If you're a marijuana user and can't hold down a romantic relationship, a study out of Rutgers University may have picked up on a major reason.

According to the newly published study, which was conducted in collaboration with Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, cannabis users appear to present more negative behaviors during conflict with their partner. Making matters worse, they seem to be unaware of the unhealthy relationship dynamics they're demonstrating.

"When partners have chronic unconstructive approaches to resolving their disagreement, this is ultimately over time going to erode relationship health," said Jessica Salvatore, co-author of the report and an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, monitored the experiences of 145 couples in which at least one partner was an admitted cannabis user.

The couples were videotaped having a 10-minute discussion on a topic that they identified as a major source of conflict, during which researchers measured vitals such as their heart rate and respiration, and then had a five-minute discussion on topics that typically don't present conflict.

Both interactions were monitored by independent raters who were not aware of the study's goals. In the end, cannabis users in the study were classified by more critical and demanding, more likely to exhibit avoidance, and less capable of reorienting themselves to more positive conversations.

Also, physiological findings suggested that cannabis users had reduced capacity to respond to stress.

Yet, when asked how they thought the conversations went, cannabis users reported greater satisfaction with how the conflict was resolved, and did not perceive themselves as having used demand or avoidance strategies.

The assessments by the cannabis users were almost the exact opposite of what the observers found, Salvatore noted.

"However, 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."

Researchers did not require that cannabis users be under the influence during the observed discussions.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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