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Relationships and Smoking

Couples and Smoking guide If you’re a smoker, smoking is probably an important part of many of your relationships. You may smoke with co-workers, with friends, and with your partners, and when you stop smoking, these relationships might change.

Knowing to watch for that can help you understand what is happening and try to find ways to address those changes. (Learn more about pregnancy, relationships, and smoking). The guide Couples and Smoking: What you need to know when you are pregnant, also provides helpful information.

For Couples

Couples develop routines and patterns for all sorts of activities, including smoking. This is true whether only one or both people smoke. Likely, there are patterns in how you and your partner relate to each other about smoking.

These patterns often center on who you smoke with, when you smoke, where you smoke, and what you do when smoking. This includes rituals you and your partner may share around smoking, such as

  • Your partner lighting your cigarette for you
  • Sharing a cigarette together
  • Always smoking when you and your partner do certain things together

These patterns can become so much a part of your life that you don’t even see them anymore, but you will need to change the pattern as you quit smoking.

Although every couple is different, researchers have found that many couples fall into one of three types of patterns: Accommodating, Disengaged, or Conflictual.

Do any of these patterns seem to fit you and your partner?

Accommodating: Both partners see smoking as okay and make sure there are chances to smoke as part of their everyday activities. This is true even if only one partner smokes.

Although Dave doesn’t smoke, he accepts that Eve does and understands that it helps her relax. He doesn’t mind stopping to buy her cigarettes. He thinks that smoking is an important way for Eve to unwind and relieve her stress. He also knows that smoking is part of Eve being social when hanging out with friends.

Disengaged: Both partners see smoking as a choice for each individual. Even if they both smoke, they often smoke when they are not with each other.

Michelle doesn’t talk about her smoking with Tom. They both smoke, but feel it is no one else’s business and it isn’t something they need to discuss. They both smoke with co-workers on breaks and when they hang out with their own friends. Michelle and Tom both smoke in the house but usually when they are doing their own thing and not together.

Conflictual: Smoking causes tension and sometimes arguments between the couple.

Jen’s partner, Mitch, does not smoke. He is always bugging Jen about her smoking and often complains that she stinks. Sometimes he won’t even be near her or kiss her when she has been smoking. Jen feels like Mitch is being a jerk and is hurt by the way he acts. Whenever she can, Jen likes to get away and smoke in peace.

Why does it help to know your pattern of interacting with your partner when it comes to smoking?

Knowing your pattern helps you:

  • Think about how your day-to-day activities as a woman and as a couple affect your smoking
  • Understand how you and your partner interact about smoking
  • Understand how other people, like friends and co-workers, affect your smoking
  • Think about what you need to change in your relationships as part of quitting smoking


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