Updates: “Nonsmoker For Life” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Nonsmoker For Life” who started her current relationship as a smoker. She eventually quit, but her boyfriend did not and she wanted to know how to convince her boyfriend to quit without being a nag. Keep reading to see if she was successful.

Long story short, he stills smokes, I still don’t. I have been going on and on about this in my head, but I can’t seem to decide if this is a deal-breaker for me or not. I have told him that it really bothers me and that he has to quit in the near future. He told me that he doesn’t have the strength right now, but he is sure he will quit this year. I’m not getting my hopes up as he has said this before, and he has tried to quit a few times since I sent my letter in, with each time lasting a week at most. We had a few heated discussions over this, mainly because I wanted to address this and he didn’t.

I think that this is not a deal-breaker for now, but I don’t know if I can stand this in the long run. His brother is having a baby this year, and he hasn’t been able to quit smoking either. To see myself in that situation, to be pregnant and to have my husband continue smoking, would be awful to me. So I’ve decided to give him a chance, but I’m putting my moving-in-together plans on hold for now. There have been some other issues to come up between us as well, all minor, but everything keeps adding up. For me, the saddest thing is that I used to see a future with him, and now I feel like that future is fading before my eyes.

I didn’t think that his smoking was our only problem; in fact, in the back of my mind, the thought always was, “If this bothers you this much, it’s because something else is wrong.” I’m trying to figure out if this is just a rough patch or if there’s something deeper going on and whether or not we can work it out. I hope I will have a brighter, happier update in the future, and I look forward to sharing one with you and your readers. Thank you for your advice. You were spot on and very honest, and I really appreciated it.

Thanks for the update. I suspect the uncertainty about your future is almost as difficult as the actual smoking. I’ve been in that position and it isn’t fun, but the upside is that uncertainty, especially as it pertains to relationships among young people, does eventually lead to certainty, one way or another, especially if you want to have a family one day. Sooner of later, you will know in your heart whether this relationship is IT or whether it’s time to MOA. Good luck, and keep us posted.


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. Iwannatalktosampson says:

    Definitely send in another update when you decide one way or the other.

  2. I’m going to say they will eventually break up.

    Can we start placing bets when LW’s write in as to what will ultimately happen?

    Seriously though, LW, good luck with figuring everything out. Wendy’s right. Uncertaintly sucks, but it sounds like you’re handling it really well and I hope it doesn’t last too long.

    1. I’d be willing to go in on that. How many internets are we betting on this one?

      1. 5 internets that the LW breaks up with this guy when she finally accepts that this is a deal-breaker for her.

        LW, congratulations on staying smoke-free!

  3. I don’t judge people if they smoke…i feel that is their business…but i hate when people who smoke do it around non-smokers…it shows a complete lack of respect and regard for other people’s health….and the absolute worst is people who smoke around their kids!

    1. I am a smoker and I completely agree with you. For example, if I am walking (ie: walking from work to the bus), I make sure I stay way far away from other people while I smoke. I never smoke around kids (mine or otherwise). And I hate when asshole smokers throw their cigarette butts on the ground. It’s gross.

      1. wish more people were like you!…my SIL’s brother is dating a woman right now who is pregnant with his baby and is still smoking and drinking! ugh! and they have a two year old daughter that she is constantly smoking around, even while she is holding her!

      2. Ugh the reason I’m quitting is because we want to get pregnant and I intend to quit before we even try. I’m just not willing to risk that. It’s amazing how many people get really upset when you mention that. “Well, I smoked when I was pregnant and it worked out fine…” so I think they get mad because they feel like I’m judging them by choosing to quit before getting pregnant.

  4. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    If you don’t want to date a smoker — don’t date a smoker from the get go.

    I totally HATE smoking. But I also hate this sort of “I CHANGED! So NOW you must AS WELL!” behavior. It’s so typical, too. A friend of mine fell in love with a pathetic mess of an alcoholic. He barely socially drank. Honestly? None of us liked her — but her obvious alcoholism was the least of the reasons. Whatever. Some men WILL marry idiots if they are hot (mess or not…) CUT TO her getting sober and now she is a born again freak. Anybody who socially drinks (we’re talking two glasses of wine at an evening long party) is just teetering on the verge of be the mess she was. (Yeah, right, missy. Talk to us AFTER we each have two arrests for DUI in so many months…) At any rate, her behaviour has made her even more of an insufferable bore as she NEVER shuts up about the ills of the bottle. (Yes, her language truly is that canned.) Fortunately, she also insisted they buy a shitty house deep in the wretched and faraway West Valley, so we rarely see either of them. Meanwhile, she’s quickly getting about as fat as she is unpleasant and, somehow, they can’t seem to have kids. Pity. I give the relationship another year, tops. Yeah, if somebody marries you solely because you are hot — you’d best stay hot.

    At any rate, if you love your boyfriend, LW. Love your boyfriend. Give the smoking thing a rest — as it REALLY just paints you as a hypocritical nag.

    1. YOU sound like the most judgmental, nosy “FRIEND” i’ve ever heard!

      If you’re their friend i would hate to see their enemies

      1. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        It’s HARD to be nosy when somebody tells you EVERYTHING there is to know about their relationship as ALL the ever talk about is them…

    2. SweetPeaG says:

      I understand what you’re saying… I also do not like people who expect everyone around them to be as “enlightened” as they are. I’m a vegetarian and make it a point to NOT lecture anyone about why I eat the way I do. Really, I just want everyone to live the way they want to live.

      It’s just that when you love someone, you want them to stay around for as long as possible. If the smoking continues, it most likely will result in major health problems, if not an early death. I can understand why the smoking would be a thing she is tempted to “nag” him about. Either way… the LW’s relationship appears to be on the way out (eventually).

  5. I used to be unsure if smoking was a dealbreaker for me, and then I visited a town earlier this month that still allows smoking in bars (where I live now doesn’t, and my previous city banned it a few years ago). I guess I hadn’t really been around smoke for years, it seems, and it was the worst thing in the world to me.

    Anyway, enough about me. Good luck, LW. It’s hard to make a decision about your relationship when it’s based on something that may be a problem in the future. It’s like you want to talk to future you and find out whether it ends up actually being a big deal or not.

    I don’t think it’s hypocritical to quit smoking and then want your SO to also. A lot of people in my family are former smokers, and they now find smoking really nasty and can’t believe they ever did it. I never smoked, but I assume a lot of the appeal just comes from the addiction. Not to mention when they think about how shitty they felt after exercising, etc. So I think it’s only natural to want your SO to experience the same benefits as you do.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Yes, but its a whole ‘nother thing to start harassing your SO and expecting him to change just because you did.

      1. True. I guess I just meant that I don’t think it’s hypocritical to have those thoughts. But if it’s that big a deal for her now, she should just find a nonsmoker, instead of harassing her boyfriend.

      2. They originally decided to stop smoking together so it wasn’t like she decided to stop and that he should as well–that’s what I think makes this different.

  6. I don’t really understand why this is such an issue—if the smoke itself is bothersome, tell him to refrain from doing it in enclosed spaces around you. But why does the ~idea~ of him being a smoker fill you with so much heartache? Unlike every other substance addiction… smoking does NOT drastically change a person’s personality and/or priorities once they’re addicted.

    You’re probably onto something when you mention the other “minor” issues being the actual problem.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      I smoke (ashamed as I am to admit that). I have never lit up inside, have a “smoking” coat for winter so my others don’t stink, wash my hands after every cigarette, etc. I really do as much as I can to not let it bother others. But even still, Peter can’t stand it. Aside from smells bothering him, he thinks its selfish (?) that I’m risking my life that is important to other people. I get it. I don’t disagree. But I can see plenty of reasons why someone wouldn’t want to be with a smoker even if they never smoked around them.

      1. I mean, I do understand that—just the language in this update threw me off. I mean, this LW is a recent quitter (semi-recent, anyway), so the “It’d be so awful if he still smoked as I was pregnant” declarations & the described “heated discussions” make me wonder if there is not some other issue.

      2. Ugh, I’m a smoker too. 🙁

        I smoked for many years, and then quit for TWO YEARS, and then started getting lazy. I’d have one here or there when I was drinking. And then… dun dun dun… I got dumped. I reasoned that I could smoke while drinking, but that turned into buying my own pack and chainsmoking in the bathtub while downing a bottle of wine. (Yeah, I’m dramatic when I wallow. Shut up). And I got re-addicted almost immediately.

        I’m determined to quit again in the near future but I’m not quite “ready” yet. I’m just under way too much stress right now. However, I CANNOT be a smoking nurse. I will not allow myself to do that. So, soon… soon I shall quit again.

        Sorry, LW, this has nothing to do with you. I have always felt like it’s easier for some people to quit than others, but I think the one thing all successful quitters have in common is that they do it on their own, for their own reasons, when they feel ready. (Either that or they wait until they’re on oxygen and can’t light up without blowing themselves to smithereens).

    2. Whether a smoker smokes outdoors or not, he and his clothing always reek of smoke. This seems to be more troubling to people who have given up smoking than it is to non-allergic non-smokers. I guess a lot like reformed alcoholics who have more trouble staying of alcohol if they are around drinkers. It is worse for some reformed smokers who get somewhat nauseated by the smell of smoke. Stale third-hand smoke coming off clothes is actually more putrid than fresh smoke.

      1. And for sure don’t wait until you are pregnant to see if he will give up smoking under those circumstances. He won’t and there is nothing you can do about it at that point as you are a co-parent. Even if you leave him over it and are lucky enough to collect child support, he will still be entitled to partial custody of his child. Lot’s of luck with preventing him from smoking around the child when s/he is staying with him.

      2. When I quit smoking, I suddenly realized how much it stunk. After about a year, it didn’t bother me as much…. and now I’m a smoker again but intend to quit soon. I have a prescription waiting for a nicotine patch at the pharmacy to pick up tomorrow. And I just bought that book the LW mentioned in the original letter by Scott Carr (I think?) except its the one targeted towards women. So let’s see how it goes!

    3. I can think of a ton of reasons. Smoke on the clothes. Health risks and shorter life expectancy. All the money that goes toward cigarettes. Possibly being a less-active dad or spouse if he eventually gets winded a lot easier. And as someone whose dated smokers, the inconvenience of them having to get up and go outside all the time or make pitstops to buy cigarettes if they’ve forgotten them.

      1. Miss Terri says:

        Yes, I have to agree with you. As someone who also dated (and almost had a serious relationship) with a serious smoker, I know exactly what you mean. Actually, he promised that if we ever got “serious” that he would quit smoking. Fast forward “a few” years – he is now married (to another woman), with kids, and he still smokes…. Not sure if he is having health issues, but whenever I run into him (his wife doesn’t speak to me), he looks old and winded…. I am glad I got away when I did….

  7. Here’s how I feel, LW – it’s great that you quit smoking (Congrats by the way! I remember how awesome I felt after quitting), but you can’t control anyone else’s behavior. I’m on my way to quitting in the very near future (like, days) and my husband said he’s going to quit with me. We were both ex-smokers when we met and started smoking again together after his legal issues turned our lives upside down (amazing how we both automatically reverted back to the ol’ smoke away the stress thing). If he doesn’t quit with me, oh well. Yes, I would love for him to quit with me. But I’m not going to pester him about it. He knows that if he does continue to smoke, it can’t be in the house or around the yet-to-be-conceived-future-child of ours. But, I can’t imagine bringing it up to him repeatedly like it seems you have. You may not feel like you’re being a nag, but it’s probably how he perceives it. So now it’s up to you to determine if this is going to be a deal-breaker or not. No one else can decide that for you. Good luck and stay away from those cancer sticks/coffin nails/tubes of death!

  8. Avatar photo peppers87 says:

    I can see why this is causing heartache. You have definitely changed from a smoker to a non-smoker and you might feel like you can’t understand why this person that you supposedly have so much in common with (shared life goals, etc…) hasn’t seen the appeal and gotten on the bandwagon with you?

    I think about it like she has changed her lifestyle to prevent her from smoking. They probably have to interrupt conversations or activities for him to go outside and smoke and it reminds her of this thing they no longer share. It might feel like they have less in common and it could make her sad that he isn’t excited about this lifestyle change or doesn’t want to participate in this new excitement about quitting with her. while she could KNOW it’s not that big of a deal it might be sad for her because this change that means so much in her life isn’t shared in her boyfriend. Maybe that brings up other feelings of mismatched interests?

    LW – congrats at staying a nonsmoker!

  9. In order to be successful at quitting, he needs to quit for him, not for you.

    1. So true. I married a smoker, and for years encouraged him to quit. He finally quit last year (14 months so far!), but only because he decided to do it for himself, not because of me.

  10. “I think that this is not a deal-breaker for now, but I don’t know if I can stand this in the long run. His brother is having a baby this year, and he hasn’t been able to quit smoking either. To see myself in that situation, to be pregnant and to have my husband continue smoking, would be awful to me.”

    Really, you can replace ‘continue smoking’ with ‘X’ and this is like half the DW letters. ‘X’ can be alcoholism, doing drugs, having sex with other women, verbal or physical abuse, not looking for work, etc. In each case, I think the woman knows that the issue is a dealbreaker. She’s still trapped by inertia, fear of being alone, and her deep down conviction that if she just works at it long enough, she can change the guy into what she wants him to be. That comes through loud and clear in this update. She knows that the smoking is a long-term deal-breaker, but is sticking it out, because she still thinks that she can make him give it up. After multiple unsuccessful attempts, good luck with that. This really goes back to the standard DW advice — either be happy with the person as s/he is now, or MOA and look for someone who meets your needs. Make-over hopes seldom lead to happiness. He won’t change and will resent your continued efforts to force him to change.

  11. sarolabelle says:

    I don’t know how the boyfriend has the strength (or money) to go to the store and get them!

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      What do you mean? Did I miss something?

      1. The smokers think the bf’s smoking is no big deal. S is protesting the comment that the smoking costs a lot of $ and will lead to bf being prematurely unable to fully fulfill his roles of husband and father. She’s opposing Lindsey and supporting Fabelle. It’s snark.

  12. My boyfriend is a smoker and I so wish he would stop. I always thought I would never date a smoker. I thought I would only be friends with benefits with this guy, and then I fell in love with him, so that’s how it came about 🙂 I know I can’t nag him about it but it’s pretty hard. I think given that I am with him I’ve already decided that it’s not a deal-breaker to me and so I shouldn’t complain, but I am praying he will want to stop soon.

  13. Also: You used to see a future with this guy, but now it’s fading? That’s a bad sign for the relationship.

  14. Older and (hopefully) wiser says:

    Trust me, a true smoker doesn’t quit for anyone else, no matter how much they love them. Stop nagging him. The decision has to be his.

  15. SweetPeaG says:

    Wendy- I love your line about how the uncertainty eventually leads to certainty. That is a fantastic way to look at things. Very wise words!

    On an unrelated, but still related note… I sit in an office 40 hours a week with a coworker who smokes. I don’t know that she often washes her clothes (this has been observed by a few of us). She smells SO bad that it has started to bother me. I get headaches from the smokey smell that is constantly around. I hate it. She has also developed one of those nasty & constant smoker’s coughs. I am sorry, but she is disgusting. I once dated a smoker. But, he was young (so didn’t yet have the sexy cough going on) and I guess washed his clothes often. And chewed minty gum in between cigarettes. It wasn’t so bad. But, I could imagine it someday getting bad. Good riddance to him for many reasons.

    Sorry for my rant… but this smoke smell is the most annoying thing about my job.

    1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Oh goodness I would contact HR! That sounds terrible.

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