She's become a nag over his pot and alcohol use

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: I've been in a relationship with a man for the last year and a half. He's a wonderful guy, and I love him very much. We live together, and he puts up with all my faults and foibles.

Yet, I've become what I despise - a nag. And I don't know how to stop being so disapproving.

My boyfriend works hard, pays his bills, and treats me and my dog with love and respect. He has had a history of alcohol use, culminating in a trip to a psychiatric hospital after a near-fatal binge and suicidal inclinations. He does suffer from depression and anxiety, and his alcohol use was interfering with the efficacy of his antidepressants.

He has since stopped drinking, except for an occasional beer. But now he's moved on to pot. He uses it several times a day. I hate it. It stinks on him and in our apartment, and I highly disapprove of it (it's illegal here). Plus, I think he's replacing one chemical with another.

I feel like I fuss at him all the time about it. He's a grown man, and he's going to do what he's going to do. Sometimes, I feel I'm behaving like his mom - if I'm not sniffing him for pot, I'm constantly on alert for him to start drinking again. Do you have any advice on how to stop trying to micromanage things?

Answer: Leave?

You don't need "good" reasons to leave (though yours seem stellar to me); you don't need to stop loving him; you don't even need to examine your own co-dependency - though I strongly suggest you do.

You also don't need to defend or rethink your disapproval. Let's say for the sake of argument that pot is now legal where you live and that it's a more effective antidepressant/anti-anxiety than the medication he's taking. You're still fully entitled to dislike the smoke and smell in your home, and the frustration of having a partner who spends the bulk of his waking hours high.

In other words, you don't have to figure out a position on the principles of the thing; you can make decisions based solely on not liking the reality you live with.

Clearly, you're unhappy with your relationship and home life right now, and that unhappiness manifests in your nagging and fussing and suspense as you await the next calamity. Leaving is a reasonable response to systemic, not-just-a-bump-in-the-road unhappiness.

Nagging, by the way, is not. To nag is to accept the status quo while you verbally, annoyingly, kid yourself that you're changing it.

If you have really good reasons not to leave - even if it's just that you don't feel you've tried everything yet - make some sort of reputable counseling your next move, for you alone. You don't have to sort all of this out on your own, nor is it a good idea to when you're at the point of confusion and frustration you seem to have reached.

Comment: Al-Anon. You may leave this person, but you are at risk to go on to another addict.

Reply: Yes. Even if Al-Anon meetings are not ultimately the right place for someone, they're a free and accessible first step. Thanks.

Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Load comments
Continue Reading