Rambling Man: I Love Him But He’s A Pothead With No Savings

by Joshua Michtom

Dear Rambling Man:

I recently got divorced and finally found one of those “fun” relationships everyone says I should be having some months later. Things proceeded quickly and now we are tossing around the word “LOVE” with great aplomb. That said, the bro is what I would call a world class pothead. No offense to the ganja-lovers of the world, but we are talking likely spends 1/6 of his income on the drugs. (Not that we are yet at the discussion of how do you spend your monthly budget stage here). I’m curious: am I a morally vacant asshole for saying these words — professing adoration — while simultaneously keeping my eyes peeled for a candidate with some actual savings and a less serious chemical dependency? (Full disclosure: husband was a substance abuser. And financial disaster.)

Other factors weighing down my ability to have fun include: moodiness, inability to spend more than 3 hours without cannabis, and a preference for cats over dogs. Having only ever been serious with one other dude (who I married) and having little experience in the dating pool, it feels strange to suddenly be semi-coupled with a feline-loving, hilarious, but financially dubious human being. Still, he has his moments …

My Name Is Not Mary Jane

Dear Not MJ,

Oh man. I thought I made myself clear when I started this advice column that I CANNOT HANDLE SERIOUS QUESTIONS. But, well, I got myself into this, and the truth is that I love questions about post-divorce life because I actually know a little bit about that.

Sometimes when you are married, you get in the habit of thinking, “Hoo boy! I sure am glad I’m not out there in this dating game with the apps and the dot-coms and what-not.” (Apparently, your talking-to-yourself-in-your-head voice is a television hillbilly.) I certainly thought this way. Then you get divorced and find yourself broke and acutely alone, sleeping in a hammock in a ramshackle apartment with wasp nests in the window frames and no heat or hot water, and you think all your nightmares about dating are about to come true.

With any luck at all, what happens next is that in a few weeks, you drag yourself out to some social engagement and run into some folks you haven’t seen in a while, and you invite a bunch of them to have some beers on your back porch, which is the only presentable part of your apartment other than the room you have made immaculate for your children (although you have, at least, replaced your hammock with a hand-me-down single bed). Somehow, the six people who were there turn into four, and then three, and then it’s just you and a friend-of-a-friend, and then, although you had no romantic intentions or aspirations at all, this friend-of-a-friend is kissing your neck, and you think, “Maybe this dating business will be OK?”

That is not a guarantee that it will be OK, but it’s fate’s way of telling you that you are, in fact, just like everybody else in this mess.

One of the key elements of being just like everybody else is that you are free to have only the kind of relationships that you want. Thanks to Tinder and Vanity Fair magazine and probably Obama, it’s now totally OK for you not to commit, to see other people, to be connected via internet to people who, like you, are interested in games of Words With Friends as a prelude to casual sex — which, in turn, is a prelude to smoking pot and watching “Empire” until 3:00 in the morning.

In short, you can now have, as you say, “one of those ‘fun’ relationships.”

But not everyone has the same model for what constitutes a “fun” relationship, and it seems like maybe this relationship you are in is not actually such a “fun” relationship for you. (I like putting “fun” in quotation marks. It feels like a handmade promotional sign at an out-of-the way 99-cent store.) You say he has his moments. You should enjoy those moments! But there is no reason to be semi-coupled with him, or to feel like you have to put up with his moodiness or his love of cats or his excessive affinity for weed. You are divorced and free!

There are ways, I think, that the young single people talk about their desires in situations like this. Tell him you want to “slow down” or “take space” or “only hang out on weekends to get high and have sex but only at my house because I can’t stand your damn cat.” Maybe you are hesitant to do this because you have not quite shaken that pre-divorce feeling that being single is nothing but a shipwreck on the open ocean where one must cling to the first piece of flotsam that comes within reach. It isn’t! It’s more like a shipwreck on the shore of a tropical island, but the tropical island is actually Manhattan in August and you have an apartment and a job.

It is totally OK to break up with him, notwithstanding his moments and his hilarity, for no reason at all. It is also OK to tell him honestly that you don’t want things to be so serious, and it’s OK for him to say that that’s a dealbreaker and break up with you.

Be free! There will be other men. They will have other flaws, which you may find more or less endearing than the pot-smoking and the cat-loving. There are only two rules in modern dating, which I urge you to follow: (1) be honest with the pot-smoker and (2) do not do things that will unwittingly expose him to diseases.

Rambling Man is the Billfold’s new advice column about trying to make a living and doing the best you can. Questions for Rambling Man? Email ester@thebillfold.com, subject line: Rambling Man.