Dear Annie: I’m in love with a wonderful man who has a couple of habits I can’t seem to get past no matter how often I tell myself they aren’t important.
My partner is 47, smokes heavily, does not exercise and spends a good part of each day playing online poker. I am by no means a health fanatic or a model of productivity, but I do my best to stay in shape and live a relatively healthy, active life. His habits don’t hurt me personally, but I can’t help finding them distasteful and a turn-off. And that’s the last thing I want to feel about someone I’m in love with.
I also believe in letting people be who they are. So am I even within my rights asking him to change these habits “or else”? Or am I being too demanding, considering his otherwise excellent qualities? I’m afraid that the way I feel about these quirks will eventually overshadow the beautiful, positive feelings I have for him. That is depressing to contemplate. – Hoping for Change
Dear Hoping: These “quirks” do affect you if you live together or share finances. Secondhand smoke can be deadly for you, and someone who plays online poker might have a gambling problem. You cannot force a person to stop smoking, but you can refuse to live in that environment. You also cannot demand that he stop gambling, but if he is addicted and unwilling to quit, you will have an ongoing issue about money. He may have wonderful qualities that you appreciate, but we don’t see him as a long-term partner unless he is willing to work on these things.