Saturday night, the cigarettes come crawling out with the boys who crave regrets
March 22, 2009 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Non-smoker dating a smoker - how to deal?

Here's the thing. I met a great guy 3 weeks ago, we hit it off instantly and he is awesome and funny and treats me well. One of his few downsides is that he smokes. I CANT STAND SMOKE. He's 27 and only started a year or two ago, so it's not like it's a habit he's had his whole life.

A week after we met he said he's going to quit. I said that that would be awesome, but in the back of my head thought "no way is that gonna happen, guys say all kinds of crazy things for a girl." Well, he went 2 weeks without smoking (or at least smoking so rarely that I didn't have to smell it on him). During those 2 weeks I made sure to tell him how good it was to kiss him and not want to vomit (I said it nicer) and that it's great to be able to enjoy how he tastes and smells.

The other day we hung out and he smelled like smoke. He apologized and said he's trying, and slowly weaning off the cigarettes. Then last night we were out with his friends and it was the first time he smoked in front of me, and he smoked 3-4 cigarettes throughtout the rest of the night. I had a crappy night because his friends smoked too and I was just exposed to it the whole night. He apologized last night and said how much he appreciated me putting up with that because it meant a lot to him that his friends seemed to like me.

So here's my question:
What are the chances he'll quit? Is it reasonable to ask him to quit? I know people just don't change, but the fact that he's said it himself a few times (I was not the first one to ask him to quit) and went TWO weeks without smoking gives me some hope.
Should I keep commenting on it everytime he smells like smoke or is that too naggy?
Is it reasonable to demand that he never smokes around me at least?
Withholding sex/kissing sounds stupid and isn't my style, but does it work? It really isn't sexy when he tastes like smoke, so it wouldn't be that hard to do..

I know it ultimately depends on me to decide whether this is a deal breaker for me, and for him to see how serious he is about us, but what's the best way of dealing with this?
Smokers: How much nagging or asking would get on your nerves?
Past smokers: Did a significant other make you quit? How?
People who don't like being around smokers: Should I just give up on the hope that he'll quit?

Thanks for your input!
posted by KateHasQuestions to Human Relations (36 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
The key is to not pressure them to quit. They will. My ex thanked me after she quit and said that me not pressing her made it way easier and reduced the stubborness factor in her.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:10 AM on March 22, 2009


You've known him for 3 weeks. Why should you expect that he'll change for you? You need to accept the smoking or move on.
posted by TypographicalError at 7:11 AM on March 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


How much nagging or asking would get on your nerves?

Any and all. Seriously, even if I decided to quit of my own volition, anyone so much as mentioning it would make my shit list if they weren't in the same boat (nic fits, etc.)

I'm a different case than your gentleman, though: I've been smoking since I was 16 (24 now,) honestly enjoy smoking, have no intention of quitting and wouldn't attempt to date a non-smoker bugged by it, though.
posted by griphus at 7:14 AM on March 22, 2009


I didn't want to make it sound like I expected him to change for me. As I said, he was the one who first said he would quit, I never asked. And the rest of my question is about how to deal - should I ask that he never smokes around me? Or is that unreasonable too? Is it wrong to refuse to kiss him after he smoked?
posted by KateHasQuestions at 7:15 AM on March 22, 2009


Smoking is an addiction. He can't quit for someone else even if he wants to. He can only quit if he's committed to quitting. The fact that his friends all smoke is not a good sign. The fact that his smoking is increasing around you rather than decreasing, is also not a good sign.

You've been with him three weeks. Do you want to date a smoker, or is it a dealbreaker? It doesn't matter how fabulous he is otherwise, or how well you get along otherwise. If he smokes, and you are put off by smoke/smoke-smells, then you're incompatible.
posted by headnsouth at 7:16 AM on March 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


Regarding kissing: I would suggest (you) carrying around an Altoids tin (or some similarly-strong breath freshener of mutual preference.) Asking him to pop a mint > refusing a kiss.
posted by griphus at 7:19 AM on March 22, 2009


Here's my background: 30 year smoker, married to a non-smoker for 18 of those years. Quit smoking eight years ago. Divorced seven years ago.

What are the chances he'll quit?

Better as a two year smoker than ten. Sounds like some of his motivation is peers. He smokes when around smoking friends... but not so much when not around them. Only he can tell you how serious he is about quitting.

Is it reasonable to ask him to quit?

Absolutely it is. You can make it a deal breaker. He is the one with the socially non-acceptable habit. Not you.

Should I keep commenting on it everytime he smells like smoke or is that too naggy?

You should do more than just comment. You should let him know in no uncertain terms that smoking is not acceptable to your future relationship. Then you will find out which he cares about more; smoking or you.

Is it reasonable to demand that he never smokes around me at least?

More than reasonable, it should be a requirement.

what's the best way of dealing with this?

Be as stern as possible. You are still early enough in this new relationship to lay down ground rules. If he wants to continue dating you, he must stop smoking. Otherwise, it's a no-go.

Smokers: How much nagging or asking would get on your nerves?

It does get on your nerves. But ultimately the boyfriend has to decide which he wants more.

Past smokers: Did a significant other make you quit? How?

My ex tried and tried, but I never quit for her (yes, I suck), I quit for myself.

Should I just give up on the hope that he'll quit?

If you think this guy is worth a long-term relationship, do not give up, but don't back down either. Smoking isn't acceptable to you. You must make that clear. If he decides he would rather smoke, then better to find out now how interested he is in furthering the relationship than two years into it.

Good luck to you. You're doing the right thing. Plus it's good for him.
posted by netbros at 7:24 AM on March 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


You've known him for 3 weeks. Why should you expect that he'll change for you? You need to accept the smoking or move on.

Utter BS. The reason people say "you can't change other people" on AskMe all the time is so that you don't get hurt: if your mother has been psychotic all your life, or whatever, you may be best advised to stop interacting with her, rather than trying to change her, for your own wellbeing.

But if you're fine with the risk that this guy will leave you rather than give up smoking, do expect him to change, and make your expectation clear!

He can't quit for someone else even if he wants to. He can only quit if he's committed to quitting.

Er, yes, but there's nothing like the potential of a really fulfilling relationship with lots of great sex to change someone's internal motivations.

You should be understanding, as it sounds like you are. Everyone should be understanding towards everybody. But that's no reason to indulge smoking, ever. Smokers are on the wrong side of history. They need to deal with it...
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:42 AM on March 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


You have every right to ask him not to smoke around you, though sometimes the considerate thing to do is leave when he does (like in the bar situation). It's his decision when and whether to quit, but you have the right to protect yourself from the carcinogens, too. (If you're concerned about that at all, remember that even the residual smell on clothing and furniture contains carcinogens, too.)

Don't be the passive girl who doesn't stand up for herself because she's afraid of losing some guy (who may still turn out to be a loser who's not worth the carcinogen exposure). If you don't want to be around it, don't put up with it.
posted by parkerjackson at 7:50 AM on March 22, 2009


When I met my now husband 11 years ago he was a light smoker. He had only started smoking aftr he broke up with his previous giflfriend so we joked that he was only smoking because he was single and now he had a girlfriend so he could quit now. Like your guy, he wanted to quit so I wasn't forcing something on him. I didn't make it a dealbreaker but he knew quite clearly that I couldn't stand smoking and I would support him if he quit. I was very supportive emotionally and financially (I spent a lot of money on a treat for him as a reward for not smoking) and I put up with the temporary crankiness. Since he was spending so much time with me the social urge to smoke was diminished. When you are meeting up with his friends can you make it in a non-smoking establishment?

Asking that he not smoke around you and refusing to kiss an ashtray are more than reasonable expectations, it seems really weird to me that you would even question whether it was okay for him to so easily treat you inconsiderately. Your feelings are important too, you know.
posted by saucysault at 8:01 AM on March 22, 2009


His lungs his choice...

You have a say when your lungs are involved.. so it's cool to ask him not to smoke in your presence.

Nagging him to quit smoking is not going to work any more than nagging anyone to do anything works. Positive reinforcement works far better so the commenting when he smells and tastes good is a good thing.

If the smell is so distasteful to you that it is a deal breaker you need to decide that now. It really doesn't seem as though he's ready to quit.

Having said that, now is the time for you both to decide that. If you don't want to date a smoker you need to tell him that and then he can decide how badly he wants to be a smoker.

As a smoker (also not for a very long time) I doubt I would choose cigarettes over a great relationship, one being good for me and the other, while I do enjoy it, is not.
posted by Weaslegirl at 8:10 AM on March 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am an occasional smoker - I'm not addicted cigarettes. It sounds like your boy isn't addicted to cigarettes either if he quit (so far as you can tell) for two weeks. I'm much the same way, if I have a good reason to, I'll go weeks or even months without smoking, and I'm never forehead sweating or snapping at passersby like people who quit smoking on TV.

I have no doubt that some people are addicted to cigarettes, but many aren't. There's something about cigarettes that a lot of lifelong non-smokers fail to realize: smoking is awesome. :)

Seriously, smoking is very enjoyable (tobacco is a drug, after all) but it sounds to me like your boy isn't addicted. Like others have mentioned above, put your foot down. Tell him if he wants to smoke, not to do it around you. He'll wise up pretty quick, and when he does have an occasional cigarette, he'll wash his hands and chew a piece of gum and you'll never be the wiser. Everybody wins.
posted by CRM114 at 8:10 AM on March 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd think seriously about whether it bothers you more to kiss a smoker or to not be kissing this particular smoker. If it's the former, carrot-and-stick away, and see how it goes, but accept that you might not win over his habit.

I'm a smoker, and I quit for my ex, as I was absurdly eager to please. The quitting lasted about a year and a half, and one day I got so peeved about something he did that I bought a pack and had a sneaky defiant cigarette while sitting on the wall down the road from where we lived, and gradually I started smoking again. I still smoke, not heavily but daily.

Beware that having someone quit for you is a weaker motivation than if they quit for themselves - I suspect the only way this could work out as you'd like is if he really, really wants to quit and just needs a supportive nudge. (I'm sure you're aware of the difference between "Yeah, I should stop smoking" and really having a desire to quit.)
posted by carbide at 8:17 AM on March 22, 2009


I'd like to throw out a few things for your consideration.

- Smokers know you don't like it.
It's increasingly legislated (illegal to smoke in buildings, for example). There are notices up everywhere (anti-smoking campaigns, notices on the packages). People will absolutely wrinkle their noses (eww, I smell smoke) and talk about the smell. And, people sometimes isolate smokers (please don't hold my baby, etc.). I'm not saying this is good or bad. I'm just saying smokers are very aware that others don't accept smoking.

- Anti-smoking campaigns (official or non-official) are not terribly effective.
Almost all smokers are trying to quit. It's a rare smoker who has never tried the plethora of ways to quit (gum, patches, hypnosis, cold turkey, etc.) In a way, they are being "nagged" quite a bit (see first bullet point) and are constantly trying.

- If smokers know that most non-smokers don't like it, and are constantly pressured to not smoke, and are frequently trying to quit, then we can assume it's pretty hard to quit. To make an analogy: Imagine being very thirsty and yet not drinking fluids. That's hard, right?

As a person who has dated him for only a few weeks, and knew he was a smoker when you met him, please consider those points before making a decision about nagging, withholding, etc. Clearly, you can choose to not date whoever you want, but trying to change someone is a different thing altogether.
posted by Houstonian at 8:36 AM on March 22, 2009


You are right, smoking is gross. Not only is it gross, but it's stupid. You have every right to make it a deal breaker. You can't expect him to stop for you, but you can stop dating him if he has a habit that you find repulsive. Plus, second hand smoke is nasty and I don't even like hanging out with smokers as friends because I hate breathing that stank in.

Tell him that you hate smoke and that you never want to be around it. Say that you like him a lot, but you can't deal with the smoking. He can then choose to stop or not. A lot of smokers are of some mindset that smoking makes them part of some kind of special minority that is discriminated against, or that smoking is some kind of special culture. They feel like asking them to quit would be like asking them to change to fit into the masses. I say this as someone who knows MANY smokers and used to work for a company that worked specifically with the smoking population.

Hopefully as someone who has only been smoking for a couple years, he won't be this way. It already sounds like he's not, since he was trying to quit for you before. Have you asked him why he started smoking when he was in his late 20s? That's not a very common age to start. Maybe you can help him with that info?
Good luck!
posted by fructose at 8:43 AM on March 22, 2009


Speaking as a smoker, it's not unreasonable to ask him to not smoke around you. Asking him to quit entirely is a little bit insane— if he asked you to completely stop wearing the color red, or never drink alcohol, or never go to the state of Virginia, would you do it?
posted by Electrius at 8:50 AM on March 22, 2009


A week after we met he said he's going to quit.

When I first started dating my smoker, he said he was going to quit -- not even just for me, but because he'd wanted to for a long time. Six years later and it's still an issue and a struggle in our relationship. He eventually told me that he only said he wanted to quit because he knew that otherwise I wouldn't date him. Beware of this.

Not only will the smoking not go away as easily as you think, but any pressure from your end -- whether real or merely perceived -- will be eventually be resented. You will be the fun-killer, the independence-compromiser, the meddler, the health-nut. On his best days he'll swear he doesn't think these things, but on the worst days he won't have to say a single word for you to know that's exactly how he feels.

This is a long-term dealbreaker for you, I think you need to stick to your guns from the very beginning. There are so many awkward positions this will put you in. Want to have to tell him "no sex tonight, you stink"? Want to have to deal with the reaction from his friends when they all start smoking and he says he can't, because of you? Want to have to constantly bargain over where and when is okay? Even worse, want to have to eventually just suck it up and get used to it?

"I adore you but I'm not interested in dating a smoker." At three weeks in, this is all you need to say. You'll be able to tell a lot about someone by how they respond to that.
posted by hermitosis at 8:56 AM on March 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I've not read the rest of the thread, but here's a thought. Is there some sort of unhealthy habit you have which you getting rid of he would appreciate? Making it a mutual self-improvement thing would change the nature of the equation, and might make him feel less like he is doing something for you (if that is indeed the secret reason in his head why he is doing this).
posted by WCityMike at 8:57 AM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Like CRM114 says, people who smoke really enjoy it - so try to imagine if he wanted you to give up something you really enjoy, whatever that was - ice cream, hamburgers, the Colbert Report, Metafilter - something you seriously find pleasure in but that isn't a necessity. IMagine he could explain why it was bad for you and you could see the argument, but at the same time, you liked the feeling it gave you.

Sure, you can say no one could compare arguments for not using Metafilter (procrastination/time wasting/money spent on internet/etc) to arguments for not smoking (it's killing you) but the thing is, those arguments are really abstract to smokers, and the possibility that they will die at 70 instead of 85 is just not that scary to most 25 year olds. Anecdotally everyone's heard about a smoker who lived to 90-whatever, or a non-smoker who died young, and when you're young it can seem like fear and over-caution and a rejection of the pleasures of life in order to prolong a boring existence.

Which doesn't mean you shouldn't tell him how you feel and make it an either/or, but just that you should be ready for him to choose either way.

[my bf has asthma and i have breathing trouble, and both my mom & sister smoke, and they say they understand and will keep it outside or down when we visit, but they always roll their eyes and tell us to chill in reality because when it comes down to it, they don't quite get why it's such a big deal. They think we're being anal, which is a possible stance your new love interest may take, if he's not honestly already on the road to giving up smoking... ]
posted by mdn at 9:01 AM on March 22, 2009


I want to underscore that this is no small thing. I'm sure the smokers in the room are going to hate me for this, but...

I hate cigarette smoke. I always have. But once I got a cancer diagnosis, I hated it even more. And you know what I really hated? Being completely drained of energy and barely able to get from point A to point B because of cancer treatment, using all the energy I had to get up to a bus stop, and having some jackass standing there with a goddamn cigarette blowing carcinogenic smoke in my face and making me feel even more ill than I already was. And there I am, trapped. No energy to move elsewhere, and raised in a tactful pro-smoking society that doesn't feel it's fair to ask him to butt out. But sure, his lungs his choice.

You can rationalize this and say "smoking is awesome" and be generous with people and their choices, in public or private, but heart disease and lung cancer are the #1 and #2 killers in North America, both of which count smoking as their major risk factor. More people die of lung cancer than of breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer combined. While people tend to believe that they're going to live forever and cancer (or heart disease) is something that happens to other people, the reality is that smoking puts you at a very high risk for a premature and painful death.

I've dated smokers before. While I loved the individuals, I always hated the smoke that came with them. You don't want to be uncool and nag, you don't want to be the wet blanket, and that peer pressure puts a lot more smoke in your lungs than you would otherwise have. Who wants to walk out in the middle of the party, or the conversation, or dinner? No one wants to be the shrill non-smoker. Dating a smoker means making a whole series of largely unseen choices about what's going into your lungs, there's no way around it. You become a second-hand smoker. That's the choice you make.

It's only been three weeks, so it's way too soon to talk like this, but...would you live with a smoker? What would be the house rules, and would he abide by them? When his friends come over and it's the middle of winter, do you think they'll keep their smoking outside? Are you okay with that? Your experience with his friends is only the first; if you stay with him, that will be constant. Are you willing to get used to it? Wait it out in the hopes that he gets new friends? You can't bank on him quitting, not with his friends smoking with him.

It's too soon to ask the important questions, but by the time it will seem logical to ask them it will be too late. Good luck to you.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:02 AM on March 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


One more note -- while my issue with dating a smoker is based on the smell/taste as well as allergies, in the long run it's become a deeper concern. How can someone commit to a long-term (perhaps even lifelong) relationship with me when they're actively undermining their own longevity? I find it macabre to plan on spending my extended future with someone who's flagrantly hastening their own ill-health and possibly even their death? As you can see, these concerns don't just dissolve over time -- they evolve alongside your relationship and take on new forms as you explore a deeper and deeper emotional connection to someone.
posted by hermitosis at 9:06 AM on March 22, 2009


Not just their longevity and health, hermitosis, but yours too. And any kids you may decide to have. OMG infants around cigarette smoke. Eek.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:08 AM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had a boyfriend who said he didn't smoke, then it turned into "I only smoke when I drink", then that turned into "Well, I smoke, but I only smoke outside", then THAT turned into "I only smoke in the bathroom". Then I came over one evening and he and all his friends were smoking like chimneys in the living room!

Smoking I have a hard time with. I wear contacts and I have allergies and the smell is overwhelming to me. I was dumb and put up with it way longer than I should have because I liked the guy. I'm not sure if it was the dishonesty about his smoking habit or the actual smoking that did it, but it was one of the reasons we broke up. He knew it was a dealbreaker for me from day one and I think he secretly hoped that I would just get used to it. After we broke up, he finally legitimately tried quitting smoking and as far as I know is smoke-free now - however it's too late for me.

So decide if it's a deal-breaker, otherwise you might end up in a similar situation.
posted by getmetoSF at 9:38 AM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Smoking has always been a deal breaker for me. When I met Mr. sadtomato and discovered he smoked I decided to date him anyway for various reasons. I was clear from the start how I feel about smoking. The smoking was a problem for me but Mr. Sadtomato is so fantastic in every other way that I can accept that he smokes.

So ask yourself: How great is this guy? Is he worth it to put up with the smoking? Or does the smoking really ruin your time with him? What if he never quits? Do you want kids? What if he still smokes if you have children?

Don't go into this relationship expecting you guy to quit. Instead go into it accepting that he smokes. If you don't think you can do that then I guess you need to move on.

I worry about Mr. sadtomato's health all the time. We have compromises, there is no smoking in the house, and he does his best to stay away from me if he smokes when we are outside. I finally decided that it I wanted to share the rest of my life with him and am able to work around the smoking issue. So, even if smoking kills him at a young age, I am be happier to have had my time with him than sticking to my strict no smoking rule.
posted by sadtomato at 9:43 AM on March 22, 2009


Hasn't been asked yet- did he warn you about you being sequestered among his addict buddies? Did he say "is it okay if I smoke with you there?" Did he ask if it was all right? Did he look your fucking direction while smoking three of four cigs (and that's a lot of cigs) that night?

If the answer to any of these is "no," he's not just an unrepentant addict but also an asshole. Be happy you found out at week three and not after you brought children into the relationship.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:09 AM on March 22, 2009


Don't hope that he will change. Decide if this is a dealbreaker for you, if it is tell him that he's great but you can't be involved with someone who smokes, and see what he says. You won't be asking him to quit, just telling him what you have decided about the sort of person you want to be in a relationship with. The past 3 weeks, you have learned what it is like to date someone who smokes.

How nice that he "appreciates" you putting up with him and his friends doing something that makes you want to vomit, but you have a choice to only date guys who don't voluntarily engage in behaviors that disgust you.
posted by yohko at 10:36 AM on March 22, 2009


He eventually told me that he only said he wanted to quit because he knew that otherwise I wouldn't date him. Beware of this. This needs to be emphasized because it's important.

I smoked for 10 years and tried to quit at least once a year for every single one of those years. It's HARD. Like, really really hard. Amazingly hard. As many others have said, smoking is pleasurable, but even when it got to the point that I hated smoking, hated going out in the rain or snow, hated craving a cigarette when I was sick and coughing, I still couldn't quit.

A year ago I met someone and within a week or two he mentioned that smoking was a dealbreaker for him (he didn't know at that point that I smoked). I decided to take that opportunity to quit--it was something I really really wanted for myself, and I'd been struggling with it for months, but here was a chance to also do it for another reason, to make this relationship a possibility. The only way this applies to your guy is if he really wants to quit for himself. If he's going to quit "for you", it won't happen.

It is absolutely reasonable to ask that he not smoke in front of you. Smoking, while an addiction, is controllable enough that smokers don't have to smoke in front of others when they know those people hate it. But if you are regularly going out in situations where he would go out and smoke with his friends, this will be a huge issue in your relationship. It is also reasonable to ask that he not try to kiss you after smoking--when I smoked and dated a smoker, I would kick him out of bed for crawling in immediately after smoking, without brushing his teeth or washing his hands (but this was an established relationship).

Honestly, though, I think you need to look at it this way: Is this a dealbreaker for you? Because if you don't date smokers, and this guy is a smoker, then you should start looking elsewhere no matter how great he is. Take people as they are and don't assume they'll change to meet your wishes, even if they might, even if you could ask them to.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 12:00 PM on March 22, 2009


When I smoked, I had absolutely no idea how offensive smoke is to non-smokers. Within a few years after I quit, I became as repelled as you are...and I don't think your aversion is extreme.

In relationships, generally it's better not to do things that you strongly dislike or to give up important things. If he's an occasional smoker, you can say, "no, you're smoky" and kiss him the next day. It's okay to tell him that a smoky environment is too uncomfortable for you, and decline to join him at a party full of smokers. No apology is needed! And if he argues or whines, you don't have to discuss it.

Forget about the smoking for a minute. Consider that you're discounting your own needs in favor of someone else's. I'm guessing that if the roles were reversed, you'd be very reluctant to ask a smoke-sensitive boyfriend to do you a favor and go to a smoky party. An overly "reasonable" (self-denying) attitude does a relationship more harm than good in the long run. Treat yourself with respect, and others will do the same -- it's difficult and requires a lot of practice, but the deep anxiety will lessen over time.
posted by wryly at 12:44 PM on March 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry to say this, but it won't work. Here's the thing -- if he quits because of you, even if you tell him over and over again that it's not something he has to do, then he's going to associate not-smoking and being-with-Kate. When he slips and has a cigarette, that association will tell him there is a problem in the relationship. And when you have an argument, over anything at all, he's going to go out and have a cigarette, and it will all spiral into each other.

So, as some have said, you can set boundaries -- no smoking in the house, no smoking in the car, so on and so forth -- and it'll likely never be a wedge between you, and he may well quit anyway of his own volition, which would still be kind of "Well, I did it for Kate..." but less so. But at this stage of the relationship? Nope. It will not work, and it will be reason for him to resent you.

If you can't get over him smoking in any way whatsoever, then dump him now. Tell him you can't go out with a smoker, and stick to it. If he calls you in a week and says he quit, then tell him you'd love to be friends, but he's not a non-smoker for a couple of months. And you probably won't be able to stick to that, but the association will be a little less, so maybe it won't be as big a thing as it could have been.
posted by Etrigan at 12:55 PM on March 22, 2009


I'm a former smoker. None of my SOs ever tried to make or ask me to quit. I probably would have, for any of them. Especially for people who say they aren't addicted, you asking them to not smoke around you shouldn't be a big deal. And who cares if his friends liked you? You had to breathe in their (and his) cig smoke all evening. It sets a bad precedent that he thinks it's more important for them to think that you're cool then for you to be comfortable.

I'd use hermitosis's line: "I adore you, but I'm not interested in dating a smoker."

It's painful to do things that you only half-want to do. I've broken up with people I really, really liked before b/c of other deal-breakers (mental health issues, not-even-trying-to-get-a-job issues, and not-esp-concerned-with-my-feelings issues), and it's so painful when you really like the guy, but ultimately, there are other people with whom you don't feel like you have to compromise important things. Give yourself a chance to find them.
posted by tk at 1:33 PM on March 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


He's 27 and only started a year or two ago, so it's not like it's a habit he's had his whole life.

Do you really want to date someone who chose to start smoking at 25? It's one thing if he started when he was 13 or something, but 25? This is not going to be a very popular answer, but I'm just going to say it: you have to be pretty dumb to start smoking as an adult. All other issues aside, I don't know that I could be with someone that dumb.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:25 PM on March 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


I had a serious, live-in relationship with a smoker for four years and we worked it like this:

- He didn't smoke indoors
- If he kissed me, he would use mouthwash or brush his teeth first.
- If we were going to be intimate, he would wash the smoke smell from his hands and hair first.
- If we were hanging out with other smokers, I would put up with it for as long as I could stand to, and he would leave with me when I couldn't take it anymore.
- We had different sets of friends and most of his smoked and mine didn't.

He was always accommodating about not toxing me out, but wasn't interested in quitting until a "sin tax" was applied to cigarettes. Smoking wasn't a dealbreaker for me, but it wasn't pleasant to tolerate, either. Plus, I worried about his health. For some people, those are dealbreakers, and that's OK. You will have to decide whether the costs outweigh the benefits.
posted by xenophile at 5:38 PM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, you're being too naggy. I am sure it annoys him.

I guess what I'm saying is that it will never work, DTMFA.
posted by kpmcguire at 5:46 PM on March 22, 2009


If he wants to quit for real, then sure, absolutely encourage him to do so. If he compromises by never smoking around you and not expecting you to hang out in smoky environments longer than you are comfortable, I think that's reasonable for a very new relationship.

Typical etiquette of such an arrangement would dictate that he not expecting kissing when he has been smoking, and to wash up before expecting kissing or any other sort of close contact to resume. (It need not be framed as "withholding" or "punishment." "Yuck, sorry" will suffice.) Nagging is generally not a productive approach. Enforcement of agreed-upon rules is much better.

Regarding the age at which he started smoking, I think that is a good way to get into really judgmental, unpleasant arguments. If you want to pick a fight, though, it's an excellent jumping-off point. 25 isn't exactly beyond the age of youthful folly. And I'm sure you have habits that are either unhealthy, or juvenile, or both. But regardless, whatever reasons he had for starting smoking are in the past; it's his present behavior that is the issue.

/dated smokers as a non-smoker, dated non-smokers as a smoker, now my partner and I are both ex-smokers.
posted by desuetude at 7:48 AM on March 23, 2009


Nthing the fact that you need to accept him as he is now.

Otherwise, to take a polarizing example what-if - say you're carrying some extra weight, and have been making noise about how you're finally going to get in shape, eat right, blah blah.
It'd be a totally dick move for him to nag you about not making those changes because he's wanting to date the promised-you rather than who and how you are now.

You have every right to ask that he not smoke around you, that he not smoke at your place, and that he wash/have a mint/whatever before any close contact. That's not withholding anything - that's setting guidelines. You wouldn't call not kissing someone because they had just eaten something foul-smelling withholding, would you? You'd just ask them to go brush!

Positive reinforcement like you're doing is the best tactic.

If most of his friends smoke when they gather, that means you're either going to skip most indoor gatherings with them (for your own health) or suffer, unless they usually go outside. Doesn't sound like they do. Are you up for that?
posted by canine epigram at 11:07 AM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


He needs to quit or DTMFA. Smoking's not cool, don't be around it if you don't want to be.

Who wants to kiss an ashtray?
posted by MythMaker at 12:07 PM on March 24, 2009


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