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Am I over-reacting?


Nogbad
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Boyfriend and I have been together for 5 years, he was a smoker when we met (cigarettes and otherwise) but before we got together he had expressed the desire to quit. I have always encouraged this, but thus far it hasn't happened. He has cut down, but at this point I'm not exactly jumping for joy over this little win.

 

Last weekend, when discussing budgeting, I told him his smoking was a problem, that I didn't like it, and that I didn't want to fund it/go to the shop for him anymore. I asked him to set aside his own smoking budget, and be in complete control of the habit, as I didn't like it. He got very stuffy about this, ended the conversation, then went and smoked in the bathroom for a good half hour, and then ignored me til 3am. He woke me up when I came to bed, said "sorry the day has been sh*t ", then was confused when I wasn't 'in the mood'. I asked if he wanted to talk about it, no he didn't, then off he went to the couch for the rest of the night, and took the day off work the next day.

 

Admittedly I didn't try to bring it up again the next day, and to his credit he hasn't smoked in front of me since. But things are very 'off'. We don't live together (used to, but I moved back in with parents a few years ago to save money), so we converse through text during the week and only spend weekends together. I'll try to go and see him during the week, but I don't like going to work with my hair smelling of smoke, so I'm admittedly not there that often. He knows this, categorically. Anyway, the texts all this week have been very stilted, and it's now weekend again and he's still being off with me. It doesnt feel like a healthy relationship to me, I feel like I am being punished for expressing an opinion, but equally, am I over reacting??

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Believe me, I understand that addiction isn't as simple as 'just stopping'. But it has always been him that has said he wants to quit, and I have supported that decision. I think the point of my thread was less about his smoking, and more about me being given the silent treatment for a week because I expressed (very calmly, with no hint of ultimatum) that I didn't want to fund his habit anymore.

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Boyfriend and I have been together for 5 years, he was a smoker when we met (cigarettes and otherwise) but before we got together he had expressed the desire to quit. I have always encouraged this, but thus far it hasn't happened. He has cut down, but at this point I'm not exactly jumping for joy over this little win.

 

Last weekend, when discussing budgeting, I told him his smoking was a problem, that I didn't like it, and that I didn't want to fund it/go to the shop for him anymore. I asked him to set aside his own smoking budget, and be in complete control of the habit, as I didn't like it. He got very stuffy about this, ended the conversation, then went and smoked in the bathroom for a good half hour, and then ignored me til 3am. He woke me up when I came to bed, said "sorry the day has been sh*t ", then was confused when I wasn't 'in the mood'. I asked if he wanted to talk about it, no he didn't, then off he went to the couch for the rest of the night, and took the day off work the next day.

 

Admittedly I didn't try to bring it up again the next day, and to his credit he hasn't smoked in front of me since. But things are very 'off'. We don't live together (used to, but I moved back in with parents a few years ago to save money), so we converse through text during the week and only spend weekends together. I'll try to go and see him during the week, but I don't like going to work with my hair smelling of smoke, so I'm admittedly not there that often. He knows this, categorically. Anyway, the texts all this week have been very stilted, and it's now weekend again and he's still being off with me. It doesnt feel like a healthy relationship to me, I feel like I am being punished for expressing an opinion, but equally, am I over reacting??

As a preamble, smoking is and always has been a deal-breaker for me. Because of that, I'd never date a smoker to begin with, never mind assume they'd quit or even cut back. Certainly wouldn't lecture or "encourage" them when it came to a notoriously addictive habit. Just as I'd never date someone significantly overweight expecting they ever get any lighter. A couple things in particular stand out here.

 

Why are you discussing budgeting? From the sound of it, you live at home. He's the one paying rent for his own place. You're not married. Don't appear to even be engaged. Neither of you are financially beholden or dependent on the other. Your own brief description of the conversation sounds incredibly preachy, especially considering your respective positions. I can't imagine how it might have actually gone in full detail. Obviously if you aren't comfortable buying him cigarettes while you're out, you shouldn't. But that's about all the stake you have to claim here. Telling him how he needs to budget and "to be in complete control of his habit" goes well beyond that into lecture territory, though. Particularly if by your admission he's cut back since you two have been together. Between being condescended upon and admittedly what is likely some guilt / insecurity over his own habit, it's not surprising he was taken aback.

 

Additionally, you're not being given the silent treatment. Things are "off," not silent. As is understandable. You've broached what appears to be a deal-breaker and in a very non-diplomatic way despite how proud you may be of how calm you were. There's a lot both of you should be thinking about right now.

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We were discussing budgeting because due to job issues over the last few years, I have been helping him alot with rent and bills. And when I say encourage, I do genuinely mean that. I know it would be wrong of me to knowingly go into a relationship with the intention of changing that person. Whe he has talked about quitting, I have simply supported that idea. I hope I didn't come a across as condescending, but that's certainly something I should look at. The only times we have argued about smoking is when we have had to choose between us eating (we used to live together) and him smoking.

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We were discussing budgeting because due to job issues over the last few years, I have been helping him alot with rent and bills. And when I say encourage, I do genuinely mean that. I know it would be wrong of me to knowingly go into a relationship with the intention of changing that person. Whe he has talked about quitting, I have simply supported that idea. I hope I didn't come a across as condescending, but that's certainly something I should look at. The only times we have argued about smoking is when we have had to choose between us eating (we used to live together) and him smoking.
This is much less healthy for a relationship than sporadic text messages ever will be. It's understandable that you'd be frustrated he's buying cartons while you're chipping in for his rent. The solution isn't then to lord over his finances. It's to completely separate them. Subsidizing his habit wouldn't even be a good idea if you two were married and you could possibly sink with the ship, never mind if you're on your own at home and have zero at stake should he never decide to make the financially responsible choice.

 

I don't know your relationship or to what extent time served could even be a bad excuse to keep it going. Honestly, it sounds like a dead-end if here you are at this point 5 years later, he's struggling with rent, you're still living at home. Assuming you want it to continue, I'd speak frankly and respectfully with him that you respect him enough to make the decisions he needs to make when it comes to his smoking and his budget, and that understanding he's got a lease while you've got your parents, it's out of the interest of avoiding any resentment between either of you rather any judgment that it's best you stop contributing to his expenses. It's simply not sustainable for even the most iron-clad relationship. I might understand if perhaps you'd just moved home and ditched him with a lease you'd both signed onto, but after three whole years, he's gotta get it figured out for himself.

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I'm still confused by the budgeting. Are the specifics here that you occasionally buy him a pack of cigarettes when grabbing some milk, toothpaste, and so on? If so, I think it's more than understandable that you'd prefer not to do that—though, if that's the case, I would have put it simply like that without making it a big summit about him being in "complete control" of his habit.

 

Or is it that you're frustrated because you're helping him with rent and bills, while a not insignificant portion of his earnings still goes to cigarettes? That frustration is also understandable—big time—but it starts drifting to a larger issue: you not loving the way he's living his life, not loving yourself for enabling some bad habits (with "smoking" being a kind of smelly stand in for waywardness), and perhaps having some serious doubts (and growing resentments) about the viability of you plus him.

 

Could something like that be at play here?

 

If so, I think making it about smoking is a touch passive aggressive, just as his pouty reaction is a bit passive aggressive, almost like neither of you are really talking about the real issue here. I mean, I think his reaction to the specifics is a bit juvenile, as I think the way you broached things was a touch holy, though I don't see massive cardinal offenses on either side right there: a thing that could easily blow over—unless the "thing" here is something else.

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I believe you have hit the nail on the head... 'the thing' is something else. And you're right, I think I am being passive aggressive, just as he is, which is stupid of and unhealthy for both of us.

 

So what's the thing? I'd reflect on that, try to isolate it, and then find a way to express that calmly and respectfully. Which might be tough, if "the thing" is that you're really struggling, right now, to see things moving in a positive direction. Still, the only way to see if they can move more positively is to express what is really bothering you about the current state of things.

 

Here's a thought experiment. Replace "cigarettes" with another human indulgence that you don't think is disgusting and find acceptable: good coffee (another real chemical dependency) or a membership to a fancy yoga studio (which can verge on addiction). Do you think you'd be less frustrated? Or just as frustrated?

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So what's the thing? I'd reflect on that, try to isolate it, and then find a way to express that calmly and respectfully. Which might be tough, if "the thing" is that you're really struggling, right now, to see things moving in a positive direction. Still, the only way to see if they can move more positively is to express what is really bothering you about the current state of things.

 

Here's a thought experiment. Replace "cigarettes" with another human indulgence that you don't think is disgusting and find acceptable: good coffee (another real chemical dependency) or a membership to a fancy yoga studio (which can verge on addiction). Do you think you'd be less frustrated? Or just as frustrated?

 

No those are not good analogies. I love good coffee, I splurge on more expensive coffee when I get gifts (i.e. checks from my mother for my birthday, etc) and I am not chemically addicted to expensive coffee. I love coffee, maybe I would get a headache if I switched to decaf, I don't know, but I'm not addicted to expensive coffee. I also drink inexpensive coffee just fine and if needed financially would do so. I don't buy expensive coffee drinks ever because they're not actually coffee just a coffee flavored beverage. Membership to a fancy yoga studio -also not an "addiction" -it's an indulgence -one that I don't practice but if my partner had expensive tastes in things that were ultimately healthful/health-enhancing we'd discuss it as far as budgeting. But it wouldn't be an addiction. Nicotine is an addiction. And second hand smoke is really unhealthy (while brewing coffee smell is not, for example).

 

I think the OP should be asked whether she would feel the same if what he was doing was an addiction and damaging his health and she also partook but was not addicted -like for example alcohol (assuming he wasn't a nasty drunk), because if she also drank she might relate to why he did although not to excess. Etc.

 

I think there are a few issues going on here and one is that she was in denial/accepted that he still smoked when she met him. I smoked for about a year as a teenager then quit in the early 1980s. I would never date a smoker, never date someone who was "trying to quit". End of story dealbreaker. So I don't think the OP can complain that he is "still smoking". There are other issues but smoking for her is an actual issue -it permeates her life literally.

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I mean, nothing but respect to the mechanic who insists on a full vehicle inspection, but if your car's driving funny and you notice your tire's flatter than an Olsen twin, then it's a pretty safe place to start. Seems relatively obvious there are varying degrees of resentment from him smoking and paying toward his rent and bills for him. Whether the focal point is her feeling the burden of paying to subsidize his habit or her falsely believing she'd have a say in a habit she doesn't approve of because of it, both pretty well qualify a top-down approach.

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No those are not good analogies. I love good coffee, I splurge on more expensive coffee when I get gifts (i.e. checks from my mother for my birthday, etc) and I am not chemically addicted to expensive coffee. I love coffee, maybe I would get a headache if I switched to decaf, I don't know, but I'm not addicted to expensive coffee. I also drink inexpensive coffee just fine and if needed financially would do so. I don't buy expensive coffee drinks ever because they're not actually coffee just a coffee flavored beverage. Membership to a fancy yoga studio -also not an "addiction" -it's an indulgence -one that I don't practice but if my partner had expensive tastes in things that were ultimately healthful/health-enhancing we'd discuss it as far as budgeting. But it wouldn't be an addiction. Nicotine is an addiction. And second hand smoke is really unhealthy (while brewing coffee smell is not, for example).

 

I think the OP should be asked whether she would feel the same if what he was doing was an addiction and damaging his health and she also partook but was not addicted -like for example alcohol (assuming he wasn't a nasty drunk), because if she also drank she might relate to why he did although not to excess. Etc.

 

I think there are a few issues going on here and one is that she was in denial/accepted that he still smoked when she met him. I smoked for about a year as a teenager then quit in the early 1980s. I would never date a smoker, never date someone who was "trying to quit". End of story dealbreaker. So I don't think the OP can complain that he is "still smoking". There are other issues but smoking for her is an actual issue -it permeates her life literally.

 

Fair enough.

 

I brought up coffee because I think anyone who drinks coffee every morning is addicted, be it to the buzz of the caffeine or the ritual, though it's a socially acceptable addiction, understandably. It's far less insidious than smoking, to the coffee drinker and those in their orbit. But it is a habit (much like my yoga routine) that costs money. It can be rationalized every which way, but the easiest way to justify it is that you can afford it.

 

I'm just trying to help OP get to the "thing." Is it that she's realizing that she cannot continue to date a smoker? Or is she realizing that she cannot continue to date someone who manages finances the way he does?

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I am realising I cannot have a future with someone with his grasp on finance. That burden has always been on me, I've got into debt to both the bank and my parents during this relationship, and I fully admit that this is where my condescending tone has bred from. I have tried to massively over simplify a relationship that may well have just run its course. Thanks for everyone's input.

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Obviously he felt rejected and worried that more of the financial help you have given him will be cut off as well. He's feeling pushed out. But IMO enough is enough. Smoking is only a part of what is bothering you about this relationship. Time to think about your own future. He's not providing one for you, and this is where you are at after 2 years. Maybe this ship has sailed.

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I am realising I cannot have a future with someone with his grasp on finance. That burden has always been on me, I've got into debt to both the bank and my parents during this relationship, and I fully admit that this is where my condescending tone has bred from. I have tried to massively over simplify a relationship that may well have just run its course. Thanks for everyone's input.

 

Tough thing to come to terms with. How someone manages finances is pretty essential to me—and I probably had to learn that by emotionally investing in people with some questionable habits on that front.

 

For your own peace of mind, at the very least, I would try to have a direct conversation with him about this, though only you know if, in your core, you've already checked out.

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Nog. You said (and this is at the heart of the matter).

 

" It doesnt feel like a healthy relationship to me, I feel like I am being punished for expressing an opinion...."

 

I think you answered your own doubts in your op.

 

Even if he wasn't a smoker (filthy habit!), the punishment in the form of silent treatment is totally unacceptable. You lasted five years. He wouldn't last five minutes with me!

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If you don't live together why are you telling him how to spend his money? Obviously he should be paying for his own habit, not you. He's not going to quit, so you have some decisions to make. You also need to be more independent and focus on your own money, your own living arrangements and your own future. Don't date smokers in the future or anyone you need to fix and change. Don't stay at his place if it smells like smoke. Why not end things, you're very incompatible.

Boyfriend and I have been together for 5 years, he was a smoker when we met. We don't live together (used to, but I moved back in with parents a few years ago to save money)
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I am realising I cannot have a future with someone with his grasp on finance. That burden has always been on me, I've got into debt to both the bank and my parents during this relationship, and I fully admit that this is where my condescending tone has bred from. I have tried to massively over simplify a relationship that may well have just run its course. Thanks for everyone's input.

 

Here is the real problem, as you're now seeing.

 

What exactly has been his issue with working? He lost his job, won't work, can't work, or..?

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