Help! I Just Found Out That My Soulmate Takes … Edibles.
Dear Prudence is Slate’s advice column. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)
I’m a 27-year-old woman who’s met an incredible guy. We work in the same field and have the same interests, hobbies, politics, and views on life. He’s very smart, funny, empathetic, and kind, and my type physically. I feel I have met my soulmate, and so does he. But I recently learned that he consumes edibles. One of the biggest deal breakers for me in a relationship is alcohol and drug use. Partially because of a bad family history and partially just preference. I discussed this with him and he says he only takes them about three or four times a month, so it’s nothing to worry about. But I don’t know if I can overlook this. I really love him though. What should I do?
— The Edible Mr. Incredible
Dear Mr. Incredible,
You are allowed to set whatever standards you want for a partner, there are plenty of people out there who are completely sober, and I would never tell someone to compromise on a dealbreaker … unless they asked, that is. And you asked. So: Please don’t break up with this man over a little edible once a week! Just hold off and try to reserve judgment for a little bit. You’re talking about a substance that is not addictive, that you can order like a pizza in many states, and that is known for making people not violent, not dangerous, not angry but … relaxed. What are you worried about happening here? Really think about it, and then bring that concern to him. You say you agree on politics and views on life, so how about a conversation about the role of drugs in society, how they affect individuals, and when and how it’s okay and not okay to use them. Research and talk about the risks of dependence. Bring up your family history and see if the two of you can compare and contrast the way your relatives used substances and the way he does. If the conversation goes well, why don’t you give yourself a couple of months to observe his behavior when he’s under the influence. If you don’t like the way he acts, and he isn’t willing to stop, you can break up over his actual conduct, which makes more sense than ending a relationship over family trauma and outdated assumptions that may not have anything to do with the situation you’re facing.
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I was adopted as a baby in the seventies through a closed adoption. However, my adoptive parents recently shared that they had a ton of information about my birth parents, including their names. With that information (provided by my birth parents when I was born), it was extremely easy to find them on the internet. After a lot of contemplation, I decided to send them letters with pictures and information about me, and an invitation for us to get to know each other if they were interested. I have a lot of empathy for them; they were only teens when I was conceived and had to make a hard choice in a time when there weren’t many options. I also understand the sensitivity of me popping back in their lives after more than 40 years. I’ve always been interested in doing DNA testing, but held back because I didn’t want to be that surprise. I thought starting with letters to them would be good, and then maybe I would send off my spit.
Well, my birth mother responded with a lovely email. My birth father lost his shit. He sent back my letter with a one-page rant where he demanded that I never contact him again, and that my presence was going to ruin his life and his marriage. That if his wife found out, it would kill her or him or both. He made some strange and concerning comments about how he chose life then and he chooses life now (!). It obviously shook him up, and I have no issue respecting his wishes to never contact him again.
But that leaves DNA testing. With the size of his extended family, I have no doubt that I would match to someone, which would lead back to him. Part of me hopes that he used my letter as a push to come clean with his wife, but that seems unlikely given the tone of his letter. What is my moral/human obligation here? I don’t want to cause him pain, but I refuse to classify myself as an asshole for existing when that existence is his doing. I feel like in our world of ubiquitous DNA testing, his expectation that this secret would remain hidden is completely unrealistic. So do I DNA test or just be satisfied with the information I have?
— Double the family Obligation
Dear Family Obligation,
“I refuse to classify myself as an asshole for existing when that existence is his doing.” I almost applauded when I read that. I really admire your clarity about this situation and the fact that, while unfortunate, it’s absolutely not your fault. Do the test. It’s up to him if he wants to lie or yell or refuse to listen or write more angry letters if members of his extended family contact him about your existence. You never know who you’ll meet through this process—it could lead to some really meaningful relationships with family members who are thrilled to know that you exist. Don’t let him get in the way of that.
My husband is a child of immigrant parents. His father died unexpectedly 18 months ago. His mother, while an educated woman, refuses to adjust to the new circumstances of her life. She just expects my husband to fulfill the role. Anything her late-husband took care of: getting groceries, fixing the car, getting plane tickets, etc. she expects her son to do. In person. We live over two hours away. I see my husband in daylight maybe once a week. Because when his mother calls, he drops everything and drives down to take care of it. It is ridiculous. I would understand doctor appointments or things like that, but my MIL refuses to accept drop off groceries or Uber or even a lawn service (my husband goes down to mow the grass). We offered to pay for it all, but no, everything has to be done by her son personally or there is a huge dump of maternal guilt. She just turned 50. I let it go in the wake of my FIL’s death, but sometimes I lie in bed and wonder if this is going to be our lives forever. What happens when, if, we have kids? My husband refuses to discuss it. He and his father were on bad terms when he died because he married me. I just don’t know what to do. I’ve told myself it will get better with time, but it hasn’t.
— Lonely and Alone
Dear Lonely and Alone,
She just turned what? 50?! Was that 5 supposed to be an 8? If not, it’s good to know that age isn’t an issue here and she’s not truly unable to do things for herself. But it sounds to me like your MIL is grieving, deeply depressed, and desperate for contact with her son. She and your husband are both struggling intensely. I imagine he’s feeling guilty over the fractured relationship he had with his dad, and that’s tough. But the thing is, none of that is your fault. And you’re totally helpless to support them through this if you’re being ignored and your concerns are being disregarded. If you see your husband in daylight once a week, because of his choices, and he isn’t communicating with you about a timeline or thanking you for your patience or asking you for your input, you’re not really married. The two of them are a family and you’re just … there.
That’s what you need to tell him: “This isn’t a marriage. I know you want to be there for your mom and I love that about you, but I have needs too and we need to work together to make a plan to get back to normal life. Maybe that means moving her closer to us. Maybe it means hiring help. Maybe it means getting her grief counseling and a job. But something has to change.” He risked his relationship with his dad to be with you, so there is obviously a lot of love there. I hope he can tap into it and prioritize your marriage yet again. Unless and until he does, absolutely do not have children.
My fiancé and I split up four months prior to our wedding. I am so distraught because I am in love with him and he loves me too. However, recently he’s suggested that love is not enough to proceed with the relationship. There were factors leading to this outcome. We would have disagreements which would escalate either to him shouting or me attempting to remove myself too cool off, and then he’d follow and I’d eventually give up and feel intimidated and match his energy because of this. Eventually I noticed he wasn’t treating me tenderly, and I craved that tender affection. I have given my love and heart to him. He is my true love. I would like for us to get back and resolve things, but I think he’s made his mind up. I’m heartbroken, as this is who I want to spend my life with, and every relationship goes through turmoil at some point. What do I do? I don’t want to lose my love.
— Can’t Take the Heat
Dear Can’t Take the Heat,
I want to push back on your definition of “true love.” That term should be reserved for people who you, at the very least, get along with. I know you care about this man and I know you’re attached to him, and I don’t want to minimize how hard it is to cut off an engagement and lose the future you’ve envisioned for yourself. But he’s right. The feeling of love is not enough! This was a bad situation, and it’s good that he recognized that. I especially don’t like his habit of shouting at you, intimidating you, and following you when you tried to remove yourself. This made me wonder if your relationship was not just troubled, but actually veering into abusiveness.
I also want to push back on the idea that “every relationship goes through turmoil.” No. Will every relationship have challenges? Sure. But whoever taught you that intense conflict was a normal bump in the road to marriage lied to you. When you find the person you’re supposed to be with, it will feel peaceful most of the time and—this is the key part—you’ll both want to be there, enjoying that peace and, when there is conflict, finding your way back together as quickly as possible.
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