I love my 17-year-old boyfriend very much, but he has the habit of smoking. I have asked him several times to stop this bad habit. He stops for a while but then starts smoking again. I even threatened to leave him if he doesn’t stop. But he says that he loves me very much and will marry me and be true to me. What should I do?
You are unhappy that your boyfriend won’t kick his smoking habit. So first let’s reverse this: Ask yourself, if someone asked you to give up a habit of yours, would you? And if someone threatened to leave you for this habit, how would you feel? When would you give up this habit?
Trying to make a person kick a habit doesn’t work unless they themselves want to and see the benefit in doing so.
Instead, ask him what makes him smoke? What satisfaction does he get by doing so? Then discuss the advantages and disadvantages smoking has on his health by asking questions and providing him with facts (do prepare). Do tell him about passive smoking too. After this, if he wants to give up, ask him if and how you can support him. Let him share ideas on what you can do — but avoid taking on the role of a policeman; no one likes to be policed even if they ask you to do it.
If he is serious about it, then create a small written pact. But after that, it is his choice what he wants to do. And if he chooses to continue, and it doesn’t suit you, then you need to decide what you want to do — stay or leave. If he does give up, then yay!
Nasreen Hashambhoy is a Counsellor, Life Coach and a Facilitator of training programmes for schools and corporates. Through a combination of coaching, counselling and facilitation techniques based on cognitive science and positive psychology, she helps clients achieve their true potential. She is the author of the series Values In Action published by Better Yourself Books.