For the last 3 years, my boyfriend (of 5 years) has been in a circle of compulsive gambling and depression. Lies, forgiveness, and round and round. It's taken over his life and I don't recognise the man I thought I knew. Throughout this time, I've begged him to go and get some help, it was told it would be detrimental to his recovery, and my 'nagging' the same- a statement which now feels quite manipulative. In January, after an ultimatum, he did begin some counselling.
Recently, another bout of gambling has been discovered. This is more financially serious than before and will have long term implications for his future. He hid it from me and the councillor. When I found out, I knew I couldn't stay. I hadn't been able to trust him again after the precious incident and this caused issues for us (which we couldn't deal with as he wasn't in the right head space...this has been a constant theme over the last 3 years).
I've said I can't stay right now because there is no trust and I'm hurting too much to be able to be the kind of supoort he needs. I have also said that I will still support him as a friend while I heal from what have been a pretty heartwrenching 3 years. I have also suggested that if this time, he is able to take actions to get better, and take control of the behaviour which cause me harm (the nasty comments etc) then we can consider if we have a future later down the line- but we both need to be in a better place and first and foremost he needs to get control of his mental state (I don't think it's too much to ask to not feel in constant threat of financial ruin).
His response is that he doesn't deserve to be walked out on, and that I can't possibly give him the support he needs while not being his girlfriend. He tells me that he needs my support now more than ever, more support then ever. He says he doesn't want to be in a relationship where he will be abandoned and not supported when he is at his lowest.
I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I feel broken at the moment, and I can barely look at him. I also don't feel like this will be the last time (heard this many times before) and deciding to stay with him feels like it just be running back into an incredibly painful situation.
All I'm asking for is space to be on my own, and to see long term actions and change before I can consider a future because I know this could be a life long struggle, and I can't bare to repeat the last 3 year's again.
I know he doesn't deserve abandonment, and that isn't what I'm trying to do. I just don't know what I'm supposed to do. It all feels really blurry and confusing. I don't know if im being unreasonable, or if he is, or anything.
I thought I'd come on here as I'm sure other people have been in the same position and I could really use the thoughts of people who've lived through this. I don't trust my own brain right now!
I'm on the other side of this equation and have blamed everyone and anyone for my compulsive gambling. Now i'm 150 days gamble free, i know the only one to blame is myself. I secretly knew it all along, but this illness does strange things.
I'm no expert, so i'll leave the advice to them, but i will tell you the following from my own point of view:
- You are not to blame in any shape or form
- You are the rational adult in this situation
- You can give ultimatums and be supportive at the same time, but once that trust is broken, you need to be firm. A compulsive gambler will find gaps and glitches and utilise them. We are sneaky, even when we are in love, know the consequences and have been through it all before. It is an illness and the only way to be rid of it is to remove opportunity and then to work hard on your mindset.
It's a long journey, but can have positive outcomes. Don't let it ruin your life. You're not to blame.
If you were my daughter I would implore you to leave him, If you were my wife I'd beg you to stay.
I have never blamed anyone else but myself, so I have never been abusive to my wife, ( without her in my life I can't see how i'd still be here ) but this is a life long struggle for me at least, as it is for many. It is a huge commitment and to ask for space is not unreasonable but he maybe see's it as the beginning of the end.
You have to be okay though.
"a statement which now feels quite manipulative"
Please understand that is exactly what us gamblers are. We are liars, cheats and manipulators. We are good at it through plenty of practice.
It sounds like he isn't close to stopping.
You are not a fault, you cannot cure him, you cannot change him
Put your own needs first, second and third.
I am a woman who is a compulsive gambler myself. I have to say I only have and only ever will blame myself, but in your instance I truly believe you need tho separate yourself now and heal like you say. You are being more than supportive by saying that with changes you can reconsider moving forwards together. This should be the statement that makes him wake up and want to fight with all his worth to get better for himself and for you. I can’t imagine how you feel being on the other side, and it is clearly causing you so much pain and exhaustion. You are not abandoning him, you are protecting yourself and him too. I think you are doing the right thing here and you shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about it.
Ive been a gambler and I wouldnt live with one. Thats the bottom line because I know the sheer power of that drug addiction.
It is a drug addiction and you need to start thinking of it in those terms
There is no shame in saying that gambling is not acceptable to you. you can pnly help him from a position of strength and knowledge. It sounds as though you have already been through too much
Im not saying he is a bad person but he is an addict and a gambling addiction will destroy everything that gives you any stability.
If he is not ready to stop you are in a very uncertain situation...the roof over your head is at risk daily. If you cant trust a partner with money the future is precarious to say the least.
You will need counselling over this. he is controlled by a stronger power that destroys people for breakfast. It also takes families and loved ones along for the hellride without a care in the world.
The decision is yours. My best advice is that its no time to be a shrinking violet and its ultimatum time. However it may just be easier to get your space to protect yourself.
It all goes back to my first sentence. You know your relationship better than us but he needs to be ready for a born again moment and he doesnt seem ready
Best wishes from everyone on the forum
It is 100% fine for you to do what you need to do to protect yourself financially and emotionally. You don't have to support him if you can't or don't want to. When new horrors were coming to light on what seemed like a daily basis I needed all my energy for me and what I had to deal with. Being too understanding leaves you open to further lies and manipulation.
Suggesting he needs your support and that you're abandoning him is manipulation. There's a wealth of independent support and advice available to him should he choose to take it starting with forums like this, free counselling from Gamcare and making his mind up to attend GA.
Keep putting yourself first.
Thank you, so much, to all of you who have replied. Your words have definitely eased the loneliness and found some clarity in this muddiness.
You have helped me see that I am allowed to put myself first, and that this should not be used to make me feel guilty. As much as he may say this is the last time, there is nothing to indicate this and way he is acting towards me show me he is still quite seriously in the grip of the illness . I've given him years of supoort and it hasn't helped the situation , there is plenty of help out there. Support is not the same as fixing someone's problems and I need to prioritise myself and learn from this repeating situation.
Feeling very overwhelmed by the support of this community, thank you all so very much for taking the time to help.