Is It Justifiable To Dump Your Partner Because They Smoke?

“I want to give my current girlfriend an ultimatum: quit smoking or it’s over."
Mercedes Rancaño Otero via Getty Images

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There are so many things we have to consider before getting into a relationship with someone. Do you find them attractive? Are you sexually compatible? Are they a good person? Sometimes we meet someone who ticks all the boxes but does one thing that we absolutely can’t stand.

This is the case for this week’s reader, Emmanuel. His girlfriend is a smoker and it’s giving him the ick. So much so, it could be a relationship dealbreaker.

“I want to give my current girlfriend an ultimatum: quit smoking or it’s over,” Emmanuel says. “She doesn’t smoke around me as I told her I don’t like it and she said she would stop. However, I know she hasn’t as I can smell smoke on her clothes,” he adds.
“I find the habit disgusting and it completely turns me off her, should I bail?”
Evidently, Emmanuel is at the end of his tether but should he break up with her?
Jessica Alderson who is a relationship expert and co-founder of So Syncd, believes that our lifestyle choices are reflections of our core values.
“They serve as visible expressions of who we are and what we prioritise in our lives. Whether it’s the food we eat, how we spend our time, or our daily habits, these choices are manifestations of our identity and beliefs,” she says.

What would you say to this partner?

Alderson wants Emmanuel to consider that our lifestyle choices are personal and subjective.

“We all have the freedom to choose our lifestyles and make decisions that align with our beliefs, as long as they don’t negatively impact other people,” Alderson says.
But this doesn’t mean that everyone else should agree with our decisions or maintain a relationship with us. Emmanuel’s girlfriend’s decision to smoke is an example of this. It’s something she enjoys but if it negatively impacts Emmanuel, it’s his choice to decide how he wants to move forward in the relationship.
Alderson says communication “is key” here. She advises that instead of issuing an ultimatum, it might be more productive for Emmanuel to have an open and honest conversation with his girlfriend and try to find a compromise.

How can different habits affect a relationship?

Different life and health habits can significantly impact a relationship.

“Engaging in healthy lifestyle habits together, such as exercising, cooking nutritious meals, or going for walks, can strengthen the bond between partners,” says Alderson.

“In particular, working towards the same goal and spending quality time as a couple can help to strengthen a connection.”

Habits associated with emotional wellbeing, such as practicing self-care and seeking support, can play a big role in relationships, too. “People who effectively manage their stress and energy levels are often better equipped to handle relationship challenges and communicate effectively,” Alderson says.

Whether you like it or not, lifestyle and health habits feed into our sense of compatibility with our partner.

“Divergent lifestyle habits, especially when they involve significant differences in core values, can create challenges in a relationship,” Alderson says.

She continues: “Misalignment in habits related to health, such as smoking or extreme dietary choices, can lead to conflict or feelings of disconnect within a relationship.”

What practical advice would you give this reader?

From reading Emmanuel’s message, Alderson thinks it sounds like his girlfriend’s smoking habit is a deal-breaker for him.

“How he proceeds from this point depends on how committed he is to making it work with her,” she expands.

“If this is one of many issues, and he knows it just isn’t worth the effort to try to work through it, then it may be best for the reader to accept this as a sign that the relationship isn’t right,” she adds.

However, Alderson says if her smoking habit is the only thing keeping them apart and he believes that the relationship is worth salvaging, then the first step would be to have an open and honest chat with his girlfriend about how he feels.

“He should explain to her why it bothers him. It’s important for him to express that he is dedicated to being in the relationship to make it clear that his intent is to work through this together rather than break up,” she says.

Though Emmanuel doesn’t like his girlfriend’s habits, being understanding at a time like this can go a long way.

“He should acknowledge that quitting smoking is a challenging process and offer his support to her if she wants to quit,” says the expert. “Highlighting that he wants to give her the freedom and space to make her own decisions can help her to open up and feel empowered.”

It’s also important for both parties to approach these conversations with empathy, respect and a willingness to find a solution together. “Ultimately, the decision to quit smoking lies with Emmanuel’s partner and it’s crucial to respect her autonomy in making that choice. Trying to control the behaviour of another person isn’t the path to a healthy, sustainable relationship,” Alderson says.

Love Stuck is for those who’ve hit a romantic wall, whether you’re single or have been coupled up for decades. With the help of trained sex and relationship therapists, HuffPost UK will help answer your dilemmas. Submit a question here.

Rebecca Zisser/HuffPost UK