When I first started dating Kevin, we went through the typical questions, “What’s your favorite color,” “When was your last relationship,” “What’s your favorite drink?” The getting-to-know-you phase of the relationship is honestly one of my favorites. There’s so much excitement in discovering details about your partner’s life. As a journalist, there’s satisfaction in gathering information on my “subject” and using that information to scribe our love story in my journals and repeat that story over and over in my mind.
However, when Kevin looked at me and answered, “I don’t drink,” a little pebble hop-scotched its way down my esophagus and settled into the pit of my gut.
“Recovering alcoholic?” I laughed, trying to make light of the moment.
“Not exactly. I’ve been there, done that and I threw away my T-shirt,” Kevin smiled, allowing the top left corner of his mouth to create a solitary dimple on that side of his smile. God, I love that smile. He continued, “I don’t drink or smoke. My only real vice is football,” he shrugged.
That same pebble from my gut jumped up and climbed its way up my throat and choked me. I’ve been here before. A few years ago, I was dating a man (Lawrence) who was on a straight and narrow path. Saint, he was not, but he preferred not to drink and shunned smoking in all forms.
I have a confession–while I enjoy a good cocktail, puff-puff-passing has become one of my major vices. I detest cigarettes and cigarette-smokers and despite how much of a double standard it sounds like; I roll a joint daily. I never allowed my habit to control my life; it’s just been something to look forward to and it helps erase my stress. But this isn’t about me justifying my vice. This is about dating a man who rejects your vices.
When I was dating Lawrence, he assured me that my vices were not a problem for him and they wouldn’t deter his feelings for me. He may as well, chopped, seasoned and sauteed those words, because he certainly ate them!
One night I was out with my friends and we decided to smoke before heading out. Lawrence called while we were in the cab and giddiness and of course marijuana smoke clouded my brain and my judgment, so I invited him out with us, “Hey babe! Meet us at Le Poisson Rouge!” I giggled before hanging up. I was excited for him to meet my friends for the first time since we started dating. I didn’t even think about being high around him; I just wanted to be around him. Quickly, I put in eye drops, chewed gum vigorously and doused myself in perfume. My friends looked at me sideways. “He doesn’t like the smell,” I lied.
We hopped out of the cab and into line. Within 10 minutes, Lawrence showed up, hugging me tight around the waist, then he leaned in to kiss me. With a smile lingering on my lips, we separated, “You’ve been smoking,” he said with venom in his tone.
My smile faded. Before I could even introduce him to my friends, he started yelling about how he couldn’t believe that I would have him around when I was “under the influence” and I should be ashamed of myself for even asking him. I stood there in an inebriated shock because as Lawrence verbally chastised me, he pulled himself away from my grip and walked away. It took about three weeks for him to speak to me again and when he did, he confessed that he couldn’t date me anymore because the smoking and drinking bothered him more than he thought it would.
So when Kevin told me that he’s not a smoker or drinker, I knew there would be an issue here. But just like Lawrence, Kevin assured me that there wouldn’t be. “You’re not an addict,” Kevin stated, “But please don’t do it around me.”
That was Kevin’s only request. I could easily oblige that. Or so I thought.
During one of our day dates, I had to tell Kevin that I would be cutting out bit early to meet up with friends for dinner. During this weekly dinner, my friends and I get high, play Wii, cook, eat, drink and be merry. In order to not make the same mistake I made with Lawrence, I told Kevin I could meet back up with him, but I chose not to partake in the smoking or drinking.
When I arrived at my friend’s house, a bottle of white was already slowly disappearing. I declined the first three offers and once my homegirl asked if I’d joined AA, I decided the buzz from a glass of wine or two would surely subside by the time I met up with Kevin that night. So, I sipped along with them. And once the joint started making its rotation, I said, “no thanks” until I couldn’t anymore.
“Two puffs won’t hurt,” I smiled, taking the small joint in my thumb and pointer finger. I exhaled. I thought about Kevin and I didn’t want him to be disappointed in me or worse, leave me standing on the sidewalk with my mouth open like Lawrence did. I passed what was left of the joint and went to the bathroom to wash my hands, swish my mouth in Listerine and squeeze Clear Eyes into my pupils. There I was again, covering up something I enjoy, but something the man that I like, hates. I looked myself directly in the eye, “This isn’t going to work.”
My phone lit up with Kevin’s name and I knew he was downstairs. I had no plans of ending it with Kevin, but I knew we wouldn’t work out. We kissed. He pulled away and I thought, “Uh oh.” He smiled, “I missed you.” I prepared to hear him accuse me of smoking and tell me it’s over. Instead, he grabbed my hand and we continued walking.
“I know you drank and smoke. I can’t control that. I asked you not to do it around me and you haven’t, but I know when you’re not with me, you’re doing one of the things I hate the most.” Kevin stated out-of-the-blue, without even looking at me.
He’d been thinking about my bad habits too. And he was right. I decided the easiest way to date him and still keep my independent life was to do the things he hated when he wasn’t around. That meant that I wouldn’t be able get White-boy-wasted with Kevin and share a night of reckless abandon. I also wouldn’t be able to share a joint with him and discuss our philosophies of life. Personally, these are things that I enjoy when I am dating someone.
“I’ve been thinking about that too. I like you. I want to be around you, but my vices are parts of my life that I am not quitting, at least not now…” I was starting to feel the words escaping my lips were going to end up being tied up in bullsh*t, so I stopped short. Here I was, dating someone who I had strong feelings for, but not strong enough for me to give up my vices. The bottom line that kept scrolling through my mind like a marquee was: Are you willing to give up on love before you give up your vices?
There’s a million arguments I could make to continue dating Kevin or to break up with him. I realize my vices are an addiction, wrapped up in a fancy and concise word, but they’re mine. I hate creating a weight of guilt to sit on my shoulders when I think about quitting my vices. I shouldn’t feel guilty for indulging in something that alters my mind. I could quit and I have before. I don’t get the shakes or cold sweats if I stay away from weed or drinking. But I don’t want to be policed if I decide on a Saturday morning that I want to wake and bake, go to brunch and drink mimosas until I can’t feel my face.
Have you ever broken up with someone because they don’t share your vices? Let’s talk about it @Rhapsodani.