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“My Boyfriend Lied to Me About His Drug Use”

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a year and a half now, and he’s been a really great guy up until lately. Within the last week things have become very complicated and I’m finding it difficult to tell whether or not I’m overreacting. Last summer, we were out with friends and while walking from one bar to another a friend of his offered him some marijuana and he smoked it. We had a big fight about the whole thing and I explained that drug use was kind of a deal-breaker for me due to past family issues with drugs, not to mention that I would soon be starting an internship as a substance abuse counselor as part of my graduate studies in social work.

Fast forward to a week ago and I come to find out that he used marijuana with a friend one other night and hadn’t told me about it because he was worried about how I would react. He apologized a number of times and seemed very genuine. Then, the next night he let me know that it hadn’t just been him and one other friend — it had been him and 3, maybe 4 other friends from work. I was once again really upset because he hadn’t told me the entire truth and had made it seem like he was genuinely sorry about everything but he really couldn’t have been that sorry if he didn’t even fess up the entire story. He said he didn’t tell me because he didn’t want me to have negative feelings towards his work friends.

Then, five days later he let me know that during finals last semester he took an Adderall so he could get all of his studying done (he’s a law student). I’m angry; I understand his fears of telling me because he thought I would react badly but I can’t get over the fact that he’s broken my trust and it feels like there’s no honesty in this relationship. I want to forgive him but at the same time I don’t because I worry that he’ll see that as an excuse to behave badly in the future — he will think he can get away with it. But, I have to wonder: am I overreacting? Am I right to be so upset? I can understand why he was afraid to tell me everything at once but I still feel betrayed. — That’s a Deal-Breaker!


You need to MOA, sister, and not necessarily because your boyfriend lied to you — although I suppose if your trust in him is shattered, that would be a good enough reason — but because you clearly have different values and it isn’t fair for either of you to compromise yourselves for each other. Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is about your boyfriend smoking pot a couple of times or popping an Adderall to help him study. Sure, you can argue that it’s illegal, but I happen to think some of the drug laws in our country are seriously ridiculous. But that’s me. That’s my value call. You, obviously, have different values and that’s perfectly fine. You have your own personal history, experiences and reasons for arriving at your values, and there’s no reason you should have to compromise those for anyone. But the thing is, the same can be said for your boyfriend.

You’ve made it clear to him what your values are, and through his actions he’s made it clear he has different values. I mean, he’s apologized for disappointing you and lying to you, but has he at any point promised not do it again? And if he has, do you believe he’ll keep his word? Or do you suppose he’s now come clean because he wants you to accept that you have different values and be with him anyway?

Obviously, for you, not sharing the same values is a deal-breaker. So, rather than keep your boyfriend on a short leash and make him conform to your value system, which he’s already shown you he isn’t interested in doing, let him go. Let him find a woman for whom his behavior won’t be a deal-breaker. And in return, you’ll be free to find someone who shares your no-tolerance policy on drug use. That way, your boyfriend no longer has to feel that he’s disappointing his girlfriend, and you no longer have to feel like you’re with someone you can’t trust. Win-win for everyone.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

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{ 156 comments… add one }

avatar ReginaRey April 20, 2011, 9:30 am

I’ve been in the same situation as you, LW. I knew when I began dating my current boyfriend (about 2 years ago) that he smoked pot. I didn’t know how often, but I guessed maybe one or twice a week. I didn’t like it, but I began dating him officially with the hope that if this became serious, he’d eventually stop if it was important to me. During the first few weeks, I discovered that he smoked more than I had assumed, and it really bothered me…and like you, it bothered me that he hid how often he did it. Flashforward a few months – Soon after my boyfriend told me he loved me, he stopped smoking. He said: “I hated seeing how much I hurt you…smoking wasn’t worth that.”

Point is, it doesn’t really matter if your boyfriend (or anyone else) thinks you’re overreacting. Some people, like me, take issue with any illegal substances (and the effect they have on people you love). No matter how up-tight or crazy some people might think that opinion is, you’re entitled to it, and it’s not wrong for you to want a partner who can share in that ideal. Bottom line – if your boyfriend isn’t willing to give up pot and adderall (as harmless as HE might think they are), then this isn’t the right relationship for you.

And honestly…that sentiment goes for relationships in general. If you feel strongly about a certain life value, you shouldn’t have to compromise it. We’re not talking “I only want to date men who make over 100k.” We’re talking “I don’t want to date someone who does illegal drugs” or “I want to date someone with a religious background.” Everyone has a set of values and morals that are key to who they are. If you and your partner aren’t able to meld your value sets together, it isn’t going to work.

avatar cat-i-z April 20, 2011, 9:58 am

Great response ReginaRey!

avatar hana April 20, 2011, 12:17 pm

I agree with you 100% ReginaRey.

I had a very similar situation, except with a different outcome. I began dating my ex about 2 months after he quit smoking weed. But while we were dating (2 yr off/on relationship) he began smoking again. He had also quit harder drugs and began doing those again but I didn’t know that part. I didn’t question it because I thought I was in love and due to previous experiences thought the way he acted was the way men were supposed to treat me. I went through one bad experience after another with him, mostly stemming from his drug use and our joint friends drug use. Eventually he began doing hard drugs again and he broke up with me because of his dependancy on the drugs.
Now I am not saying this will happen to the LW or that her boyfriend is like this at all. And obviously RR’s boyfriend is a nice guy who wanted to make it work with her. My ex was a bad person beyond drug use and someone I should never have been dealing with.
However LW, I would suggest keeping your values. You will be able to find a man who matches them. You can talk to your bf about it again, but if you have no faith in him or he is not willing to quit, it may be better to just move on. Another reason to move on would be your internship. I don’t know how strict the rules are where you are working, but my friend had an internship like that and if she was caught with someone else who was smoking/doing drugs/drinking to access she would have been fired. f course, we went to a very strict, religious University.

Just for the record, I don’t smoke pot but I agree with Wendy that some drug laws in this country are ridiculous. I have a lot of friends who do this and t doe snot bother me one bit. What upsets me is the excuses people make for their actions because of this. I am against harder drugs due to family that I have seen suffer form them.

avatar cdj0815 April 20, 2011, 12:19 pm

Ditto!

avatar Bellz April 20, 2011, 3:22 pm

The same goes for the flipside — if you aren’t willing to compromise on the issue and let your boyfriend smoke pot and take adderall once in a while, this isn’t the right relationship for him. Either way, he is going to do what he wants to do.

avatar Fairhaired Child April 22, 2011, 1:16 am

There are a lot of hot debates on this subject but I love your response the most. I have dated a number of exboyfriends who have smoked pot, or used other substances, and while its not my cup of tea, I did not hold it against them. I was definately hurt though when it was hidden from me rather than given to me up straight in a relationship – because then I second guessed a lot of “past conversations” etc.

My current boyfriend actually stopped doing drugs a year before we met (because he had to – he actually got in trouble with the law). Its eye opening for me when him and I discuss his past drug use and how it affected his life and how he’s glad he stopped for many reasons. I think that it wouldn’t have been a deal breaker for me, given my own history with ex boyfriends, but the way that he discribed how he behaved I think eventually it would have. He actually was really interested in this post and reading some of the responses because he thought “this could have been about me a few years ago.” He did pot almost daily, as well as occasionally using some other drugs, and not only did he feel that he had to hide it from everyone, but that while he thorougly enjoyed it he also felt he couldnt trust anyone with the knowledge that he did drugs besides other people who used drugs. Its sad for me when we talk about how he felt when he was doing it, and how he sees how he acted after the fact and that he’s glad that he got caught so that he could be forced to clean up, no matter how angry it made him at first.

I’m glad your boyfriend stopped for you. It seems like he is a very wonderful person to make a decision to better, not only himself, but his relationship with you since it ment so much to you.

avatar kerrycontrary April 20, 2011, 9:31 am

Yeh, I think this relationship is doomed…I don’t think its unreasonable for you to want a drug free boyfriend, but this guy clearly isn’t it. Early on in college I was 100 percent against any kind of drug use in a guy I was a dating. Although my boyfriend at the time complied, I later realized that it’s ridiculous to try and control someone else. Like Wendy said, you have different values which is a recipe for disaster in the long run.

avatar LolaBeans April 20, 2011, 9:33 am

I agree with Wendy.

You have these set values due to your past and personal beliefs. I just think your boyfriend will let you down time and time again.. because he doesnt have those same values as you. and thats ok, nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong with trying to instill your values on him.. especially if he isn’t willing, which he doesn’t seem to be.
I’d say MOA and try to find someone similar to the views that you have.

avatar sarita_f April 20, 2011, 9:38 am

I have nothing to add – I 100% agree with everything Wendy said (and I take her same view on *relatively* benign recreational drug use) and everything ReginaRey said about not compromising.

avatar Addie Pray April 20, 2011, 9:41 am

Good advice. When I saw the first line in Wendy’s advice (“You need to MOA…”), I was a little shocked. That is not where I would have gone after reading the letter. I would’ve said something like, “oh geez, no big deal, relax.” I mean, he’s a lawstudent (or a lawyer now?), I’m assuming he has his shit together (ie, the sporadic pot use is not making him stupid), and it doesn’t even sound like he does this regularly. …. But then I would be imposing my values on the LW, and Wendy did a good job of not doing that. I think we all have a tendancy to do this. [Remember that LW from several weeks ago that wanted her boyfriend to agree to raise their kids Jewish, to not celebrate Christmas, to not take the kids to church, etc.? A lot of us (me included) acted a little negatively to her, but she knew what she wanted and should not have to compromise.] Well, this LW need not compromise either. But first, LW, find out if he is promising to not do it again (and if you can trust that) or like Wendy said if he is coming clean because he wants you to accept that you have different values (which you need not accept). I’d hate for you to throw the relationship away because of a few indiscretions that he intends to not let happen again…

avatar Addie Pray April 20, 2011, 11:20 am

*gasp* – a purple thumb!? pussy. (i just wanted to use this word.)

avatar Amy April 20, 2011, 11:27 am

Shame on you -you made me laugh out loud while drinking coffee at work – I spit it on my computer. I like what you said in your first comment too. We always think we are right – but we’re much nicer people when we let everyone be who they are too. Now… hopefully I don’t have to call the IT guy for liquid in my laptop…. again.

avatar demoiselle April 20, 2011, 9:55 am

LW: “Drug use was kind of a deal-breaker for me due to past family issues with drugs, not to mention that I would soon be starting an internship as a substance abuse counselor as part of my graduate studies in social work.”

LW’s boyfriend has shown deep disrespect and indifference towards her on two counts: first, she has a painful family history with drugs that he has blown off; second, his actions are in direct opposition to her professional position. He could really harm her–for a social worker needs to have a certain moral authority. She can’t be dating someone who is buying drugs from her clients. He could ruin her professional reputation. And if her clients knew (which, in a small county, they easily would), they would not respect her as a drug counselor one iota!

Plus, although he may not have known about her family situation originally, once he knew about their drug issues, he should have been quick to refrain out of consideration for her feelings.

I’m not personally morally opposed to occasional use of pot, for instance, but this is not a good situation, and it’s about more than just different values.

avatar demoiselle April 20, 2011, 10:13 am

Do you not believe that a boyfriend or husband’s drug use could be professionally damaging to a social worker?

avatar sarolabelle April 20, 2011, 10:32 am

I don’t believe that….

avatar demoiselle April 20, 2011, 11:31 am

I think that it has the potential to be very damaging. Often, social workers are state employees. My mother, who is a social worker, is frequently in court testifying about drug use. She and her co-workers must mandate and conduct drug tests, which have serious consequences in terms of custody. She meets with parents who are about to lose their kids because they are strung out on drugs, and meets with kids who are failing because of pot use, and she has to try to get them into treatment and recovery.

She works in a small county. The great majority of the people who she works with are from a very small sub-set of the community. They are often sleeping with each other, doing drugs with each other, and buying drugs from each other. The police know who they are, the judges know who they are, the lawyers know who they are, and the teachers know who they are. If her boyfriend/husband is visiting the dealers, people will know. And that will undermine her credibility with everyone in the system, from her boss to her judge to the very people she’s trying to treat. I think that this situation would be made worse by the fact that she is in addiction treatment (my mother was in foster care prevention).

There is no anonymity.

avatar LolaBeans April 20, 2011, 11:41 am

thats a little extreme in this case, i’d think.

avatar demoiselle April 20, 2011, 11:47 am

Why do you think so? (just curious)

avatar Christy April 20, 2011, 12:02 pm

Personally, I think so because I would bet serious money that the LW’s boyfriend has never purchased pot. It sounds like he has been offered some, casually, at parties, and he’s accepted. Twice in 18 months certainly does not require purchase.

avatar demoiselle April 20, 2011, 12:11 pm

Perhaps. And it may be that he really is a casual smoker who will gladly give it up. I’m concerned because he’s hidden stuff from her, though. Perhaps he’s a more regular user than he’s let on so far?

I tend to err in the direction of being too stringent rather than too permissive, when I post on these sites. I fear that in general women think it’s necessary to compromise–and that their definition of compromise is actually to give up on things that are really important to themselves so as to not be alone.

I’d hate to see this woman risk her career–or her sense of safety in her own relationship (due to her family history). I watched a dear friend lose her much-wanted career as a police officer because she married a three-strike felon/embezzler. She was so sure he’d changed …

avatar Christy April 20, 2011, 12:54 pm

Gotcha. Coincidentally, I feel the same way about Democrats–compromising doesn’t mean giving up almost everything and then triumphing over a small shred of your original goal.

avatar demoiselle April 20, 2011, 1:05 pm

And isn’t it interesting the democrats and liberal values are often portrayed in a feminized fashion?

avatar Christy April 20, 2011, 2:56 pm

Definitely, demoiselle. Think about it–Don’t be a pussy. Grow some balls. It’s very gender-oriented with female as weak and male as strong.

Skyblossom Skyblossom April 20, 2011, 3:30 pm

I came from a small community just like you described and it would definitely harm your career.

avatar LolaBeans April 20, 2011, 10:42 am

I think it could be damaging if he is a daily user. it seems like he does it occassionally….

avatar NolaGirl April 20, 2011, 10:49 am

I do. And frankly if it’s a big issue for her – it’s a total deal breaker for the relationship. A person’s values are core to who they are, and if LW has expressed her feelings with the boyfriend – and she does have a legitimate issue with it – and he still disrespects her like this, I think it’s time to count your losses and move on.

Personally I don’t see a little pot use here or there is a big deal, BUT, honestly I’m not sure I could spend my time with someone who lied to me about something like this. It’s one thing if he sat down and said “pot is important to me” and they dealt with their differences like adults and came to a compromise. However, it looks like in this case, he is taking to subterfuge rather than actually working out a compromise with LW or even giving up smoking pot. I’d always wonder what he’s not telling me. But that’s just me.

avatar hana April 20, 2011, 12:26 pm

I absolutely agree with this. It does not matter if he is buying pot or not or if he is the occasional user. If he is stupid enough to post photos of himself on FB or something and people see it knowing they are dating it reflects on her. I have had this happen to me, and my friends have had it happen to them.

While I do not think he has a drug problem at all based on the letter or that he is smoking all day everyday, I have to say it only takes one time. The risk is very low for her because I doubt he would smoke around her, but what if one day he got in trouble and expected her to pull some strings or she was walking out with him and her boss happened to run into her and see the bf smoking a j. It would absolutely be damaging.

Heather Heather April 20, 2011, 11:40 am

You guys, regardless of whether or not it’s a big deal for US that he chooses to do these, I personally don’t think it’s that bad, but it’s a deal breaker for her. And as someone who also has a really awful family history with drug abuse (my brother was an addict for somewhere around 11 years) I can completely understand where she’s coming from. I don’t think his drug use seems that bad, personally. But either way, the relationship doesn’t seem like it can work out.

avatar NolaGirl April 20, 2011, 11:45 am

Here here! That’s what I was trying to get at ;) Who cares what we think about pot use. It’s what SHE thinks she can live with. Regardless of what it is that the issue is – lying is the big issue for me. Even little white lies can eat away at a relationship and trust.

Heather Heather April 20, 2011, 2:01 pm

Right! There just doesn’t seem like there’s any way to compromise. She has a no tolerance policy, and with her family history and future line of work ambitions, it really is understandable. But anything happening would require either him to give up what he obviously wants to do (or continue lying to protect her feelings), or forcing her to be comfortable with something she’s really not.

Differences are a good thing, but you cannot be different in your core values if you truly want to have a happy relationship. I have seen and experienced that many times, and stand by it.

avatar kali April 20, 2011, 12:30 pm

Apparently no one believes drug use is detrimental to a future career in law?

avatar HmC April 20, 2011, 1:03 pm

Lawyers are notorious drunks. Pot smoking would be a step up from that. :)

Really though, the ABA is similar to the federal government in that it doesn’t care much about pot, so long as you’re not selling it.

avatar Addie Pray April 20, 2011, 1:52 pm

As a lawyer, I can drink to that!

avatar Spark April 21, 2011, 6:32 pm

Maybe, but the state bar would give him an awfully hard time about a cannabis arrest.

The standards are different for those who are already admitted and those who are trying to get in.

avatar demoiselle April 20, 2011, 1:07 pm

It could be detrimental, of course. And it’s not a good sign for his study skills if he needs a stimulant in order to cram for exams. That’s a bad habit even in college, let alone graduate school. But I’m not really concerned in this letter about the damage he could do to his own career–I think that’s a separate issue from what the LW is trying to address.

avatar LTC039 April 20, 2011, 1:47 pm

Sorry demoiselle, but that’s a little judgemental. Just because someone uses medication doesn’t mean it’s a “bad habit.” Depending on HOW they use it, is what defines that. There is absolutely nothing wrong in someone using Adderrall to study for a test. If taken responsibly, it helps A LOT. & like I said, I’m sure being a law student isn’t easy & I know their exams require tons & tons of memorization.

avatar ReginaRey April 20, 2011, 1:56 pm

Just want to address the “absolutely nothing wrong” sentiment – A lot of schools, my alma mater being one of them, have extremely strict honor codes that prohibited use of drugs like Adderall to use to study (and use of drugs, period). It’s something that can get you kicked out of school if you’re taking it illegally…so I definitely think there’s something wrong with it in THAT instance.

avatar sarolabelle April 20, 2011, 1:59 pm

well guess there goes caffine then…

avatar LTC039 April 20, 2011, 1:59 pm

That’s completely true. But I meant in the moral sense. Saying that it’s a sign of “bad habits” because he used Adderrall to study for his exams is judgemental. Sorry. Maybe because I used to take Adderrall I’m a little bias. I did have a prescription, but I know many people that went through nursing school & took a pill to study for a big test & never touched it again. I think it’s harsh what she said.

avatar demoiselle April 20, 2011, 2:38 pm

Perhaps it was harsh.

However, I do think that it is important to develop study skills early which will allow you to study over time, rather than cramming for exams or to finish papers. Unfortunately, high-pressure work and deadlines don’t go away after college or law school. If using a performance enhancing drug is a one-time thing (or used rarely and responsibly) and isn’t against honor codes, it may not be a big deal.

But if it becomes a pattern, I do think it’s a bad habit to develop. There will always be some kind of looming deadline. Why not learn techniques for handling the work-load without a performance enhancing drug? Or if one is actually ADD, why not see a doctor and get a prescription?

avatar LTC039 April 20, 2011, 2:58 pm

Ehh. Her letter indicated he only used it once. Unless she left out other times he used, I still don’t see what the big deal is. That’s really what I was getting out. *I* personally don’t see the problem. My point is the same. It’s clearly a big deal for *her*, she’s the one in the relationship. She needs to understand she cannot change him, if she demands he stops all together he’ll either do it behind her back or dump her. Unless they BOTH come to an agreement & understanding, this relationship is doomed.

avatar Maracuya April 20, 2011, 2:40 pm

I think demoiselle was talking more abstractly about cramming for exams. I think most people will agree that pulling an all-nighter before the test isn’t an extremely effective way to study.

avatar Spark April 21, 2011, 6:36 pm

Taking Adderall in law school is like taking steroids in baseball. It’s not fair, and it hurts those who play by the rules. Law schools grade on a curve. When I was in law school, I would never have dared to take a drug, although I know people who did. I wouldn’t have taken it for health reasons–Adderall is a stimulant that can cause heart palpitations and worse. For most of us, the risk isn’t worth it. And it’s unfair when someone else forces your grade down (by virtue of the curve) because he broke the rule.

It’s like saying cheating (on a test) isn’t a big deal cause it doesn’t hurt other people. Copying your friend’s answers on a math test won’t make her grade go down, but it’s still wrong and unfair. And against the rules.

avatar TheGirl April 20, 2011, 1:08 pm

Based on the many lawyers I have met, it is not.

avatar LTC039 April 20, 2011, 1:48 pm

Pot isn’t really a drug.

avatar TECH April 20, 2011, 9:58 am

Wendy’s got a point, if your basic core beliefs and values do not match up, this guy is probably not a good match for you. And while I don’t know your personal values or family history, I still would have to say your intolerance of occasional marijuana use does seem a little extreme. Wendy makes a good point that American drug laws are extremely skewed. Why is it okay for him to drink alcohol (you did mention he went to a bar) but not smoke weed occasionally? If it’s not interfering with his life, what is the big deal? Millions of Americans use marijuana recreationally (even medically) and find the benefits outweigh the side effects.
Perhaps my personal experience is uncommon (I don’t think it is) but I don’t know anyone who hasn’t used marijuana at least a few times in their life. Many use it occasionally. Some even use it daily. On a personal note, my boyfriend uses medical marijuana as it approved by his neurologist. And while I am not thrilled he uses it, I’ve learned to live with it because I don’t see it having an overall negative impact on his life. Of course, this is just my opinion, and if it’s not something you can live with — you’ve just answered your own question. It’s not something you can live with.
Your boyfriend probably thought of it as a “white lie” not letting you know about his marijuana use. There are far greater betrayals in life.

avatar Kate April 20, 2011, 10:27 am

I’ve never used it, nor would I.

Whether her views are extreme or not, the point is the LW has an issue with her BF using. But like you said, she cannot live with it and MOA.

eelavocado eel avocado April 20, 2011, 10:01 am

I had the same thing happen with my college boyfriend. He smoked weed many times one summer, didn’t tell me about it, and then confessed in August. I wasn’t OK with it. We had a very calm discussion about his drug use and lying, and he broke up with me the next day. Then we got back together (big whoops) a week later. I was persuaded to smoke with him occasionally. We dated for 9 more months, but broke up again because he felt like I was his mom in the relationship. The bottom line is that I could never become OK with his drug use (and lying) because of my values. As much as I tried to accept it, it was a dealbreaker for me. At the same time, he felt guilty whenever he would light up. We let each other go and now we’re both living happier lives because of it. (And now I’m with a guy who shares my values 100%.)

avatar Kate April 20, 2011, 10:02 am

LW should MOA, because she already stated drugs are a deal breaker for her. Like Wendy and other said, it’s not even about the lying, it’s that he doesn’t respect your feelings on this issue.

Personally, the lying part of it would really irritate me (on top of the drug use). I dated a guy in the past who sounds much worse than this BF. He lied about drugs regularly to me. So, not only was I mad all the time about the drugs, I felt like a nag, constantly asking about his activities and his friends, and then even madder when he would lie about it. It became clear that it was NOT going to work and we broke up.

avatar LolaBeans April 20, 2011, 10:12 am

Is he lying or is he omitting it?
Do they go through every minute of their day when they aren’t together etc. Maybe he just didnt think it was a big deal or just didn’t feel the need to tell her.

avatar Kate April 20, 2011, 10:15 am

I got the impression the BF DOES know she thinks it’s a big deal. So it seems like he is lying.

avatar Christy April 20, 2011, 12:04 pm

I actually got the opposite impression–the LW mentioned “bringing it up” only after she’d discovered that her bf had smoked. Maybe he knew the family history but didn’t know it would be such a big deal.

avatar ape escape April 20, 2011, 11:04 am

I mean, I feel like he is lying by omitting it since he undoubtedly knows it’s a big deal to her. But…I kind of don’t blame him. Not that it’s a complete excuse or anything, but smoking twice in a year (or whatever), in his thinking, is probably not enough to warrant what he might assume would be a huge blow-up crazy flip-out argument.

(I’m, of course, making an assumption, but from the tone of the LW’s letter, I have to think it’s likely that that would be the case…)

avatar hana April 20, 2011, 12:36 pm

I feel like in this situation omitting is just as bad as lying, to the LW.

Hey, people omit that they cheated sometimes. Does that make it ok because they weren’t lying?

If he knew it was such a big deal to the LW he should have told her honestly, not done it or broken up with her if he can’t live without it.

avatar LolaBeans April 20, 2011, 2:31 pm

maybe he didn’t tell her so that he could avoid a reaction like this. the guy is just trying to have fun with his buddies.
sigh.

avatar BoomChakaLaka April 20, 2011, 10:12 am

I’m with Wendy here, but would like to emphasize that no one is really in the wrong here. LW is right for having her beliefs and not wanting her BF to lie to her, and the BF for enjoying himself and not trying to hurt LW.

LW, if you really want to try to work things out, I would come out and ask your BF if he would be willing to give up smoking for you. Of course, this could set the stage for him sneaking around and smoking behind your back, but maybe he could be upfront with it and say, no. Which in that case, you’ll have your clear answer right there. But I would definitely communicate to him (not in an accusatory manner, but in a seriously concerned about his welfare/the relationship manner) and let him know that this is disappointing you and you really can’t live with it.

avatar LTC039 April 20, 2011, 10:20 am

It’s simple…You either learn to accept him for who he is (clearly he has his shit together, as someone else pointed out), or you MOA. To be in a successful relationship you must learn to accept the person for WHO THEY ARE. If that’s not something you can accept, then you can’t be in a relationship with that person. You cannot change him, no matter how hard you try. He can only change himself. End of story.

avatar ReginaRey April 20, 2011, 10:59 am

True, and it works both ways – He can also accept HER for who SHE is, and give up smoking. If he’s willing to give it up, then it’s not that big of a deal to him and the relationshop outweighs the smoking. If he’s not, then he feels just as firmly about smoking as she feels about NOT smoking, and it’s time to MOA.

avatar LTC039 April 20, 2011, 11:17 am

Yeah. I meant that. That’s why I said only *he* can change himself. If he wants to give it up all together, great! But it has to be his choice. If he’s lied to her about it several times & hasn’t promised to stop, then it sounds like he’ll just do it again & not tell her anymore. He may have even done it more times than he’s admitted. Who knows?
I just know that if a relationship gets to the point where one person is trying to force their values on their partner, its unneccessary. Focus on yourself & MOA.

avatar cmarie April 20, 2011, 11:19 am

Or she could get over it and accept him for who He is. This could go around and around all day but the fact remains neither of them should have to give up their values. Just because he chooses to not give up smoking to please her doesn’t mean he values smoking over the relationship, it just means that he values his independence and ability to make his own decisions of the relationship (which is understandable). I agree that she needs to MOA but not because I think he’s wrong or I think he’s disrespectfuly, I think he is his own person who does marijuana every once in a while. I’m going to apply a Dan Savagism here: better to be with that he be an open marijuana smoker (couple times a year) than a liar with a cocaine habit. Of course that’s just my opinion. Nobody is in the wrong here and for everybody’s sake the relationship needs to end. She shouldn’t compromise her no tolerance policy and he shouldn’t compromise his independence.

avatar ReginaRey April 20, 2011, 11:38 am

Yeah, that’s basically what I said way up there in my first long comment. I just wanted to make sure it was clear that just as he shouldn’t compromise, she shouldn’t either. This is one of those things that’s never going to change or be worked out, if both are strong in their separate stances…and that’s alright!

avatar LTC039 April 20, 2011, 12:13 pm

Yupp. It’s as simple as that. They both can either compromise, or end it.

avatar cmarie April 20, 2011, 2:18 pm

I totally agree with everything you said, and it could just be me seeing things again, I just disagree that if he refused to give up smoking it will be because he value smoking over her. I would say that in the majority of cases (not extreme, living on the street meth addict cases) when people decide to end a relationship because they don’t want to give something up it’s more because they don’t want to give up their independence and decision making abilities. You wouldn’t stay with someone if they demanded that you stop seeing a friend because nobody has the right to demand that you amend your behavior. Of course, this only applies to certain circumstances where said “bad” behavior isn’t putting anyone in danger.

avatar ReginaRey April 20, 2011, 2:46 pm

No, you’re definitely right. When people choose not to give something up, it’s usually because they value their independence and don’t want someone telling them what to do. If he gave up smoking, it doesn’t mean smoking is more important than the relationship. BUT, if he decided to give up smoking because it was important to her, then in THAT reverse instance, I think it’s true that he ultimately valued the relationship over smoking occasionally.

avatar ReginaRey April 20, 2011, 2:47 pm

whoops! meant to say if he DOESN’T give up smoking in that 3rd sentence

avatar cmarie April 20, 2011, 2:58 pm

Agreed.

avatar HmC April 20, 2011, 1:07 pm

I agree with your comment, but I want to point out that being a law student does NOT automatically mean you have your shit together. Plenty of people are in law school for the wrong reasons, and they drink and party far too much due to the stress. Long term, tons of lawyers turn into drunks… functional drunks usually, but not always. And they’re often unhappy.

avatar Spark April 21, 2011, 6:39 pm

I was going to say the same thing! Most of the pot smokers I knew in law school got poor grades and failed the bar the first time around. I don’t think the drug itself did that, of course, but I do think the pot lifestyle was responsible.

avatar PFG-SCR April 20, 2011, 10:27 am

While the LW has a very strong anti-drug stance, her boyfriend is not a regular drug user. He’s smoked pot twice in a year and a half. While he obviously doesn’t share the same view of illegal drugs, given the infrequency of use, it’s unlikely that it’s “that important” to him.

“I understand his fears of telling me because he thought I would react badly but I can’t get over the fact that he’s broken my trust and it feels like there’s no honesty in this relationship.”

To me, this is the bigger concern of the LW – the issue of whether she can trust him again given that he’s lied to her. To say there is no honesty in the relationship seems a bit dramatic – all of this was him trying to soften the blow when he knew she’d react badly. Only the LW can decide if she will be able to get over it and trust him again, but if this is the only time that he’s been dishonest, then I think she needs to realize that people make mistakes, but he wasn’t trying to hurt her.

If this guy is someone that the LW sees a future with, then I think they need to have a serious talk about this – not just the importance of being honest, but her intolerance with any drugs. To me, this might still be salvageable if _he_ is willing to conform to her anti-drug position but given how infrequently he’s used drugs, I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think he might be willing to do that. (He might need to for his own professional reasons, as well.)

avatar TheGirl April 20, 2011, 10:52 am

Actually, you’d be surprised at how many lawyers do LOTS of drugs, not just smoke pot, so I don’t think he would need to quit for professional reasons.

I do agree with you that someone that’s smoked pot twice in over a year might very easily give it up for a good relationship, but I have to question as to whether this guy will give it up… he has not proven that to be the case so far.

avatar randi April 20, 2011, 11:07 am

way more people smoke weed than the LW thinks. a lot of cops in my town pull kids over, scare the crap out of them and make them think they’re going to be arrested for posession, but then just take the weed and let kids go. which i mean, is good, as a warning to the kids never to have it in their car or whatever. but i’m close with a lot of cop families, and more than a few of them have said the cops keep the weed and smoke it or sell it themselves. it’s totally corrupt but it happens everywhere i’m sure.

avatar sarolabelle April 20, 2011, 10:55 am

She doesn’t say it in her letter – but maybe the drug use with the coworkers was before the smoke in between the bars in the Summer? If that’s the case he just didn’t tell her his drug use of the past? We just don’t know…..

avatar TheGirl April 20, 2011, 11:01 am

You know, I re-read the letter and I think you are right! There is a possibility that he’s just letting her know about all his drug ‘indiscretions’ since they started dating because he feels like he needs to clear the air now that he knows how she feels. The LW was not specific as to when everything occurred.

avatar Lindsay April 20, 2011, 11:37 am

Just because she found out doesn’t mean those are the only times. I doubt that after years of college and some law school that he randomly just decided to take adderall or smoke pot for the first time.

avatar Christy April 20, 2011, 12:08 pm

I disagree. I think you can start up with something new at any point, especially when dealing with the newfound stressors of law school.

avatar SpyGlassez April 20, 2011, 3:20 pm

Here, here. I didn’t start drinking till I worked full-time retail, especially at Christmas. And I have DEFINITELY cut back since I quit working retail.

avatar sarolabelle April 20, 2011, 10:43 am

I have to say I see nothing wrong with the Adderall. I wish my boyfriend would take it sometimes. It is a very good, powerful drug that really does help people. You can get it via perscription – so maybe he has a perscription. And even if he doesn’t. If his law buddy gave it to him, I think you need to let that one go. A one time pill to stay awake studying….?

You really need to have a long talk with him about how he feels about marijuana. Would he be okay with his children smoking it? If he really truly sees no problem with it then yes, you have value difference and one of you has to compromise. Either you need to be okay with it or he needs to stop. If neither of you want to compromise well then MOA.

avatar LTC039 April 20, 2011, 10:56 am

Agreed. I’ve taken Adderrall before because I have ADD. It’s VERY helpful & if he’s a law student, I can def. understand him wanting to use it. He most likely has a lot of pressure at school. As long as he’s not abusing it (such as using it at parties, or anything other than for studying) I don’t see what the problem with it is.

avatar Spark April 21, 2011, 6:42 pm

Why does being a law student justify Adderall use? Unless you have a prescription, you shouldn’t use it. Especially because law school is graded on a curve–those who take illegal, performance-enhancing drugs push down grades of the people who are honest and play by the rules.

avatar BoomChakaLaka April 20, 2011, 12:35 pm

Actually, you don’t necessarily need a perscription. There’s definitely a market for Adderall on college campuses and let’s just say,not everyone got a doctor’s note for it. Same with painkillers or any type of medication.

Except Advil. I have a lot of that, and no one wants to pay me for it.

avatar sarolabelle April 20, 2011, 1:01 pm

yes, I said that in my comment. If he took one pill from a law student buddy then I don’t see a big deal.

avatar DramaQueen224 April 20, 2011, 1:29 pm

I think the Adderall is a way bigger deal than the pot. I work with kids with some serious attention problems and think Adderall is a wonderful drug that helps many people when prescribed and used correctly. However, if the LW’s boyfriend is using it only for finals there’s no way in hell he’s using it correctly and I seriously doubt he has a prescription. The way he is using it is as a performance enhancer and I think that’s completely morally wrong, like baseball players taking steroids and bicyclists blood doping. Law school is incredibly difficult and competitive and by doing so he is hurting the law students who choose to actually follow the law.

avatar sarolabelle April 20, 2011, 1:30 pm

my gosh – one time is morally wrong? Maybe we can just agree to disagree.

avatar DramaQueen224 April 20, 2011, 1:45 pm

Lying one time is morally wrong, stealing one time is morally wrong and killing someone one time is morally wrong. I agree that it’s better to only do it once than all the time, but it doesn’t make the action any less wrong.

Heather Heather April 20, 2011, 1:54 pm

I can’t tell you what you feel about Adderall is wrong, but at the same time, I just don’t see it on the same level as steroids. A lot of people have a really tough time concentrating, and taking one Adderall to simply sharpen that focus doesn’t seem the equivalent of athletes doping up to give them the upper hand above other athletes.

avatar Spark April 21, 2011, 6:43 pm

But it law school, you are graded against your peers. So it IS a performance enhancer that gives one person an unfair advantage over others.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 20, 2011, 1:47 pm

That’s funny, I actually feel the opposite. I am way less concerned about occasional marijuana use than I am about prescription drug use. Specifically about stimulants (like adderall) and narcotics which have physiological potential for addiction. (Obviously, you can be addicted to anything psychologically- pot, cheese, sex, whatever- so I’m just going to assume that goes without saying.)

I completely agree that she shouldn’t compromise on this, as she clearly feels very strongly.

avatar TheGirl April 20, 2011, 1:57 pm

Ha! I think I might be psychologically addicted to cheddar. I just can’t help myself around it…

avatar ReginaRey April 20, 2011, 1:58 pm

I think I might be one of those cheese addicts you just mentioned…it’s so awesome.

avatar TheGirl April 20, 2011, 2:06 pm

I know, right? I walk by this little Fromagerie every day and I know I shouldn’t go in, but I just can’t help myself! You know its bad when you’re fishing through your purse for change to score a little wedge of gouda.

avatar cmarie April 20, 2011, 3:01 pm

Addiction is such a serious issue and can touch everyone: my cat is a cheese addict. It’s so sad to see him licking cheese off the floor :(

avatar TheGirl April 20, 2011, 3:08 pm

Mine is too! He’s obsessed with nacho cheese Doritos, but he won’t actually eat them – just lick the cheese off of them. Or your fingers if you let him get too close while you are eating them.

avatar cmarie April 20, 2011, 3:16 pm

Goldfish cracker for my little guy. If I drop one I have to get it right away or he has it eating in a matter of seconds. Piggy.

avatar MissDre April 20, 2011, 8:02 pm

Mine goes INSANE whenever I open a yogurt cup…

avatar Christy April 20, 2011, 3:00 pm

My friends like to pose the question, If you had to give up either cheese or oral sex for the rest of your life, which would you give up?

Cheese–I’m gay, so oral sex is rather important.

avatar Christy April 20, 2011, 3:01 pm

But I’d really miss cheese. Like, really miss it.

avatar TheGirl April 20, 2011, 3:06 pm

hmmm… My problem is that I can’t have wheat anymore (damn Celiac’s) so cheese is one of the few delicious things left to me… Oral sex, however, is also one of the few delicious things left to me.

I guess I’m stuck giving up the cheese!

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 20, 2011, 3:36 pm

*sigh* I gave up cheese two weeks ago as an experiment to explore possible lactose sensitivity. I miss it so much.

avatar Kate April 20, 2011, 3:41 pm

Eat aged cheese. It has little to no lactose.

avatar cmarie April 20, 2011, 3:41 pm

But if the enemy of your enemy is a grilled cheese, wouldn’t a grilled cheese be your friend?

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 20, 2011, 3:44 pm

no gluten+no dairy= I am my own worst enemy.

avatar cmarie April 20, 2011, 3:51 pm

*sad face* I know someone who has galactosemia and a gluten intolerance. I feel for you.

avatar Maynard April 20, 2011, 10:58 am

Wendy- good letter for 4/20! Someone pass it this way ;)

Dear Wendy Wendy April 20, 2011, 11:00 am

;)

avatar TheGirl April 20, 2011, 11:02 am

I can’t believe I didn’t think of that!

avatar sarolabelle April 20, 2011, 11:12 am

oh yea….wonder where’s Drew’s photo shop of a joint hanging out of Wendy’s mouth in the banner…ha!

avatar Maynard April 20, 2011, 12:25 pm

That would freaking hilarious! Though if people have an attack over calling someone a pussy then imagine the hate mail that would come along with that!

avatar Mainer April 20, 2011, 11:12 am

Good to know we can always count on you to make these connections, mainard.

avatar Maynard April 20, 2011, 12:24 pm

I totally missed that miles the cat made his first appearance on April fools so I had to redeem myself somehow!

avatar LTC039 April 20, 2011, 12:12 pm

haha I just realized that as well :)

avatar HmC April 20, 2011, 3:48 pm

Lol nice.

avatar randi April 20, 2011, 11:02 am

my ex boyfriend did this very same thing, and i took too long to realize he wasn’t going to change. though, our values are different than yours, he still betrayed my trust.
it started when he went away to school. i made him promise to stick to weed and drinking, and instead, on my birthday, instead of calling me or sending me flowers, or anything like that, he took mushrooms and treated it like any other day. i almost broke up with him right then, but i still liked him, obviously. i made him promise again to stop.
cut to a few months later, when smoking weed started to effect his schoolwork. he was cutting classes to do homework that he didnt get to the night before because he was smoking. i asked him to please, for me, and for our future, to stop smoking and focus. to grow up a little bit. he said he would, and i found out a while later that he had been continuing to smoke behind my back. yet i still forgave him and had him promise me again that he would stop.
he never did. instead, he took up smoking cigarettes! i got really angry, and asked him to stop because it was a dealbreaker. i don’t like liars and i dont date smokers. he said he would.
the next time i found out he’d been smoking (weed AND cigarettes…) was the final straw. i saw that even though i liked him as a person and we had fun together, he didn’t respect me and continually lied to me. it took so long for me to break things off because in the grand scheme of things, not telling me he shared a joint with a few friends really isn’t that big of a deal. but i realzed he wasn’t the type of man i wanted to spend my life with.

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't April 20, 2011, 11:07 am

I agree that the LW needs to cut her losses and MOA. I can understand someone who is becoming a drug and addictions counsellor taking a very strong anti-drug stance, but the bottom line is that the LW and her boyfriend simply have different values.

I personally don’t use weed because I don’t like the way it makes me feel, so I wouldn’t date someone who smoked more than very rarely.

avatar honeybeenicki April 20, 2011, 11:08 am

I definitely need to agree with Wendy that the drug laws in this country are a bit crazy (I mean, REALLY crazy) and to some of us, this response to a few occasional recreational uses of marijuana seems kind of extreme, but I agree with many people – if this is truly an issue of her values or even a trust problem, its time for her to just let go.

We won’t get into my personal feelings about drugs, but I can see how a family history and her chosen career would lead someone to a 0 tolerance drug policy for their loved ones. I am in the criminal justice field and sometimes, I’ve had to just let go of friends who were damaging my career. I don’t know about social work, but in CJ when they do background checks, they DO background checks. They have talked to friends of mine from high school in these checks. I lost a job I loved because my husband was arrested and they had a fraternization policy that stated I couldn’t be involved with anyone who was under the supervision of the Department of Corrections. Mind you, I had worked for them for 4 years, had been married for a short time, and he was arrested after we were married. While mine is a more extreme case, in fields like CJ and probably social work, even occasional drug use by someone close to you can be damaging. The way one of my professor put it was – you can have a big clean tank of water with crystal clear ice in it (“good” friends), but once one turd (“bad” friend) gets in there, it spoils the whole thing and no one wants to drink it.

avatar TheGirl April 20, 2011, 11:12 am

Well that’s…vivid.

avatar honeybeenicki April 20, 2011, 1:52 pm

His little turd in the drinking water tank was the first thing after “Hi class, my name is…” that we heard on the first day of our first class with him. And many of us found it to be quite true. But many of us also didn’t want any water for a few days!

avatar TheGirl April 20, 2011, 1:57 pm

I was totally taking a big swig from a water bottle when I read it too…

avatar SpyGlassez April 20, 2011, 3:24 pm

It isn’t exactly the same, but my karate sensei was going into the police academy a few years ago, and she ended up going to her neighbor downstairs and leaving a little note on his door stating that she was in the academy, and had friends who were cops, and would he mind not smoking pot in his apartment because the smell filtered up to her apartment. He moved shortly thereafter.

mandalee amandalee April 20, 2011, 11:16 am

I completely agree with everyone who stated that the LW needs to just MOA from this situation. Her boyfriend has every right as an adult to make choices on how to live his life. The occasional use of marijuana and Adderall doesn’t seem to effect him living his life as a productive person (being a great boyfriend in all aspects except this, law school, etc). So, it’s just a personal lifestyle choice of his. It’s a common reaction that once someone overreacts (in their eyes) to something they see no problem with, they will hide or lie about it. This is where the trouble starts in the relationship.

I can see the LW’s view on this also, so if this truly is a dealbreaker for her careerwise and personal wise, then she needs to move on. They are both adults entitled to their opinion about things like this, and unless someone wants to change his habits on his own, it’s never going to change. Compatibility is so important in a relationship especially on values- which clearly there is a disagreement on here.

landygirl Landy April 20, 2011, 12:08 pm

Dear LW,

Love someone for who they are, not what you want or expect them to be. Just as you shouldn’t have to change for him to accept you, he shouldn’t need to change for you to accept him. When you keep trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, you’ll only be frustrated. There is someone out there that is a better fit for you, you’re trying to make him conform to your ideals isn’t fair to either of you. Good luck.

L

avatar slamy April 20, 2011, 12:27 pm

MOA so that he can find someone who understands it’s no big deal to smoke a little weed and maybe take one Adderall ONCE. He wants a girlfriend, not a second mother.

avatar slamy April 20, 2011, 4:50 pm

okay, okay. It’s a big deal to her. So she should find someone to whom it is also a big deal.

Happy 4-20, anyways.

avatar LTC039 April 20, 2011, 6:14 pm

No. I think you were pretty on point, actually. lol

avatar Teresa April 20, 2011, 12:39 pm

Usually, I read ALL of the comments all the way through….today, I’m not going to bother…I’m sure my values in this area are different than most…I see nothing wrong with smoking pot, or drinking alcohol in moderation…(I do not condone hard drugs like heroin or meth) BUT if you want a 100% sober boyfriend, then go find one….IMHO When looking for a partner, look for someone who meets your values, don’t look for someone who you’ll need to change. You can’t change people, only people can change themselves, and then only if they want to….. “HAPPY 4/20!”

avatar HmC April 20, 2011, 12:54 pm

Funny, I just found myself wondering the other day about what the folks on this site thought about occasional recreational drug use. Personally, a partner smoking pot is about on par with a partner drinking alcohol- if they do it in a controlled way and it isn’t negatively impacting the rest of their life, that’s fine with me. Alcohol is actually extremely damaging in so many ways, and plenty of couples I see seem to be fine with binge drinking constantly. I know pot is illegal, unfortunately, but my partner lighting up an occasional doobie strikes me as not even as bad as getting wasted a few nights a week. My previous long term boyfriend was a straight edge and barely drank at all let alone smoke pot, my current partner occasionally smokes pot or drinks a few beers. Both styles are compatible with my personal values.

Wendy made an excellent point about the importance of sharing values with a significant other. And I agree this is probably a dealbreaker for the LW. I guess I always sort of thought that the advice given on this site, as with any advice from one person to another, was intrinsically value biased. I think most of us are here because our values are somewhat similar to Wendy’s, at least on the big picture things- Westernized culture in general and educated. But this letter demonstrates that there is also a lot of grey area within those larger values, and it is definitely ok (and good!) to want to share those values with a significant other.

edit: As a fellow law student, I am sort of pissed to hear about law students taking scholastic performance enhancing drugs like Aderrall… I mean, smoke all the pot you want, but come on people we are graded on a curve! :)

mandalee amandalee April 20, 2011, 1:03 pm

I laughed out loud at your last sentence! I’m not in law school, but my college program was really competitive and we HATED on the kids we know sat up for days on Aderrall, because they always messed up the curve in our entrance classes. When I saw the same guy from the class in the library every time I went just plowing away, I always sighed to myself and was like damn, I really need to study this time. lol

avatar demoiselle April 20, 2011, 1:19 pm

That’s a good point, but are you sure that the aderall really is helpful? Isn’t it–if not being used as prescribed–usually used to stay up all hours and cram intensively? I’d have thought that by law school you’d ideally be studying over a long term, and that even enhanced cramming would be a poor strategy.

I’m in a PhD, which I began this fall. I went to a very challenging college for undergrad and a pretty challenging MFA as well. I never used any kind of performance-enhancing drug, not even caffeine pills, though I had friends who did use them to stay up all night.

However, my father had adult ADD, and I always knew that I did as well. I was always an A student, but recognized that it took me a LOT longer than others to do assignments due to frequent distraction. Before starting the PhD last fall, I finally got diagnosed and was prescribed concerta (a long release ritalin). I did this because I knew that every single year the required tasks would get more complex, and it was time for me to get some help, if I wanted my family to survive my PhD. The concerta helped a lot–it didn’t improve the quality of my work, but it did improve the quality of my life, allowed me to sleep better, be more efficient, etc.

I don’t think it give me an unfair advantage, however, because it is treating an actual chemical imbalance. Does it work differently on those who are not actually ADD?

Ok, so I am now distracted from my French translation exam. I’d better go back to work… (hah, concentration …)

avatar DramaQueen224 April 20, 2011, 1:40 pm

More or less, yes it does work differently on people who don’t need it. Basically, the brains of people with ADD are different than the brains of people without ADD (reduced prefrontal cortex volume, decreased neurotransmitters etc). Adderall works by keeping neurotransmitters in your brain longer. For people with ADD, this should bring the amount of neurotransmitters and their concentration up to normal. For people without ADD, this gives them an extra amount of neurotransmitters and gives them super-concentration, and a huge studying advantage.

avatar BeccaAnne April 20, 2011, 9:30 pm

I have used a slow release pill, probably one like yours. I am not diagnosed with ADD, though I do get easily distracted.

It was so nice to be able to actually sit down and do all my reading for class and ENJOY IT (it makes everything seem so interesting)

Anyway that’s my experience, doesn’t seem much different.

avatar demoiselle April 20, 2011, 1:32 pm

It may seem odd, since I take a hard-line in my post above, but I don’t think pot is a bad drug, and I think American laws are really out of whack in terms of recreational drug laws.

My mother is a social worker, who grew up in the 70s and was in her own words the only person she knew who never, ever did drugs, not even pot. She’s strongly against it, partly due to her professional background (now, foster care prevention, in the past, alcohol addiction). I think she’s a little extreme in her condemnation of pot and other drugs, but it is understandable considering her profession.

I experimented a little with pot in college and during my MFA. I made the decision that it was good (even important) for me to try things which my family background would harshly condemn. As you can see from my rather hard-line above, I tend to express myself very forcefully, and realized that I needed to–well–expand myself a little.

However, I made the decision that I would not use any kind of drug when I was in the professional world (rather than the academic world), and I wouldn’t want a partner who did so (though previous experimentation would have been fine). I was very clear about that when I started dating people, and my husband has–so far as I know–never used any kind of drug, never smoked anything, and has never been more than tipsy (because that is what he wanted himself).

I don’t think medical and recreational pot should be illegal–if alcohol and cigarettes are legal, certainly. I don’t think occasional use is a bad thing. But I do think drug use can have serious consequences for some people (leading to addiction or legal or professional problems), so caution is warranted.

IMHO, It’s important to find a partner who either has similar values or whose feelings about drugs are so flexible that they have no problem accepting and accommodating their partner. I also think that as long as drugs are illegal and carry serious consequences, couples who have a mild difference in opinion should *probably* lean towards abstention rather than use.

avatar moonflowers April 20, 2011, 8:37 pm

Agreed on that last paragraph. It’s not using pot that bothers me (as long as it’s used responsibly), it’s the possibility of getting caught with it and having it mess up my reputation and even my career. LW shouldn’t have to risk her career in social work and addiction counseling for anyone else.

avatar Lindsay April 20, 2011, 1:17 pm

I agree with Wendy. I feel similarly about drugs as the LW. I have roommates and friends who smoke pot (as well as do some other drugs), and that’s fine, but I’d prefer that the person I’m dating not to. Personally, I’m not into altering my consciousness or changing how my body works through drugs. I drink on occasion but can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been drunk. I don’t even like taking hormonal birth control. I realize I’m the exception, and I don’t fault anyone for having different preferences from me. But I have also realized that any attempts I’ve made at dating someone who enjoys doing drugs or drinking a lot haven’t gone well. Not only is it hard to match up different values, but we tend to have a lot of other differences that don’t work well. I’m much happier being with someone more similar to me in that regard.

avatar Caroline April 20, 2011, 1:53 pm

It’s odd, in high school I used to be against all drugs. I never did drugs or drank in high school, and I wanted to date people that were the same way. Then, as I got older, and started a new job, I became friends with my coworkers – all of whom drank and smoked pot. Being friends with them made me realize that drinking and pot weren’t necessarily bad things. I think it really depends on the frequency of a person’s use, as well as the effects of their usage. My boyfriend smokes pot quite a bit, because he has a bad back problem and it helps him with the pain. However, he will stop smoking if he has a test or a project coming up. He’s genuinely a good guy, very smart, and even though I prefer not to smoke pot, I’m okay with him doing so. I don’t feel like I have the right to tell him not to do it, and it doesn’t bother me. I just don’t really smoke pot (although I will sometimes with the bf) because I haven’t found it to really affect me a whole lot. I prefer drinking if I want to get a buzz. However, I wouldn’t be okay with harder drugs like cocaine or heroin. Those drugs just seem more dangerous and risky to me. My boyfriend has done coke in the past, but he seems to have stopped now, which was a relief for me. His best friend is a coke addict and he is always telling me about the way his addiction has ravaged his friend’s features and controlled his life.

Honestly, drug use would only be a deal breaker for me if it was someone that I wanted to marry. And I’m not looking to marry anyone anytime soon, although I do love my boyfriend. So maybe the LW was thinking about marrying her boyfriend and this put doubts into her mind?

avatar Caroline April 20, 2011, 2:01 pm

Also, from the very first day that I met my boyfriend, I knew he smoked pot. It wasn’t like we had been dating for a long time and then I found out about it all of a sudden. So, I have to wonder, if the LW had known from the very first day, would her attitude be different? It’s different to find out later down the road, rather than knowing about it all along. Like someone else said above, it probably makes her wonder what else he hasn’t told her.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 20, 2011, 2:14 pm

At this point, it feels like he may not believe her anymore when she says that drugs are a deal-breaker. After all, he’s admitted to it (two? three? times) and each time she has forgiven him. That’s not a deal-breaker anymore. I think she’s set up a precedent in which he can confess and feel like all will be forgiven as long as he does so. He can keep doing this thing he knows she doesn’t like, because so far she hasn’t proved that one instance is enough to break up with him over. So LW, if this is a deal-breaker, it’s time to do some breaking up.

I think deal-breakers are incredibly valuable in that they should remove the confusion of “do I put more effort into this relationship hoping he will change for me once he really, really loves me?” There are over six billion people on the planet. Even if you shook one person’s hand every second from the second you were born, in the average American woman’s life-span you would leave 5.998 billion people’s hands un-grasped the day you died. (6 billion (6*10^12)-2.46*10^9 (seconds/78 years)=5.998*10^12)

One of them will have what you are looking for, and it’s not this guy.

avatar ReginaRey April 20, 2011, 2:23 pm

Holy math! I’m just gonna go ahead and believe you…you might as well write in ancient Sanskrit.

avatar Christy April 20, 2011, 3:05 pm

(It’s just the number of people in the world minus the number of seconds in a lifetime. That’s all. Exponents just look confusing writted out like that.)

sobriquet sobriquet April 20, 2011, 3:12 pm

Oh my god, please just move on. It sounds like that’s what he WANTS you to do. Why else is he randomly confessing his past drug encounters? I don’t think there is anything wrong with an adult smoking pot to relax as long as it’s done responsibly. But obviously, YOU’RE not okay with it. That’s great, but don’t try to change him. Move on from the guy and find one of many, many other guys who have vices that don’t involve illegal drugs.

Skyblossom Skyblossom April 20, 2011, 3:41 pm

I always had the same no tolerance for illegal drugs policy. I never personally used them, never experimented with them.

I did see graduate students use them and they seemed to be doing fine at first but as the years passed the students using drugs fell behind those who entered at the same time but weren’t doing drugs. Finally, many of those using drugs left school without finishing their graduate degrees. I remember really getting the effect of drugs on a person’s performance when one of the students was preparing a presentation that they would do when they were about half done with the program (this was after four years) and many of the other students who had entered at the same time had already finished and gotten jobs. Whether he managed to finish I don’t know because I finished my degree and moved on. I do know that the more you alter your perception of reality the more trouble you have functioning in the real world.

If you plan to marry and especially if you plan to have children you must have a spouse that you can rely on day in and day out. One that can be trusted with children and that means not drugged up so that they are negligent or even dangerous around children. You need someone who won’t try to give the baby a bath while drugged or try to drive a child somewhere while drugged.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 20, 2011, 3:54 pm

OK, can we just leave all the slippery-slope arguments behind? Smoking pot twice in a year is FAR different from being so drugged up that you would be a danger to your child while giving them a bath. Besides, FACEBOOK is a dangerous drug by that measure: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/26481127/detail.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Skyblossom Skyblossom April 20, 2011, 4:07 pm

He’s been admitting to more and more use. Who knows how much is the real amount. The people I’ve seen using drugs didn’t do it once or twice a year, they did it weekly or more often. It’s one of those things where you do it and do it regularly or you don’t. It’s hard to find someone who does it once or twice in a year.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 20, 2011, 4:31 pm

Again with the fear-mongering. He has admitted to smoking pot TWICE in a year and a half, and using adderall ONCE. Hardly “more and more”. Besides, you are impressing YOUR morals on the situation, without regard to fact or nuance.

The fact is, the LW and her boyfriend have differing value systems, and because it would be unreasonable and unfair for her to expect him to change for her (which he isn’t showing initiative to want to do) she should move on. Not because of a knee-jerk puritanical response to the merest mention of smoking pot twice and using adderall once.

These are her BELIEFS which should not be compromised. But just because everyone is telling her not to compromise her beliefs does not make them FACT.

Skyblossom Skyblossom April 20, 2011, 6:06 pm

I’m not trying to put my morals on anyone. What I am saying is that when I was in my early twenties I saw people using illegal drugs and felt that it had no negative effect on them. As time went by I saw that it clearly did have an effect, a negative effect. I’ve known alot of people who used illegal drugs and I can say that I can’t think of a single one of them who didn’t at some point have negative effects. That’s why many companies do drug tests before hiring because they know that those who use illegal drugs don’t perform as well as those who don’t. The military does the same for the same reason. It’s also the reason that it’s relevant to child custody. This isn’t a moral arguement about whether someone should or should not use drugs, just an observation about what has happened to people who did use drugs. I have never seen illegal drug use have a postive effect on anybody.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 20, 2011, 7:19 pm

I’ve never met a single person from Japan while in Japan. I have also voluntarily chosen never to visit japan. Does that mean no native born Japanese live in Japan?

If you want to cite studies to back up your claims, and do more than relay wholly un-certifiable hearsay please do so. For instance, http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/alcoholdrug/index.htm

There are more than 70,000 automobile accident deaths related to alcohol each year. http://www.alcoholalert.com/drunk-driving-statistics-2007.html Yet alcohol is completely legal for those 21 and older.
Alcohol is also physically addicting, and can have fatal symptoms of withdrawal for those heavily addicted. There are also more than five-times as many deaths due to cardiovascular disease. Where is our war on obesity? http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 20, 2011, 7:37 pm

And I am saying that you one, singular experience does not constitute a fact. I have never set foot in France, yet I know that it exists outside of my imagination. If you would like to use peer-reviewed studies to back up your claims, please do so. There is a great deal of very decent scholarship on the efficacy of the American “war on drugs,” which hardly justifies the money our government spends on “three-strike” laws which unilaterally criminalize individuals regardless of the severity or relative social costs of the crime.

There are more motor vehicle crashes every year than deaths from cardiovascular disease and cancer COMBINED. http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/ http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm
There are over 70,000 alcohol related deaths every year. Alcohol is physically addicting, and has withdrawal symptoms that can be fatal to severely addicted persons. Yet alcohol and motor vehicles are perfectly legal. In fact, in Georgia it was deemed that driving is so safe, you had an inalienable right to do it, regardless of licensure: http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/sum/hb875.htm

So you can claim all you want to make impartial “observations”, but you are making an argument whether you admit to it or not. Therefore I charge you to at least depend on rationality and better evidence than subjective hearsay when you do so.

avatar phoenix217 April 20, 2011, 5:33 pm

I agree a MILLION percent with Wendy’s original advice. All the other debates aside (whether or not she’s right in feeling that way, etc.), they clearly have different values –> MOA.

avatar cmarie April 20, 2011, 6:45 pm

We should totally do a poll on who tried the wacky tobacky. Everyone seems to have a pretty strong opinion on it.

avatar AKchic April 20, 2011, 6:49 pm

Wendy,
It is more than a “value” difference. She is working as a substance abuse counselor as a part of her social work degree. Substance abuse counselors are expected to hold themselves (professional and personal) to a high standard in order to effectively handle their clients (I work in the substance abuse field). If you were being told that you need to stop drinking while pregnant because it’s bad for your baby, while the person telling you this was 8 months pregnant and nursing a beer in front of you – would you really trust that person’s advice or professional opinion? If a doctor told you that exercise would be a better way to lose weight than prescribing a pill, but gave pills to his own wife instead of having her exercise – would you still believe him?

Whether we like it or not, pot is illegal in this country. Federal law supercedes state law (living in AK, we get this issue a lot). He is a LAW STUDENT, therefore he cannot claim ignorance. Adderall is a CONTROLLED substance, therefore if it was not prescribed to him, he had to have gotten it illegally. Anything other than prescribed by the doctor, filled by the pharmacist and taken as directed is considered illegal.
She is following the laws of our government AND her own personal convictions. The fact that he willfully and knowingly disregarded them on numerous occasions is a MOA indicator. Just because someone doesn’t agree with those laws doesn’t give someone a pass to do it.
Prescription drug abuse is now more deadly than illicit drug abuse. Over 12,000 overdose deaths have been attributed to prescription drugs in the last year. Less than 2/3 of that for Cocaine and Heroin combined. That is just how serious prescription drug abuse/addictions have gotten.

A reminder to folks out there – April 30th is the National DEA Prescription Medication Take-Back Day. If you have unused, unwanted or unneeded prescription medications lying around your house – dispose of them properly so they don’t get into the hands of potential RX drug abusers. http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html Find a disposal site near you.

avatar moonflowers April 20, 2011, 8:48 pm

Glad you emphasized this point. It’s not about how badly his drug use was affecting him or the relationship (ie spending all his time getting high or not), it’s about what happens if he gets caught, and the implications for her career. It would be very unfair if his poor study skills/planning, which led to his unprescribed Adderall use, or his occasional recreational pot use led to her losing the job she’s been working so hard for, especially because she’s brought this up with him before.

He is free to take whatever he wants and risk getting caught himself, as long as only *he* has to suffer consequences, but unfortunately that can’t be true if he’s dating or otherwise connected to someone in addiction counseling.

avatar convexexed April 20, 2011, 9:13 pm

Well, incompatible values are a good reason to leave any relationship, and in the case of the alignment of the LW’s personal values with her professional values and duties, it seems there is a greater conflict than simply ‘tolerate each others’ differences’. Though I do wonder how clear the LW was in discussing this with her boyfriend. In the letter, she says drug use is ‘kind of a dealbreaker’. If she used the same noncommittal language with her boyfriend, than perhaps he hasn’t truly realized the impact of his decision to use drugs on their relationship.
I don’t like the slippery-slope, drug stigma, fear-mongering line of reasoning, personally. As Wendy points out, the drug laws in this country are draconian, and it’s hard to neatly separate the negative effects of the drugs themselves vs the negative effects of their illegal distribution (meaning they are of unreliable quality, inconsistently diluted or potent, and administration carries its own risks that would be greatly reduced if drug users were able to be open about their habits without being considered (or charged as) criminals. Still, in this country, under these laws, drug abuse damages a lot of lives, and the LW’s own experiences justify her concern. I will also point out that, you will meet a lot of people who, if they like you, will claim to abhor drugs when they realize you have a zero tolerance policy, and then just not ‘fess up to an occasional incident of drug use. What incentive would a significant other have to be transparent if all they have to look forward to is a negative reaction and a possible breakup? Unless you’re planning to make them pass a drug test, you may run into this situation again, and it’s worth figuring out exactly what a social worker’s liability might be in the case of a family member or significant other dealing with the very struggles she handles professionally. I’m not suggesting the LW compromise her values. I do think if she loves this guy, it doesn’t hurt to re-examine her stance. If it still holds, she will have renewed morale to MOA.

avatar fallonthecity April 21, 2011, 1:07 pm

I missed this letter yesterday, but I just wanted to say that this is kind of heart-breaking. I agree with Wendy and others that the drug laws in this country are crazy, but I’m in a professional position where anything worse than a speeding ticket could derail everything I’ve worked for, so I choose to not be around any of it, no matter how small the chance I would get in legal trouble due to something a friend/SO was doing… not to mention that I think pot smoke smells like hell’s arm pit, but that’s sort of beside the point. It seems really sad to have something that seems so minor come between people, but it happens and it just comes down to personal convictions. Good luck, LW!

avatar Anna April 21, 2011, 6:25 pm

I say MOA, but not for your sake. It will be beneficial to your boyfriend to find a girl who is more laid back and doesn’t have a huge stick up her a** about a little weed. Weed isn’t even a drug, it’s a herb and it’s used in its completely natural form. Alcohol is more dangerous.

Emily Emily April 23, 2011, 10:03 am

I was in a similar situation where I dated a man for almost a year who did pot. My biggest concern about the whole situation is that he showed a lack of respect for you in lying to you about it. He knew smoking pot and doing Adderall would make you mad but chose to do it anyway, and then wasn’t even man enough to tell you the truth.
Once you start lying to someone you lose respect for that person and it’s hard to stop lying to that person. You have every right to feel betrayed and hurt by this. Listen to your feelings on this, you’re not being judgmental, you are going with your gut. You can find another great guy without this boy’s drug issues. I promise!

avatar Jennifer April 25, 2011, 4:56 pm

I got together with my bf when I knew he smoked pot because I felt like he could change for the better and he did. He was the one who asked me to be his girlfriend and he knew how I felt about drugs so he made that change himself in order to be with me and we’re going on 2 and a half years now!

avatar mjb May 9, 2011, 5:42 pm

Thank you for this discussion, all these collective comments and opinions have made me realise that I am not overreacting. I clearly stated my values to my boyfriend right at the beginning of the relationship, and instead of manning up and having a conversation about it, he just went and did it behind my back. He would have gotten away scott free if one of his best friends hadn’t turned to me one night and said ‘You know he’s in the bathroom doing coke again right?’ What a waste of 18 months with someone who has completely different values to me.

avatar Anon73 August 31, 2013, 12:01 am

Hi there – Thank you for this post. I realize it’s a few years old. But was googling around on dating and being lied to about drug use. I have been dating someone for the past few weeks. One of our initial conversations was about MJ (he brought it up). I explained that I was against it and would be uncomfortable dating someone who smoked. He somewhat dodged the question when I asked him his thoughts, which bothered me. Yet, I enjoyed his company and found him attractive, so continued to see him despite the nagging concern. Anyway, he recently fessed up to his use. And said he did not want to tell me earlier b/c thought I would prematurely shut down our relationship chances and would be better to tell me when I knew him better. Wrong. His deceiving me is exactly what Wendy says. Evidence of different values. I broke up with him immediately. He also keeps apologizing. But it does not matter. B/c my values, in addition to being anti-drug, are also anti-lying. He undermined my ability to trust him. And by lying to me about something in order to get a certain outcome, he also shows he’s comfortable with deceiving me. Just like your guy. IE, you have different values on drugs AND honesty.

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