But this year it all changed. His nephew was in the hospital for a respiratory issue, and, although it was caused by a virus and had nothing to do with the fact that everyone smoked, it was very eye-opening for me and four months ago I quit smoking. I am positive I want to stay smoke-free. And here is were the problem lies. At first, Tom and I decided to quit together, and he started using nicotine patches, but that only lasted a week. I kept nagging him to try again, but after a while I felt it was taking a toll in our relationship. I have also tried to make him read Allen Carr’s “The Easy Way To Quit Smoking,” which really helped me, but he didn’t read it. What annoys me the most is that I don’t feel like he is even trying. I don’t want to become a nag, or one of those holier-than-thou nonsmokers who look down on people who are still smoking, but it has become harder and harder to let this pass.
We have been talking about moving in together, but it would really bother me to live in a house that constantly reeks of cigarette smoke. I feel like I ruined a perfect relationship by quitting smoking, because it has shed light on things I didn’t notice before, like maybe he is not as considerate as I thought he was, and it has made me wonder if he can’t quit because he’s somewhat depressed. I’m at a loss, and I feel like this is not enough to give him an ultimatum or something like that, but I feel that, if I don’t tackle it now, it will become a bigger and bigger issue. I just would like for him to realize what a big deal this is to me without feeling like I have to nag him to death about it. — Nonsmoker For Life
Here’s the thing about bad habits, whether it be smoking, drinking too much, over-eating, watching “The Bachelor” religiously every night–oh my God, when is it going to come back onnnnn? — they’re hard to quit. And, when the bad habit is a true addiction, it can be damn near impossible. What makes people succeed is the desire to quit. Without the desire, there’s no motivation to fight the constant and overwhelming urges. Your boyfriend doesn’t have the desire. He may want to have the desire, but he doesn’t. And you have to accept that he may simply never get the desire to quit for himself. He may have to be motivated to quit for a reason bigger than himself and his health, and that reason may just be you and your relationship (or it may not).
At the same time, you have to decide whether your desire to be with this man is worth giving him an ultimatum and making him choose between his addiction and you. What if he chooses you? And what if you realize after (if) he quits smoking that the other issues that recently came to light are still there? What will you do then?
Maybe you’re thinking, “But they won’t be! All the issues stem from this one — his smoking,” in which case I ask this: is your commitment to him dependent on his quitting smoking? Can you only be happy with him if he quits? Do you think you’ll be increasingly unhappy the longer he goes without quitting? What if he tried, but only for a couple of days? Is the effort enough for you or does it need to be a successful effort?
These are questions you need to answer for yourself, and you may find that what you arrive at is this: smoking is a deal-breaker. And you know what? That’s a perfectly reasonable deal-breaker. Smoking is a pretty nasty habit. It stinks, it’s expensive, it’s bad for your health (and bad for your breath). It will affect your relationship every single day. It will affect your future. It will affect your finances if you were to combine them, the lives and health of any kids you might have, the cost of health and life insurance, and almost certainly the lifespan of your partner. These aren’t small things. They’re pretty big things to think about when you’re considering whether to continue pursuing a committed relationship with someone.
Is smoking a deal-breaker for you? If so, at what point do you want to throw in the towel? How much time are you willing to give your boyfriend to quit? If it’s not a deal-breaker for you, then you need to let it go. Accept that your boyfriend may never quit, that this is one of the things you have to deal with as long as you stay with him, and that the nagging is only going to become a wedge between you. And so will all the other women, if the smoker you’re dating happens to be Don Draper. Small price to pay, I say. Don Draper.
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