Ask MetalGF: Substance Use Compatibility


Please send real questions to askmetalgf AT metalsucks DOT net. I’m here to help with advice on life, relationships, career… whatever! You can also follow me on Twitter.

Dear MetalGF,

I started seeing this guy about ten days ago, and we hit it off very quickly. On our first date, we ended up making out back at my place and he kept looking at me quizzically and asking, “Why are you single?!” At first I loved his doting attention, especially because he had told me about how many women he felt were not marriage material, but then I started to see another side of him. I noticed he takes these “sleeping pills” at night and it results in him slurring his words and becoming almost unintelligible. I asked him about it and he said it was for stress. Most recently, we were getting ready for bed at my place, and I came back from the bathroom to find him naked on my bed in fetal position. I think this may have pushed me passed my limit, and I’m unsure of how to proceed.

Up until this point, I had been feeling butterflies. He was so romantic with me, taking me to concerts, saying beautifully romantic things, and very affectionate. But sometimes he drinks a lot, and he also smokes a ton of pot — sometimes multiple times in the evening during our dates. Is this dependence? Is the sleeping pill for an actual medical condition? Is this something that might get better with time and a partner? Am I sabotaging a good thing, or should I go with my gut and move on?

Please let me know your thoughts, MetalGF!

Yours truly, Suddenly-the-prude

Something not often discussed in the context of relationship advice is something we could call “Substance Use Compatibility.” I feel, and have always felt, that a couple’s use of alcohol and drugs needs to align, at least to an extent. I remember feeling this way about Vince, and it was a huge asset to our relationship when we met in our twenties. We both drank, got drunk socially, smoked weed and did some other drugs on occasion, but neither of us were super-hardcore in any arena. We were very compatible in this way. Another way to be compatible is for neither of you to drink at all, for example. I am sure infinite wonderful couples have met in Alcoholics Anonymous (or church for that matter!). I have also seen many a couple where one smokes weed and the other does not and it is a great source of judgement and annoyance to the one who does not (especially if you add children to this mix). It creates conflict and often arises in their narrative. A couple who decides to do mushrooms together is a beautiful thing! A couple where one person is on mushrooms and the other is very drunk or dead sober is maybe not as lovely! Like the old adage says, the couple that trips together, stay together. There is no judgement here in substance use (notice how I don’t say “abuse”) one way or the other, only that it matching with your partner makes life and your relationship a lot easier.

Substance Use Compatibility is not something we are traditionally taught to consider when finding a partner yet I truly believe it to be important and have seen it to be in so many of my own and many of my friends’ relationships. We, as people, both do not want to be made to feel badly about our substance use and simultaneously do not want to feel uncomfortable with the way someone so close to us uses substance. Neither are fair to anyone involved.

I know this compatibility has gotten Vince and I through many an evening and made those nights fun and exciting, instead of a source of any struggle. Given what you say above, I just don’t see this panning out. I do like this guy and think he sounds nice but between the fetal position (in the first ten days of dating? Let’s save that for year fifteen, perhaps during a terminal illness? Or better yet, never) and the slurring, it just doesn’t seem like he would be well-suited for you. You seem to have a different idea of what is appropriate, which is completely valid, especially in early courting. It actually sounds like this guy might be going through something. People have their baggage but not sure this is one you are wanting to carry.

Hi MetalGF,

My life isn’t turning out the way I imagined it would. I was pretty invested in my twenties as being a decade of bad choices, failed romances, financial insecurity, geographic mobility, and drug use. I figured that life would narrow and stagnate in my thirties, and I was in no rush to get there.

HOWEVER, I found this insanely awesome partner who loves me and whom I love deeply. She supports me continuing my creative pursuits, but she wants the kind of emotional stability that requires a steady paycheck, a multi-year apartment lease, and possible engagement.

I’m extremely happy with the relationship, but I feel the sordid dreams I had for my twenties slowly slipping away into a Stepford parallel universe.


I totally understand, WMAA. On the one hand, it is possible you are glamorizing being poor, working bad jobs, going through break-ups and how hard it might be to eventually get off said drugs. This life you describe could be fulfilling, yes, but it could also be lonely, scary, and difficult! On the other hand, life is long and yet our youth is very very short. There are SO many years where you have to be a responsible adult and worry about things like health insurance, steady income, good housing situations, getting quality sleep, eating healthy, being a grown up, aging parents, the list going on and on, that there is just NO reason to start that process early, if at all avoidable. Prolonging adulthood is a true privilege that so few have and if you have this opportunity, it is certainly worth taking. Things that happen in people’s twenties (the good and bad, the wild, the difficult, everything!) gives them material for a lifetime! Go to any party with old people (35+) and all anyone wants to talk about is the cool stuff they did back in 1998.

At the same time, What’s-my-Age-again?, you also sound like you are in love with a good, supportive person and you two have something special and healthy. I am hopeful that there is space within that relationship for you to be who you want to be right now: may it be nude modeling for some side cash, exploring artistic endeavors or trying new drugs, new ideas, maybe even new partners. The truth is that finding “the one” is so much about timing. It sounds like you and this person have a lot together but whether you are ready to commit not just to her but to the person she needs you be is yet to be determined. Sometimes we meet the right person at the wrong time. Settling down in your twenties is a risky proposition and I don’t want you to have regrets. I would say take your time and see if you can somehow have both. For now, I would advise you to hold off on the engagement and see what you can make work and where you two are in a year. If you are feeling more yourself, comfortable and free OR less yourself, trapped, stifled and stressed. A true solid and strong relationship should allow you to feel secure enough to be even more brave in your life, not more limited. You never get your twenties back! Choose them wisely.

Please send real questions to askmetalgf AT metalsucks DOT net. I’m here to help with advice on life, relationships, career… whatever! You can also follow me on Twitter.

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