Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My boyfriend was laid off back in March and hasn’t worked since. He has been getting unemployment checks and it comes out to him making more on unemployment than he was at his job. Even when or if the Cares Act money stops, he’ll still get enough from the state to pay his bills.
What this means is, my boyfriend hasn’t worked or really left the house since March. I’ve started encouraging him to look for a new job and he says there’s no point because he makes more on unemployment anyway. I always thought of him as a motivated person but this attitude really rubs me the wrong way. He comes off sounding lazy, in my opinion.
We used to go out a lot and now we don’t. We have drinks at home but starting about a month ago, he also started regularly smoking pot or eating edibles. Before COVID, he might smoke pot once a month — or less! Now he is doing it every day. He says without it his anxiety is too high and he has trouble sleeping. I suggested he find other ways to cope like working out or even talking to someone, and he got really defensive.
Basically, where I’m at is I want him to stop smoking pot every day and go back to work. And where he’s at, it seems, is he wants to keep on with the daily pot habit and never work again. Help?
Wow, your boyfriend is in a next-level funk! Time to snap him out of it, or you could lose him to the couch and pot forever, and love dies and COVID-19 wins! No one wants COVID-19 to win. So here’s the plan.
First step: get that guy out of the house, stat! Because your old social habits were likely things that seem risky with COVID-19 in play, get creative. Even just going for a drive and cruising through a drive-thru for milkshakes is more exciting than nothing. Drive down the Seward Highway on a nice day and bring a car picnic, or take a blanket to a local park and just sit out in the fresh air for a bit. It will help! He needs to remember that there’s fun and sun beyond the dismal and discouraging quarantine walls.
Step two: the pot. Look, no judgment — it’s legal! And coping through COVID-19 has people drawing on all kinds of sources. Some of us have a glass of Kim Crawford sauv blanc every day (ahem); some of us eat a fun gummy — I get it! The issue is, if he’s already a sad, unmotivated sack who can’t summon the forte to job search, pot is not his friend! I’m just saying: very few people get stoned and find that the result is feeling incredibly energetic, ambitious and motivated.
Getting him to see this may take some tough conversations. He’s going to have to be vulnerable and honest about his anxiety, and you need to remain supportive and nonjudgmental in your earnest commitment to helping him get back to a somewhat normal life and routine. But unless you intervene, with sincerity and force, he has no real current motivation to change.
I 100% agree that your boyfriend needs to get dragged out of the thick haze of depression and weed smoke surrounding him in the house. And I’m confident that some summer sun, fresh Alaska air, and even a takeout cheeseburger with his girl will do him well. Will do you some good, too. But I don’t think this is the time to dial up the expectations that he gets a new job and races back out into the workforce ASAP.
First, he’s clearly in a fragile state and dealing with the big-time bummer of being laid off (not to mention the whole working world being flipped on its ear). Your pushing, prodding, disappointment and judgment is not going to snap him out of it. I mean, feel free to continue expressing your feelings to him, but maybe tread lightly when it gets into his lack of a job.
Because while it might be frustrating for you to see him chilling all day instead of updating his LinkedIn account, the reality is that he’s making more money not working right than he would be working. Not really cool, not easy to swallow, but that’s the facts. So it’s not like he isn’t holding up his financial piece of the household right now.
So maybe focus less on work and more on weed. While yes, it is legal to imbibe here, that doesn’t mean every job that he’ll apply for won’t test for drugs and reject prospects with positive tests. That’s a perfectly reasonable point that should get him transitioning out of puffing spliffs and popping gummies. And remind him the days of living his best life (no work, more money!) will soon come to an end because this unemployment benefit won’t last forever. Heck, it might not even last a few more weeks. And when those bonus bucks stop coming in, he’ll need to be ready to get back into the job market. He can’t do that if he’s high, unprepared and unmotivated.
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