Cannabis can be a pretty big part of people’s lives. Some people are daily smokers and many of them define their lifestyles in terms of using the drug.
So what happens when you add in an extra person – and some romance – into the mix?
Not everyone is down with the bud. But does that mean it can be an obstacle to romantic relationships? Or is it a good way to connect with others and ignite the flames of love?
Greencamp took a look at cannabis and dating to see how flower is changing the game.
The Stigma Strikes Again
According to a 2017 survey from popular dating website OKCupid, 65% of one million respondents polled between 2012 and 2017 said their “ideal partner” is someone who has consumed cannabis in the past, but no longer makes it a habit.
Meanwhile, 32% of survey respondents said their dream date would be someone who smokes regularly, and 62% said they want a partner who has never smoked cannabis (respondents could choose more than one answer).
Another popular dating app, Hinge, found that age factors into how open people are to combining weed and romance.
In a 2018 study, the company found that those under 25 years old who said they smoke weed benefitted from a 10% increase in likes, but users older than 25 got a 25% decrease in likes. That jumps to a 35% decrease for those over 40 years old.
According to Molly Peckler, founder of cannabis-friendly matchmaking service Highly Devoted, many people are turned off by cannabis due to the stigma that has been built over decades of prohibition and “anti-drug propaganda”.
“People have been told from the time that they were young that cannabis is just for people who are lazy and drug addicts, and they just sit on the couch and do nothing,” she said. “Those sentiments are still very prevalent in society.”
Social stigmas can be reinforced by someone’s past experience with weed, such as knowing a stereotypical “stoner” at some point in their lives, or having a bad experience with weed, Peckler said.
“[People] take those experiences and project them onto their partner,” she said. “It tends to not actually be about what happens when their partner is consuming cannabis, but more about what they bring in from their past into the relationship.”
As a result of these judgments, many people Peckler comes into contact with end up hiding their cannabis use, she says, by using mouthwash every time they see their partner or putting on perfume to hide the smell.
She points out that not many people face similar judgments when it comes to consuming a glass of wine or meeting your friends for a drink at a bar.
“It’s definitely something that I think is unfair,” she said.
To help those looking for love not to be forced to hide their cannabis use and to “truly be themselves,” Peckler created Highly Devoted.
She says people are now getting tired of performing charade of abstinence as cannabis is rapidly becoming legal and more studies are citing its advantages.
How to Introduce Budding Love to Pot
Indeed, a number of cannabis-friendly dating apps and websites have popped up that allow users to be more upfront about their pot use and avoid heartbreak if a potential new mate is not so accepting. Some examples include High There!, 420 Singles and My 420 Mate.
I gave a quick spin on High There! to check out the experience, but was disappointed by its glitchy and unpolished software. I did get one match from an apparent drug dealer, though, who, in addition to weed, sold other substances that are definitely not legal.
While these apps may represent a cash grab, taking advantage of the rising popularity of weed, other more established dating apps and websites are allowing users to be more transparent about their use.
For example, Hinge has a “cannabis” subsection on users’ profiles where they can choose to reveal their pot habits.
One app dater and cannabis user, Gwen McDonald, says she thinks that the option to share whether you’re 420 friendly or not on your dating profile is important.
“Clarity is key for me,” she said, when it comes to cannabis use.
McDonald won’t even attempt to date someone who straight up says they oppose cannabis use, as she doesn’t want to “fight her cause with a stranger.”
“When I’m dating, I don’t like to be debating,” she said. “I just don’t have the energy to get someone to change their belief system.”
She says she likes to be direct about her daily cannabis use to see if the other person has a problem with it.
Peckler recommends providing more information to get a new potential partner comfortable with your pot use, such as telling them why you use it, what it does to you, and providing weed studies or documentaries to “get science behind it.” She suggests a viewing of Weed the People on Netflix as a good icebreaker.
“If you’re with someone who is open-minded, their views on cannabis tend to change,” she said.
If a potential partner is still judgmental after an explanation, Peckler says that chances are cannabis use won’t be the only issue you’ll face with them down the road.
“I find that candidate tends to be that canary in the coal mine of whether someone is open-minded and willing to see things from a different perspective,” she said.
If you can get past the initial hesitation, or even manage to match up with another cannabis user, then a world of connection could await you.
Peckler says cannabis is a great way to break the ice in budding relationships as it can help bring down emotional walls and allow people to be more open and honest with each other.
McDonald says she likes to bring a joint on a walk during a date, such as through Toronto’s High Park, or combine cannabis with playing a board game, going to a movie or checking out a concert.
She says weed-focussed dates tend to be more low-key and cerebral than outings based around drinking, which can get “messy.” That’s one reason she prefers to find a partner who enjoys weed.
Peckler, however, warns against getting too high on a first date, as it’s important to make a good first impression.
“Try and be as bright-eyed and aware as you possibly can when you first get to know someone,” she said.
‘Want to See My Place?’
If you and your weedy date get along especially well, cannabis can also be incorporated into sexual activity to add an extra layer of pleasure.
A 2017 study found that out of 133 respondents, 29% had used cannabis prior to sex, and 68% of those people believed it made the sexual experience more pleasurable.
Peckler says cannabis can remove mental obstacles and anxieties when it comes to sex to help lovers get more into the moment.
Luckily, a growing number of cannabis products are being aimed at increasing sexual pleasure.
Peckler recommends cannabis topicals, such as oils and lubes, for foreplay and intercourse, which she says can really enhance sensations and reduce pain. Her favourite lube brand is Quim, which comes in THC and CBD-containing varieties.
“Orgasms are stronger and longer [with cannabis lubes],” she said. “You can’t beat that.”
As for flower and sex, Peckler says she personally likes the indica strain Granddaddy Purple, which she says quiets her mind and can provide a body buzz. She says many others she’s spoken to prefer sativa strains that can provide more energy during intense moments.
However, cannabis may not be a turn-on for everyone, according to University of Alberta sociology professor Geraint Osborne.
He conducted a study of 41 participants in 2004/2005 concerning their cannabis use, and found there was a 50/50 split between those who felt cannabis enhanced their sexual experience and those who said it got in the way.
Those who didn’t enjoy the melange of weed and sex said the drug would cause them to lose focus.
Peckler says cannabis can make sexual sensations too intense, so she recommends going slow with the bud before intercourse and only taking a few puffs of a vape rather than smoke a whole joint.
The rest of the joint will be waiting for you afterward, anyway, which she says can be a nice finisher.
The Dark Side of Cannabis and Dating
While sharing cannabis with your partner can seem like a great experience, there can be negative consequences when drug abuse comes into play.
One cannabis user who asked to be anonymous for this article says he has been dependent on cannabis in the past and it played a role in ending a long-term relationship.
“If you love cannabis more than you love your partner, what happens is it negatively affects your relationship,” he said. “That’s what happened with me.”
He described getting high over making sacrifices for the good of the relationship, and how it led to him not being an attentive and listening partner since he was “tired and stoned all the time.”
As a result, he says his partner would get angry about his use, and would worry frequently about its detrimental health effects.
“I tried to bring [cannabis] into the relationship, but that just wasn’t going to work for her,” he said.
Since that relationship ended, he says he is now upfront about his cannabis use with new partners. But he says that confession is usually met with the immediate reaction: “You’re not like that now, are you?”
“It’s a red flag,” he said. “You don’t want to be dating somebody who’s fully stoned all the time.”
Osborne says cannabis can play a similar role as alcohol in relationships and can create and exacerbate tensions if one partner doesn’t use the drug responsibly.
He says there were participants in his study that had a relationship with someone who abused cannabis — the key is to find someone who has similar use patterns as you do.
Nevertheless, as the stigma of cannabis use recedes further and further into the past, weed will likely play a greater role in relationships — for better or worse.