#1113: Weed Allergies, Geek Social Fallacies, and the Gordian Knot

Ahoy Captain,

I am a part of a lovely circle of friends that at its core is good and strong and free of toxicity.

If you graduate out a bit in the social circles, we have a couple of friends that kind of move in and out of the friend group that are prone to dramatics (openly untreated depression because they say no therapist understands them, say things like “I don’t know why anyone even wants to be my friend, I’m a terrible person”, have chosen particular diets but never bring their type of dishes to potlucks so they passive aggressively make comments about having nothing to eat OR the host will make a special dish and at the last minute flake. Probably due to the depression(s), their homes are also at various levels of hoarding/uncleanliness-literal bags of garbage in corners, filthy litter boxes, etc. offers of “are you doing ok? Do you need help with anything” aka reaching out are met with indignation and weeks of “can you believe they insulted me that way!”.

These folks also smoke a lot of weed. Inside their homes and outside at other people’s homes (although if you ask them not to at your home because of piss test concerns from secondary they will begrudgingly stop). I am terribly allergic to almost all kinds of pot. I can be around the liquid form in vapes for whatever reason, but raw burning weed gives me a full body migraine that can last for days. I’ve tried many a website to research what makes this happen, and even went o the doc once or twice – with no luck.

However not inviting these people to my home for gatherings would be…..well I don’t have the spoons to deal with the fallout. But when I don’t go to their house often enough for one of their parties, i inevitably get a message or text “why don’t you ever come over? Did I make you mad? I feel like you’re mad at me? It’s because I’m a terrible person isn’t it? It’s a wonder I have any friends at all” and literally I want to chuck my phone into the river from frustration.

Because I’m not going to be THAT PERSON and go to someone else’s house and demand they not smoke pot. But I also can’t be in bed for two days to protect someone else’s feelings. And as an addendum, my spouse does have a piss test issue so I worry about it showing up if they get checked at random.


Not a Narc, just got bad genes
(They/them for anonymity)

Hi there,

Though your subject line was “MaryJane allergy,” this is not a weed question, this is a Geek Social Fallacies question.

You don’t like these people. It’s okay. Not everyone likes everyone. We don’t need a laundry list of their mental health concerns or judgy thoughts about their housekeeping or even allergies to try to find an objective reason for all of it, just own it and admit it to yourself: They’re eating crackers on the bedsheets of your mind.

Perversely, admitting to yourself that you don’t like someone can make it easier to get along with them when you do have to see them in social situations. Often, you can say a basic “hello” and make small talk for a couple minutes and then walk away to talk to people you like more without beating yourself up or recounting their faults in your head. Over time the dislike remains, but the dread and emotional investment toll goes way, way down.

Anyway, you’ve chosen…for now…to invite them to stuff at your house for the sake of social harmony. Hosts get to make the rules and it is absolutely okay to say “Reminder, my house is a ‘no smoking of anything house,’ even in the yard or garage or on the porch, thanks” as part of the invitation, and it is okay to remind people if they forget the house rules. If they act weird or grudging about that then a) that’s just fine, let them die mad about it b) if being without weed for a few hours is so unenjoyable to them, they don’t have to come!

Different friends have different rules for their houses, it’s the same thing as “Would you mind taking your shoes off” in a shoes-off house or “Hey, the cats are barricaded in the office, don’t open that door please.”

See also:

  • “Let the vegetarians at the pizza first so that all the cheese-only slices don’t get scooped up before they can eat”
  • “Watch the potty mouth around the little kids please.”
  • “The booze that’s on the counter is the stuff that’s cool to open, please ask before taking anything out of the cabinet.”
  • “This closet has the beach towels, please don’t take our nice towels down to the shore.”
  • “Felix is in recovery so we’re keeping everything booze-free.” 
  • “Lucien is deathly allergic to peanuts, please keep that in mind if you bring anything.”
  • “Our house really isn’t childproofed, nobody under 10 please.”
  • “Here are labels and sharpies – can you write down what’s in your dish?” 

PARTY RULES ARE FINE. You aren’t mean for having them. They help people know what they are in for and how to have fun. Making it clear up front cuts way down on how many little awkward negotiations you’ll have to do at the event. Own the fact that your house is not a weed house and make it loud and clear to your social circle, without apology or regret!

Also, your allergy is a very good reason to stop going to their parties that you dread, but you don’t have to explain beyond “Sorry, can’t make this one, thanks!” You’re allowed to manage both your own risk tolerance and your own social calendar.

If the people push back, asking if you hate them because you skipped a thing, what if you just said “That’s not it at all. You may not know this or remember, but I’m really allergic to pot smoke. It’s not personal, I just tend to avoid spaces where I’m going to be exposed to it.” 

And if they have a bunch of feelings about that they want to tell you, it’s okay to interrupt: “Hey, let me interrupt you – it’s really not personal. I don’t care if you smoke weed, I want you to have fun at your own party in your own house and not worry about taking care of me around this. I just can’t risk being flat on my back for 2 days with a migraine after every fun party! I’ll just see you at [other smoke-free event] when I see you.” 

If they keep pushing after that, they are 100% the ones making it weird, and you can be like “You are being really weird about this, please stop” or “I’m not mad at you but if you won’t let this drop I will be.” (“I have no idea how to respond to that, what would you like me to say right now?” is also a classic for a reason). Turn the tables of awkward and set yourself free!

I hope you eventually give yourself permission to hang out with only your actual friends in much, much smaller groups. Where is the pressure to include certain people despite your deep dislike really coming from? I hope you’re able to sort it out.


253 thoughts on “#1113: Weed Allergies, Geek Social Fallacies, and the Gordian Knot

  1. Yep, your house, your rules. Also, I go into anaphylactic shock when I smell raw or vaped pot, so I completely understand your concern about being out of commission! Best of luck!

    1. And with the cost of epi-pens these days, “I can’t afford to go to the place where the pot is” is the literal truth!

      Sometimes, people won’t believe about allergies, but they will believe “I can’t afford it.” Sometimes. Sometimes people are jerks who think that if you can afford to purchase visible object A, then obviously, you can afford to pay for hypothetical things B-Z, too. Because nobody saves up special for A. Or something. Some people are very stubborn about their preconceived notions.

      I’m glad that it’s being de-criminalized, as I think it will cut way down on crime, the way the crime went down after Prohibition was repealed. But I’m so sorry that people with allergies have to worry about that so much more, now. At least you can talk about it openly, and not have to be all sneaky, so that you don’t come across as a narc, right?

  2. Very nice real-world example of Geek Social Fallacies in action!

    We likewise keep our house a 100% no-weed zone because Mr. Glomarization absolutely cannot tolerate the odor. (Nowhere near as bad as migraines; it’s a lot lower on the scale of problematicness, I know.) If a guest were to take that personally, I don’t know what I can say to make them not do so. We love our friends, and their weed use is their business. But having weed or its odor in our house is a hard no, sorry. (Not sorry.)

    1. If you don’t want pot or cigarettes or vodka or bagpipe music or whatever at your house, you don’t need any excuse other than “I’m sorry, but we don’t allow that here.” Smoke of any kind – cannabis or regular tobacco – sometimes kicks off my asthma, though certainly not always. Nonetheless, I don’t like it, not even one little bit, I don’t like being around it, not one little bit, and if a miracle happened and suddenly tomorrow my asthma disappeared, I still wouldn’t like it, not one little bit. Anyway, we don’t allow it in our house. I should not have to use wheezing as an excuse, and in fact, usually I don’t.

      And you shouldn’t have to either, LW! If you want to – if you think it will make you and your guests feel better about it – you can tell them. But you don’t need any justification other than, “I’m sorry, but we don’t allow smoking here,” particularly for people you’re not especially close to. I mean, come on – it’s smoke! Lots of people are not all that fond of smoke, and you mustn’t let “Marijuana Should be Decriminalized”-guilt push you into allowing something you don’t want to allow.

      1. Marijuana SHOULD be decriminalized, and I don’t allow smoking in my house period, whether it’s pot, cigarettes, banana peels, or magical unicorn-hair pipeweed. These two statements coexist quite nicely in my universe, and I hope anyone else who feels/thinks the same can embrace the attitude and be forever free of guilt and manipulation.

        1. Agreed. I mean, it’s really not that hard to accept the idea of context here. You can simultaneously teach a five year old that exercise and self expression are good, AND that we don’t run around the house screaming; an adult can certainly learn that not all times are 4:20.

        2. Pot, cigarettes, banana peels, okay; but you can have my magical unicorn-hair pipeweed when you pry it from my hot, fictional fingers.

          1. You know that magical unicorn-hair pipeweed is Gateway Drug, right? From there it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to…Manticore Madness!

          2. Does the magical unicorn-hair affect if they are still attached to a unicorn? I have three smallish unicorns and now I am worried that there might be side effects.

          3. If you try to smoke unicorn hair when it’s still attached to the unicorn, you’re at a higher risk of more severe side effects like being trampled or gored.

          4. Evan Þ, I believed I was just high, but you are right, I was at high risk of being trampled. Luckily my unicorns are soft by nature. They probably hoped it was just that one time.

      2. “you mustn’t let “Marijuana Should be Decriminalized”-guilt push you into allowing something you don’t want to allow.”


        Politics is like that. You can be in favor of people having the right to do something, and still be adamantly against it FOR YOURSELF.

        1. Thank you for that! It really bothers me when people use any *thing*’s politically or socially fraught status as a reason you must be cool with this specific implementation of *thing*. I had a friend that would ask me to come hang out, and then end up picking up a random 3rd person somewhere that she’d come home and make out with while I sat at the other end of the couch feeling very awkward. I’m biromantic myself, it’s not homophobia, it’s feeling like a sudden unwanted accessory to your make-out-time that bothered me! Plus the whole “if I look at that half of the room I’m in danger of being offensive because I look like I’m leering… plus I’m really not sure I want to see some of what’s going on down there, but the TV is the only entertainment here, even if it’s 3am infomercials and televangelists, and it’s in that direction and oh god please why can’t stained pleather physically absorb a human I wish this couch would swallow me whole”.

          Of course said friend also would routinely forget to arrange for any kind of food when I was invited over, and spring this on me after the busses stopped running (the same reason I couldn’t get back to the dorms on the other side of town when she sprung said “you , so I had no way to eat that night except (maybe) walking a mile or so to a 7/11, if I could afford anything there (yay for being a broke college student!), so she uh, wasn’t great with caring about other people’s needs on any level.

          But her argument that I was being homophobic because I objected really chapped me, and this sort of reminds me of THAT level of extremity.

      3. “Decriminalization” ain’t got shit one to do with it. Cigarettes are lega,l but if you don’t want folks smoking tobacco in your house, that’s totally your prerogative. If they want a say, they can chip in on those bills!

        1. I call it the “skateboarding vs. marijuana” litmus test. Like, there’s a world of difference between saying “Skateboarding should be against the law, and everyone who does it is a total loser”, and “Please don’t skateboard inside my house”.

          1. whingedrinking, you found it! I have desperately been trying to find a thing to compare smoking cannabis to and skateboarding is a good one.

            I used to live near a big skateboarding park and when I started to hear the sound of skateboarding I always knew that summer had arrived. Perhaps, to some people, the smell of cannabis can be associated to freedom and relaxation, same as skateboarding. Still, I do not skateboard myself nor allow it in my home.

  3. LW, people do not get to make your home/yard smell like burnt skunk ass. You are 100% within your rights to say they cannot smoke in or around your home or property, and tell them to leave if they are passive-aggressive about it.

    How is it fair/sane that you cannot tell them to stop smoking pot in your home *and* their home?

    1. I think there’s a touch of “my issue is ‘legit,’ I’m not a [insert narc or other anti-conservative slur]!” here. You don’t have to meet some sort of threshold of legitimacy to stipulate a hard preference/boundary here and still be “cool,” i.e. non-judgmental. People have LOTS of reasons for not wanting to be in the vicinity of weed that have nothing to do with being “uncool” about it. And these reasons are not for others to police and require detailed explanations for self-affirming purposes.

      See also: public image, trauma, background investigations, “burnt skunk ass” smell, allergic and/or general health, religion, nosy neighbors, children, parents, and my-perfume-shall-be-the-only-and-strongest-smell-for-a-25-mile-radius. “I just don’t like it for nebulous and undefined squick feelings” is also a perfectly non-negotiable reason.

      Once you’re in that headspace it’s much easier to follow the second part of the advice regarding them vomiting up their feelings about all this.

      1. I have no idea what you mean by “anti-conservative slur” and was wondering if you could elaborate.

        1. Not to speak for SheRawr, but my guess for what “anti-conservative slur” means in this context is things like “prude”, “killjoy”, “wet blanket”, etc–the kinds of insults that mock someone for their supposed “uncoolness”.

          1. Ok that’s makes more sense. For me referring to something as slur is indicating that thing is really bad and offensive and as such is reserved for only extreme situations. So I was confused by the usage of “slur” in this context. Now I get that when the original comment said slur they meant “mean remarks and pressuring attitude”

        2. The ones that come to my kind are square and teetotaler, but I am An Old, so there enay be more-current slang for “person who is uncool because they don’t drink/smoke/whatever.”

          1. That’s what I was thinking too– conservative in the sense of dress, hobbies, or habits that are uncool, contrasted to the sexy / edgy fashion sense, extreme or avante garde hobbies, or recreational drinking / drug use that’s seen as liberated. It’s frustrating because I think (hope?) on some level people know not to judge someone’s character, or even their politics, by what they wear, watch on tv, eat, avoid consuming, or worship.

            But these traits and habits and bodily things just get so stereotyped and summarized, it becomes too easy for the shorthand to become conservative / prude / narc / teetotaler / watches Kids Baking Championship / boring, vs liberal / sexy / cool girl / can handle her liquor / watches Jessica Jones / fun.

            And, er, I’m very leftist, but I can only watch Jessica Jones through my fingers and ONLY if I am allowed control of the remote so I can pause it when need be, and it’d be nice if I can make herbal tea and watch Chopped Junior afterwards. I’m very impressed by cool ladies! But I’m not one, and I don’t want to lose my registered-Democrat-community-organizer cred over my square-ness.

          2. Yeah, I just don’t watch JJ, or GoT, or any of the hyperviolent shows or movies. I made the mistake of trying Atomic Blonde with some of my best friends and had to walk out.

            BUT! My friends don’t need me to make excuses, they don’t take it personally, we find other things to do together. (And I read the wiki entries for series that my husband is really into so that we can still talk about it)

          3. Haha, I’m in the same bracket! I’m super lefty-liberal in my politics, a “legalize it all” person, *and* I’m a pagan! But in my personal life and tastes, I’m so square I’m Wyoming – like a lot of other people I know. And I know several people who are really edgy and KEWL in their tastes, but are politically quite conservative.

            I’m also an Old, so I remember the 80’s when edginess and “cool tastes” mapped onto conservative killjoy/pearl clutching beliefs much more neatly, though by no means perfectly. Times have vastly changed in that regard. I think you can safely say “please don’t smoke weed in my house” without being a Nancy Reagan clone.

        3. I’m not SheRawr, of course, but I’ll take a stab at it. People who don’t like to be around weed are often seen as highly conservative, prudish, “pearl-clutching,” narcs, knee-jerks who just need to have a brownie, etc. Supposedly, if you’re “truly” progressive, you’ll be totally comfortable around someone smoking weed.

          I’m interpreting SheRawr’s comment to apply to “I don’t like this smoke, but it’s because of a health issue, not because of a political position that’s opposite yours, so please take me seriously and don’t make fun of me.”

          1. Pretty good interpretations from all – thanks! 🙂 sorry if I was unclear before.

        4. The sense I’m getting is that LW is wanting to avoid being labeled as the “type” of person who views marijuana use/legality as an objectively “bad” thing and thereby using the moral high ground to cast judgment. LW is trying to cast off this narc (or similar) label by having a “legitimate” objection to it. The “anti-conservative slur” verbiage (I may have included an unnecessary negative there) was an attempt at a generic term to encompass whatever labels or categorizations the LW is feeling the need to avoid, for instance, a negative phrase the pro-marijuana camp might use to characterize the opposition. The most vocal opposition to the legalization and recreational use of marijuana is typically associated with the politically conservative, hence my characterization, though I’m sure this is not universal. (I’m not trying to make assumptions about the LW’s politics specifically by the way)

          I’m just trying to separate policy/theory from operational use. For instance, I have no objections to pot being legal/used etc. However, I don’t want it in my space for various reasons. They, the LW, shouldn’t have to “legitimize” their objection to anyone for it to still be valid and their (or anyone’s) objection to it does not necessarily reflect their generalized stance on legality or usage.

      2. Can confirm in regards to assumptions and judgments. My “I don’t like the smell” got turned into “I would deny cannabis pain relief to my terminally ill mother-in-law.” This was also in a friend group that ticked off all the Geek Social Fallacies.

        1. Are these people Pro-Choice? Because if they are, ask them if they have to get pregnant, announce it to the world, and then very publicly have an abortion, and wave the bloody underwear around to be allowed to claim the title Pro-Choice? Or, can you say, “I support a woman’s right to choose, and my choice would be NOT to abort.” Or even “And my choice is personal and private.”

          Because that’s basically the same situation here. You support the legality of marijuana, but don’t want it near YOU. Explanations of why are really not necessary.

          1. I get where you’re coming from, but this analogy is really unnecessarily graphic and distracts from your point rather than helps it.

      3. The label of conservative, pearl-clutcher also comes with the label of being judgemental. I know as a “cool chick” in many aspects, I am prone to jumping to that conclusion. It doesn’t help that I live in a very segregated, red state where a lot of pearl-clutching comes with a heavy dose of judgment. “You like violent, nihilistic movies? You must be hell-spawned demon trash.” “You drink? You must be a worthless lush.”

        But the LW made it clear they aren’t judging those folks’ weed habits. It’s their lack of home training that’s pissing on her parade.

        1. witchsistah, I wonder if this attitude is more common in areas where being conservative is common?

          These days the sample conservative thoughts you expressed would be viewed here in Scandinavia as weird fringe attitudes but I remember that they were less so in the 1990’s. Back in those days in geek circles it was very common to actively hate conservative thought patterns; it was more of an identity than a thing one did.

          This has been a very interesting conversation culturally speaking so I simply had to bring up the attitudes about use of cannabis in my circle of friends and family. My husband said he knows a few people whom he knows occasionally to smoke pot but he has never seen them do it let alone bring cannabis to someone else’s home. He said that it would be a bit like bringing a gun to someone’s house – it could lead to unfavorable legal consequences. Many of my friends told that they were not aware of anyone in their circle of friends or family smoking cannabis.

          I personally know a few fellow geeks who actively oppose the recreational use of cannabis; among them a gay doctor (in his case, for medical reasons). In here being opposed to legalizing cannabis does not seem to be connected to being conservative. In my case I do not have a firm opinion on the matter: I feel that I do not know enough about cannabis. Certainly I am not one to judge the use of it as long as it is not done in my home.

  4. All this, yes. I have severe animal allergies. People are *offended that I can’t come to events. I’ve been scolded, including by family, for not “at least” coming by to socialize for a few minutes–at which time all the pressure is poured on to stay at the event.

    Here’s the thing: I used to cave to all these demands. I started taking (legal prescription) drugs in order to attend ppl’s social events. I still paid a hefty price in health and well-being after each event.Then I got older and started valuing my health more.

    THESE PEOPLE DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR HEALTH. They’re not evil, they just really don’t care about your health. That’s your job anyway. So I stopped giving a shit about it and started being honest: “Oh, that sounds amazing [it really did], but I can’t come because of the dogs. I’d love to come, but then I’d have three days of wheezing and sneezing and I really can’t do that. It’s very bad for me.” Then they’re in the right position: They have to choose between insisting and looking like a giant jerk, or letting you off the hook and at least *acting* like they give a shit about you.

    Full disclosure, they will still be miffed to whatever degree. And they’ll live, and so will you, and nobody’s social circles will collapse around this. And you can still invite them to things and spend time with them at other things not at their houses. This is such a minor ask on your part given the health risks you face around it. Let the problem people deal with the problem.

    Also, separately from the health problems, if you don’t like them, you don’t have to go their events or respond to their annoying fishing for reassurances. (Yes, I’m a bitch. Why do you ask?)

    Sending you love and support.

    1. great comparison! I think there’s a natural defensive with someone says “nope” to something that’s a big part of your life, be it dogs or weed, even if it’s for a totally legit reason. And I think that gets amplified when it’s something that has social stigma at all. I know I get a bit more defensive around someone who dislikes tabletop gaming vs. someone who dislikes hiking, even though I like both a lot. I do think a reasonable person will take a breath and realize it’s not a Referendum On Them. Also especially in geek spaces both sides can get really spun up about this, ie person 1 needs to explain a ton about their allergy/dislike/childhood issues relating to Thor or whatever and then person 2 needs to explain why they like Thor and why it’s important to them to have their Thor merchandise displayed and they are totally different than other Thor fanatics because it’s for a legit reason. “Love me, love my interests” kind of thing.

      1. Geek Social Fallacies 2, 3 & 5, mixed up together.

        Maybe ‘natural’, though as a geek, I’m inclined more to the ‘socially learned bonding tools of a tribe, stronger when the tribe feels persecuted’

    2. THIS. My husband is allergic to all fur-bearing animals, and especially to cats. His sister has dogs and cats and she clearly doesn’t believe that allergies are the reason we don’t go to her house. We tried twice, years ago, and he had sinus infections that lasted for weeks afterwards. She doesn’t get to insist on that.

    3. Yup. My MIL’s cats leave me choking for breath and nauseous. Her house is a soft-furnishing haven for trapped cat hair.

      I like my MIL and I have no ill-will towards her kitties, but I know that every time I go there I’m going to feel rotten. Now we have a grandbaby there’s pressure to go there and spend time, which I am more resentful of because my baby comes home covered in cat hair and I’m breastfeeding, so my husband has to strip my kid down to her smalls and wash her before I can have her close to me, which effing sucks. Wailing hungry baby covered in mama’s allergen is not a happy situation.

      1. OMG hard NO! Crazy cat-lady here, no kids, you come over to my house you deal with the cats, they live here and you don’t. Don’t wear expensive shoes; one of ’em likes to sharpen her claws on your feet.

        And even I am telling your MIL that if she wants to see the grandbaby she can damn well pay for a hotel room, and do a load of laundry and take a shower just before she heads out to the hotel.

        1. Hear! Hear! And you know what? If you’re local, and just want to visit, there are plenty of pet-free places around town where you can meet! Including hotel rooms for special occasions where you want to be able to put your feet up and pretend you’re at home. There are people who will take care of your pets while you’re away, too.

          I’m very glad none of my relatives have animal allergies, but if they did, I’d certainly never expect them to expose themselves to allergens at my house!

  5. Amazing advice. Thanks to geek social fallacies, I spent a LOT of time in my early and mid 20s with people I wouldn’t have chosen. Once I said to myself (and out loud to a partner at the time) “I would never be friends with this person if not for XYZ MUTUAL INTEREST, everything got a million times better. And I dealt with the fall out from creating my own little sub groups. But you know what? It’s been 10 years. I still see some people occasionally (though I did a cross continent move), facebook most people, and no one has died of anger or hates me forever.

    And now with my own social group of friends, we are all really tight, but we also straight up say party rules. These include “no kids”. I put this in every email I send with an invitation to my house, “We own two cats. They’ll be barricaded upstairs, we vacuum and run HEPA filters, but this will never be an allergen free house. We can go on the patio in nice weather and we also keep Benadryl on hand for guests.” And I have one friend who lasts two hours on the dot at our house before he says goodbye due to cat allergies. It’s the way the world works and it is FINE.

  6. One piece of advice from me: Do not let members of your social circle give messages from these people to you or to these people from you! Ever!

    “I don’t want to make this bigger than this is, so I’m only going to discuss this with Ezekiel.”
    “It’s not really a big deal. If Myra wants to discuss it sometime, she can talk to me, but I don’t feel comfortable talking behind people’s backs. It just stokes the flames.”
    “Again, I’m not going to let this be something that starts involving everyone in the group. I don’t have any problems with Jo Jo, and if he has any with me he can tell me himself.”

    1. 100% yes.

      The corollary to this is, if you do have a problem with someone, own it and don’t invoke the group. “I talked it over with everyone and we agreed that you should not do x” actually carries less authority/weight than “As a favor to me, could you stop doing x.”

      1. Also yes! And, letter writer, I know this is so much easier to say in theory than to do with your friends, but really try to believe that it’s not a big deal.
        Think how you’d react if a friend said to you, “Yeah, I really don’t want to build up drama by involving other people. Let’s just talk about the next Marvel movie and if Steve or Tony or Natasha want to say something to me about smoking pot at my house, they’ll just say it to me.” Would you yell? Would you refuse to see them anymore? Would it haunt your every night? Or would you just talk about the next Marvel movie and move on.

        1. Iiiii may have wrote a thing because of your comment.

          DRUGS AREN’T COOL!

          Steve Rogers grins toothily at the camera. Natasha Romanov is next to him with a winning smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes. Tony Stark is in his Iron Man suit.

          STEVE: Hi, I’m Captain America. And these are my good friends-
          NATASHA: Black Widow-
          TONY (through gritted teeth): -and Iron Man.
          STEVE: Y’know, as superheroes, we’re all pretty strong, but you know what won’t make you stronger? Illegal drugs.
          NATASHA: Taking drugs will slow your brain down, which makes it harder to think your way out of tricky situations. (looks up at Cap with a sweetly poisonous smile)
          TONY (dully): And they’ll slow your reflexes too, which is dangerous when you’re driving a car, and just as dangerous when you’re flying in your super-powered suit.
          STEVE: So if someone tries to tell you to take drugs?
          ALL THREE: Just say no!


          TONY: That was the… fifth-most embarrassing experience of my life.
          NATASHA: (scoffs) Fifth-most?
          STEVE: Hey, you guys lost the bet. Not my fault.
          NATASHA: Why do you do these idiotic PSAs anyway?
          STEVE: (with a shrug) S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted the nice, clean-cut American boy to give superheroes some good publicity since half of New York got destroyed. Teachers like ‘em. Parents like ‘em. Kids don’t give a crap. And it pays well, so, there’s that.
          TONY: What, S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t pay you enough already?
          STEVE: Do you have any idea how many groceries I go through? I have an absurdly fast metabolism. I ate a dozen-egg omelette this morning.
          TONY: Whatever. I’m gonna drink whisky and smoke pot until I forget about this. You guys in?
          NATASHA: Nah, not my thing. I’m going to the gym and beating the crap out of some punching dummies. (she leaves)
          TONY: Steve?
          STEVE: No thanks. You go have fun though.
          TONY: What, I can’t just smoke here?
          STEVE: Studio’s rented by the hour. Can’t leave it smelling like Mary-Jane.
          TONY: Okay, sure. See ya round, Cap.

        2. Honestly I can feel the “fixer” in the back of my mind yelling BUT WHY WON’T YOU LET ME SOLVE YOUR PROBLEM. There are definitely people who would feel like you’re being difficult for refusing to talk to them about this problem, because they feel responsible for making sure that all their friends are also friends. But as long as you’re clear that it’s not a referendum on the person, that’s good.

      2. Ugh….I *hate* the invoking of the group mind, especially when it’s nebulous not-naming-names “some people”/“and everybody thinks so” bullshit. It will only ever come off like everyone is ganging-up on the person in question. “Can you stop doing this thing around me, thanks” is a lot kinder and allows for face-saving.

        Here is a worthwhile article on how to identify and “pull weeds” from a group. It’s geared towards community leaders, focusing primarily on problematic people in the Neopagan community (which is made almost entirely of geeks), and the techniques are worth considering if you’re a ring-leader if any sort:


        1. I think “invoking the group mind” is a tactic people mostly use when they are still young and/or unsure of themselves, so they may take a poll (albeit probably from people they suspect will be like-minded) rather than relying on their own feelings and accepting them as worthy and valid even if other people don’t. It always strikes me as a way to ask, “are my feelings and reactions normal? am I being weird? is this ME or THAT PERSON? am I OK being how I am?” and to receive validation (or argument) in response.

          It definitely comes off as “I gathered a posse before confronting you about leaving damp towels on the toilet lid after your shower” kind of over-kill, at least to me, but I do sympathize with not being entirely sure you aren’t just being (supposedly) “unacceptably weird and obnoxious about something minor and doomed to die alone and be eaten by Alsatians because of your inability to hang with what ‘regular’ people can hang with,” because when I was a lot younger, I’d agonize over whether or not my preferences were OK to impose on others or whether my complaints were legitimate. I think “gathering a posse / polling the masses” is a defensive move to justify a complaint, but it is a pretty obvious and ineffective one! That just means your complaint or problem goes unaddressed for longer, in my experience.

          Honestly, the older I get, the more stuff I can hang with, but also the more defined the things I know I legitimately cannot hang with become, and I have less of an issue speaking for myself.

      3. Yes, this. A family member told me that his wife “doesn’t want to come to your house”. I used the response you suggested: “Sorry to know that; if she wants to discuss it with me, I’m open”

        Wife has not raised her concerns with me. To avoid Awkwardness, I don’t invite these folks to my home. Instead, I entertain them once in a while at a restaurant. I go to their home when invited; and am as pleasant and polite as possible. Drama avoided….works for me!

        1. And since she hasn’t told you WHY she doesn’t want to come to your home, you’re under no obligation *at all* to try to change and fix it so that she will come to your home.


  7. Cap is right, as always. You should not have to suffer just to soothe the feelings of a couple of quasi-friends. Say basically what you said in your letter. And, gods forbid, if they show up with weed anyway–“Hey guys, I made it clear in my invitation that I can’t have weed in my house. I’m allergic to it, and it will make me sick. I don’t know why you’d bring something that would make me sick into my house. This isn’t negotiable.” If they go into spirals of how you must hate them, well–“I don’t hate you, but I am honestly confused as to why you brought the thing I specifically said not to bring.” It’s on them to be good guests.

    You are not being a bad friend by wanting to avoid a situation that would make you sick, no more than my BFF who is deathly allergic to peanuts is somehow ruining a dinner by politely asking in advance whether peanuts in any form will be within ten feet of the table.

    1. Yes this! I had a new friend group social fallacy thing starting up when I moved to City. There were two people I did not really like. One of them actually took a shine to me and took me to dinner a few times but rather quickly I realized she was very toxic and every time I left her company I felt terrible and trod on for a few days. The other came to my party at my (and my partner’s) appartment the first time I met her cuz I invited “the group” and she was partner’s friendish, she never really talked to me, then cornered my friend in the kitchen for hours just ranting about shitty men and the shitty world and my friend couldn’t really escape her.

      CA was so helpful in affirming for me “we’re not that close” and I used it when my partner asked me why I didn’t want them coming back. “We’re not that close, and I didn’t really have fun with them and one time one of them left me in tears.”

      The one was hurt, I kinda ghosted on her more or less but honestly she was a bully and reminded me of my 2nd grade bully and I think she probably triggered me emotionally since every time I was around her I felt like I was suffocating while smiling. So I’ve made peace with the scalpel removal.

  8. Like many boundaries, it gets easier to maintain once set.

    “Stop going to any and all parties where you have to worry about running into -the thing you are severely allergic to-” is perfectly natural, and while there may be weirdness and drama at first, the group will adjust.

    “NotaNarc doesn’t do 420” will become the new normal, in time. People will learn not to bring their bongs to your place.
    Or they won’t, and they will stop getting to go to your place.
    Some annoying people may insist on pushing the boundary, and I encourage you to uninvite them if they do, AND to tell people why.

    For comparison, I don’t drink alcohol, at all (for reference I live in a place where weed is as legal as alcohol)
    It took some adjusting, and emphasizing that no really, I mean it, no I don’t want a little bit of wine for a toast, this is a hard no forever, but eventually most friends and family get it. There were bumps, where some people would forget and have no non-alcoholic drinks available at their events, but it’s mostly* ok now.
    I also noticed that when I decline booze, which is now easy thanks to practice, other people seem to feel freeer to also say no, even if they are occasional drinkers and not never drinkers like me.
    You might find that setting your hard no around weed emboldens other people to also say “no pot today/not here”.

    *Mostly. There’s always that one weird uncle who insists on offering me beer, sometimes several times per dinner. I am a broken record of no thank you around him.

    1. Nanani, yes, so much this. I am just like you, I cannot drink any alcohol; for health reason it is like poison to me and having even a little might cause very serious consequences (including psychosis, coma and death). My friends and family know this – but try to explain this to an inebriated person who really, truly wants to offer a drink… They just do not accept a “no, thank you”. Luckily, my friend’s trick of pre-filling a beer bottle with something else seems to work. Unluckily for me, in Scandinavia relaxing by drinking alcohol is very much the norm and I stand out like a neon pink sign. Initially it was also one of the most important reasons for me becoming as geeky as I am today.

      1. For sure. At events where most people are new/less known to me, I try to keep a glass in my hand of something like tea or ginger ale that looks plausibly similar to pre-empt drink offers. Solidarity, friend.

        1. I’m always the person who discretly asks for soda in a champagner glass. Works well.

          1. Wow, I truly am not alone in here! It is great to be left alone by drunken people – but how do you stand their inebriated stories which often make no kind of sense whatsoever?

            Also, has your not consuming any alcohol affected your house rules? I come from a family where drinking alcohol is limited to one portion so the problems related to it came as a little bit of a shock to me. I have never really explained it to anyone so perhaps I have just been very lucky, but people visiting us have always limited their use of alcohol to one portion. I guess that is house rule for us: the guests can drink one portion, but we do not (usually) serve any alcoholic drinks.

          2. I was going to suggest this too, as a way of not making a big deal out of not-drinking. You just accept the wine or cocktail or whatever, touch the rim of the glass to your lips, then put the glass down or discreetly pour a bit in a flowerpot at intervals. But the thing is you shouldn’t have to. Saying no thanks, no alcohol, but that cranberry juice looks wonderful if I could have some of that please, that ought to do the job. You shouldn’t have to lie about not drinking. Nor should you have to offer an excuse– like the only people who are allowed to skip are the ones who have a medical excuse, and everyone else is required. Gah. Recall that offering once is polite. Offering twice with even a twinge of “oh come on, you should,” that’s totally rude behavior.

          3. @Convallaria majalis (out of nesting) Drunk stories are often the best comedy I encounter, even if, or especially if, the person is difficult to understand. I like to watch their facial expressions (or hand gestures or whatever). They’re their own unique form of surrealism.

            I mean, my entire friend group still gets mileage out of the time a (very, and unusually, drunk) friend of our told us that “nines were good and sixes were four” when talking about a phone number.

          4. @sistercoyote, you definetely have a point. With some people I trust it is actually very much fun. One of my friends – a big, burly, hairy man – starts to giggle at everything he hears. Another always seem sober even when hugely drunk and he has given me very good lessons on how to act like I were drunk. Unfortunately, then there are people like The Charming Dude. My ex-husband considered him one of his best friends and I never understood why. Whenever I met him he was wasted and very rude.

            Being around strange drunken folk often makes me uneasy as I never really know how they are going to behave. Once, after a big win in one of the most popular winter sport in my country a heavily drunk man threatened to assault me. I was lucky to have my huge prison guard friend with me; if he had not been there I do not know what would have happened. That experience has made me more wary and timid.

    2. Agreed. It’s really hard to do it the first time, but it gets easier the more often you do it (and generally speaking, most people will stop taking it personally if they see it happen consistently, repeatedly, and in various circumstances).

    3. Wow, no non alcoholic drinks at ALL, not even for mixers? That’s really surprising to me. I hope you found something you could drink in the end.

      1. I was going to comment on that as well. That’s not weirdness or social fallacy – that’s just straight up being a shitty host. You should ALWAYS have non-alcoholic drinks available at a party, even if everyone on your guest list drinks like a sailor. Even if you have no teetotalers that you know of, someone is likely planning on being a designated driver. And even your guests drinking alcohol may want to pace themselves by alternating. Why would you ever throw a party where you served alcoholic beverages without at least one non-alcoholic option?

        1. Personally, neither my husband or I drink anything other than water and electrolyte mices and I personally have a huge objection to the sweetened drink industry and won’t spend money on it. I tell guests it’s BYO anything but booze, unsweetened juices, and electrolyte tablets. But it sounds like this was just rudeness.

          1. spd, I LOVE electrolyted mice. They are probably in great condition for running around!

            I just wanted to join the chorus here: not serving any non-alcoholic options, whoa, what a truly bad way of being a host! Designated drivers aside, people may have so many extremely private reasons for not drinking that it is just mean to not even consider that option. Making guests beg for non-alcoholic options aloud just makes them feel miserable, non-welcome and different. Besides, in order to stay properly hydrated when drinking alcohol, do they not recommend to drink one glass of water or something else non-alcoholic for every portion of alcohol?

            Besides, at least here in Europe the non-alcoholic beverages are in vogue – and there are so many good options: non-alcoholic wines which actually taste great, non-alcoholic ciders, you name it.

        2. Corrolary for restaurants: do you have a fabulous wine list and … the Coke or Pepsi family of soft drinks? Thank you for spending absolutely zero time considering what people might like to drink that’s not wine.

          I’m not sober, but I don’t drink, and I like something to sip with my dinner too! I am Very Judgemental about restaurants that blow it on this front. (Happily it’s fewer and fewer, at least in my Major Metro Area.)

        3. Not to mention the possibility of a pregnant person who is not yet ready to make the announcement (possibly for fear of a miscarriage, or something). Or someone who is temporarily taking medicine that doesn’t play well with alcohol.

          Even if you know for a fact that your entire friend group are regular drinkers, you always provide some non-alcoholic options for those who “just aren’t in the mood for it tonight.”

        4. Agreed – it’s like an incredible faux pas in my circles, like having only meat-based snacks. Sure, jerky is nice (to some, not me) but you gotta have at least a bowl of chips as well!

          (Where I dance also has not only a bowl of mints out the front, but a bowl of sugar-free mints as well; we have diabetics, and some prefer the different taste, and having both options just normalises it for those people who want them, let alone need them!)

    4. +1 Also non-alcohol drinker and violent media non-watcher, people get it and move on.

    5. “NotaNarc doesn’t do 420” will become the new normal, in time. People will learn not to bring their bongs to your place.
      Or they won’t, and they will stop getting to go to your place.”

      THIS. I don’t do smoke. Not 420, not cigarettes, not cigars, not effing campfires. It makes me sick. It took a while, but people have mostly figured it out. I get invited to go to Vegas with group, but they say “you should know in advance, that Vegas has smokers everywhere! We really want you to come, but understand if you don’t want to.” If I go to a party and the whole place smells of pot smoke, I just bow out and if anyone asks, I tell them that the smoke was bothering me. People know that I won’t go sit on patios if there are smokers, etc. There may be things I miss out on (see: annual trip to Vegas) but for the most part it’s now normal. Erika is really bothered by smoke. The end.

      Sometimes things aren’t as bad as you fear. My son’s best friend’s father is a smoker, and they live in a mobile home. My poor kiddo has come home sick each time he’s tried to spend the night there. It took me until literally this week to figure out that hey, Son is my kid! I bet that smoke bothers him, too! I was nervous when Best Friend’s Mother asked my son to spend the night again, and I had to turn her down. I explained about the smoke and told her that her son was welcome to spend the night at our house pretty much whenever he wishes (such a good kid) but that my son can’t spend the night at their place. I was so afraid of it being a problem but, Friend’s Mother was cool. Told me she understood, that she’s not happy about the smoke in her house, either, and has no problems with sleepovers just being one way from now on.

      I’m crossing my fingers that things go better than you think they will once you speak up.

        1. They do have very good smoke scrubbers in basically every public place, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never get a whiff, unfortunately.

    6. I can’t drink alcohol OR fizzy drinks (they hurt my tongue/back of my throat) and I hate coffee. People get really confused when I insist that I’m fine with just water, please, really, water is great, I love water!

      I feel like they think that I’m the most boring person ever but if they’re being really insistent, what works for me is to get a cup of water for myself and then if someone offers me a drink, I just go, “No thanks, already got one!” and they’re usually too polite to push for alcohol or fizzy drinks instead.

      For an actual allergy though (in my case, fish and seafood), I am very up front about, “No, I’m allergic to that. I could end up in hospital and probably missing days of work while I recover.”

      If someone doesn’t care if they make you sick, they’re not your friend and you don’t owe it to them to care about their feelings.

  9. I know the LWs are sweet people who keep their letters brief for the sake of all our eyes and The Captain’s time, but I really wish I knew more about the “don’t go to Weed-Cracker People’s home enough > self pitying text asking about it” cycle. Has the LW not said “I’m allergic to weed, can’t come over”? Does the LW say that and do the WCP get defensive, or tell LW that can’t possibly it LW MUST hate them, or go on and on about how if you don’t accept pot then you clearly don’t accept them?

    It’s been a blessing in my life to nearly always have been surrounded by reasonable people, but I’ve never had a problem with “love to, but the [insert thing I’m allergic to] keeps me away yet again. See you next time!” The few times I’ve gotten a little pushback (“but we just vacuumed!”) I just assume they’re trying to be nice and indicate they will miss my presence, and insist “you’d be surprised how much [allergen] lingers, unfortunately. I’m sad to miss it but have a great time for me!” and it’s never gone further.

    This is why I’m so curious about the conversations LW has had with the WCP’s about this. Are we talking about excessively oblivious/boundary pushing people? Or people who’ve never actually been told about the allergy?

    1. I have a food allergy. In addition to this, a couple of years ago I had to cut my alcohol consumption way back due to health issues. The people who have given me the hardest time about not drinking as much anymore all turned out to have their own issues with food and alcohol. I guess my choices triggered them to take my boundaries really personally, and try to interpret them as a referendum on them and on our friendship. Sometimes people will also use your boundaries as a reason to express their passive-aggressive feelings about you. Like, for instance, my in-laws, who continually “accidentally” buy foods with my trigger ingredient in it and then promise “we’ll just wash our hands really well!” Except they don’t, they never do…which is why I now insist that they keep those foods shrink-wrapped in plastic until they leave my house, or else I’m throwing them in the trash, and I don’t really care anymore what they say about me.

      I know it sucks, but remember: in every case, when people give you a hard time, it’s not really about you.

      1. Guava, I agree with you; so many of my experiences support this theory. The worst booze pusher in my life turned out to have trouble with drinking; when I first met him he vomited all over his own kitchen and later that night harrassed women on street. What a charming dude (not).

        What your in-laws are doing sounds mean and hurtful and for my life I cannot understand why they keep doing it.

        I wonder if it would be ok to just ask: “Why is this [consuming alcohol/eating food with allergens in it etc.] so important to you?”

        1. Oh, I know exactly why they’re doing it. It’s their way of taking a dig at me. I like to cook and try not to eat too much takeaway, and to them, this is a sign that I’m riding on a very high horse. Since my trigger food is generally considered to be a health food (think: strawberries) they moan on about how healthy they’re being while endangering my life.They suck for a variety of reasons, but when they do shit like this I have to remind myself that they are showing their own arses. I’m sorry you’ve had this experience too.

          1. Oh, Guava, what a mean behaviour from your in-laws!

            I love to cook, too, and definetely not because of riding a high horse or anything. I just love the act of cooking: the ingredients, the smells and feelings and the possibility to create something with my own hands. I sympathize with being allergic and having to endure that kind of assholery. I used to get that, too, in 90’s since my Japanese ancestor managed to pass their lactose intolerance to me. Comments like “Oh, poor you, milk is very beneficial! How can you live like that?” became very familiar – and the worst, the “potato salad” which was just cooked potatoes. Aargh. Luckily, nowadays we have really great lactose free milk products in here.

            Lots of strength when dealing with your in-laws!

          2. Convallaria, I am right there with you on the cooking love. I could play hashtag bingo with these inlaws and win a prize. The good news is their kids love my cooking and tell me they look forward to seeing me in part because of my food, and that…goes a long way. Also lactose intolerant, and I cannot eat kale either! fistbumps all around 🙂

          3. Wow, Guava, we certainly have many things in common – though I wish I could borrow my in-laws to you, they are wonderful. I am very happy to hear that their kids love your cooking! I wish delicious dishes could be sent around as attachments or something; I would LOVE to taste your foods, too.

            Also, my stomach is not a big fan of kale. :S So, fistbumps all around from me, too.

      2. Your in-laws are shitty, and tangentially, I hate it when people promise to ‘wash their hands really well’ or else follow cooking-with-an-allergen-around protocols as if that fixes everything. It’s extremely difficult and tedious for people who actually know these kinds of protocols and follows them regularly, let alone random people who almost certainly haven’t thought it through and do not have any kind of training in how to actually not poison anyone.

    2. I can’t speak for LW, but I definitely know people whose reaction to a declined invitation, even for explicit health and safety reasons, is an intense, deep feeling of rejection that they then turn into accusations against the decliner, fury, or a slew of begging for reassurance against the self-shaming insecurity that the rejection caused.

      It strikes me as a specific kind of symptom in some disorders (note: I am not a doctor)– like whatever emotion the person feels upon experiencing rejection taps into some deep, dark place so immediately that they don’t have a moment’s clarity to process the legit, not-on-them-at-all explanation for LW’s declined invite.

      I have read that this mental experience is sometimes called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, and it is disproportionately present in people with ADHD, which suggests it’s a symptom of executive dysfunction. During RSD, a person may be temporarily rendered incapable of feeling empathy for others because they are hyperfocusing on this internal, painful experience. There are good articles about this in ADDitude Mag, an online magazine dedicated to studying and coping with ADHD. It describes RSD as extraordinarily intense in the moment, and a bit baffling and embarrassing afterwards.

      Or, it could be that LW’s associate isn’t having such a truly extreme reaction, but they have a social phobia that evokes an automatic defensive response to perceived rejection.

      And, honestly, as someone who has phobias myself (not social) the fact that I rationally know that the thing I’m afraid of isn’t really going to harm me can’t circumvent my initial panic response. Unlike a fear of social situations, the thing I’m afraid of is easy to avoid most of the time, and I only engage with it while seriously medicated, so I’ve got a lot of empathy for someone who’s phobic of something they really can’t get away from.

      To be 100% clear, I am not saying that if LW’s associate has a mental illness or feels intense anguish over rejection, then LW has some imperative to never reject them, continue to pretend to like them, or put themself in harm’s way to avoid hurting associate’s feelings. In truth, LW does better by everyone by being honest about whom they genuinely like or dislike (without insulting people, of course), and setting a good example by prioritizing their own health and safety.

      I only mention all this because I hope that if someone with ADHD is reading this, and they see themselves in LW’s acquaintance (between the RSD, potentially self-medicating with weed, unable to complete household chores like laundry and garbage, frustrated by therapists who keep mis-diagnosing them with depression and subsequently judging them for not following the CBT workbook [when that might be impossible with executive dysfunction]) I want them to know that they aren’t Bad People.

      Not a great friend for LW right now, but still a good person. Who, heck, maybe can get a lot better treatment and feel a lot better if they get the correct diagnosis . ADHD is tough. Hang in there.

      Also, again: I am not a doctor! I cannot diagnose LW’s acquaintance, I’m just throwing the info out there.

      1. THANK YOU from a fellow ADD’er who got diagnosed with depression over and over again. I am female, smart, shy, usually quiet… I’m the picture of possible depression. It took forever to figure out there was something else there. ADD ran amok in my life for decades.
        I also have no idea what LW’s associates real deal is. I’m just grateful to see a reminder of the many ways AD(H)D can manifest.

  10. When they start getting into the self-deprecation (now please reassure me) cycle, might it help to reframe that to them? ‘[Person], if I were mad at you, or hated you, or thought you were a terrible person, I would tell you. But it upsets me when you put those words in my mouth; it feels like you’re accusing me of lying, and that’s a pretty stressful situation to be in.’

  11. Thank you for the reminder that it’s okay to have house rules, and that having them doesn’t make you a pearl-clutching, fun-hating jerk.

    I too wouldn’t go to someone’s home and demand they not partake in certain habits they enjoy, however, if someone was inviting me to a small gathering in their home, or inviting my boyfriend and I for a couples’ night, I may say “I’d love to see you! However, I seem to be allergic to marijuana, would it be possible for you to refrain from smoking it while I’m there?” I can’t imagine a person would be unable to smoke for a couple hours while they have company that can’t tolerate it. Similarly, I’d turn down a party invite by saying “Thank you for inviting me, however I tend to have a bad reaction when around marijuana smoke, so if people are going to smoke it at the party, I’ll have to decline this invite.”

    1. You can even have house rules about stuff you do! I smoked cigarettes for 15 years (just quit!) but I didn’t smoke in my house or car, and other people were also not allowed to smoke in my house or car. A couple of people were weird about it for a couple of minutes a couple of times, but they got over it.

        1. Thanks. It’s literally been the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I would punch teenager me in the face GLEEFULLY if given the opportunity!

          1. Ha! Feeling you on that one! Congrats, though, and hope it gets easier as time goes on. My Pavlovian drooling is mostly gone now but for a while it was the same mighty lust every time I got in the car, went to a bar, or had a stressful situation.

      1. This! My weird house rule is “no food and no drinks other than water, gin, and white wine may be consumed on the sofa.” Can you tell I love my sofa? *I* do eat while sitting on it when I am alone, but then it is my fault if I spill something. I’m just more at ease if guests are not eating chocolate, crisps, coffee and red wine. Do my friends laugh at me for this? Of course they do! But they stick to the rule and they understand that the sofa is important and we can eat at the table and eat crisps on other chairs.

        1. When I entertain people in my home I take a minute with everyone, before they step beyond the entry way, to go over my house rules: shoes off, no feet on my coffee table, no smoking, don’t touch anything that isn’t yours. If there are little kids in the group I add: no standing on the furniture, inside voices only, and no running or jumping inside. This is my home. I get to set boundaries. I have a friend who has an anything goes approach to having people in her house and it gives me such anxiety that I can’t go to her parties. She asked me once why I never came, I told her the volume of the kids she let run through the house overwhelmed me to the point of tears but that I knew she loved letting her kids do those things so it was best that I don’t attend. She agreed. We’re still friends. She and her kids respect my rules in my home and we get together in public spaces where that stuff doesn’t bother me (it’s literally just in small, confined spaces with lots of people and noise that sets me off.) I do get weird reactions from friends every once in a while to my house rules, but they always respect them…and come back later for another party.

        1. One of my friends bought her own house a couple of years ago, and she has the worst time convincing her mom that it’s not cool for her to smoke in there. Her mom justifies it by saying that my friend has a lot of animals, some of whom are smelly. Except. . . it is MY FRIEND’S HOUSE, AND SHE SAID NO.

          People are aggravating.

  12. Excellent advice here. And my gosh…if someone can’t go without their Thing for a few hours at your house….or is going to get huffy because you physically must avoid their Thing….well, they’ve actually got bigger problems than your boundaries! My friend dated a guy that absolutely HAD to have a beer in his hand anytime he wasn’t at work. He would get blood-boiling mad if they wound up at an event that was alcohol-free. Like, seriously? You can’t spend a few little hours drinking something else??

  13. Another idea is to have a “dinner party” and gosh you can only fit 8 (core) people around the table so the second tier friends won’t be invited.
    “Why isn’t Shaggy here?” ” I just wanted to do a smaller dinner party this time.”

      1. When I was an awkward child my mom used to ask me how many people I wanted to invite over for parties, then tell me that that was the max amount of people I was *allowed* to invite. That way I had an out if anyone heard about the party and was offended they weren’t invited. I could just say, “Sorry, my mom said I can only invite 9 people” or whatever and nobody could argue.

        It’s a little harder to finagle as an adult, but I can confirm that it works. You just have to find an activity with a set number of participants, like one of those mystery party games or something.

    1. Yes! My friends mostly accept the smaller groups plans without comment, but I always have at the ready the excuse of my apartment is ridiculously tiny and only had seats for 5 people (including me).

  14. Wow – how timely. I just had a spat with my sister about this very topic. She ALWAYS wants to toke up, and sometimes I am like… can we not? Sometimes, I don’t want to get high, sometimes I want to have a sober conversation with my sister. Can’t we JUST have some visits where we aren’t stoned? No? Ok… that is totally YOUR issue. But yeah, every single time it comes up. Every. Single. Time.

    Even if she doesn’t “get it” or continues to pressure me, guilt me, blow smoke at me, or even attempts to pass me the joint… even though I said “no thanks” every time before that…. I have to remind myself… this is HER problem. Not mine. I just don’t wanna sometimes! And now sometimes is becoming ALL the time because she won’t stop pushing my boundaries.

    This advice was great, and maintaining firm boundaries are key here. People-pleasing for people who don’t listen/respect you is a waste of your vital energy. Here here Captain!

    1. Ugh, that sounds frustrating. I’m sorry that things can get tense with your sister! It can be really hard to shake a habit, so it might be easier to do something with her that she might not normally associate with smoking? Like going out for brunch or something?

      1. Thanks for the message, I feel for LW, navigating taboo social constructs is tough when you are a peace-maker and believe in the good in everyone. The recurring theme in the comments seems to be to establish boundaries, and stay firm! Wormy entitled-ists seem to put other peoples needs below their own, like they have a “right” to toke wherever they please. The most firm boundary so far, one that has stuck, but still receives eye-rolls, is not going in the car with her!

  15. I love The Captain’s answers – and it is time I include “I have no idea how to respond to that, what would you like me to say right now?” into my repertoire.

    I live in Scandinavia, so obviously we have some cultural differences here from the culture in US. For example, we do not usually use shoes inside and smoking pot is very much illegal in here and can lead to a lot of legal trouble. I only now realize how different it must be in US since I do not believe I know anyone who would allow smoking pot at their home though I must admit I have never asked anyone about it.

    Having house rules is more than ok, it is almost a must, for one’s own comfort and health and I find it very impolite to protest about it. I always try to make my home and foods I offer as accessible as possible – but unfortunately having cats makes it impossible to visit for people who are allergic to them. When I want to see those of my friends who are allergic I try to invite them to a picnic or visit them at their place.

    In here, especially in some bigger cities, we have legal restrictions to smoking tobacco, it is forbidden in many places, including balconies and some individual houses have even more restricting rules. So, sometimes it is not even about house rules, is just about rules and legislation. I cannot really think of a person who would wish their friend to have trouble with police or neighbours as friends.

    What The Captain said about admitting that you do not like these people being liberating is a very important thought. For a long, long time I also bought to the Geek Social Fallacies but being aware of them, owning one’s own thoughts, likes and dislikes can be very relaxing. I live with cats because I love them and they are part of our family not because I want to make my friends with allergy uncomfortable. For you it would be just fine to forbid smoking pot in your home because you dislike it and no-one should feel the need to argue about it; I find it very crude that they argue about it, knowing about your allergy.

    So, dear LW, what do you like doing? Your circle of friends does sound nice (minus the on/off acquintances) – but how about meeting some new people? If you happened to get a few new friends it would take off the pressure of belonging to this group and bying all of its inherent geek social fallacies.

    Best of luck and may you bee free of nasty migraines!

    1. Smoking pot in someone else’s home is NOT common behavior in the US.

      A handful of states in the US have legalized marijuana use by adults, plus another 30 or so have legalized medical marijuana, but it’s still illegal under US federal law, so it’s not risk-free. And as LW indicates, some jobs require testing, so even if it’s legal in your state, it could still cause you problems.

      In fact, I’d be shocked if someone tried to light up tobacco in someone else’s home if the home person were not also a smoker. Smoking tobacco is also forbidden in many public places, but people can smoke in their own homes, provided it’s not prohibitted by a landlord or homeowners association.

      1. “some jobs require testing, so even if it’s legal in your state”

        The first time I was job hunting in WA after pot was legalized here, the recruiter said, “This position requires drug testing…using FEDERAL standards. Is that going to be an issue?”

      2. This.

        Even when I was a smoker, I never smoked inside (my spouse is very sensitive to it), and I would have absolutely lost my shit at anyone who tried to light up in my house without asking. I go outside to smoke, you can too.

        1. I lost my shit at someone who started vaping in my house without asking a few years ago. It blew my mind.

        2. Wow, then it sounds like the culture concerning use of marijuana is not that different in here and in US, after all. For some reason it does come up a lot for example in tv series and in movies so perhaps my impression that it is more common comes from there. I have a few (male) friends who look kind of hippie-ish and they say that encountering people selling pot on the streets is a regular happenstance for them. Perhaps being a teetotaller has also affected how my closest friends are.

          I have never personally been asked about drug testing in a work interview nor have anyone else told about such a question but some of my friends working in a hazardous environment (for example, in a laboratory where dangerous chemicals are tested) regularly go through drug tests.

          I have been in local geek circles for decades and I have heard that in some groups smoking pot is done, but those groups are usually considered somewhat notorious. Of course, I am in my 40’s but even my children do not seem to consider it a casual thing. I have no idea how I would react if someone actually asked me if they can smoke pot in my home: my husband HATES tobacco smoke so pot would probably go to the same category. In here smoking tobacco is nowadays considered somewhat, uh, embarrasing so very few people would ask whether they can smoke inside; they usually try to hide their habit.

          1. Yes, it sounds like our countries are more similar than not in this respect.
            I’m in California which was a leader in the fight against tobacco, so it’s been decades since smoking has been the norm. And although there seems to be a pot shop on every corner now, I’ve smelled pot maybe three times since recreational use became legal. Those who predicted we’d be engulfed in clouds of happy smoke were delusional.

          2. I know there are people around who do smoke pot casually and easily, but I’ve never known any of them well. Definitely not super common in most parts of the US, although I don’t know about in the states where it’s been legalized. In case you’ve never been around it, I would bet a million that your husband would hate the smell of pot even more than tobacco – it smells incredibly rank. The LW is probably young and urban and arty, my ancient soul wants to say.

          3. It’s worth bearing in mind that the US is a very large country with a very diverse population. On my travels, I’ve met people who didn’t even know what pot smelled like, and people who were going to Amsterdam as weed tourists, and everyone in between. I’m Canadian, and where I live marijuana use is very common and highly normalized despite being nominally illegal; the same wouldn’t be true if I lived in a different region.

          4. Else- I grew up in suburban Southern California, and even when I was growing up in the 70s & 80s pot smoking was really common- I was aware of it even though I grew up in a family of teetotalers, and was a goody two shoes that who wouldn’t even say “bad words” until I was like 14 or so.
            I lived in a small town in Washington state for a couple of years in the early 90s, and same- weed smoking was EVERYWHERE…and I lived in the Capital, which had tons of bored cops with little to do. I never met anyone who got in any kind of trouble for smoking or having pot.
            And then there is Humbolt…
            There are definitely places where it’s been common for a long time, long before legalization or even approval for medical use.

            And cigarette smoke is a very different smell than marijuana smoke, and won’t necessarily smell equally bad to someone. I hate the smell of cigarettes, always have, and am actually allergic to tobacco smoke, & can’t be around it- but I always liked being around my stoner friends, because I think the smell of pot smoke is actually quite sweet & pleasant. It also does not cause me any physical distress, like cigarettes do. No one- friends, family, parents, SOs, roommates- has *ever* been allowed to smoke cigarettes/tobacco in any place I’ve lived, but I’ve never minded people smoking weed at all.

          5. I’ve lived in various parts of New York City and San Francisco, and in my experience it varies substantially by neighborhood and subculture. Generally speaking, though, one wouldn’t go to someone’s house and expect to be able to smoke anything unless one had already seen them smoke in their house, or unless it was specified in the invitation. All the smokers I know have a “not in the house” rule about tobacco. Pot is trickier to smoke outside in places where it’s illegal, but as that shifts here I’m definitely seeing more people smoking pot on their front stoops the way they do tobacco.

            When my mother was first dating the man who would be her second husband, in the early 1980s, they flew to Northern California so she could meet his parents. After dinner, his parents put a big bowl of weed and a pile of rolling papers on the table as “dessert”. My mother was pretty deeply in the Greenwich Village bohemian writers scene at the time and had still never seen anything like the total casualness of that gesture.

          6. Wow, what fascinating experiences you have, thank you for sharing them!

            I grew up in quite a Bohemian environment: my mother’s circle of friends consisted of theater lovers who had locally famous actors as members of their family so I grew up in the 70’s playing happily while the actors smoked inside. I remember how rays of sunlight looked in the curtain of light blue, almost opaque cigarette smoke. Nowadays that would be unthinkable.

            It sounds like how common smoking pot is differs greatly depending on the area and subculture. Here in the geek circles even being drunk while playing role playing games is sometimes considered a weakness; this varies from group to group. I am sure that there are groups where smoking cannabis and playing is done though it is probably not much talked about due to cannabis not being legal. Here the police forces have a strict attitude to cannabis: police finding cannabis plants in someone’s apartement makes it to the news and the sentences are quite severe.

            I have visited Amsterdam (for the art and the amazing botanical garden) so I know how pot smells, it has a lingering sweetness to it – and yes, my husband hates the smell even more than the smell of tobacco.

    2. Yup, Australia (or at least Western Australia) has a lot of rules about smoking (tobacco – pot is still illegal here) in rental leases as well. To the point where these days, if you’re a regular smoker, you’re probably going to be paying an extra bond to cover the costs of cleaning up the soft fittings (curtains, carpets etc) after you leave AND you’ll still have a condition in your lease saying you can’t smoke inside the house/unit/apartment. This may also extend to covenants on apartment buildings even if you own your particular apartment – I don’t know for certain.

      I suspect if marijuana does ever get legalised in Australia, what will happen is existing rules surrounding the smoking of tobacco will be extended to cover it – not within 5 metres of the entrance to any public building; not on any government property (federal, state, local); not inside restaurants, cafes or nightclubs; not inside offices etc.

      1. It will depend on how the leases are worded. I moved out of a complex last year that had long time tenants who exploited the difference between “smoking tobbacco products is prohibited” and “smoking is prohibited.” They we’re fixing it with a mandatory lease addendum at renewal, but that was a long process.

      2. megpie71, sounds a lot like the regulations in here (on the other side of the world, imagine that). In here the laws are being made even more strict: smoking (tobacco) will be illegal on bus stops and many other public spaces in a year or two. In speaches politicians have told that the aim is to completely ban smoking by 2030.

        Here in bigger cities we have a shortage of rental apartements so people wishing to smoke inside are pretty much out of luck. Smoking on balconies is usually forbidden and sometimes this applies to yards, too. Some of the changes they are making have been copied from Australia, I understand.

  16. Q: “why don’t you ever come over? Did I make you mad? I feel like you’re mad at me? It’s because I’m a terrible person isn’t it? It’s a wonder I have any friends at all”

    A: I don’t remember if I told you, I’m really allergic to weed, it makes me pretty sick for several days afterward. Looking forward to seeing you soon at (non-weed event)!

    Don’t even address the requests for reassurance. Your efforts haven’t, and won’t, work. So don’t exert your energy on things you want to be free from anyway.

    You aren’t being a bad friend by not taking them up on their bids for reassurance. These are beyond normal friendship bids for reassurance. These frustrate you and they don’t help them. I suspect that’s what makes you want to throw your phone in the river – they are saying “help meee” but not accepting any help (help that incidentally takes emotional labor on your part). So, just stop. And enjoy the relief. And any time you feel guilt, just send them well wishes, prayers, good vibes, whatever resonates with you. But make sure you transform any guilt into something positive that you don’t carry.

    1. I stopped responding to these kind of fishing comments a couple of years ago, and it’s such a relief. The most I give someone is “I’m sure it sucks to feel that way.” Otherwise I usually just ignore all the subtext and respond only to the question asked. I actually haven’t lost any friends over it that I’m aware of — the stuff that actually reassures people is all going to be stuff that maintains a friendship anyway — and I’m annoyed a lot less often, so it’s a win-win.

      The way I see it, the part of them that’s craving reassurance is a little monster that will never be satisfied. It’s eating up all the compliments so they can’t reach the place they really need to go anyway (which is whatever self-esteem issue sits at the core of the problem). So I don’t feed the monster. Maybe it’ll starve, maybe it’ll just get noisier, who knows, but it’s not getting anything more from me.

      1. Same. I’ve been burned really hard by a couple of abusive people who loved to trot out those lines, and now I just… don’t. It’s incredibly freeing.

        (I have lost friends over it. Still worth it.)

        1. Come to think of it, there are some people who’ve faded out since instituting this policy and the two things could be related. Whatever, still worth it.

  17. Who on earth are these people who pressure you to invite these folks even though you’re not fond of them? It does not sound like a very good or strong or non-toxic thing to do.

    1. Ah, just people who have fallen for the Geek Social Fallacies, hard. When I stopped inviting Toxic Person to my parties, one friend in particular gave me a hard time. “It seems eighty percent of our social circle exclude Toxic Person now, it just makes me feel even more obliged to invite him.” I responded, of course, that he was obliged to do no such thing, and the fact that Toxic Person was excluded from so many gatherings should be a very clear warning sign about him.

      A decade on, guess who’s finally been uninvited from friend’s parties? “Wow, I should have just stopped inviting him years ago, I just feel so much more relaxed without him around.” Yep.

    2. Exactly. Those people sound like missing stairs. They certainly seem unpleasant to be around – the amount of emotional labour they require from everyone sounds positively exhausting.
      LW, feel free to dislike those people and avoid them. It’s your house and you’re free to invite (or not) anyone you like. If your circle of friends is truly great and non toxic, you shouldn’t get any “fallout” over it.

    3. Yes, I am really hoping the LW can find a way to become comfortable with not inviting people they don’t like into their own home. When I’m having a party, I always ask guests to ask me first if they want to bring anyone else. This is really just to make sure the three or four people who are peripheral to my social circle but that I really don’t like don’t show up.

      Possible scripts:
      “[X] and I have some history, and while I’m okay casually running into them at someone else’s event, I really don’t want to spend time with them in my own home.”
      “[X] and I just don’t really click, and I want to be able to totally relax at this party.”
      “It turns out I really prefer hosting smaller group events.”
      “I wanted to invite [New People] so I didn’t really have room to also invite [X,Y,Z]”
      “There are too many people to invite everyone to everything. I’m just going to have to mix it up.”

      Of course, you don’t have to use any of these if no one gives you pushback – it’s really not their business who you do and don’t invite to your own home, or to an event that you’re putting in the effort of organizing. (Except in circumstances of there being someone they really need to avoid for their own safety).

  18. When you’ve dealt successfully with this particular problem, I hope you will give a lot of thought to Cap’s last sentences: “I hope you eventually give yourself permission to hang out with only your actual friends in much, much smaller groups. Where is the pressure to include certain people despite your deep dislike really coming from? I hope you’re able to sort it out.”

    You are not responsible for acquaintance’s well-being, unless you are an abusive person. Your acquaintance’s sense of being a bad person is inside them. You do not have the knowledge, power, familiarity, resources, or responsibility to change it. You have a resonsibility for your own well-being. Finding out where the pressure is really coming from can be helpful. I am happier since I found out my internal source of pressure to generally do stuff that I do not like for people I do not care for – even if I still choose to do some of those things.

  19. A person can be depressed without being manipulative, manipulative without being depressed (or think of it as one, the other, both or neither). You can separate them in your mind (even if the Weedy People can’t). You can be kind to the person with depression while putting up appropriate boundaries for the person who’s manipulative– even if they’re the same person. You can be sympathetic with the depressed part; you can say that it sounds tough, you can offer once again to help find good medical care, you can basically be considerate and good. At the very same moment, you can be boundary-firm with the manipulative part: You can say no to inhalables; you can set the rules in your own house. You can turn down invitations with a breezy and honest “no thanks, the smoke makes me sick,” and that still makes you considerate and good.

    1. Yup, there’s dickheads, mentally ill people, and mentally ill dickheads. You’re not obligated to bend over backwards for a dickhead just because they’re also mentally ill in some way.

      1. Perfect. This should be worked into the serenity prayer somehow so it can end with “the wisdom to know the difference.” The hard part is separating the dickhead from the mentally ill.

  20. The fact that the non-friends’ smoke of choice is weed is almost a red herring.
    If the non-friends wanted to smoke good ole all-American red-blooded tobacco, LW has the same right to forbid it in their home and to decline to go to non-friends’ home. If it were the coolest most fabulously delicious incense, LW has the same right to forbid it in their home and to decline to go to non-friends’ home. Ditto perfume.

    That weed can have legal implications is only an extra argument.
    Frankly, if you have to pull out the legal implications of weed to get someone to not smoke it in your home, they’re not your friend. A friend will respect “I don’t want it in my home” and “I can’t come to your place because [X] makes me ill.”

    1. Yup. I don’t care about weed but tobacco can occasionally send me into really nasty coughing fits. Accordingly, I don’t go with my friends to bars with smokers, and I don’t hang out at houses with smokers. It’s not a moral judgement, I just don’t like coughing a lung out.

    2. Yup. No one gets to smoke anything in my home. And i won’t spend time in anyone’s home where others are smoking, or burning incense, because I really hate the smell.
      For some things, I’m *also* violently allergic (cigar smoke, for some reason, is the worst, which is sad, because to me, the smell is nothing like as bad as other types of smoke)
      But I shouldn’t have to explain “you can’t smoke in my house because me leaving in an ambulance will ruin the party”, simply saying “You can’t smoke in my home” should be enough.

  21. LW, Captain’s advice is spot on, and I hope you will give yourself permission to set boundaries on what happens in your home (“please don’t smoke weed in my house” happens to be an exceedingly reasonable ask of guests). Also, forgive me if this is too nit-picky or derailing, but it makes me really uncomfortable that you refer to “openly untreated depression” as an example of “theatrics.” Whether or not someone is choosing to seek treatment (and it really can be prohibitively difficult to find a good therapist), I’d avoid describing symptoms of depression as something done for dramatic effect.

  22. This might be an unpopular post, but here goes: I think the weed plays more into their behavior than people realize, and I base that on experience with too many pot smokers who I knew both before and after they started smoking pot. I agree that Geek Social Fallacies are definitely at play among the group as a whole.

    LW, be prepared for massive, snarky, increasing pushback from the potheads that will probably involve trying to expose you to the smoke as much as possible. As in, doing things like showing up at your house already smoking when you open the door, though for all I know, they’re already doing this. Or not smoking for a while and then lighting up in your bathroom. I’m not kidding.

    Yes, yes, not all pot smokers are like this, but these ones sound like a few I’ve had to deal with, one of whom was a housemate (who started smoking pot against house rules) who became so volatile that I had to flee, as in, pack up in a couple of days and go stay on a relative’s floor. These people are not handling the weed well *at all*.

    Their texts about why won’t you see me, what did I do, blah blah blah, are emotional blackmail. They’re playing on your sense of being nice and wanting to care so that they have their audience for their drama. Don’t hang out with them. Please don’t hang out with anyone who wants you to hang out with them. Yeah, I know, easier said than done.

    Look at what they’re doing — they reluctantly stop when a drug test for someone else is mentioned, but they won’t stop so you can avoid feeling ill for two days? They prefer weed to you. Stop being so concerned about how your actions affect them.

    1. Cosigned. My experience with Darth Ex and the harder-core stoner members of his social group was very much like this, and I’ve seen it in other groups as well.

      They understand “drug test” as a necessary evil. (Sometimes, anyway.)

      They go out of their fucking WAY to NOT understand “No, seriously, this makes me severely ill and I need to not be around it.”

      It’s not the weed itself, necessarily (I knew and know a lot of pot smokers that are not like this) but there is something about stoner dudebro culture that tends to go to the “you’re just trying to spoil my FUN, [choice of female slur]!” place awwwwwwfully fast.

      1. It’s not so much dudebro as stoner in general (we’ll have to agree to disagree on how they reach this point, I know). That housemate I mentioned was female. But yes, the “go out of their fucking way to not understand” — it’s like once they find out you don’t like it, it becomes their goal to expose you to smoke. It’s bullying, really.

      2. >>Because I’m not going to be THAT PERSON and go to someone else’s house and demand they not smoke pot

        BE THAT PERSON. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that person! That person is totally OK!

        I mean, it sounds in this instance like you don’t really want to go over to these people’s houses anyway, so that’s another solution. But if you’re in a situation where there’s someone you do like, and they anoke pot, and pot makes you ill, there is literally 0 wrong with saying, “hey, pot makes me ill, so can you either not smoke it when I come over to yours or we go somewhere else where you don’t smoke it?”

        And the same would apply if you didn’t get I’ll, but just didn’t want to be around pot. It’s really ok if “don’t smoke pot around me” is the price of entry to hanging around with you!

        1. This. If a friend is working on sobriety, I put the booze away when they visit. I don’t throw a tantrum about not being allowed to drink in my own home. If there is some reason they can’t visit (like pet allergies), then I don’t insist they come to my house. And my friends do the same.

      3. I think part of it is the strange mythologically grand idea people have about weed these days.

        After being told it will basically kill you dead instantly or make you a zombie all through their childhood and teen years only to find out that it probably wasn’t that serious and might be beneficial in certain cases and have their opinion of it swing in the opposite direction. I think many folks have erroneously concluded that weed is now magical and can never EVER be harmful in ANY way and anyone who tries to claim to have bad reactions is lying/making excuses to ruin fun/needs to be re-educated. I see this a fair amount from people who wax poetic about weed’s benefits while also clearly displaying some problematic usage patterns like “needing” to be stoned just to do routine activities.

        These people, thankfully, seem to be few in my experience but these ideas are definitely a thing.

        1. Agreed, I’ve seen it a lot with people who are in the first few years of their weed usage. I think some people take a weird, unhelpful pseudo-activism attitude when it comes to marijuana and it does everyone a disservice.

          Pushing back against people who don’t want to be around marijuana (for genuine health reasons or *shudder* you dare to have merely a personal preference) is about the only way it’s safe to be vocal and active about how Weed Isn’t Evil Why Is Alcohol Accepted When It’s Much Worse For You No One Knows How Harmless Weed Actually Is You’re Just Brainwashed. The number of people I’ve met who insist pot smoke doesn’t linger, or that the odor is minimal/easily rid of is astonishing. These are also the same people who conflate “a glass of wine to complement dinner every day or so” with “getting intoxicatingly high every day after work”.

          This is alienating to people who just want to have a substance-free interaction, and I have to imagine it only makes the people who react in that way feel bad. How demoralizing it must be to hear “please don’t smoke in my house” and internalize that as “you are a smelly criminal out of your mind on dRuGz who does not deserve to come into my home”, and feel the need to defend yourself and your activities on those grounds.

          1. I think a not small subset of weed proselytizers are also at least somewhat aware that they might have an actual problem or at least might have had that suggested to them. The knee jerk reaction of insisting that weed is ALWAYS harmless and NEVER addictive and is basically like a vitamin makes a lot of sense as a defense if their degree of use would raise eyebrows were it any other substance.

        2. Yes! I have known people like that, who basically equate you as an individual not liking* weed as you being somewhere between the world’s least fun person and Jeff Sessions. Pot can interfere with untreated depression (which LW believes they have) pretty similarly to how alcohol can interfere with untreated depression. A person might not act like an alcoholic per se, but their behavior can turn increasingly self-centered or immature.

          The more any of these people, or the LW’s friends, try to guilt them into being around the pot smokers (and therefore the pot smoke), the more the LW should stay away.

          *That acquaintances in the letter are skipping over the fact of the LW’s allergy adds another level of ignorance, though it’s hard to say whether they’re ignoring it because they love pot, don’t understand allergies, have too much GSF, or all three.

      4. Yeahhhhh, at a certain point people are just choosing ‘not to understand’ why you can’t be around stuff like smoke, and it’s okay to nope out of being around those people.

    2. This exactly. My ex and I both smoke pot, but they would do things like “if invited to an event where smoking is not okay, just get really really stoned beforehand and show up reeking of smoke in all their clothes and hair,” which wouldn’t help at all if it was an allergy issue, and that’s the first thing I thought LW’s not-friends would do if they’re that bad at being sober — start getting all rules-lawyery and smoking up in the parking lot or on the drive over or what have you.

    3. It’s probably a smoking thing – tobacco smokers were often just as bad before society really got into the “no, you guys stink.” To quote Hal Sparks “you stink, and apparently it’s news to you because what’s the first thing that goes on a smoker? Your sense of smell – well how fucking convenient for you! I love it when a smoker comes over like ‘hey man, can you tell I’ve just had a cigarette’ – can you tell I’ve just shit my pants? Yes!”

      You get used to it, and smoking dulls your sense of smell. Consequently, you really can’t tell how badly you stink to everyone else and you think they’re all just being crazy.

    4. Yes, people like this are fairly common in some places and they react so poorly to any non-enthusiasm about being around pot because they are addicted to it and they cannot stand any negative ideas about it. They might try and buy CBD oil or other products for LW to fix their allergy or even just start spouting off unrelated ‘studies’ or information about it in response.

  23. Dear LW,

    One more voice telling you that having rules for your home is reasonable.

    I hope that you’ll soon be able to acknowledge that you don’t like these acquaintances. Wheb you do, you’ll find cutting them off of your guest list, and out of your home, much easier.

    Jedi hugs if you want them.

  24. You don’t have to put effort into maintaining a close relationship with people you don’t much like! You don’t have to invite them to things you’re hosting. You don’t have to go to things they host. All you really ‘have to’ do is be reasonably sociable when you see them at your friends’ events (and even then, it’s less an obligation than a social nicety; you can refuse to associate with them at all, it’s just often easier to be civil when you’re mostly neutral towards them).

    If you shift from being inclusive to acting neutrally towards them, they might question it at first. (This is the ‘Are you mad???’ line of questioning you’re already seeing.) One way to handle this is to just make your excuses and change the topic. You can blame not inviting them to things on any number of excuses–limited space is a good one, –and wave off invitations to their places with ‘Sorry, still super allergic to pot smoke’, which is hard to argue with. After a while, your lack of active engagement will become the new normal and they’ll likely stop questioning it.

    1. Just start saying, to yourself and to others, “We’re not that close.”

      “We don’t hang out much anymore.”

      It’s acceptable to fade out a little, to dial down. To decrease the intensity.

      You don’t have to condemn someone or declare them an enemy to have them in your life less.

  25. I’ve got a very close friend with a severe weed allergy who is also usually the social director of that particular friend group. She discovered her allergy by walking past an open door at a party where people were smoking inside the room and passing out on the spot. LW, yours is the second such allergy I have ever heard of, and if my friend’s experience is any indication there may be people in your life who you know or suspect to think your allergy is fake; I just want to validate you that it’s very real and you’re not the only one.

    Anyway, the fact that Friend is the cruise director of that particular circle meant that in short order anyone inclined to cause drama about her allergy and their Feelings about it was pretty much out of our lives. I tend to have very little patience with people who pull that crap about someone else’s medical/biological reality and I don’t miss them.

    1. Seconded. Ever since pot was legalized where I live, it’s getting more common to smell it on the sidewalk (or bus, or subway, etc.), and about half the times that I just smell pot, I get a headache that is just below migraine level, especially if it’s in a more enclosed area. It took me a really long time to connect the two as a potential cause and effect, and until I read this letter, I was still holding back on allowing myself to believe that they were definitely related. I’m sorry for what the LW is going through here, but I’m glad to hear about another person’s experiences with pot allergies, as it helps me validate my own experience. I hope my account also helps LW (or others) banish any brainweasels that might be telling them that this isn’t a real thing.

      LW, if someone casually does something that they know will cause you a two day migraine, that person is not your friend, and you don’t have to treat them as such.

      1. Total sidenote, but just to correct a common misconception: A migraine is not a “level” of headache, it is a type of headache, and can be moderate to severe. It has specific symptoms, although what those are can vary from person to person. If it’s got those symptoms, though, that’s what makes it a migraine, not how painful it is, and, conversely, even a really bad headache is not a migraine if it does not have those symptoms. Migraines are a specific phenomenon, not just a really bad headache.

        1. So much this. Learning that my head pain was a migraine and that I could at least try to avoid certain triggers was life changing.

          1. I’ve had debilitating headaches all my life. One doctor told me that these headaches were NOT migraines. We still haven’t managed to figure out what they are, but they’re not migraines.

            Fortunately, I now have something that works on the headaches, so, YAY! And it’s not migraine medicine.

        2. I discovered some time back that I had been having migraines for twenty-plus years without realizing it. Which sounds impossible, but my migraines are 100% visual migraines where I have mild to severe visual disturbances. I was in my late 30s before I had my first severe visual disturbance – I couldn’t really see anything in my center field of vision because of the “electric eel worms” – and didn’t realize till some years after THAT that I had been writing off migraine symptoms to bright lights or eyestrain.

          tl;dr: migraines don’t even necessarily involve pain

          1. I had the aura for the first time when I was in college–with, as you say, no pain–and I honestly thought I was having a stroke.

        3. There are also ocular migraines, which have aura and other symptoms without head pain, and there are headaches that develop light and sound sensitivity as a side-effect of how severe they are, not because they are migraines per se. And the other type of extreme headache include cluster headaches, ischemic or real strokes, and asphyxiation headaches.

        4. Sorry for the imprecise language. I used that wording because I get both migraines and headaches, and there is definitely a difference in intensity and duration between the two with regard to how I experience them. Some of my headaches are quite mild, some of them are pretty bad, but none of them are as bad as the migraines I get, so for me “sub-migraine-level” is how I’ve been mentally describing my worst headaches to myself. I totally get that they are separate things, though, and appreciate that other people experience them differently. Thanks for chiming in to clarify this.

          1. Oh, I understand what you mean now. I just have a habit of adding in that information because so many people don’t know the difference between migraines and difficult/intense headaches and many doctors do not even inform patients of what the difference is or how other forms of headache differ. A lot of people go totally un- or mis-diagnosed and suffer through treatable or even curable pain, or have more serious problems get worse in the meantime.

  26. I have friends who are seriously allergic to cats. So they don’t come over and I make sure I’m wearing a clean shirt when I go out where they’ll be. Weed shouldn’t be any different.

  27. Weed – even secondhand – trips my GAD like crazy. I get super paranoid, obsessive, I stress out, it’s not a good time. I also used to hang out with people who smoked it a lot, hence how I know.
    But when it became apparent that smoking while I was around was bad for me, people… didn’t? Even in their own spaces, they’d go outside or leave the room or just put some distance so I wasn’t breathing in that good ol’ anxiety smoke.

    These were hardcore stoners, too, so it’s not like it’s not possible to be considerate. And as always, anyone who won’t be considerate? Give yourself permission not to spend time with them, they’re kinda jerks.

    1. My Mom has assorted breathing issues. Smoke triggers them and her house has always been a non smoking zone. Smokers go outside. Mom was stunned to go to a card game at another couple’s house and walked into the kitchen to discover the wife quietly chewing out her husband about smoking in THEIR house “because MOM is here and will get sick! Go outside!!”

  28. Even if they are the hardest of hardcore stoners, edibles and tinctures exist. If they really couldn’t have a good time without getting high, they have plenty of options that would keep the space smoke-free if they were willing to make the effort.

  29. I just… okay, maybe not the main point, but even as a former smoker, I’m kind of astonished at the rudeness of assuming that it’s okay to smoke anything inside someone else’s home without it being explicitly offered. Because OP makes it sound like they have to be explicitly asked (and possibly given excuses) not to light up and that’s just… bzuh?

    And while I don’t partake, I know a lot of potheads, and not a one of them would behave like this. Rude as hell.

    1. RIGHT? Their behavior is baffling. Even the fourth-worst person I’ve ever known, who among many things was an enthusiastic pothead, wouldn’t light up in SOMEONE ELSE’S HOUSE without explicit permission, and even asked OUR permission before toking up when we were guests in her space. And let me reiterate—she was the fourth-worst person I’ve ever met! Argh!
      PLEASE don’t feel bad for enforcing boundaries around this, especially since it affects your health/your spouse’s employment. Not that you need extra justification beyond Don’t Want To Be Around It, but still.

    2. I agree! That’s just rude and entitled! Though with all the letters to various advice columnists dealing with people who just bring their dogs to others’ houses without permission (and expect to be accommodated) there seem to be a lot of takers out there!

    3. I mean, apart from anything else, my pothead friends are careful about whom they even discuss smoking around until they know the person is okay with it. We’ve got medical marijuana in Michigan, but it’s still federally illegal, and you can’t be too careful about that stuff.

      It’s also been interesting to me to observe that my slightly younger friends whose only experience of bars has been after you could no longer smoke inside them, when intending to smoke anything at all, do so outside as a matter of course, even when it’s literally 6 degrees out.

  30. As for secondary smoke appearing in pee tests – I’ve asked pee-testing doctors about it, and was told that it wasn’t a problem. This was at a time when I was visiting heavily smoking friends several times a week and being tested every fortnight. It is a question that your husband could ask his personal drug-testers, or could be further researched on the internet, but in my experience it is fortunately something you don’t really have to worry about.

    1. The Firefighters and Emergency Tech here are randomly drug tested. It’s a firing offense if you’re positive. Every so often they get a call where the pot smoke is HEAVY and they go out of service after reporting it to their Chiefs. We had an incident in my city where someone had a lot of pot in the oven, they turned it on to preheat and forgot to take the pot out. Which started on fire. And generated smoke. Lots of smoke. And may have spread to the kitchen.

  31. I have to politely disagree–after a certain point, this -does- become personal. I have migraines too and after the first dozen times you tell someone that you can’t be around them because of the ever-present cloud of perfume/weed/cigarette smoke, it is personal. If they really wanted to be around you so badly, they’d remember that smells that are almost -visible- are going to put you in a world of hurt. Are they going to reimburse you for the days you can’t function?

    It doesn’t mean they can’t do whatever weird smelly things in their own spaces and times, but if they want to see you they’ll take care to respect your needs. NEEDS. These are health needs, not whiny spoiled demands. Whereas smoking weed is just a want, not a need (please don’t @ me, med marijuana peeps, if they were using it medically these people have even less reason to disrespect her allergy).

    Tell your friends straight out–this is a medical issue. If they can’t respect your health and your safety over their desire to get high, they aren’t your friends. You’re not asking them to change their whole lives, just behave safely around you.

  32. I feel like the “it’s not personal, it’s just the smoke!” elements of the scripts may just stir some shit, given that it clearly is personal. In addition to the smoke. State the smoke and leave it, that’s plenty.

    Actually I would go straight to the Miss Manners all purpose “I’m so sorry, I just can’t.” You don’t need justification not to go to their party. You don’t need to dance to present the idea that you feel any warmer than you actually do. Even if they believe you, the prize is what. More invitations!

    Politely and flatly decline, best for all.

  33. I want to get after this: “However not inviting these people to my home for gatherings would be…..well I don’t have the spoons to deal with the fallout.” Is the fallout you mention only from the folks not invited, or do you also get it from others? Is there any “Why didn’t you invite Steve and Natasha? You know they love 7 Wonders!” Because if there is, shut that business down–and maybe get your spouse’s help with that.

    Actually–is that a possible strategy? To have your spouse do some of this heavy lifting? Have Spouse send the invites/declines, and if they get pushback, they can say, “Come on, you know LW is allergic to cannabis smoke.”

  34. Husband and I have some hard and fast rules that may sound stuffy, but the fact is, I’m from the US (we live in the U.K.) and visa laws here are STRICT AS HELL. I absolutely cannot and will not allow any activity in my home that might come with a risk of police being called on me. No illegal downloading online (Husband balked at that one until I sent him some articles), Husband has to pay for the TV license instead of viewing it illegally, no hard drugs, no wild noise parties, no pot smoking outside/in conjecture with things like wild noise parties. Just. My ability to stay in my home is much more important than your feelings. I don’t feel bad at all for laying down these rules and sticking to them, and you shouldn’t either, Lw.

    One thing, though: Could you lay off the crappy, judgmental remarks about depression? I’m going through a hellish, immobilising depressive episode right now. My kitchen is disgusting, I’ve spent three days in bed, and I sobbed on the phone last night to my husband that I am too fat and stupid for anyone to like. It is really not something I can control right now, and the thought that people I consider friends might be snarking about me behind my back to strangers is really devestating, as was coming here today and reading your somewhat scathing and scornful takedown of literally everything I’m going through right now. It’s fine to not like these people, but could you check that ableism, please?

    1. I’m really sorry for what you are going through, and I hope you are feeling a lot better soon.

      However I’m not sure the LW really attributed the bad behaviour to depression as much as all that. They mention the depression only in two contexts: these people saying they can’t get help for Reasons (which…oof. And the reasons are not even ‘I can’t afford private therapy and there is no free therapy that will take me’) and the part about their home spaces showing they are not coping. And that was followed by the LW saying that they, or at least the friend group as a whole, have offered help with this.

      The parts about the friends doing the old ‘no one wants to be my friend because I’m so awful’ was not attributed to depression. And it strikes me now, thinking about it, that if someone wrote in to CA and admitted to behaving that way to friends and outer social circles they would be told off strongly by some of the commenters, even if it was mental health related. Look at the letter a while ago with Astrilde.

      I’ve been battling depression for years on end and so is pretty much everyone I know. I tend to assume everyone around me has experience with depression because it’s my reality, so I kind of assumed the LW may also know what depression is like first hand. I may be totally off the mark with that, of course.

      1. I don’t think Cherries in the Snow is entirely off base. I found LW’s description of depression symptoms as “theatrics” troubling, to say the least. It wasn’t entirely clear to me whether the LW linked the conditions of the home spaces to depression, but they definitely came across as judgmental about it. It’s also troubling to me that you suggest there are acceptable–and thus by implication, less acceptable–reasons for people not getting help for depression. Not that it should even need justification, but being unable to find a therapist you work well with is a common and completely legitimate reason to not do therapy (as is almost any other reason one might cite).

        1. ‘It’s also troubling to me that you suggest there are acceptable–and thus by implication, less acceptable–reasons for people not getting help for depression.’ Yeah, you’re right, sorry. That part of my comment was poorly worded, I was running out of lunch break time when I wrote it and didn’t have time to word with care, but I should have added a clarification later. To be clear, you do not have to seek help with depression, and you can choose not to for any reason, even without the massive health care system related difficulties people have in finding one, especially with more serious cases.

          My read on that part, and it may be a bad read, was that these people were excusing bad behaviour by saying ‘I’m depressed’ and then insisting they cannot possibly help it because of the therapist problem. This may be a complete assumption and I retract that part of my comment if so. To be fair to the choice of word ‘dramatics’, it is also referring to the looping ‘nobody wants to be my friend’ conversations and the pot luck thing, with sounds utterly infuriatng. I also stand by my statement that assuming the LW has no first hand experience of depression of their own may well be untrue. I can totally see myself saying things like the LW did and would find it very frustrating to be accused of harming depressed people just because I did not lay out my own personal history of depression before I made the statement. But again, that could be a bad read. I apologise if my comment upset anyone.

          1. Thanks, mossyone ❤ I see where you're coming from, and I acknowledge that there is a bit of ambiguity in the LW's description. I think I'm particularly sensitive to language in this realm because it's already so fraught with stigma and judgement and (speaking from personal experience) subtle things can have rather large impacts.

    2. I agree with mossyone that I think LW’s problem isn’t with the depression, but with the fact that these friends make it difficult to ask them for even completely reasonable accommodations, and treat even kind offers of help like insults. I’ve been depressed, and I didn’t act that way – and I suspect you don’t either. Most depressed people don’t.

      I don’t think LW is judging people for being depressed, but if you’re feeling that low right now – well, maybe the brain weasels are helping you read the letter that way? I’m not trying to undermine you – I read the letter over, and I can kind of see how it could be read that way, but it’s a really dark, worst-case scenario way to read it, and even in the worst-case scenario I can’t see that LW would view a depressed person with a messy kitchen as a problem if they weren’t ALSO giving her migraines and making her worry about how to ask them not to. Goodness knows, I know how depression can take bits of what people say and use it to beat you over the head! But I think the part of you that’s reading it that way is the part of you that we shouldn’t listen to on the bad days, because it’s more interested in making us miserable than in an objective overview of the facts.

      This is not me saying ‘You’re stupid and wrong.’ This is me saying ‘I bet people like you more than you think.’ I really doubt your friends are snarking behind your back. You’re clearly not stupid – you don’t write like a stupid person. I have no idea what you look like, but even if you actually are fat, nobody worth bothering about dislikes a person for that and plenty of fat people are delightful and admirable. I hope you’re getting the help you need and that you start to feel better soon; don’t listen to the brain weasels!

      1. To be honest, when I am particularly depressed I often have a hard time not reacting in anger to kind offers of help–it’s perverse and totally unfair to the person(s) offering, but my unwell brain interprets it as patronizing. I think it becomes sticky and ultimately unhelpful when we try to draw universals about what people with depression do or don’t do, since it is so variable.

        Also, although I trust your intentions are good, the way you attribute Cherries in the Snow’s reading of the situation to their depression (and your attempt to parse what is “objective” in contrast to what a depressed brain sees) comes across as condescending and a little dismissive. Being depressed doesn’t invalidate one’s reading of a situation, and it isn’t for others (unless explicitly asked for help) to decide whether the depressed person should “listen to” their own thoughts.

        1. I’m not speaking from a position of superiority, but of fellow feeling. Sometimes what helps me most is being invited to remember that depression can at least affect the reading of a situation, so I can put my reading in context. It gives me a way to reduce the pain, or at least try to, and I experience it as a mark of respect that I’m treated as someone capable of taking a double-check on my own mental health. It acknowledges that the person in control of my brain is me.

          If that doesn’t work for Cherries, fine, Cherries is in no way obliged to listen to me. 🙂

        2. I appreciate that. As I said, I definitely don’t think it was your intention, but for me it had that impact. It is important to be reminded that our interpretations may be affected by our depression, but it was the definitiveness with which you characterized Cherries’ reading as “dark, worst-case scenario” that moved it out of the realm of “helpful advice” and into “reinforcing harmful tropes about mental illness.”

          1. Ah, see, that’s the kind of language I use on myself and find it helpful when other people use it with me! I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that depressed people are always wrong about everything – after all, worst-case scenarios do sometime happen. However, since I upset you, my apologies for that. Phrasing ‘our interpretations may be affected by our depression’ is a delicate business; I tried to stay on the right side of the line, but evidently I wasn’t completely successful. Best to you, anyway.

    3. I love your name. It’s a beautiful image. Your friends know you are cherries in the snow, not your kitchen. Hang in there.

    4. All the Jedi hugs you want, Cherries, and copious amounts of your comforting beverage of choice. I hope your brain weasels start to behave themselves soon, and the depressive cycle starts to lift a little.

    5. I hear you Cherries in the Snow, and I’m sorry you’re suffering. Hoping you find some respite soon. ❤

  35. Agreeing that house rules are totally okay, and never need to be justified. I’d also add that I think the admitting that you don’t like them is important. Sometimes trying very hard not to be hurtful paradoxically can result in actions that are very hurtful indeed. I mean, these are people you don’t like, that you don’t consider friends, that you don’t want to spend time with, not in your home and definitely not in their homes. All that is fair enough.
    I think there can sometimes be a dynamic that comes from totally good intentions but is more than a little gaslighty to be on the other side of, where people will reassure you to your face that you are friends but all their actions say otherwise. The begging for reassurance is awful and you don’t need to respond to it, but don’t deny their (accurate) perception that you don’t like them and don’t enjoy being around them.

  36. It’s important to note too.. People do not have to be terrible for you to dislike them! And that’s still okay! I know people whom I honest-to-god just don’t like.. there’s no logical reason for it. Objectively speaking, all evidence speaks to them being decent people. Still don’t like ’em. I’ve stopped questioning it. If someone asks “Why didn’t you go to {person}’s gathering last night?” I’ll make an excuse (I get super-tired sometimes due to health issues, so that’s a life-saver sometimes) or in the cases of closer, more trusted friends, I just say “I’m sure they’re lovely people but for some reason I just don’t enjoy being around them, and I feel like I’m being an asshole showing up and eating their food for the sake of social convention when in all honesty, I don’t want to be there.”

    1. AnonForThis, that is a very good point.

      Sometimes liking or disliking someone can be pretty complicated. For example, I know a few fellow role playing gamers I generally like – except I do not like playing role playing games with them, our styles and goals of playing are just too different. I did like my ex-husband (still kind of do) but dancing with him was terrible, he kept on stepping on my toes. Some of the hardness of not liking someone comes from this: very few individuals in this world are so horrible that we actively do not like them all the time. Very often one veigh whether spending time with people gives more spoons than takes them over a longer period of time.

      My husband is very introverted and needs lots of alone time. Still, he is friendly and sociable and he has quite a few friends. Some of those friends he considers so intense that he calls them small portion friends but I know they are still important to him.

      I have a hard time understanding why LW’s friend circle’s other members consider these people valued friends – or did I read the letter wrong? I somehow got the impression that LW’s other friends were giving them hard time on not participating in events held in home of the stoners or not inviting the stoners over. Do they have common history?

  37. LW, it’s interesting that BadFriends get to be rude to you (and others, apparently) with no fallout, but there would be social fallout from politely enforcing boundaries or even not choosing to hang with them in certain circumstances. Why is that?

  38. (Longish-time lurker, first-time commenter, sorry for the long read)
    I want to thank the Captain for this gentle reminder that not liking someone doesn’t give you the right to badmouth them. I get that people need to vent sometimes, but an anonymous letter to an advice blog on the Internet is probably not the right place to do so, LW. You could probably have just said “there are a couple of acquaintances in my social circle that I don’t get along with very well” and your letter would still have been the same (since it’s not so much about these people in general, but more about their inability to accomodate your allergy).

    I agree wholly with what the Captain said about admitting to yourself you don’t like some people. Sometimes I feel like there is this weird social pressure to be friends with everybody in your life, so it can be hard to navigate social gatherings where you don’t know/like people that much. But the truth is, treating everybody as you would treat a friend is exhausting and pretty hypocritical, tbh. I struggled with that for a while with some of my partner’s friends: I thought I had to try my hardest to befriend them everytime we met, even though we have completely different world/political views. It was frustrating and I ended up disappointed (with myself and them) every single time. Now that I’ve realised that they are going to be around for a while, that we could never be friends and that it was not a reason to be mean to them, I extend to them the social minimum: I do some small talk, but on the whole I just politely ignore them. So far it’s worked wonders, and nobody has ever come up to me saying I was rude or mean to these people, so I guess it didn’t shatter my partner’s social circle either. And I could probably think up some excuses if I really didn’t want to see them.

    As for the pot-smoking, in my experience, people who get defensive about their weed-smoking habit are the same who defend legalising weed with the (wrong and very dangerous) argument that weed is harmless, or at least less harmful than other drugs (which is still debatable). At least in my country, a lot of the prevention campaigns are about how weed is illegal, not about its health effects, so people are pretty misinformed about those and tend to start smoking just for the “rebel/cool” points it gives them. I guess when they are confronted with the very real negative effects of weed, they kind of shut down so they don’t have to think about the effects on themselves? (I once saw a guy mansplain to a woman with the same allergy as the LW that she couldn’t possibly have migraines because of weed, since it’s such a harmless drug! The delusion, it was strong with this one…)
    Still no reason to not respect your house rules, of course, especially since they are health-related. And I wouldn’t respond to reassurance pleas with anything more than “You know I can’t be around weed, that’s why I avoid parties where there might be people smoking”. No reason to be anything more than polite/neutral, since you don’t like them that much anyway and anything about how you’d be glad to catch them some other time would be kind of hypocritical. You don’t have to burn that bridge, but you’re not obligated to cross it either.

    1. Am I reading your comment wrong, because it sounds as if you are rebuking the LW for making her anonymous advice letter Insufficiently vague and pleasant?

      1. My personal opinion is that when you need to vent about People Eating Crackers, anonymously on the internet to a nice advice columnist is the perfect venue for that. It means you aren’t bothering your SO with your 100th gripe of the week and you aren’t taking petty complaints out on the people who you just don’t click with (among other actual issues).

        But then, I find a lot of comfort in a good venting session to get those feelings out and heard, rather than holding onto them in my petty, hateful heart.

        1. I didn’t mean to sound rebuking at all, I’m sorry that it came across this way. I just felt that maybe the bit about the cleanliness of the acquaintances’ room was a bit irrelevant? But now that I’m reading your replies I get that maybe LW just needed a safe place to vent (which is sometimes hard to find irl), and that everything piled up leads to LW really not wanting to be around these people at all. Of course LW should not embellish their letter for our sake, that would pretty much miss the point of writing in asking for advice.
          Thank you for your replies, it gave me a new perspective.

          1. The Captain was definitely very correct in pointing out that the LW is very clearly annoyed with these people on a much deeper level than actual, actionable offenses. And you’re right that a lot of those annoyances/complaints are technically irrelevant!

            It can be hard to see through your haze of dislike to what an actual problem is and what is simply, well, the haze of dislike coloring more benign things. Advice columnists are the perfect audience for that, I would think 🙂 And you were also not wrong to point out the Captain’s wisdom in saying that not all grievances are The Worst and maybe sometimes you just don’t like someone. And that’s okay, and it might mean that some of the grievances can be let go in the name of “ehhh I just don’t like this person very much.”

          2. The cleanliness of the room is perfectly relevant if it’s a reason she doesn’t want to go over there.

    2. An anonymous advice column where individuals can not be identified is _exactly_ the place to vent about people you don’t like, and to try to figure out why you don’t like them. Which yes, might be in part because you find their house or personal habits unpleasant or stressful.

      1. Absolutely, the various replies to my comment made me change my mind about this. And I agree that cleanliness is a perfectly good reason not to want to go to someone’s place (I avoid going to a friend’s flat for this very reason). Reading back I think I misunderstood the first part of the Captain’s advice, which was probably more about how you don’t need a specific reason to not like someone (even though the reasons listed by the LW are totally understandable! these people sound exhausting). My apologies to the LW for my very blunt first reaction, I probably focused too much on the house rules issue and not enough on how the LW doesn’t want to go to their places either.
        It’s true that accepting you don’t like someone can help you stop caring too much about all the little ways in which you find them annoying or unpleasant. In this case, removing the obligation to go their houses or to invite them over will probalby help the LW tremendously. I wish them the best of luck in enforcing their boundaries and gradually fading away from this particular group of people.

  39. I was 25 years old, in a new city, in an apartment all my own without roommates for the first time, awkward as all hell, in therapy, had no old friends to hang out with, and just learning baby steps in assertiveness. I’d been over to some people’s homes, new friends I didn’t know well, after a club meeting where they got high. That didn’t bother me. I didn’t partake, and that wasn’t a big deal. One night I invited them to my apartment. They brought out the marijuana. While I didn’t mind it elsewhere, I didn’t want it in my own home and said so. Some of them took it outside so they could smoke there and come back in. That’s when I realized that this was more than a take-it-or-leave-thing. These were people who needed to get high enough to resist some pressure not to. One of the guys asked me the reason behind my rule. I didn’t have words for it beyond it makes me uncomfortable and started rambling out loud to answer him. I considered that I wasn’t afraid of the Law under the circumstances, said that I didn’t mind what others did on their own, recalled how much I didn’t like it the few times I’d tried it myself, then shrugged and said that I just didn’t want it on my own home turf. With a completely straight face and not a whiff if humor, he said to me completely seriously, “Then that makes you like Idi Amin.” One of my proudest moments when I looked back and said “I’ve always been a great admirer of his.” Needless to say I dropped out of that particular set of (non)friends and sought out better company after that.

    1. Wow, Clarry, you really had your wits about you! Well done! I wish the clever answers would come sooner to me.

      Not allowing smokin pot in your home -> Idi Amin. Wow, that escalated rather quickly. That probably makes me worse than Idi Amin.

      1. Thanks for the compliment. I keep that example of the time I came out with a good retort in the back of my mind for whenever I’m consumed with cringiness at the times I didn’t think of the right thing to say. I remind myself that the guy who compared me with Idi Amin was high. I also remind myself that even if I hadn’t thought of that comeback, the important thing is that I dropped the whole lot of them. It would have served just as well if I’d stood there gaped-mouth and silent, then quietly discontinued thinking of any in the group as potential friends and good group to hang out with.

        1. It was a very good comeback, and if you don’t mind, I’m going to steal that template for times when I have to make a similar retort. 🙂

        2. Just like NameChange, I will also steal this. Clarry, keep on rocking! I hope that brilliant retorts will come to you in the future – though of course I do not hope you will need them. Also, please share them with us.

    2. Wow.

      I don’t want to open the particular can of worms about whether or not one can be addicted to pot (I’m of the opinion that one can be addicted to pretty much anything, from drugs to hangnail picking to, I don’t know, licking pennies if that is one’s jam), but I do think that if there is an activity, let’s say hypothetically speaking smoking pot, that you are completely unable to stop doing when someone requests that you stop, even if it’s just for the duration of a party, I do think that’s an addiction in that it’s taken precedence over doing literally anything else.

      My boyfriend smokes and it sucks, not just because of the health things, but because we can’t get through a dinner without him excusing himself three times to go smoke. Sometimes he leaves a movie in the middle to go smoke. That’s because he’s fucking addicted to nicotine and in that moment it’s more important to him than whatever is going on around him.

      1. CommanderBanana, wow, that truly sucks. Um, I hope I understood right that he smokes tobacco.

        My grandfather was a tobacco smoker, too. As a young man he volunteered to go to the Winter War during The Second World War and in the front he got addicted to tobacco. Back in those days they offered tobacco rations to all soldiers. Still, the moment he read about the harmful effects tobacco can have to children he stopped cold turkey. He had always been a family loving man and he adored us grandchildren.

        I am not a medical doctor but from the articles on tobacco and nicotine have read I understand that nicotine is very addicting, only second to heroin. Quitting cold turkey is definetely not for everyone, there is so many deeply ingrained medical, social and cultural aspects to smoking tobacco: having tobacco breaks at work while chatting with friends, holding the cigarette, the smell of tobacco – and for a long time smoking was connected to being a rebel or bad ass in media.

        It sounds like your boyfriend is indeed very much addicted, my first boyfriend was, too. If he had to go long without a smoke he beacame pretty irritable and moody.

  40. Oh goodness, this is really pushing my buttons! I have a mild allergic reaction to cigarette smoke, and it drives me bonkers when people don’t listen to polite requests to not light up, especially while I was heavily pregnant! like, “Hey, I’m nine months pregnant and allergic to cigarette smoke, can you please not smoke at the bus stop?”

    I’m friends with several heavy smokers, but they are all very respectful of the fact that I don’t smoke and that I don’t tolerate any smoke. They go outside and far away from any entrances when they visit my place when they need to smoke, and it’s never even been an issue, even in the pouring rain, because they respect my home and my wishes. It sounds like these smokers are letting their addiction hijack their manners, and I wouldn’t blame you for slow-fading or cutting them out of your friendship circle. Your health isn’t worth it!

    On that note, as a fellow people pleaser (though I like to imagine that I do a bit better these days than in my 20s): I echo the other commenters: This is not second grade where you have to give a valentine to every kid in the class–you get to choose whom you like and don’t like. It’s ok, and the world will not implode.

    Example: (tw: reference to sexual assault): I have an acquaintance–handsome, affable, popular, appears wealthy–who just can’t keep from telling sexual assault jokes or jokingly referring to getting sexually assaulted (eg: in the context of getting the less advantageous side of a business deal!). Not okay, so very, very not okay! I asked him to stop saying those things, and I know I was visibly shocked the first few times he said them (Do-er Husband was there, too, and called out this guy himself and/or seconded my opinions, gotta love that man!)

    It took awhile to fully give myself permission to not invite him to events because people would ask and ask where he was (again: above reasons! Some people like him a lot!) or to not go to his events. Polite distance, talk about the weather when I encountered him at other events, and that was IT. As time went on, I heard even more of his opinions–paying mat leave (required in this country) was bad for business, as was hiring young women because of risk of pregnancy, yadda, yadda… Extremely disappointing, but I’ve given myself permission to not deal with him anymore.

  41. LW,

    My sister had a baby (yay! ) and I smoke (boo, I know). One of her rules when I visit the sprout is that I need to take a shower beforehand if I’ve smoked less than 3 hours ago. To me this is annoying and 3 hours is overkill (c’mon, how about one hour? No? okay.) BUT I do it. I do it because that’s HER baby and she doesn’t want third hand smoke anywhere near him.

    I might think that she’s being over protective (kinda yes but also… even thirdhand smoke is bad). Doesn’t matter. I could have horrible brainweasels if I don’t smoke or something. Still doesn’t matter. If I want to see the sprout I have to follow the above rules. If I couldn’t for WHATEVER reason then it’s on me to figure out a workaround or decide that the consequences of not smoking are the price I pay to see him.

    1. I love this, because it really illustrates that you don’t have to agree with someone’s boundary to respect it. Once a friend of mine invited me and another friend over to his place specifically to smoke weed, but he only wanted us to do it in one uncomfortable room in the back of the house next to an open window… because across the street and down the block from the front window was a police station. I want to emphasize “down the block.” It was at a distance where I really don’t think the cops were going to smell the weed and come after us, but that worried him, and it was his house, so we did it! Do I still think it was overkill in the privacy of my own head? I do!

      I asked another friend to filter me out of her snake-feeding videos on facebook, because being surprised by dead mouse videos on my feed really bummed me out. She laughed at me, said “that’s weird,” and declined to filter me out. I unfollowed her, even though at the time we were very close! You don’t have to like, understand, or endorse someone’s boundary to follow it, and it’s not a point against you if you if you’re thinking “this is a bit silly” while you do something to be considerate of someone else.

      1. Oh, Sharker, that snake feeding video part sucks. I am a people pleaser and when I was more active in social media I created user groups for specific themes I used to post about. I especially thought about my friends who are severely arachnophobic since I am very interested in all kinds of animals and often shared videos and articles on them. Of course, it does take a bit of time to build and maintain a user group, but in my opinion it is worth it.

        I agree that the example Oranges gave is very good. One does not have to agree, follow themselves or even understand the house rule but respect it. For example all of our international friends who have visited our home have taken their shoes off, no problem with it. During my life I have encountered some house rules which seemed a bit strange to me: don’t wear bright red clothes (this particular person thought that they were sinful), don’t move the throw pillows on the sofa… Well, it was their home so they got to make up the rules. Who am I to critisize their rules even though I will probably never understand them.

  42. Oh man I’m a huge weed smoker and I love weed and it helps me sleep and helps me deal with my anxiety and makes Star Trek so much more fun to watch and basically I’m a pretty committed stoner.

    AND I’VE NEVER BROUGHT IT OVER TO OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES AND SMOKED IT THERE WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION. Shit, right now I smoke on the porch at my own house half the time because my husbro doesn’t like the smell. Your friends are doing some rude shit, and it’s not your fault. Some of my (douchier) stoner friends bring it everywhere and smoke it everywhere, just quietly heading in small groups to the garage or the porch or wherever. Especially when hosting bigger parties, it might be a good idea to deputize a partner/housemate/best friend to do occasional checks of whatever areas smokers tend to congregate at your house and offer cheerful “oh yeah, LW is super allergic to that, house rule is no smoking weed here, even outside, thanks so much!” reminders. (Obvs you could also do this yourself, but having someone else do it will spare you the fumes!)

    If they get on you about being a narc, fuck them. You’re allowed to have boundaries, and you’re allowed to enforce them, and people who try to punish you for it aren’t your friends. If weed is so important to them that they can’t attend a single gathering without it (and bro, at some of the lows in my depression, I’ve been there), they’ll start self-selecting out of your parties, and since you don’t care for these outer-social-circle friends anyway, that’s a win.

  43. Hey OP! I’m a weed smoker. I have friends who I know Don’t Like It, whether for health reasons, drug test reasons, or just in general. So I don’t smoke before I hang out with them, I don’t smoke at their house or outside, and I don’t talk about it around them. That’s a reasonable thing to ask of your friends, stoner or otherwise. Don’t worry about not inviting these people over or not going to their parties or leaving if they start smoking up or smell like weed or talking about their latest Cheeto run. It’s completely okay to say, “Wow, the smell/smoke/weed talk/ect is getting a bit much for me in here. I’m going to head home!” On the messy house front front- I have had friends whose house is way too dirty for me and while I don’t tell them literally that their house is too messy for me to hang out there, I use the phrase “Oh I think I’m getting overwhelmed, I’m going to leave.” Or “No thanks, can’t make it. I’ll see you another time!” I’m not a fan of drinking beer and honestly the smell of beer is unpleasant to me. In situations where people are beer drunk and messy, or there is spilled beer, or if there is someone that is *too* drunk at a party I peace out and leave because I like to be chill and a little stoned when I’m partying and not be crazy sloppy messed up! And that’s ok! Hopefully these comments give you the strength to know it’s ok to not be these people’s best friends!

  44. I’m a person who enjoys the occasional smoke and have many friends that also smoke. My partner cannot stand the smell (I have seen him throw up from it) so at our house there is a no smoking rule. Sometimes he passes on parties at friends’ houses if he knows they are big smokers so he doesn’t impose his needs at their residence. These same friends know that gatherings at our house are smoke-free. They don’t need more explanation than “Partner can’t stand the smell – sorry!”. Anyone who pushed back on that would not make the guest list for our next party.
    That is how this should work! So sorry you are dealing with such rudeness from your larger social circle. It boggles the mind how some people have not learned such basic social graces as “my house, my rules”.

  45. LW, I want to comment on this quote of yours: “However not inviting these people to my home for gatherings would be…..well I don’t have the spoons to deal with the fallout.”

    I understand not being able to spend spoons on difficult people. My concern is that if you back down from setting boundaries just because of the fallout, you set yourself for being bullied.

    As for how to avoid spending emotional spoons on the fall out, give these friends permission to be mad at you. If they try to spin it into a case of “poor me” shut down the conversation if you can. (“You know I have allergies. This isn’t about you.”) And if you can’t shut them down, you can end that interaction. It’s okay to say that you have to end a phone call. Or if they’re contacting you through text, it’s okay not to respond.

  46. A bit of an oblique point, but I hope this will be helpful:

    You’ve got two related concerns you raise in this letter: inviting folks over to your home and visiting their homes. It may feel difficult to address both of them together, since that’s two points of social friction. But I think tying them together explicitly may actually be smoother than tackling them separately. If you just stop visiting without enforcing a weed ban in your own house, weed will look like an excuse for not visiting, which could increase their hostility and suspicion. (And the same with the reverse.) By tying them together your actions will lend credibility to your words.

  47. LW — One of the joys of hitting 40 or so was that I stopped dealing with Geek Social Fallacies. I don’t know what switch flipped but when I said “I don’t want to see Irritating Susan”, I heard myself and it became a legit reason in my own head to just not see Irritating Susan. Or Condescending Carl or Billy Who Doesn’t Abide by Boundaries.

    One or two of my friends got annoyed at me and there was some fall out. And suddenly I realized that they were Dramatic Dan and Get-Along Geri and I didn’t want to see them either. But most of them accepted this and the fall out was way way less than I’d imagined AND my life was dramatically improved. I say this in the hopes that you won’t wait until you’re in your 40s.

    1. I’m in my mid-30s and haven’t had to deal with the Geek Social Fallacies for years. I also live in a very geek-rich area, so my experience has been that everyone has their own circle, and sometimes those circles overlap to a greater or lesser degree, and sometimes you incorporate people from someone else’s circle into your own and sometimes you don’t.

      Despite that, I regularly have parties where I throw together people from different parts of my life, and it always goes great. People don’t necessarily form lasting friendships with new folks, but the conversation never falters and people keep coming back 🙂 I credit this to the No Asshole Rule.

    2. Yes! I have no idea what it is about the 40s, but that happened to me, too. It was like I finally realized that I didn’t have to take nonsense from people because I was an adult in her 40s, not twentysomething newbie. There was just this sense of, “What? I don’t have time for that ridiculousness.”

      I’ve heard the same from other people, especially women. My ability to resist falling back into “polite” patterns is still forming, but it’s so much easier now than it was in my 30s.

      And I’m not the first to note this here, I’m sure, but as someone once wrote, “There’s a reason they call them the ‘F— You Forties.'” I’ve heard the fifties are called something similar. 🙂

      1. (And if any twentysomethings are reading this, you don’t have to take that nonsense either! I mentioned the 20s only because back then I was fully immersed in too many social fallacies.)

        1. Yeah this came to me in my 40’s and I’m still pissed about the nonsense I took in my 20’s and into my 30’s. And the nonsense I dealt myself too.

  48. Oh dear. I too know someone who says things like “I’m so ugly, nobody will fancy me” and “I’m so horrible, nobody will like me”. I didn’t have the heart to say “you’re not, but if you carry on it’ll become a self-fulfilling prophesy”…but after trying to support them for a while I realised actually I wasn’t getting enough from our friendship to make it worth the effort – so I just dropped them. Nicely, but after saying “no, but thanks for the invite” a few times things naturally fizzled, so no nasty or awkward ghosting was necessary.

    As ever, the Captain gives great advice, but that presumes you want to stay friends with these people. I think her last paragraph is the key. If you’re getting something from these relationships, great – but if not, you don’t have to socialise with them just because that’s what you’ve always done. Give yourself permission to look at the balance in the friendships, to consider whether you can see yourselves still in contact in a year, two, five… You don’t have to include people just to be nice, and if you’re finding the social events a drain (for whatever reason – weed reaction is perfectly valid) then don’t feel you have to keep inviting them over. It’s your choice, but the way you’ve described these people isn’t exactly flattering, and personally I feel better for having moved on to different friend groups.

  49. It is my firm belief that people can be judged based on how they react to a boundary.

    Because the problem isn’t that they smoke pot, or that they have depression, treated or not. Plenty of people smoke pot and have untreated depression. The problem is that when you express a boundary (ex: “please don’t smoke around me”), they take offense and make it about you disliking them personally.

    I have asthma, so I don’t smoke, and I just plain dislike the taste of alcohol (to me, it tastes like mouthwash). If I say, “Please don’t smoke around me,” or, “No, thank you, I won’t have a tequila shot,” that’s a boundary that I am expressing. I am not saying, “Don’t smoke ever” or “People who drink are terrible,” I am articulating how I want to be treated. And that kind of reaction is basically saying, “I don’t care how you want to be treated.”

    These friends going into dramatics about how terrible it is that you won’t come over are mad that you’re expressing a boundary. They would feel this way if it was a cat allergy, a dislike of Mexican food, an aversion to physical contact, a disagreement about religion: it is the expression of a boundary that bothers them, not the thing itself. So don’t justify the boundary, just enforce it.

  50. Friend: Why don’t you come over?
    Me: What kind of trees are in your yard?
    Friend: Pecan.
    Me: And what kind of tree am I deathly allergic to?
    Friend: Ohhhhh.
    Fortunately most people I’ve encountered have been cool about respecting my weed allergy, which I discovered at a party when I was just being polite and passing the blunt (until I began rashing up)

  51. PARTY RULES ARE FINE. You aren’t mean for having them.

    World without end, amen.

    Also, thanks to the OP for saying that really bad weed-headaches are a real thing, I thought I was the weird one who crosses the street because _that corner_ always smells like weed smoke, and ow.

  52. Dear LW,
    1) Major Jedi Hugs if you want them.
    2) You are not alone

    Dear Captain,
    Can we actually talk about weed allergies? I have a letter I’ve been drafting for months about being allergic and living in a legal state, and being totally alone, disbelieved and gaslit. More about how to cope with something so out of your control and not having a team you when everyone else around you thinks pot is the greatest thing ever etc.

    I don’t want to hijack this thread, but now I’m wondering if it’s better to start a sub thread here than to submit a similar letter?

    I at least feel a little better that I’m not as alone as I’d thought, even though there is basically no treatment, no research, and my dr is dismissive. I hope LW feels slightly less alone, too.

    1. I mean…weed allergies almost certainly exist in some form. I don’t know how to treat them (what is the Zyrtec/dymista equivalent for them?) but I believe you. As to hosting a whole thread on this, I am not qualified, but maybe the forums can help?

  53. LW, it is my firm advice that you set this boundary and don’t reassure your friends more than once if they start in on the ‘but don’t you like me’ stuff. Say ‘I do like you/want you around, that’s why we’re having this boundary’. I would also be prepared to kick them out/not let them in if they try and show up with weed or smelling like weed. If they don’t want to abide by your boundary then they can just not show up. If they can’t go one party without smoking weed then they’re addicted and that is really, really not your problem.

  54. LW, I am so sorry to hear about this, but you are not alone, and I am grateful to hear that there are others with mj allergies out there. I used to live in [place] where recreational is legal, and found out I was allergic, while driving, when my eyes started closing up b/c someone was smoking while driving. It is technically not legal while driving or in public but they don’t enforce it. I almost got into a car accident with a child of a friend in my car and have gotten sick just walking around when people were smoking where they weren’t supposed to be, or being a**holes about it. I hope more people take this seriously. It is totally a real thing!

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