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Is she a closet smoker?

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Dear Raina;

I have been seeing a great woman for about six months. I initially met her over a year ago through a club in Fort Collins that we both belong to, but was not interested in dating her at that time because I was sure that she was a smoker. Since my mother was a smoker and died of lung cancer, and there are numerous other people in my family that have emphysema and smoking-related ailments, this is a deal-breaker for me. After many months of seeing her at social events, never with a cigarette, I decided I must’ve been mistaken. When I asked her point blank if she smoked now or ever had in the past, she said no without hesitation. She has never smelled like cigarette smoke during our time dating, but she does keep a lighter in her purse and sometimes I think I smell smoke when we’re in her car. When we’re together, she never disappears as smokers often do to have a cigarette outside and I’ve never seen evidence of smoking in her car or apartment. Despite all this, I still wonder if she’s being completely honest. Am I paranoid, or is it possible that she is a closet smoker?

- Is She a Closet Smoker?

Dear Is She a Closet Smoker:

I suppose anything is possible, but I seriously doubt that this woman is a closet smoker. If she is, she’s either incredibly sneaky or only smokes about one cigarette a day. As I’m sure you know, the typical smoker’s life is controlled by and revolves around cigarettes, a fact which obviously does not apply to your girlfriend. However, given your family history, it is completely understandable that you are a little paranoid about this issue. It is incredibly difficult to watch someone you love die of lung cancer or emphysema. That being said, although smoking is a disgusting habit that causes a variety of terrible illnesses, and many people also consider it a deal-breaker when choosing potential romantic partners; not smoking does not guarantee a long life, or a painless death. It’s possible that you simply have a fear of losing someone close to you again, and that is causing your “paranoia”. I suggest that you have a talk with your girlfriend about this and listen to what she says. If she reiterates that she doesn’t smoke, take her at her word and let it go.

Realize that you can’t possibly foresee or prepare for every tragic life event; the best you can do is take life one day at a time and try to worry about the future as little as possible. Avoiding romantic involvement with anyone with addiction issues is one thing you do have control over, but imagining addictions where there are none is taking it a little too far.

Need relationship advice? Email Raina at raina_advice@comcast.net

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