Learning Limits: College Women, Drugs, and Relationships

By Kimberly M. Williams | Go to book overview
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Chapter 6
Losing or Separating from Male Friends and Boyfriends

In some cases, when a woman could no longer tolerate her boyfriend's troublesome drug use, she would break up with him and seek another boyfriend whose drug-use levels were more compatible with her own. Sometimes women were forced to separate from their male friends and romantic partners because the men were academically dismissed as a result of their chronic drug use.


"BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO"

Many of the women in my project were first-year students, and several were in the process of ending their relationships with their "boyfriends from home." Some of the women described breaking up with their boyfriends "from home" or college because of drug use--often because of differences in drug use. In their interviews, Alana and Zoie both talked about their boyfriends from home who were drug dealers and from whom they had recently separated. They had each made a conscious decision not to use illicit drugs and were not swayed by their boyfriends who used and sold drugs. They both said that their boyfriend's drug dealing was kept secret during much of their relationship, suggesting that they weren't directly exposed to it. Alana said when she first met her boyfriend from home: "Yeah. He's like 28, he has his own business. He has a store by my house. A store, and I met him there. But I didn't know that's [selling drugs] what he did. I just thought he was business owner."

The excessive drug use and drug dealing of their boyfriends from home was part of why Alana and Zoie broke up with them. In their interviews, they both recognized that their close associations with their drug-dealing boyfriends needed to stop before they became teachers. Alana asked the question when she was trying to decide if she should break up with her boyfriend: "I can't be a teacher and have my husband sell drugs. . . even though he does not like you know what I mean sell the worst drugs. . . like crack." This statement described how women ranked drugs hierarchically and traditionally, as if her boyfriend's drug dealing

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