Dear English Friend,
I have been dating this guy for the last few months. I first went out with him because he is very nice and sweet, but on the fourth date I realized he is a smoker (he hadn’t smoked in front of me during our first 3 dates). It didn’t really bother me because I was so attracted to him and he is just the loveliest person ever and I figured it’s his choice anyways. But now his smoking is really bothering me and I don’t know what to do. Some of my friends who are really against smoking have also told me they won’t hang out with me anymore if I bring my boyfriend along because they hate smoking. I tried talking to him about it, but he didn’t really want to talk about it and said that he has been a smoker for a long time and that I do things he doesn’t like but he doesn’t tell me to stop doing them.
What should I do? I don’t want to keep smelling smoke, but I don’t want to break up with him either.
Dear Confused Heart,
That is a tough question for sure. I find it interesting that, despite being a heavy smoker, he chose to withhold his bad habit in front of you for your first three dates. That demonstrates that he has some awareness of the social impact smoking has on first impressions. But the problem now is, as you said, you have proven that you accept him for who he is by choosing to continue being with him regardless. I believe you are someone who has always been affected by smokers, but you were so into this guy that you didn’t want to lose a potential boyfriend in the beginning of the relationship. The time to say something was when you noticed immediately on the fourth date, but I fully support you trying to resolve the situation now.
Smoking in relationships is different in that it should be treated as a health issue and not a relationship issue. There shouldn’t be compromises, and whether you have “annoying habits” that he accepts is irrelevant if they don’t cause people harm. He is just saying that because he is being defensive and doesn’t want to give up smoking. But smoking isn’t just a bad habit that partners nag about: it is a major health concern. Second-hand smoking is a very serious health threat and is just as likely to cause lung cancer. Are you currently living with this boyfriend?
If he is just as lovely a boyfriend as you say he is, then he will take your health seriously (and his own) and try to quit smoking immediately. You will have to give him some time though: smoking is very addictive and he will most likely need medical assistance. However, if you don’t see serious improvements within one month or less, I would break up with this guy. It doesn’t have to be personal, but you need to look out for your own health, and if he can’t quit now then chances are he might never. You also haven’t been dating for terribly long, just a few months, so it’s not like you are ending a serious long-term relationship. If you choose to break up with him, also make sure you are doing it for your own reasons, and not because of what your friends said (although they probably have their own health concerns for saying what they said). There are many lovely people in this world to date who don’t smoke.
To my readers, what advice would you like to offer this reader? Please let me know in the comments 🙂
Your English Friend