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Domestic Bliss: How to Coexist With a Partner Who’s Cannabis-Free

December 4, 2015

Imagine the joyful feeling you experience when you walk into your local dispensary, inhale the sweet flower aromas, pick out exactly what you want, and walk out with your favorite product.

Now imagine you have a partner who is at best indifferent to your imbibing and at worst utterly unsupportive. How do you navigate discordant cannabis use in relationships? There is always the option to only date fellow cannabis users, and with dating apps like High There it’s much easier to find like-minded prospective partners.

However, if you’ve found yourself in a relationship with a non-user and intend to continue that relationship, or have met someone who is well suited to you on most things besides cannabis consumption, here are some suggestions.

Advice for the Abstaining Partner

Lesbian couple embracing tenderly

Set Boundaries Without Shaming

My favorite shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené Brown, wrote, “You cannot shame or belittle people into changing their behaviors.” If cannabis use is a deal breaker for you, it’s important to say that as soon as you realize that it’s a factor. If it’s not a hard limit but perhaps something you just don’t want to be around, take time to assess your needs around boundaries and communicate those to your partner.

Be Willing to Examine and Discuss Your Limits

Maybe you have a job that requires you to be drug tested at regular intervals. Maybe you’re uncomfortable with the idea of having cannabis or related paraphernalia in your home. Perhaps you just don’t like the smell. These are all valid reasons to choose not to consume (and this is by no means an exhaustive list). It can be helpful to provide context for your partner so they better empathize with your perspective.

Advice for the Cannabis Connoisseur

Couple embracing on couch

Don’t Shame or Pressure Your Partner

Whatever you do, don’t shame your partner for not partaking or pressure them into trying cannabis. Their choice to forgo is just as valid as your decision to indulge. They don’t need to have reasons or convince you that refraining is the right call for them. Even if you think they’d enjoy it, or just haven’t tried the right strain/method/circumstances, hear and respect their “no” the way you need them to hear and respect your “yes.”

Be Mindful of When You Should Abstain From Cannabis

There may be specific times when your partner prefers that you abstain from using cannabis. Part of your ongoing negotiation will be hearing and responding to your partner’s needs. If there always seems to be a reason why consuming today is a problem for your partner, your consumption might be a bigger issue than they’re telling you. However, if they need you to abstain before seeing their parents, it might be helpful to explore non-intoxicating methods of cannabinoid delivery for those special occasions.

Advice for Both

Gay couple embracing

Compromise

Find the compromises that can be made outside of just whether or not to consume, such as where, when, and how. My partner doesn’t like when I smoke in the house, but is comfortable with me consuming edibles or vaping. There may be more room for compromise than either of you think; be sure to explore the discomfort and share where it’s coming from to see what can be done to keep everyone feeling happy and safe.

Communicate

Treat the cannabis conversations and agreements you have surrounding consuming the way you would treat anything else in your relationship. Think of all the things you’ve discussed together: safer sex practices, monogamy (or not!), finances, housework. This doesn’t have to be any different. If you’re having difficulty starting or navigating the conversation, check out Reid Mihalko’s Difficult Conversations Formula.

Get on the Same Page

Make sure you’re clear on your expectations and boundaries before taking any major steps such as living together, getting married, or having children. You don’t want any surprises popping up once you get to these bigger life milestones, so start having these conversations now before you venture further down the road together.

  • tobiasolman

    Good article – and I have also discovered that selecting the correct strain and delivery method for the time of day and the sort of time you are spending with your abstaining significant other – to be quite important. Bonus if your partner knows you have taken the time to even consider these things:

    If I have to medicate to get through a meal for example, I might smoke a relaxing hybrid that gives me the appetite I need to enjoy that meal at home with my significant other (without losing it). Before bedtime, obviously – a heavy indica would not cause the same issues as if we were trying to have an intelligent conversation over supper. -And if we are out, I’d be sure to vape (a concentrate even) not smoke – and to use a sweeter smelling sativa strain which does not fuzz me out for the social occasion (always accompanied by food of course, an issue for my underlying medical condition – so edibles are out.) You want to choose a strain and delivery method that gets the job done without detracting from the moments of your life together – so in general, I at least try to ‘weed’ those heavy, energy-sapping strains out of my rotation except for bedtime use, and I try to select a delivery method that works for the moment.

    My significant other is a nurse, so she also appreciates knowing what symptom(s) I’m treating for longer sessions because she’ll suggest additional measures that really help conserve the medication. I’m pretty lucky to have that kind of partnership, but it’s possible in any relationship that needs this kind of understanding and support.

  • EQOAnostalgia

    Does this work for straight, white boys too? Or just your token boy/boy, girl/girl mixed ethnicity edge crowd? I’m sorry but can you be any more obvious with your liberal bs?

    • Joe386

      “I didn’t see anyone who looks like me and now I feel left out.” Fuck outta here loser.