From one of my readers:
Reading these comments make me sad but I’m also full of encouragement and hope for those of you who have decided to quite this horrible drug for good.
Before I write anything else, I’d like to let you know I am a woman in my mid 30s who doesn’t take an aggressive stand against recreational drug or alcohol use. I’ve tried many things myself, probably will again and have many friends that do the same.
The experience I want to share is about chronic marijuana use and it’s effect on my last relationship. If you are a user, or in a relationship with someone who smokes regularly, then maybe in one way or another my story might make you realize, just like I eventually did, that your situation isn’t unique. I found it was reading other posts, stories and blogs myself that finally made me realise my relationship ‘issues’ were almost identical to many, many other people. And the thing we all had in common was a partner who was addicted to weed.
If you are a smoker and in a relationship that isn’t going too well, or if you are in a relationship and your partner is a smoker, then perhaps you recognise the following?
Irritability and moodiness:
As soon into my relationship as 2 months I would come over to my (now ex) boyfriend or him to me and be met by a short temper or out-of-character low mood. Being right at the start of a relationship and overcome by infatuation this registers to the non-smoker as something very strange. I had been looking forward to seeing him all day, maybe for days and seemingly so had he. But still I met up with a person who was short or slightly harsh in the tone. A bit closed off and lacking enthusiasm or excitement. To the sober partner, subconsciously at least, this behavior makes them feel undesired or that something is wrong. As it was quite early on in my relationship I tried to ignore this feeling and go with the flow. When we had known each other a little longer and after some repeated instances I spoke up about it. At this point I had no idea it could be the addiction so just expressed how it made me feel. I was met by an array of explanations such as hunger, ‘it runs in the family’, busy with work, stress and many others. Again.. The different explanations register as a bit odd to the person questioning the behavior but I suspect my ex didn’t even realise how many different explanations he managed to come up with.
Cancellation of dates etc:
Again, early in the relationship I got stood up. The reasons were various, some understandable (work) some I had less sympathy for (just want to hang out at home). Please note that I am talking about a partner who does this very early on in the relationship, and with slightly too much frequency. Again, the sober person is left wondering if her/his partner is really as into the relationship as them, but in my own case there were many fantastic and loving moments between us and so again; I ignored my gut and went with it
Inability to cope with stress:
For my partner there was no such thing as maintaining a relationship whilst something was going ‘wrong’ or being difficult in other areas of his life. He was in between jobs at one point and this caused him to cancel more dates, act more distant, become completely incapable of dealing with any concern I might have brought up as well as become even more irritable and moody. The ‘stress’ absorbed him and ate away at him – it was incredibly challenging to try to be supportive as in context of what he had been through and what people go through all the time in life his behavior and approach to the problems made little sense. Everything seemed to get so blown out of proportion. As the sober partner you’re left wondering what will happen when children come along? Sickness? Death of parents?
Incapable of making plans:
This became a common one, probably more so as the relationship went on and after I had expressed how the cancelled dates made me feel. At the start of the week my boyfriend would not be able to say with certainty when we could meet up or do something. Suggestions for dates or other events were met with ‘maybe’. The reasons were work or one of the constant stressors, yet as the week went by there would be plenty of time for him to meet up with friends or engage in things, as long as it had been last minute plans and he felt up for it on the day. As the sober partner your heart sinks a little more. You feel that you are not a priority and might even feel like your partner doesn’t even enjoy spending time with you. It also is easy to start putting your life on hold. You don’t make plans for your friends or yourself in case your boyfriend decides out of the blue that today is a good day to see you.
Because getting stoned allow most people an escapism from any emotions they may be feeling, it’s safe to jump to the conclusion that if you start in your teens and smoke regularly for X amount of years, you will not develop a good strategy to deal with your emotions. You’d probably also be very sensitized to feeling anything, meaning the slightest hurt or anger makes you uncomfortable. Most people cope with this by just smoking more. Emotions like hurt, guilt, anger etc are uncomfortable, granted. But when we feel them that uncomfortable feeling is there to teach us something. If you don’t allow yourself to feel these feelings, you will not become very good at avoiding what behaviors or situations make you feel that way. If there was conflict between me and my ex, or I brought something up which I wanted to discuss, My ex very often demonstrated behaviours similar to that of a teenage boy. He’d shut down and refused to discuss, he’d blackmail me through threatening to end the relationship, he’d become incredibly defensive and would often ‘punish’ me for days afterwards through getting in touch with me a lot less than I was used to or being cold towards me. This made me very frustrated but also hurt. When you express a need or desire to the person who loves you (within reason, and my needs were definitely within reason) and they don’t show any desire to compromise to make the relationship better and address that hurt, it makes you really question their commitment and love. With that of course comes insecurities and anxiety. Having a discussion or argument with someone who responds like a 16 year old, when you are both well into your 30s also becomes draining. You know an adult mature conversation is all it takes yet you find yourself roped into 3-day fights, resentment, blame-games and all the rest.
It’s only with hindsight I can now see so many of the things I’m listing here with clarity. With distant personality I mean little genuine interest in what goes on around you. My ex would ask about my day but I soon realized how forced it sounded and conversations were difficult and felt a bit ‘fake’ unless alcohol or cocaine was involved. We’d go for a walk and run out of ‘normal’ things to talk about and I can’t count the times we’d be hanging out together on the couch, him absorbed with his laptop, me kind of just floating next to him, reading or watching TV. Not a word said for sometimes hours. Again, this is fine when you have a solid past behind you but in your first few months? And to any stoners reading this who think they function absolutely fine when lean: to anyone who knows you and who is present there is an absolute change in the atmosphere and they pick up on it. You may feel normal, but take mine and your sober partners word for it: you really appear very very different. It’s hard to pinpoint but to most people who’s with you it’s unsettling.
Delayed uptake of information:
I would convey something to my ex and often be met by; ‘let me think of that’ or ‘I need time to process that’ only for him to seemingly forget about it all together. It wasn’t complicated stuff in most cases.
Lack of enthusiasm:
This goes along with irritability perhaps, but it’s hurtful and draining for a positive, optimistic and happy sober partner to constantly be met with negative responses to suggestions of things to do, not much engagement and no smiles to funny stories, no laughter, no zest for life, no excitement about the future etc etc
There it is. My one (and only) experience dating a chronic weed smoker. From the reading I have done, my story is not by any means unusual. My ex fell in love with me, wanted a future with me, wanted children with me, was proud over me, felt absolutely so lucky to be with me, yet now he has lost me. And I of course have lost him. I can’t be angry with him. In fact I spent many weeks after our split feeling very sorry for him and like I had abandoned him. Although it took me a few months to make the connection between the drugs and his behaviour, once I confronted him about it he ended up defending and choosing his addiction over us.
I’ve listed the things which made our relationship impossible. But in between these behaviours and issues were of course moments of bliss. A lot of love and a lot of wonderful times. I think these times are what kept me stuck for a few months. I fell in love and I didn’t want the good times to end. It still hurts a lot thinking about ‘what could have been’ but I suspect that’s just an illusion we get lost in when our dreams and fantasies are shattered.
I’ve moved on and if you find yourself in a similar situation to mine then I hope you can too. To any smokers out there struggling with relationships and not understanding why: I really hope you will start listening to the people close to you and trust that they really do see the World more clearly than you ever can. I hope you can realize that it is time to stop making excuses for this horrible drug. It’s not innocent or harmless, it’s ruining lives. You will never quite see just how much until you become free. I wish everyone the best.