not open to discussion (for now). I'd fade back a bit, give it some space, keep tabs on her so when/if she's sobering up a bit you can be there for her.

My brother and his wife also smoke a joint or two a day, and it doesn't bother me at all.

If she is as stoned as you say, as often as you say...how is she parenting her kids? Even if their basic needs are met...that's got to be lonely. I might consider making a once a week standing potluck date with the whole family just to touch base with the kids. if you can convince everyone to sober up for it, even better.

I think you're being generous and too PC, almost anything in excess is a problem. A glass of wine with lunch before your siesta is a lifestyle; a bottle and a six pack every night is an alcoholic - and the intent to self medicate is a very very common motivator of addiction. Is she crossing the line?
posted by jrobin276 at 1:13 AM on November 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, long post but here's the question: any good way to tell a dear friend I don’t really want to chat on the phone or spend long periods of time with her when she’s very, very stoned?. Let's focus on answering the question rather than general discussion about the topic.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:44 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: RainJay has the only reasonable way of phrasing this. This is about you anyway, so in order to avoid making her feel criticized, make it about you:

"I'm not good at talking to you when you're in that space."

Or a variation of the same.
posted by Namlit at 1:52 AM on November 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to clarify, I'm not sure she is high when her children are awake and with her. She and her partner smoke bongs in the back yard in the evenings, taking turns to go outside when they are putting their kids to sleep and they smoke when they are all asleep. She smokes in the mornings/days if her younger kids are in day-care till mid-afternoon. But I honestly can't say whether/how much she's smoking around her children. She might be careful not to do it anywhere they can see or she might stay non-stoned during daylight hours when the little ones are home. I'm not sure and I don't want to monitor or ask her about this. I realise this is a greater problem but it's one she's not talking about with me and for all I know she is careful to be straight when kids are home and awake. The suggestions for what to say are great -- keep them coming. I honestly think if I tried to talk to her about the pot in relation to her children she would be furious and feel incredibly hurt/judged. If she ever wants to change, I'll speak to her honestly and give her all the help and support I can. Promise not to thread-sit anymore and thanks for the advice so far.
posted by JayAlfred at 2:02 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

That's a lot of words for a relatively simple situation: she likes getting stoned, you don't like interacting with her when she's stoned.

Tell her how you feel, suggest that you guys reserve some time (maybe once a week? I don't know) to hang out or talk on the phone when she's crystal clear sober. I'd say keep your expectations low though and don't push it. Sounds like the kind of situation where two friends slowly drift apart with different interests in life. Sucks but that's the way it is.
posted by mannequito at 2:38 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

There's a lot heavy stuff in your heart/mind about this topic. Therefore, I think your sense of danger WRT mentioning just a piece of it -- no hang when super high -- is spot on. Good luck trying to gracefully communicate a seemingly simple, breezy thing when there's that much angst all up in your emotional business.

So, hows about you mentally back-burner the no-hang idea for a little while, and see if you can ease your way out of such heavy concern and into a bit of good humor about it.


Nah. Let it go. She's clearly not interested in any of that non-conversation and, hell, it in may in fact be none of your damn business anyway.

So when you've gotten to where you've had a few/several *honest* chuckles about how totally high she was that one time (lolwutomgthatWASfunny), I think your emotional skies will be clear enough for *you* to feel perfectly comfortable saying whatever totally normal unplanned thing happens to fit.
posted by Moistener at 2:50 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not sure if she's stoned? Substitute "when you're like this" in where I had "when you're stoned."

Make it clear that it's not (necessarily) a judgment on her habits; it's about your not being able to engage with her on this level.
posted by RainyJay at 3:22 AM on November 28, 2013

Best answer: "I want to talk, but I feel like you're not really here with me. Shall we get together later?"
posted by bunderful at 4:22 AM on November 28, 2013 [6 favorites]

To avoid misunderstandings perhaps tell her initially when she is not stoned? Then later you can remind her, "you know we talked about ...".
posted by epo at 5:20 AM on November 28, 2013

I am a lot like your friend. Not a mom, but really, you wouldn't be able to find a time to talk to me when I wasn't stoned.

If a friend were to say to me, "I feel like you're not really here with me when you're stoned," I would be restraining myself from saying, That's the point.

But maybe I would think about it later.
posted by st looney up the cream bun and jam at 7:38 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

This was a friendship turned dating relationship, for me, but:

If you’ve been in this situation, what did you say?
"Hey, how about we hang when you're not smoking?" and various iterations of the same.

Did it help?
No. He liked being high all the time, and I'm not his keeper. So it didn't change much.

Did it make any difference?

Was your friend receptive to listening?
Not really. I think he "heard" me but he didn't understand, and perhaps he didn't care.

So, I dumped him as a friend and a boyfriend. No judgement (although my experience has been that people often take it that way) but it's was boring, unfulfilling, and ultimately, not for me.

YMMV because it's a close friend but (and this is my own projection) my mother's incessant pot smoking and inability to ever have a sober conversation is one of the reasons we are estranged. I just can't live like that ever again. I choose not to. She does. It's cool.
posted by sm1tten at 10:08 AM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just a thought - if it takes you ten minutes to notice she's stoned, she's either not very stoned or you're not as dialed in to the conversation as you thought you were.

Everybody else is already saying most of what I was thinking - except that is sort of a lot of denials for a long explanation that yes, comes across as fairly judgement-y, in word choice as well as overall statements.

You might well have grown apart anyway. If it doesn't work for you, then so be it. Doesn't sound like it has for quite a while, and that happens when people change. That's life.
posted by stormyteal at 1:23 PM on November 28, 2013

I've been in this situation with a few people, most notably a (former) friend, an (ex) boyfriend, and a relative -- even in the case in which I was most proactive and had the most leverage (the then-boyfriend), my words or preferences really didn't make a difference.

For what it's worth, my attempts to get them to interact me while sober have usually gone down this path:
1. I make a point of not partaking around them myself.
2. I ask them not to partake in a particular instance, and give a specific reason (ex: I want to do something that is more fun sober, like shopping).
3. I ask them not to partake around me in general. By that point I'm usually just completely open and say it's because I like the conversations we have sober and I want to have a sober night with them.

Nobody has ever gotten offended when I've asked them not to partake...but nobody has ever actually not partaken, either. What I've said/done has made absolutely no difference.

To be honest, I think you need to either be OK being around her when she's as smoked up as she feels like being, or you have to lower your expectations for the friendship and be OK with some drift. Her smoking isn't something that you can control. It might not even be something *she* can control.
posted by rue72 at 4:59 PM on November 28, 2013

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