The dilemma My boyfriend’s work ground to a halt as a result of the pandemic, and his weed-smoking habit has expanded within that void to become a lifestyle. He buys, sells and grows the stuff, meaning that he’s meeting strangers on a daily basis, often in our home.
My initial response was anger that he could so readily endanger my health for the sake of a habit I despise. Then I began to wonder if he was struggling mentally, so I tried to be more supportive. But it became clear he is just doing it for fun (I think he thrills at the criminal element). He comes from a wealthy family and my salary is ample to cover our bills if he falls short, so this isn’t a necessary earner.
He won’t stop and I have become depressed under the weight of the constant knowledge that he doesn’t value my health, liberty or career enough to stop doing this in our home. The only way out I can see is leaving. But that is a huge decision as we recently bought our first home together. It would also mean forgoing the chance to have a family, which is something I value enormously having experienced pregnancy loss in the past.
I can’t tell if my anger and hurt are rational, or if they are magnified by my world having shrunk to just the two of us during lockdown. The criminal nature of his misdeeds means I can’t consult with family or friends.
Mariella replies I’d hope that you have friends you can trust to give your dilemma the attention and respect it deserves without going to the police. I won’t take a moral stance on his drug-dealing, but I have to say that an option would be to call the police: the law is the law, so let’s just note that we all know that and move on.
But this isn’t really about the drugs, which is why we need to take it more seriously. I’m worried for you because your partner’s disregard for your safety, your health and your wishes suggests there is a power imbalance at the least – and quite possibly you are being coerced into submission, which is a toxic control issue.
What you’re describing is a partner for whom your hopes and needs are not a priority. That, I’m afraid, is an unworkable relationship and certainly not the attributes required for a long-term partner and parent.
It’s good that you recognise that at least a proportion of your frustrations may be as a result of your 24/7 immersion with this person. Since the beginning of the pandemic opportunities for escape – essential in order to assess our lives with any perspective – have been lost. When we are forced to survive in an incredibly claustrophobic environment, it means that small problems can be inflated and enormous obstacles obscured by our inability to see them in proportion. You’re deep in this trapped space and I really feel for you in your rather toxic bubble.
Decisions about what we can and can’t countenance are hard to make when what would normally be discounted as the small stuff looms large. You don’t tell me your age, but I presume you must be nearing the time when motherhood will no longer be an option. It’s an approaching finish line that makes it hard to focus on other priorities. Determination to have a family is a desire so strong it can cloud your judgment, but parenthood is not something to embark on at all costs. There will be far greater issues along that path, and respect for your partner, along with the ability to communicate and compromise, will be essential. Your relationship displays none of those qualities.
I wish I knew how close your biological deadline is because your “maturity” and his are particularly relevant to your quandary. Squandering time on destructive pastimes and even toying with making a career out of them is common when we are young and still have time to change direction. However, to embark on a similarly self-destructive route when you are older, in a long-term relationship and with the possibility of having a family, leaves little time to squander.
Putting your partner’s unhealthy and morally questionable lifestyle aside, it’s time you took control of your own destiny. Why are you accepting his lead? If it’s because you are afraid of him, then you must seek help (Refuge at nationaldahelpline.org.uk, 0808 2000 247, would be a good place to start). But if it’s because you lack the courage to change direction, let me assure you that what you have isn’t worth clinging on to.
You deserve a partner who treasures you and shares your values, not simply allows you to coexist in his space. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes to all your dilemmas when you find yourself with someone who shares your values rather than pursuing their own dysfunctional path. And, as for leaving, I’d say with his activities, the cards are in your hands. You need to find a friend to confide in, establish back-up and suggest he move his “operation” out of your home.