Cannabis might have more to do with your love life than you think, according to a new study that examined its associations with couple functioning.
Researchers from Rutgers University and Mount Holyoke College may be on to something. They found that marijuana users appear to present more negative behaviors as they approach managing conflict with their partners.
Moreover, those who use cannabis seem to be less aware of an unhealthy relationship, as per the results published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
“We looked at different indicators of relationship functioning: how satisfied and committed people felt about their relationship, their behavior, and physiology during a laboratory-based conflict interaction and their perceptions about their conflict discussion and relationship afterward,” said study author Jessica Salvatore, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Researchers asked 145 couples in which a least one of the partners used cannabis to share how regularly they used it and how satisfied they are with their relationships.
Then a 10-minute conversation between the partners discussing a topic that usually causes a conflict was videotaped to get a grasp of their physiological stress responses by measuring their heart rate and respiration.
A five-minute discussion on a topic upon which the couples agree followed. The videos were then reviewed by two sets of trained raters who found that cannabis users showed less parasympathetic withdrawal during conversations with their partners, resulting in being less flexible in their responses to stress.
While a recent study conducted by the University Of New Mexico found that marijuana can cause changes in ego-centric concepts, increasing a sense of selflessness, participants in the Rutgers University study who consumed marijuana were more critical and demanding, showing less ability to discuss and see the positive aspects of their relationships, as they sought to avoid conflict.
Interestingly, they reported greater satisfaction on the subject of how the conflict discussion went.
“It is important to note that this study’s findings do not mean that cannabis use is wholesale good or bad for relationships,” Salvatore said. “Rather, it gives insight into how couples can better navigate conflict and come to a resolution. When you don’t see problems, you can’t solve them.”
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