Can I compromise with a marijuana smoker I love?


Further Reading

Dear Stanton,

I am at the end of a two-and-a-half year relationship that is ending because of the marijuana habits of my boyfriend. He does it. I don’t. He has never lied about the fact that he smokes pot, nor does he do it “behind my back”. But it has simply never been a part of the relationship that the two of us have been cultivating; that is, the drug does not play a role in our day-to-day lives at all. The only times I’ve been with him when he smokes are at infrequent parties with his group of friends. He does, however, smoke it when people come to visit him at home and I’m not around, when he hangs out with a buddy or occasionally by himself.

This is a substance that has been integral in his life since he was a young teenager (his older brother got him started)and is something that he and his friends have done together for many years (he is 33). He describes it as something “ceremonial” and something that connects him to his friends and brothers. From a ethical or moral standpoint, he sees nothing wrong with the drug because to him it is just like coming home from work and drinking a beer — it relaxes you and is enjoyable.

I, on the other hand, have a philosophical problem with drugs in general — I don’t believe in that sort of escapist mentality. I feel very uncomfortable in situations where joints are being passed around and everyone is high. People act very differently when they are under the influence and I guess I’d rather being around the “real” people. (Although a marijuana smoker would probably argue that people seem more “real” when
you are all partaking of the herb.) It’s the same reason I do not choose to hang around a group of people who’s main source of entertainment is getting wasted-drunk on Friday nights. It’s not fun to me.

Anyway, the relationship between my boyfriend and me had progressed to the point where we began discussing marriage. And needless to say, the marijuana issue has become a real sticking point. At first, I was adament that he had to quit altogether, but he made it very clear that this was not an option for him. So I did some thinking and came to the conclusion that I could repress my natural “flight or fight” response in certain situations where it was present. For example, if the two of us were to go to a New Year’s Eve party, I would not make a big deal about him smoking with his friends and just suck it up and deal with it. If he went on the annual After-Christmas-Hunting-Trip with “the guys”, I would not obsess about the fact that he was getting high out in the woods somewhere. But I had to draw the line regarding marajuana in our future home (we do not currently live together). I’ve told him that I would learn to deal with his smoking when we are in situations like parties at other people’s houses, or when we would go and stay with his brothers; but I could not be comfortable with it in my own home.

I feel like the one place a person deserves to be comfortable is in his own home. I don’t want to come home from the grocery store to a high husband. I don’t want to spend my time watching him get stoned. I don’t want to be relegated to the living room to watch the kids while my husband and “Uncle Jim” step out to the back porch to light one up. I don’t want to worry about my children finding a bag of weed when they dig through Daddy’s filing cabinet. Being on the fringe of this activity makes me feel like a total outsider and very lonley because it’s like the person I love leaves me for a while and is replaced by someone I don’t know. Meanwhile I’m stuck sitting on the couch waiting for him to come back down to earth. His argument is, or course, that he is fundamentally the same person — high or not high— and I just don’t accept him for the person he is. According to his perspective, I’m just looking to change him.

My boyfriend and I were raised in totally different environments and, while he was having these pschodelic experiences with his brothers and friends, I was being fed (in his words) anti-drug propaganda and occupied myself being the “good girl”. According to him I have no idea what I am talking about because I have never experienced it. And in a way, he’s right. I don’t have the same points of reference as he does. I will never understand how it feels to be high on pot because I will never do it. I don’t feel like I need to. All I know is how I feel when I’m around it now and how I feel when I try to think about a future life where it is something that occurs around me on a fairly regular basis. I want to feel safe and free in my own home. I don’t want to have this constraint of worry. And whether its ridiculous (which my boyfriend thinks), or not, its how I feel.

My boyfriend argues that I just don’t trust him. Since it’s not something he does when it’s just the two of us hanging out now, he’s probably not going to start smoking it when it’s just the two of us when we’re married. I should trust him that he’s not going to whip out a big joint in front of the kids. I should trust that he would only smoke “when appropriate”. But his definition of appropriate differs from mine. He has friends who go and get high in the garage while their kids are in the house playing. To him, this is appropriate since the kids have no idea what is going on. He also has friends who have a young baby and just smoke right in front of it. This is “appropriate” because the baby is too young to know what is going on. I feel like any environment with illegal, mind-altering drugs in it is not appropriate for children. Period. To him, this opinion is just my ” Polyanna” syndrome showing itself again. There are other ways to live life and I am just too closed-minded to accept this.

His friends and brothers smoke it far more often than my boyfriend does — some of them on a daily basis. I think it is potentially embarassing for him to think about having to tell his friends that they can’t smoke pot when they come to visit. And I think that it is even more mortifying to my boyfriend that he would have to tell this to his brothers. This is what they do when they are together. He says that it would be very uncomfortable for his older brother to even come to visit if he couldn’t partake. And to ” force” his brother to take his drugs elsewhere to smoke where he would run a greater risk of being caught (because apparently it’s impossible for him to go a few days without it) would be unthinkable. I maintain that people are generally willing (and happy) to abide by “house rules” when they visit other people. It may not be the way you run your life, but, hey, it’s someone else’s house and you have to respect that. My boyfriend feels that no one will want to visit if they no his house is a no-pot zone.

I feel like I have made steps to give him a compromise — he doesn’t have to give it up, but it just won’t be something that will be participated in at home. My boyfriend will not step any closer to my side, however. He says that pot WILL be around and he doesn’t want to have a marriage based on conditions. I can see his point of view — nobody likes to be told what to do—but I also feel that this is a situation where guidelines need to be established.


Dear Ariel:

Gosh, this is a fascinating story. If you cut out the first sentence, you would never guess the conclusion as it went along. I have mixed feelings about your tale. First, let me say, it is extremely well-written. Second, I believe you are right in your decision. Third, it is such a relief to read a letter from a woman — unlike a woman whose boy friend or husband is ruining her life with their substance abuse — who resolves her course of action on her own, without asking someone to else to tell her what to do. But, I regret that your story could be use by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, because it is actually a story about something more complex than that, captured in your sentence: “My boyfriend will not step any closer to my side, however. “ Noble, perhaps, but self-destructive, it would seem. Your situation is a bit dicier than those of the women I cite, in that your boyfriend is not ostensibly a substance abuser, except that to ruin an intimate relationship due to substance use is a sign of a drug problem.


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13 thoughts on “Can I compromise with a marijuana smoker I love?

  1. Elephantinroom

    I am engaged and my fiancee smoke weed periodically. We have been apart for over 40 years and he still spoke periodically. Friends and some family will drop by periodically and spoke to. I have shared my concerns since t is not legal in our area. He smokes cigarettes too and I have shared concerns as well. I know I can’t change him. I am concerned with the affects on my life ( second hand smoke and charges if caught even if I don’t smoke). He is trying to stop smoking cigarettes and don’t smoke as much. I try to remove myself as much as possible from the second hand smoke. I am going to advise him he will need to use and keep his weed outside of our home until he
    decides to quit or whatever. Is this a fair compromise?

  2. Lacey

    Wow this hits close to home for an my boyfriend been together a year. When we first got together I didn’t know he smoked. But later on into it found out he smoked when he was with his friends. I told him I didn’t like it an didn’t want someone that did it around my kids. It’s the way I was raised no drugs. So he done good stopped for a few months now I found out hes started again when he’s with his friends even though he knows I hate it and was disappointed in him. I don’t what to do I love him and talked about life together but I just dont know if I can deal with it.

  3. kell

    hi my bf whom ive been with for 16months is addicted hes been smoking since he was 14yrs ol he is now 34, he gets moody an yells when he has no choof always argue evan giving him a beautiful baby boy wont change his mind to quitting can someone help i dont want to lose this relationship i love him and want to help him

  4. Elisa

    I’m living the same thing Tawny I feel so controlling but we are from two different worlds. When I met him he would do it every night before bed and weekends twice a day. He told me originally it was once in a while we clearly had different definitions on once and a while. When we started getting serious I said that I couldn’t live with that. I had never done it, i was recently divorced with two kids and I got married young. I never lived my teens like the average I think. I’m a true good girl… i feel that I’m so judgemental it drives me crazy but I just don’t understand it. We agreed on twice a month and never with my kids!! My kids leave for their dads every weekend. He was respecting our agreement but everytime I felt angry inside I didn’t like seeing him stoned it turned me off! So I decided to try it to see if I understood better . I got sick .. I tried again and I felt ok. I didn’t love the feeling but more of the time I spent with him I felt less judgmental and less anal about how things are supposed to be . I was raised drugs alcohol bad and I still think that but I don’t know why?? What is the difference from cigarettes or drinking wine to relax. I’m still on the fence I’ve done it with him a few times after that. He’s told me than when we would have kids he would stop. I’m now 10 weeks pregnant i found out when I was 4 weeks pregnant and he has not smoked since. But I get anxious about it. I know if he wasn’t with me he would be doing it. When we go on his side family or friends there is some but he doesn’t but I feel horrible when he says no. I wonder if inside he resents me? Or if just doesn’t mind? Does he miss it? Am I just being controlling! I hate it I wish it didn’t existe!!! I have to say my boyfriend is an amazing man he tells me I’m pretty everyday he helps me with chores. My kids want to call him dad he is so involved with them like his own! We’ve been together 2 years and now I’m pregnant. Am I being too controlling!? Should I let him should I ignore it? Would he fou it behind my back? I get anxious about this. Would I feel different if it was legal? I wouldn’t like him to smoke cigarettes either and I get upset if he drinks more than three beers in a night. I don’t like when it hinders the person it changes them. I’m 29 he’s 28 out party days of drinking I feel is what you do when you were young now grow up?!

  5. Kiyomi


    Your story is very similar to mine. I have decided to breakup with my boyfriend of 2 years. I knew he smokes pot from the beginning of the relationship, however I thought he’s just socially smoking here and there. We moved in together a year ago, and I came to realization that he smokes everyday and he smokes the mj concentrate, he vapes while driving . He won’t contribute to financial liabilities , however, he would spend 10k on his bangs . He also deals it. Everytime we fight over this issue, he gets more and more distant from me. The only thing kept us together was that I was actually addicted to this twisted relationship and wanted to fix it. It is the co dependency. I have to quit this relationship cold turkey and find my own happiness back. The addicts will always choose their addiction over their relationships.

  6. Jane

    Maybe I should leave my boyfriend. He said he would do what he wanted, but if we get serious it will just be the same situation. He wont want to be told what to do and I’ll leave. This is about weed and other drugs by the way. It’s totally against everything I know and I simply cannot cope with it.

  7. John

    Dear Ariel,

    I feel your pain and frustration. Your story sounds identical to mine. When my girlfriend first told me about her marijuana use, I thought I could deal with it and I did to some extent but when she started smoking it in her home when I visited it made me feel very uncomfortable. As time went on and we talked about moving in together she removed it from her home and really decreased her usage.

    We like you have discussed marriage and are now living together. Since moving in with each other her smoking habits are very rare which is nice but my outlook on marriage has changed. We still have heated discussions about her usage and with Canada about to legalize pot, I’m not sure where that will leave us.


  8. Karin

    Dear Stanton, I myself have a similar situation. A relationship of 1.5 years living together that ended because where pot use I was a significant issue. There were other stresses as well, I myself suffer from a lack trust due to an old history of alcohol/drug that took place in my younger life and he has major defenses because of failed marraiges and relationships. He has children and I never married or had children. We are both musicians and very connected. We have both been through a lot of hurt but weren’t able to work with one another. Towards the end he was angry and pulled away, not even the same person. He was smoking throughout the day. I tried it with him to demystify it all but in heart I know it’s not how I want to feel. I know it isn’t authentic and although I appreciate its relaxing effects, trust with someone has to be more important. The relationship has to be cared for. So we seperated. It was terrible. I gave my all and he seemed to carry on just fine. Over the past 3 months I worked on myself as an independent artist and my own person. I was around pot on my own and did smoke it occasionally. Why? Because I quit alcohol over a decade ago and weed is everywhere I turn. Maybe I am lacking in strength. Maybe I just want to throw in the towel. We have talked recently. Even visited and reunited. The love is there but so is the weed. I have a therapist. I dont want to hurt myself in this. He says he has learned a lot and has missed me and always wanted it to work out. He knows I dont want to be around weed on a daily basis and says he is willing to try limiting it and keeping it recreational and with control. He says he lost it with what was happening to us but doesnt smoke like that anymore. He is a functional daily user and has been all his life. He uses it to treat anxiety. He has tried prescription drugs but they dont work. We had been engaged. Now he and I are talking about a future with each other again. I love him more than I ever have but scared to death all of it will go down the same path. He used to leave if we fought and I wouldnt hear from him for hours. If I got him on the phone I could tell he was stoned and didnt really want to deal with me. That was the past….I have changed but not at my core. I It would take something of a miracle for me to not be threatened by his weed use. As I am in the midst of seeing him as of late this article helped. The difference is that my guy is now seeing my importance because he lost it. He is saying he wants to be by my side and do what it takes. But is this realistic? I have doubt and it already has brought up concern. I dont want to get hurt by this person again.

  9. CW

    I would really like to know how this panned out. I am having the same issue with my long-term boyfriend, and I don’t know what to do. I just wish there was a simple way to handle things, but there never is. I love him so much, but I can’t stand the thought of pot being in my (or our- possible future) house. Maybe if it was legal in this state, I would feel differently.

  10. Kayte

    Ariel. Well written indeed. I am in the exact same kind of relationship. My bf of 2 and a half years also smokes most days and i cannot stand it. I told him earlier today that its affecting our relationship. I feel it is the reason he wont move out of mums place (hes 37) and move in with me. Cos he knows i dont wanna see it. I see him sneeking around my backyard when im in the toilet or shower quickly having a puff. The reason he wont socialise, move out/in with me, the decision making process behind every single thing. We see eachother on a schedule of his Wednesday night Nd sat night.. if im busy or need to change it to thursday instead he freaks out cos its change. It is very frustrating. Sex life has also died out. I really dont want it for my future (if there even is one with him) . I can imagine what it would be like living with him. He also smokes with the brothers and mates and made a comment like am i suppose to tell me bros no my mrs wont let me. Well no but surely he can see that its affecting us but has made it clear it wont change. So im leaving. I need to finally be selfish and think about myself and my future. Im 33 not getting younger and want kids.

  11. Karley

    Wow. Such an well written piece. I’m in the same boat. Bf smokes, I dont. He used to wake and bake all day. I never felt like I had a say in what he did, and knew it was something that if we were going to be in a relationship, wouldn’t stop. We went to Europe for a month where he couldn’t snoke. Also, when we got back he needed to find a job and we started semester at a university. First semester he didn’t go to school, now he does. I realize that now he has a job, he isn’t worried about not smoking. This is the first weekend he’s had weed in a loooong time. I’m worried hell get into the habit of wake and bake all day and it will affect his job, his education and our relationship. He says he wants to treat it like drinking, only on evenings and weekends, but I’m weary of that. His brothers, like your boyfriends, also introduced him to weed. We’re a little young into the relationship to be getting married. I live at his place so I don’t feel like it’s my place to say he should not wake and bake or do what he wants at his place, but I have the same feelings when it comes to getting a place together that isn’t just his. I don’t want weed in the house and especially around kids if we have any. I know he isn’t going to quit and I feel it’s acceptable in social situations at others places too ir other people houses or parties. I wish there was more insight from what exactly to do but I guess I’ll have to let this play out and see if he treats it like alcohol on weekends or if he’ll get back into the wake and bake mode. Anywayd, glad to see im not alone. Thanks.

  12. Girlfriend

    Hi I am a 49 year old woman from a set of hippy parents and when mom and I met step-dad we entered into much of the same situation you looking at.
    Professional, smart as all get out, responsible to a fault (in some ways)… I hope to impress upon you that there was a separation, a divide, that grew in our family from that point forward when mom moved into a “I’m over that phase now” and stepdad remained a daily pot smoker. I have 2 younger sisters who grew up with it all around. It affected us all differently, but after 40 years of marriage, my mom has been forced to put her foot down and leave because the long term effects of that type of substance are quite different than short term. The smoke is a divisive addiction and I am in a relationship with a smoker now too. I am feeling ALL of the same things you described about the one who doesn’t partake. I can assure you I was not always Polly Anna and I know how it feels to partake it still feels the same as you described now that I am on a different “buzz”. (We call it the “natch” meaning natural)… I so hope you follow what you know you need and don’t compromise too much. ☮💖🌞

  13. Tawny

    Dear Ariel,

    Reading your story has put a perspective on my own situation.
    My boyfriend uses and when we initially got together he smoked daily, when we moved in together I said things had to change and he had to cut down because it wasn’t going to become a part of my daily life as well.
    He stuck to this and he cut down and only smoked on a Friday night and would go to his friends house, recently I have said to him that before we buy a house and have children I would like him to quit and he has abstained from smoking now since 23/12/2015 which for him is an achievement, and I am proud of him for this.
    This weekend we had a row though, as he feels that if he were to smoke once a month this shouldn’t be a problem as he wouldn’t be doing it around me and it wouldn’t be in the house. I firmly said no and reminded him of the promise he made to quit. I now feel like I am being too harsh, he has shown me how much I mean to him and our relationship and I now feel I am trying to control this aspect of his life, which was never my intention.
    I respect that you compromised with your partner and were okay with him doing it around his friends/brothers etc. I think you are completely within your right to say that when you get a house together you want for it to be a smoke free zone as it is not just his space anymore and as much as you give him respect and are okay with him smoking with others, he needs to show you the same level of respect by accepting that it is a fair comment to not have it smoked in or around the family home.
    I understand that it takes a lot of time to get through to your partner about their habits and being able to come to an agreement as I have been having the same trouble.
    I know I haven’t helped much, but I think you have helped me in my situation and that I am being a little too controlling and demanding by asking him to stop completely, as it is something he was open about with me right from the start and I knew what I was getting myself into. He asked for a compromise of once a month being able to smoke with his pals an I think that is a fair deal.
    Again sorry I haven’t really helped much in your situation, but I want to thank you for helping me in mine.


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