And lest you think I’m being glib about it, I went through very much the same calculus in 2008 when I was debating whether to propose to my wife. Speaking strictly for myself and for no one else, dating a smoker (or someone who uses tobacco products) IS a deal breaker for me. I have a tremendous amount of compassion for how addicting smoking really is, and how excruciating it is to stop.Best relationship I’d ever had by far, but part of me thought, “Weeellll…maybe I can find someone just like her, but five years younger and Jewish (instead of three years older and Catholic).” When I thought of how hard it was to find this awesome relationship, it became clear to me that I should stick with what I had instead of tempting the fates, spending three years looking for someone “more like me”, who will undoubtedly have ANOTHER set of flaws that I couldn’t calculate. I don’t think smokers are less than anyone else, or that they’re inferior people in any way.I just wish they had made better choices in regard to their health. And for as bad as this makes me look, I’ll admit that part of me resented the hell out of that. In my early 30s, both of my parents died of cancer. I absolutely refuse; I don’t have it in me to do it again.I lost part of me with their deaths that is gone forever. That’s why smoking is a deal breaker with anyone that I date. I can’t deal with the rattling smoker’s cough and the memories of the horrible sickness that smoking brought on to my parents (and me who cared for them).And they always said they were cutting back, and that one day they would quit. I then spent my 20s care giving for my ailing parents. They were my parents; I loved them more than life itself, despite their imperfections, and I wanted to take care of them as they had cared for me. Even to this day, if I get a whiff of cigarette smoke, that old anger and resentment rises up in me. But there are some wounds that will never fully heal.Endless medical appointments, oxygen canisters, ER trips, horribly invasive procedures… They tried their best to give us a wonderful childhood. Quite the opposite – no one deserves to leave this Earth after having suffering so much. But I’m also not being honest if I don’t admit that their addiction to cigarettes (especially in the case of my Mom) was part of what got us in the situation we were in (them dying of cancer and COPD, and me spending my 20s care giving for both of them). If I ever marry and have kids, they will never be there for that. The one thing I can’t get over, that I can’t change, is the idea of going down this road again with someone I love.I would run home and beg my parents to quit, only to have my Mom yell at me for “making her feel bad.” Car trips were miserable. In order to breathe clean air, my siblings and I would pull our shirts over our mouths and noses for the duration of the car trip.
Their parents would get up and run foot races with them, and play tag, and go swimming with them.Mine couldn’t do that because they would double over coughing.Even as a kid, I resented that it was more important for my parents to smoke than it was for them to have their kids breathe clean air. When I was in my 20s both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer. But the doctors agreed that both of them smoked far too much for far too long.Hi Evan, I’ve been reading your blogs and following all your advice.After several failed relationships, I finally found someone who is all the things you say that a real man should be. I am a non-smoker and have never dated a smoker in the past, but I am in my mid 30’s and ready for marriage.And most of all, I can’t watch someone die of smoking-related causes again.People who are addicted to anything don’t quit until THEY are ready.If you choose to deem them all important, your dating pool shrinks considerably. So this really comes down to something quite simple: Presuming he smokes for the rest of his life, can you be happy with him? At the same time, I’d venture to guess that those are the women whose relationship advice you may not want to follow. To be ready for marriage, and find a guy who is perfect in every way except for that one thing…! A deal breaker is only a deal breaker if you say that it is.Or would you be happier without him – breaking up with him at this very moment to find a guy JUST like him… I’m not telling you the answer; I’m outlining your two choices. As such, the answer of what exactly constitutes a deal breaker will be different with every person you talk to.My mother, however, chain-smoked for over thirty years.The first thing she did when she woke up in the morning was reach over and light a cigarette.