Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"I can't help but think that guys are so simple - that maybe we are just creating this complex analysis to make her feel better and what the truth really is is that he is just being an asshole and didn't want to give up partying to be with her."

Okay I am in need of some advice. So I am having to take care of my best friend who just got dumped by her boyfriend. They started dating two months ago and everything was going perfectly until he wouldn't quit smoking pot (which - at the beginning of the relationship she told him was a deal breaker and he told her that he wanted to quit because she was more important to him than pot. She never asked him to change, but she did warn him up front that she didn't like it). They got into a huge fight and he broke it off with her. Well really he told her they were on a break - but has taken their relationship off facebook and completely quit talking to her.

So here is my question: She is obviously distraught as they both fell for each other quickly (I love you's were thrown around prematurely if you ask me). He just graduated from college and is having to find a "real job" and is having a hard time with transitioning from the party lifestyle of a college student to a more grown up life style. Her and I both think that he broke things off with her because, although he was attracted to her and liked the idea of her, when the reality set in - he couldn't handle it. And instead of continuing to hurt her - he just decided to end things. Are we looking to much into it? I can't help but think that guys are so simple - that maybe we are just creating this complex analysis to make her feel better and what the truth really is is that he is just being an asshole and didn't want to give up partying to be with her. What do you think?

-My Friend's Got Issues

For the record, I made up that moniker, as the writer didn't supply one. I know I could have done better but MFGI will suffice.

This message is divided into two somewhat separate parts.

1) The Relationship

In short, your friend should move on.

I think that your friend knows that... but that's not what she needs to hear.

Many of us - or many Americans, at least - hold the misconception that blunt is *always* good and is always what the person in need of help needs to hear. It's not true. On account of the overpresence of bluntness in our culture, many other Americans tend to hate bluntness so much that they retreat into the realm of Maybe, I guess.

I suspect that what your friend needs to hear is neither the negative and blunt Get over him, nor the vague and passive Wait it out and see where his heart takes him, but something more.
Here's what I think of this guy. I don't think he's an asshole. I think that he's confused and complicated. I think that he can change and all that. But I'm not sure that it would be worth it. If your friend truly wanted to remake and remodel him, she should be grateful that she got an easy exit out of what might have been a long-term but painful relationship that exhausted her mind and soul.

I'm going to repeat/rephrase something that I said in there because I think it's pretty key. They say that people can't change, but they actually can. The problem isn't that they don't change; it's that changing them is usually too hard for it to be worth it.

Think of training a pet. Yes, I know it seems wrong to compare a person to a pet, but it's actually not that inaccurate. To change Sparky, you have to behave in many counterintuitive and exhausting ways. You have to refrain from petting him when he's not performing acts of obedience. You have to click the crazy clicker thing every time you give him food and then eventually phase out the crazy clicker thing if you ever want to get across the message that, Yes, Sparky, you will be fed, just not at the dinner table, so stop putting your head on my lap.

And so on. Changing a person is like that, but harder, since people have a much greater range of thoughts and emotions than dogs do. If she wants to change a person, she should come to terms with how difficult it is, and I don't know if she has.

I get the impression that your friend does not really want to think of the relationship as finished. It's hard to do that. And you can't force it.

I can think of a relationship I was in that was similar to the one your friend was in. It was similar because it too ended with a tentative This is too much for my poor little self to handle, I need a break, rather than an assertive This is not working.

The way I handled that situation was that I thought to myself, I need to do something cool and independent with my life so that the next time she sees me, she'll want to come back.

Because, as many people will tell you, an ex will probably not want to get back with you if they sense that you've been thinking about them for the entire time that you've been apart.

So I got back into some old hobbies and started a new one and met other girls. I saw my ex again and tried to get back with her and she rejected me. But at this point I didn't care. My genuine attempts to make her feel like I was a catch who she'd want to get back with did not make *her* feel that way, but they did make *me* feel that way, and I did end up getting over the hurt in the process.

So basically, I'd encourage your friend to invest in herself, to think of how much she has to offer to men, to see other men, and other things of the sort. I'd tell her that in her process of "getting over" her current tentative boyfriend, she'll actually *increase* her chances of getting back with him at the same time that she increases her options in life (as well as her ability to enjoy those options).

2) Marijuana

I have this to say about weed: to tell someone to stop smoking weed is comparable to telling someone who is not an alcoholic to stop drinking. Weed is a misunderstood drug. Telling someone to stop smoking it is not the same as telling someone to stop doing cocaine or stop smoking cigarettes. Cocaine and cigarettes are genuinely addictive and thus are things that most good people would actually like to stop doing.

Good people feel empowered when they overcome physical addictions. But weed, as is the case with alcohol for non-alcoholics, is not physically addictive and is the kind of thing that most people do more casually. To completely abstain from participating in a hobby that many people enjoy in moderation does not feel empowering as much as it just feels uncomfortable.

On the subject of addiction, I'll say this: In the case of physical addiction, the addiction *is* the problem. In the case of psychological addiction, the addiction *masks* the problem. If a person is addicted to weed, they are addicted psychologically, which means that the drug is not the problem. If your friend's boy has that serious of a problem, then refraining completely from smoking weed won't even solve it.

I smoke weed but I am far from addicted. Sometimes I smoke several times a week. More frequently, I will go for weeks or even months without smoking it. If all the weed in the world disappeared, I'd be very disappointed, but I'd survive, and eventually I'd stop missing it. But if someone told me never to use it, it would be like telling me never to use facebook. I use facebook way more than I smoke weed, and, while I don't smoke too much weed, I do use facebook too much. When I go for a long time without using facebook, it's refreshing. But if a girlfriend told me to stop doing it, it wouldn't feel right. Every time I saw somebody else using facebook, I'd feel a strange sense that my personal life was being invaded as I thought of the person to whom I promised I wouldn't use that pesky social networking site.

In the end, I think that your friend's heart can be mended by doing the same things that would increase her chances of getting back together with this boy- ie taking care of herself and not patiently waiting for him to come back.


Telling someone you like to smoke less weed= good idea

Telling someone you like to quit smoking weed completely = not so good idea


- B said...

I have to agree with a lot of your comments in response to "MFGI."

In particular though, I do believe the main issue isn't the weed at all. It's this:

"[He] is having a hard time with transitioning from the party lifestyle of a college student to a more grown up life style."

That's his life. I have a whole theory about "changing" someone in a relationship, but that's too long for this comment. However, it seems like the main problem is that they were on different paths. If she's already content with her life and who she is and he's still figuring out how to deal with his more adult responsibilities (including a committed relationship, which can be a burden to some people), then perhaps a "break" will be good for them.

He'll get the opportunity to live without the added pressure of knowing that he's disappointing his girl with his smoking habits (and maybe he'll figure out if it's something he can give up on his own, rather than feeling like he has to for her, because let's be honest - no one really likes being told what to do) and she'll get to confront whether she was swept up in infatuation or actual love for him. If they were moving that fast to drop the "L" bomb in 2 months, chances are they might need to slow down and take a break from one another. If they're meant to be, they'll gravitate back towards one another. If not, at least they didn't waste many more months in a dead-end relationship.

Just my 2 cents.

Benny said...

That's a good point about them being at different stages in life. I was thinking of that when I gave my thoughts on what it would be like to change the guy, but didn't really come out and say it.

I also was assuming that this girl is also still trying to figure things out, even though she seems to be a little less anxious about it than the guy is.

Island Gal said...

It's true... guys are more simpler than everyone thinks. My boyfriend is an athlete and he is totally against weed so I don't smoke anymore (well I didn't do it that often but every now and them with my friends I was into it). Anyways it is not that big of a deal. It shouldn't be that hard to just stop and please the other person.

ps: I'm trying to convince my bf to do it with me "while we're young". lol