Carolyn: My boyfriend of over three years is a former smoker who, until yesterday, would have the occasional cigarette but not smoke regularly. Then yesterday, he told me that he wants to smoke as much as he wants, which seems to be about once an hour.
I am highly averse to smoking (which he knows), both in finding the smell disgusting and for health reasons. I feel like he is being selfish and not only disregarding his own health, but also mine and that of the children we plan to have someday. He feels like smoking is a character trait and that if I cannot accept his constant smoking, then I dont really love or accept who he is.
Am I being unreasonable? I certainly never would have started dating him if he was a smoker, but now we are in a relationship. How to move forward from this? Or not?
Maybe marriage would change the stakes of my answer, but it wouldnt change the fact that if you dont want to be around a smoker, then you need to leave the relationship. Sad and maddening and a real waste, but at least he is being honest instead of making a string of promises to quit that he doesnt intend to keep.
I could argue, by the way, that the relationship ended not with his decision to smoke, but with his declaration that if I cannot accept his constant smoking, then I dont really love or accept who he is. I mean, cant you argue that if he cant accept your preference for clean air, then he doesnt really love or accept who you are? People who take the argument down that road, who make unilateral decisions and then blame others for the consequences, are betraying poor emotional health. Im sorry.
Re: Smoker: The way in which he confessed dukes up suggests to me that maybe hes not as comfortable with his relapse or with himself as a smoker as he wants you to think. Suddenly proclaiming that hes going to smoke until the day he dies would seem like less an ultimatum to me than a cry for help.
Fair enough, though that still leaves the unilateral-decision-plus-blame problem.
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