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Dating Rights Verse Dating Responsibilities

Hello Dennis,

You have always been very helpful to me in the past and I was wondering if you could help me out with this situation I've encountered.

My girlfriend smoked cigarettes for over 10 years but stopped. When we started dating I made it clear that I cannot date a smoker as I find the habit simply repulsive. She assured me she stopped and has no interest in smoking again.

She was babysitting for a friend of hers a few days ago, and when she got back they stayed up all night smoking weed. She talked about it with me and I said to her I thought she told me she stopped smoking. She said there's a difference between tobacco and pot and it's not the same thing. I told her I don't like smoking period and I don't see the difference. She went on to say weed is harmless and it's ok ,she only does it a few times a year, etc, so I said fine, just don't talk about it in front of me and under no circumstances smoke in front of me. She then said that may not be possible because "some opportunities present themselves" such as this trip we've planned to take in a few weeks.

I feel very uncomfortable with people smoking in front of me. I have been told time and time again that I am wrong for wanting a non-drug lifestyle, even the soft stuff like weed, and everyone does it and I should just relax.

Do you think I'm being unreasonable with my request for her to not smoke in front of me?



There are really two separate issues here: the rights of smokers verse non-smokers, and the issues between your girlfriend and you. Let's take them in order:

Do smokers have the "right" to smoke wherever and whenever they want? The answer is actually very easy: no. Here's why: Just as smokers claim to have the "right" to smoke; (as in, "Don't tell me what to do with my body"), I have the "right" to swing my arms wildly about my head and shoulders. My "right" extends right up to the point when I strike you in the nose because then, I'm denying you your right not to be hit in the nose!

Smokers are free to do whatever they want, but that right ends when it negatively affects you - beyond simply insulting your "sensibilities". If you don't like the way it looks, that's one thing; however, smokers can't control where their smoke goes. Being forced to smoke someone else's second-hand smoke is entirely another thing because you have the right NOT to smoke if you choose. This makes no difference whether it's tobacco or pot. There's a word for when people both enjoy their freedoms and also insure the freedoms of others: "liberty".

With regards to your girlfriend you have a different issue at play. You have the right to be with a girlfriend that doesn't do something you detest. Likewise, your girlfriend has the responsibility to not inflict these bad habits on you if you don't want them. If your girlfriend wants to smoke pot and you're ok with that away from you, fine. However, she has no right to force you to be comfortable with smoking in front of you if you're not. Would you also demand that she do anal sex if she's not into it - and expect her to just be ok with it simply because you want it?

Here's the bad news: beyond simply laying down the law that she's not to smoke anything around you (no gray areas here) your only remedy if she refuses is to walk. If it's that important to you, you can't get through it and she refuses to comply, she's not the girl for you, plain and simple. You'd have to move on and find a non-smoking girl.

Best regards...

Have a love, dating, relationship, sex or man/woman question? I answer all email. You can write to me at dwneder@beingaman.com for answers. For more information about my books, "Being a Man in a Woman's World" (volumes I & II), and other products visit: www.beingaman.com. Check out the discussion group at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/beingaman.

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