Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Stoner Boyfriend

Every week, Danny Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: The Stoner Boyfriend

Nicole: Ah, jeez. Well, there’s nothing at all wrong with deciding that 24/7 marijuana use isn’t compatible with what you want in a boyfriend, but I’d like to know more about what in particular upsets her about it. It sounds like he’s good at being a boyfriend and her objection is mostly about the heaviness of the use?

The most I would feel comfortable saying/doing, considering this has been a recurring issue and you’ve only been together 4 months, is that you think he should talk to someone more extensively about his PTSD.

Danny: it’s also hard because you’ve only known him four months! talking to someone about the possibility of expanding their treatment for PTSD and CSA is a pretty big conversation.

Nicole: Yes, four months vs. a lifetime of coping w trauma

I think the childhood traumas are probably a bigger factor than she’s letting on

and coming from THAT angle instead of “smoke less!” might be fruitful

Danny: he may have excellent, necessary reasons for this kind of treatment, and it simply may not be compatible with the LW’s lifestyle

because you don’t want to make it a referendum on how he treats his PTSD, but you also have a right to decide that’s not what you want in a long-term relationship (without passing judgment on him)

Nicole: I can understand him being defensive, too, it seems like he has been very upfront that this is what he does

Danny: which doesn’t mean you can’t try to have this conversation, obviously, but do try to make sure you’re not offering up prescriptives

Yes, ultimately, I think it’s worthwhile saying something like, “I’d really like to be able to learn more about how this helps you, about what other sources of support you have in dealing with your trauma,” etc.

rather than jumping straight to “I think you should smoke X amount less weed and do XYZ things instead”

Nicole: RIGHT

Danny: and honestly, if he’s just not interested in altering his approach, figuring out if you can accept that/enjoy that in a partner

because if you can’t, it would be better to part ways now, understanding that neither one of you is necessarily wrong for your respective positions

Nicole: I would feel differently if there were actual problems resulting from his use

Danny: if she said, he drives dangerously or sometimes forgets important conversations we’ve had or sometimes gets so high we can’t really talk or meaningfully spend time together, that would be one thing, but it doesn’t seem to be the case here

Nicole: For sure. It’s very “the principle of the thing” to her. Which is fine, but might just be a reason to move on.

Danny: sometimes principles are important and should be maintained! but it’s worth asking yourself, where’s this principle coming from for me?

Nicole: Yeah, I couldn’t live with a wake-and-baker, but the approach of this letter bugged me.

Danny: Right! The tricky part, to me, is whether his smoking constantly just bothers her because she doesn’t like the idea of smoking weed, or whether or not it alters his behavior. And having a conversation like this, you run the risk of coming across as judgmental or like you’re trying to tell him how to deal with his own trauma as if you’re an expert without listening first.