This is what it’s like to date someone who vapes

date vape

Nothing better than smoking Nutrasweet in a prairie while dressed as an Amish. What it’s like to date someone who vapes. 


A couple years ago I dated someone who vaped. I was unfamiliar/neutral/leaning negative about electronic cigarettes and atomizers, except for a friend’s boyfriend who used them compulsively. A mutual friend seethed behind his back: “I would dump him for that alone!”

I don’t smoke, and don’t hang out with or date smokers (though in Europe, there is always an exception). It’s 2016. I don’t need to explain why. Vaping, I knew roughly what it was, that it provided a healthy alternative to cigarettes, and that it was growing really quickly in popularity. The journalist in me was tempted to include in this article some statistics giving validation to this trend, but ultimately I chose to omit those substantiating figures.

Because vaping is totally, completely lame.

I was dug this guy from the moment I met him. Really great looking was the least of it. Super-smart, interesting, engaging, a great listener he was across the table at the gastropub when, after a half hour, he pulled from his pocket a brushed-metallic red box about half the size of a deck of cards. “Don’t worry,” he said with nonchalance as he sucked in great metric quantities of air into his barrel chest. “No one will notice,” he said, puffing that air out with a chin cocked over his shoulder.

Um, asshole, I thought. I notice.

That is how dating is, right? You ignore the bad stuff because there is good stuff, and you hope that there is not a whole lot more bad stuff and the good stuff will be enough, because nobody’s perfect. 

There was a lot of good stuff, and we dated for half a year.

All the while he vaped.

At restaurants and bars, he’d methodically remove from his pockets one of his atomizers (which I imagined, bitterly, he must have carefully coordinated with his outfit that day), along with a small plastic bottle and little dime bags of the various parts of this ritual, spread them out on the dinner table or bar, and while we chatted by candle light, he’d ritualistically prepare his drug of choice.

Throughout our relationship, whether out or at home, on the couch or in bed, he’d casually suck on his metal, angular pipe, and cock his head back in luxuriating arrogance and a puff of artifice would spout gallantly from his puckered lips.

The plume dissipated quickly. The very faint odor was saccharine and phony. Nutrasweet.

Under all the pomp was the unspoken message was: Oh this looks alarming. But it is safe! It is not unhealthy and in fact it saves lives because it helps people stop smoking. You are stunned and disgusted. Oh, but ignorant onlooker. You are wrong. 

One evening while walking along the East River I fantasized I’d rip that offending device from his hands and toss it into the black water.

While acting on that impulse would likely have ended the relationship, it wouldn’t have stopped the vaping. This educated, professional man spent his vacations attending vaping conferences. That is right. Adults interested in sucking fake tobacco-flavored steam out of electronic doohickies would gather in a Marriott ballroom in Durham or Milwaukee and talk about sucking fake tobacco-flavored steam out of electronic doohickies.

He tweeted about vaping. He celebrated when legislation allowing vaping in public was passed. Before he met my family, I said: “I’m worried about one thing. The smoking.”

“Smoking? I don’t smoke!” he said he exaggerated, faux confusion. “Oh, you mean the vaping? Don’t worry. I never do it around my older relatives or kids. Just my immediate family and friends.”

Because older people and kids deserve to be spared this embarrassment, and the rest of us don’t? I stewed to myself. Because that is how dating is, right?

Chatting in a heightened frenzy of enthusiasm when federal public health officials conceded vaping was a safe alternative to cigarettes, this man addressed my seething silence. “I know you hate it,” he said, matter-of-fact.

“It makes me think of college kids bragging about their bongs,” I said, not hiding my pent-up ire.

“Well,” he said. “It is just part of who I am.”

That, I knew. And that is why I had nothing more to say. Because that is how dating is, right?




Emma Johnson is a veteran money writer, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour,, REAL SIMPLE, Parenting, USA Today and others.

The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children (Penguin, 2017), was a #1 bestseller and was featured in hundreds of media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, and the New York Post, which named it to its ‘Must Read” list.

Her popular blog, and podcast Like a Mother, explore issues facing professional single moms: business and career, money, sex, relationships and parenting. Emma regularly comments on these topics for outlets such as CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Doctors, and many more. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” one of “20 Personal Finance Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by AOL DailyFinance, “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and “Most Eligible New Yorkers” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker on gender equality, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality.

Emma grew up in Sycamore, Ill., and lives in New York City with her children.

13 thoughts on “This is what it’s like to date someone who vapes

    1. Totally agree with Dani. For me, vaping is incredibly pleasurable. It took me a while to get used to, but now that I have found my vaping sweet spot, I refuse to ever give it up…

  1. My fiancé vapes a lot. It’s a relatively new hobby and addiction for him Personally, it’s a complete turn off for me (not one sexy thing about it!), but I have yet to tell him this. He used to be an occasional smoker, but I never smelled or saw evidence of his smoking. This vaping, however, has gone from an occasional thing to an appendage of his body over the past year. He can’t go anywhere without it. He vapes when he reads, plays a quick computer game, writes (the old writers smoke stereotype), drives etc. It’s become a pacifier for him. The homepage of his fave vape shop even shows him sitting at the tasting counter. I’ve decided that I will no longer allow him to vape in my house. I’ve allowed it a couple times, but my home ends up smelling like a vape cafe. Just a major turnoff for me all around.

  2. If it isn’t helping you live, it’s hurting you. I vaped once and granted, 6th grade me felt pretty damn cool. I wanted it to be my new hobby. (Honestly, I just liked the smells) Anyway, it didn’t take long to realize how stupid and worthless it is to 1. Keep paying for flavors or fillers (whatever they’re called) & 2. Put some foreign gas into my lungs. I preach self-love and genuinely care about my influence on those around me. Just you wait. They’ll come out with some (shocking) fatal research about vaping and I’m not going to feel one ounce of sorrow nor surprise. Please make an effort to get some class and common sense people. We’re slacking here.

  3. I met a guy – smart, empire build mindset, nice looking, seems really into me as a person and potential partner. I’m warming up to him. Fourth date is a cuddle date that could have gotten naked. But it didn’t.

    Why? Vaping.

    Dude starts blowing that sickly sweet chemical air and the whole room smells like a stripper. I held back my criticism and most of my opinions that vaping is the habit of douchebags and an indicator of ignorance and self involvement. Of note -he had no less then five scented drugstore candles on blast, and he happily admitted that he uses a doubledose of downey fabric softener because he likes the smell so much. Maybe some nose blindness at play here? Regardless this alone is enough to dampen desire. When gently questioned, he says “I’m a chemical guy, I like chemicals” as if that serves as a justification.

    Vaping is the worse kind of oral fixation, and it stinks. Its a common affectation of tech bros and new money people with low class origin. Deal breaker. Over.

    1. Anyone that drinks anything unhealthy, dump them.
      Anyone that has any other beliefs that I don’t have, dump them.
      This makes your whole argument sound like an angry pope trying to find his next quire boy to molest.

  4. Wow you sound like a judge mental bitch. Who cares if someone enjoys it? Why are you so affected by what others do?

    1. Let me give you another side. The single mom who lets in someone who capes and tries to let it go. Only to find out after the relationship is real and deep and only ended by divorce that the vaping triggers migraines in her Teen daughter. It is hard enough to date and bring a family together. Add vaping to it and everything gets harder. I had a rule I wouldn’t date smokers. It said that on my profile. I didn’t know about vaping and when we met he said he only did it a little. No. He vapes like a smoker. And he has said he wants to quit. But hasn’t. And it’s been long enough that both my daughter and I are wondering where his honesty is. I don’t care if it’s a healthier alternative to smoking. It still is harmful to those of us who don’t smoke or vape. If a loved one asks you to stop, think for a second and realize that continuing just because it makes you happy is like continuing to bully or abuse them “because it makes you happy.” You aren’t oppressed by someone asking you to stop and if you don’t stop you are simply selfish.

  5. Honestly, if vaping is such a big problem, then you should avoid people that drinkpop, gatorade, flavored water, candy bars, alcohol, and pretty much anything that has sugar.

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