My Ex Quit Smoking For Me & It Broke Us Up

I didn’t like that my boyfriend was a smoker and I told him that from the start of our relationship, so I was relieved when he said that he’d quit the nasty habit for me—well, relieved and also worried, to be honest.

  1. I hate the words “I’ll change for you.” I’m not saying when people change themselves for their partners it has to be a bad thing. For example, when a guy who’s afraid of commitment takes the plunge and commits because he’s so in love with his girlfriend, that can be sweet. It shows that he’s eager to be a better man. Still, I’m against someone changing themselves when they really don’t want to do it because they think it’ll make their partners happy. It’s a recipe for disaster and sure to make them resent their partners, as I was about to find out.
  2. At first, he respected that I disliked smoking. I’d lost a grandfather to lung cancer from smoking, so I’ve always been very against the idea. Plus, I don’t like being around second-hand smoke. Why should my health have to suffer because someone’s choosing to wreck their own health? They should do that somewhere else when I’m not around! My boyfriend was cool about me not liking smoking and he always made sure to smoke next to a window or out on the fire escape. He never smoked in my place, and I was grateful for that.
  3. But it wasn’t enough. I loved him and didn’t want him to smoke because it could make him sick. I told him this and after a few weeks of dating, he said that he loved me so much he’d quit the habit. Really? I was a little taken aback. Would someone really quit a habit they loved so much for me? He seemed really keen, so he began the horrendous journey of quitting cigs for good.
  4. He went through hell. It was really tough on him. He’d been smoking every day for the last five years and craved cigs like crazy when he couldn’t have them, especially when he was going through a difficult or stressful time. When his work stress hit the roof, his cravings joined the party. I tried to be as supportive as I could when he was angry and frustrated, but honestly, I was feeling guilty AF.
  5. I didn’t make him do it, but… I couldn’t help but think that the only reason he was going through this difficult time was that he was dating me. If I wasn’t in his life, he’d be happily smoking up a storm. He was doing all this for me, and it started to make me feel a bit uncomfortable. It was like I owed him or something, and I hate feeling that in a relationship.
  6. He made it worse and tried to guilt trip me. It was bad enough that I was feeling guilty, but then he went ahead and made me feel worse by mentioning how he’d quit smoking for me. Every time we had an argument, he’d mention it again, implying he was doing so much for me. It was so messed up and just tripled my guilt.
  7. He threatened to smoke again. Once, when we had a crazy fight, he said that he was going to start smoking again. It was like he just wanted to spite me! It was so stupid and childish. He was holding his lifestyle choice against me and it felt so manipulative. He then took this childish behavior to the next level. We went to one of his friend’s birthday parties and there, he lit up a cigarette in front of me. He even looked at me as if to say, “Ha, look at what I’m doing right in front of your face.” What a jerk.
  8. It wasn’t just about the cigarettes. When I thought about it, I realized that his threats weren’t just about smoking. Hell, if he wanted to damage his health by smoking, that was his choice. He knew that as much as I hated it when my partners smoked, I wasn’t going to try to change them if they insisted on that lifestyle choice. No, his behavior was much more sinister and it was affecting our relationship. He’d quit smoking because he loved me, and now he was threatening to go back on his word. It wasn’t just to hurt me but to say that he didn’t care about my feelings or what I wanted. That’s what really hurt about this whole thing.
  9. What a piece of work. In my mind, it was the same thing as if he’d given me a gift and then taken it back! It made me see that he was just going to do nice things and then use them against me. This was a small red flag of the type of boyfriend he was going to be in the long-term.
  10. Goodbye, guilt. Hello, anger! Forget guilt—I’d shot it down so that it disappeared for good. He didn’t deserve my feelings of sympathy. This wasn’t the type of guy I wanted in my life, and I knew that his childish and spiteful behavior would continue. Ugh. He could have his stupid cigarettes because I was out of there. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, a-hole!
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.