Ask Aunt Chelsea, Feb. 12, 2014


Dear Aunt Chelsea,  I have met a man who is wonderful. He’s funny, intelligent, kind and good-looking…and we have become fast friends. Lately things have deepened between us. I’m starting to feel like one of these days, meeting for our usual dinner and drinks may lead to something more. Part of me would like to take things further, but there is something that holds me back: he smokes!

He smokes, and it makes him stink — and I can’t imagine having to kiss him after he’s been outside, puffing away on a cancer stick. I don’t know if I am being shallow, if this is really a deal breaker. Is smoking reason enough to not get together with someone, or should I overlook it and concentrate on all the good things about him?
No Nicotine Nancy

Dear No Nic Nan:
Your love life might be a nightmare, but this doozy of a letter is an advice columnist’s dream! There are so many problems in play here, all with easy, tough-love solutions, that I hardly know where to begin. So for starters, let’s get rid of the elephant in the room by pulling the rug out from under it (or, in your case, the doormat). As she reads your letter, Aunt Chelsea is simply fuming — and those whiffs of smoke coming from her ears are not generated from the righteous anger she feels towards your potential new “puff” daddy. No, dearie, my hackles have been raised by the thick air of timidity you bring to this, and I fear, every situation that’s even remotely confrontational. Please don’t interpret this as blaming the victim — but I must say, a great deal of your anxiety can be eliminated (or at least alleviated) by asserting yourself. 

If his cigarettes bother you, pipe up!

It’s not fair to keep subjecting yourself to dinner and drinks with somebody who’ll ditch you for a little alfresco “me time” every time he’s jonesing for a nicotine fix. And what kind of friend hasn’t ever asked if his habit bothers you? Yes, Nancy, this inconsiderate behavior is a deal breaker, at least where romance is concerned.

So clear the metaphorical smoke by telling that clueless Mr. Marlboro he’ll never be your man until his lungs are as clear as your motive: to take a chance on romance with a funny, intelligent, kind and good-looking gent whose kisses aren’t ashtray-flavored. Given that pitch, any man with even half a brain in his head would ditch the cancer sticks and use both of his free hands to sweep you off your feet. Good luck, hon — and if things don’t work out, I’d love to fix you up with my vice-free nephew, Scotty.

Do YOU have a question for Aunt Chelsea? Contact her at [email protected]

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