I have been with my boyfriend for 5 years. We do not live together and do not share children (there are three grown children in a previous marriage). He was a smoker from an early age, but when we got together he said he wanted to quit. Well, that hasn’t happened yet.
As a child of an addict (alcohol), I understand how difficult it is to quit. Fortunately, my dad quit the cold turkey 20 years ago and never relapsed. Abby, I don’t want a future with smokers. The smell of old cigarettes is unattractive. It’s not exactly breath care, and its health consequences are disastrous.
Am I within the scope of my right to step down? I quit this week in response to him lamenting that he seems to be older than his age (that’s true). He became very defensive and looked like a monster to seek a real timeline about leaving me. He is suffering from anxiety and thinks he will cross the edge if he tries to quit, and I will be the one who pushes him. How can I navigate future conversations?
— Choking in Pennsylvania
Tell your boyfriend that you care about him and his health, but you can no longer tolerate seeing him hurt it because of his tobacco addiction. If he still does not know that the smell of breathing, body and clothes is unpleasant, point it out. Also, indirect smoking is unhealthy for you. Then tell him that he has a choice. Is it smoking or you? The decision is him. There are many effective smoking cessation programs available and he should discuss them with his doctor who may be pleased to know that he is interested.
PS In this era, many women, and men, simply “swipe left” when they encounter a smoker.
I am currently in a relationship that is about to reach its seventh year. We dated in our 20s and rekindled in our 40s. We live together, but we are worried that we may be growing apart. I don’t work because of health problems. He is working on the second shift. I cried easily and was always an emotional person.
Disagreements can usually be resolved. My problem is that I have to think about the discussion later and say more or ask. Then he tells me that we have already talked about it and he hasn’t talked about it again. He says I’m “analyzing everything too much.” It does not mean that. I have another question or an abbreviation.
By refusing to speak, I feel like things are unresolved. He won’t talk about what we’ve already talked about! Please help me understand if the demands are too strict and should be left alone.
— Not answered in Illinois
What I want to discuss further is not “too demanding”. If revisiting the issue reignites the disagreement, the partner is over control. If you have a question, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to ask it without it leading to a conflict. It seems rude to deny you the opportunity.
After a disagreement, take more time to determine if it is really necessary to revisit the subject. In doing so, avoid re-approaching in a way that is perceived as an invitation to another discussion.
Dear Abbey, was written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips.Contact Dear Abbey www.DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
This article was originally published in The Providence Journal: Dear Abbey: A woman runs out of patience with her boyfriend’s addiction