This week’s question comes from Terri:
“Hello Orna and Matthew,
I’ve been dating this guy for about 5 months and for the most part it has been really great. He’s really sweet and we talk a lot and I’m really attracted to him. I want it to work out. It’s just that he smokes a lot of pot and I don’t. I’ve never really been into it. I don’t even drink that much. One drink and I’m pretty much done for the night. He told me he’s been smoking for years and it isn’t a problem. He’s got a great job and makes good money so it’s not he’s a useless stoner. But, he smokes pretty regularly – at least 5 to 6 times a week. I have asked him to quit numerous times, but he insists that he can stop whenever he wants and that he is not addicted. I feel like he doesn’t respect me or my wishes. It really hurts me that he won’t quit or at least cut back. I’m worried about him. What steps can I take to help him and if I can’t, is it best for me to leave the relationship?”
Thanks for reaching out to us. We want you to know that we’re sharing from a place of “Tough Love,” so please be prepared that we are here to support you in having a viewpoint that can be completely new to you.
It can be difficult to date someone who has a different lifestyle than we do. Especially if we feel that we need this person to change in order for the relationship to work out.
From what you wrote it doesn’t sound like his smoking marijuana is causing him any problems. You told us he has a good job and makes good money, that the communication is good between you two, and you’re attracted to him.
It seems that the real problem is how you feel about his behavior. You see, your boyfriend is just being himself. And part of being himself is smoking pot 5-6 times a week. Now we are neither condoning nor condemning his habit. Just noting it as a fact of who he is as a person.
The red flag for us is your response to his habit. First asking him to change, and then taking it personally when he doesn’t. We have a saying that helps us define who has responsibility in any conflict. It goes like this, “When someone has a problem with me, it is their problem. When I have a problem with someone, it is my problem.”
You have a problem with his habit and you’re trying to make it his problem. To be frank, this is not his problem, it’s your problem. And the problem is that you are putting responsibility for your feelings onto him. Specifically you are interpreting his actions as a lack of respect for you, and then you are hurt by his “lack of respect.”
Your feeling hurt by his behavior is your problem. We are assuming that he had this habit before the two of you met.
The key is to realize that you’re being triggered by his behavior, and that you are the only one responsible for your own feelings.
The real question is: How do you own your feelings and stop blaming him?
The first step is to acknowledge that respect (or lack of respect) is part of your relationship pattern. We are certain that if you looked over your past relationships that you would discover a similar pattern, where you felt a “lack of respect.”
The next step is to own your feelings. Having a conversation with him where you share how you feel without asking him to change anything, and with you accepting full responsibility for your emotions.
Where you go from here is entirely up to you. Can you be in a long-term relationship with a man who smokes marijuana regularly?
Love and Abundance,