I have dated a guy on and off for about a year. In many ways he is a lovely person. He is a successful businessman. He is devoted to his family and friends. He is optimistic and funny and outgoing and attractive.
However, he smokes pot all day and drinks heavily at night. I dislike this for multiple reasons that maybe I don’t even need to mention. He doesn’t communicate well and acts more like a teenager than a 50-year-old when he’s stoned or drunk. Pot is smelly and expensive. It also has associations in my mind with unmotivated loserhood. I drink very little and never smoke weed. I’d prefer to date someone who doesn’t do either.
I told him I I would not continue dating him unless he quit smoking and drinking. He quit cold turkey about a week ago based on that. I had some confidence he could because many years ago he quit smoking cigarettes cold turkey and never went back, and I understand that nicotine is one of the most difficult substances to give up. His friends think my position is extreme, and not in his best interest. They said he should not make such a big change during the coronavirus crisis. I said this is about protecting myself and my lifestyle, that I don’t want to date someone who smokes weed and drinks heavily. I said that I was not issuing an ultimatum or a threat, but that’s how he has characterized it. I said he had the choice himself whether to do it, that I wasn’t forcing anything on him. He said he had thought many times about quitting, and that it would be a good move for him.
I am somewhat indifferent at this point as to whether I date him. I for sure do not want to date him if he keeps smoking weed all day and drinking heavily at night. I am possibly interested in trying our relationship again if he keeps up with his clean and sober approach to life.
I haven’t heard this addressed in the podcasts and lessons I’ve listened to on boundaries. Substance use isn’t quite the same as some of the behaviors addressed in those. He’s not coming into my house uninvited or doing something else that obviously crosses into my territory.
Is this a misuse of the concept of boundaries? Am I trying to control him? Should I let him be and do what he wants, because he is an adult? I feel that I am. I said “you can continue smoking and drinking if you want, but in that case I won’t date you.”
I have heard people coached on dealing with partners with substance use issues, but have not heard practical ideas around what to do. Conventional relationship advice says “don’t be in a relationship with an addict” but what if you love an addict?