Ask The Swingset: Habits and Compromise


Cooper here with a question that has actually come up for Marilyn and I in the past.

We have been in the lifestyle for several years and are a nonsmoking couple. We have met a very nice couple and enjoyed some fun play time with them but have one issue that we are not sure how to broach-both of these people smoke and while we don't mind playing with people who smoke we find their habit to be a bit too much-they even take turns smoking while we are playing! We leave an evening with them headachy and feeling congested for days after. How do we tell them a little is ok but too much is just that-too much- and will cause us to not spend time with them in the confines of a bedroom anymore? We don't want to insult or come across as condemning of their choice to smoke.

I am actually allergic to cigarette smoke. It's a mild allergy, yes, but it's one that will linger with me for days after an encounter with a hardcore smoker. I cannot even spend much time in a house that's smoked in too frequently. So I feel your pain.

We've only been very close to one couple that smoked, and luckily, both of them were quite agreeable and considerate about it. They went out of their way to not smoke too much around us, chewed gum or mints immediately after their smokes. This is one of those things where, like everything else over here on the Swingset, communication is key. If you don't say anything, and they continue to smoke “too much” you will likely start regarding them poorly and begin to drift away anyway. And assuming your concern is losing them as friends and playmates, this is not an option.

Let them know that you really like them, but the smoking thing is getting to you, and you want to continue seeing them. If they feel the same feelings for you, they will likely adapt and amend their habits to suit yours a bit more, as long as you're willing to amend your feelings a bit for them. The give and take of compromise is essential to any long-term ongoing swinging relationship, just as it is in ANY relationship.

Don't be afraid to say something. They may not even realize they're being excessive.

Now, should you say something and they throw a fit and storm out with teeth gnashing…well, do you really want to be close to a couple that would choose their habit over you?

Just my two cents.


photo by The Dream Sky


About Cooper Cooper S. Beckett is the co-founder and host of Life on the Swingset: The Podcast since 2010, author of swinging & polyamory novels A Life Less Monogamous and Approaching The Swingularity, and memoir My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory. He teaches and speaks on swinging, polyamory, pegging, play parties, and coloring outside the boundaries of your sexuality. He is a graphic & web designer, photographer, and voice over artist, has been a guest expert on Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast, & is the announcer of Tristan Taormino’s radio show Sex Out Loud. He is currently working on two instructional non-fiction books, one about beginning non-monogamy, and another about pegging.


  1. As someone in mad love with nicotine and has been flirting with quitting ever since I started ten years ago, I concur with The Coop: "don’t be afraid to say something." If you ask a smoker to smoke less s/he will not resist, especially if sex is at stake. Smokers, being drug addicts, will light up at the slightest rise of emotion, be it risk, nervousness, excitement, or countless others. Anyone interested inthe subject should Google Allen Carr. Just be safe about it, God only knows where he's been. (He's dead, btw.)

  2. We both smoke and we try to be as considerate as we possibly can even outside the LS. We always have mints and some spray cologne when we go out. Many people do not contact us or decline invites because we smoke. When someone declines an invite because we smoke, it makes us more determined to keep trying to quit. We understand it is something we are doing to turn people off and most smokers (with half a brain at least) understand this. This is no different than any other issue, be honest with someone and if they get upset…….its their problem.

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