Hello. I’m really looking for some advice. I was with my boyfriend for 2yrs until he blew my world apart a couple of days ago.
He told me when we got together that he used to be a ‘professional gambler’ and was paying off debts but it was in the past and he no longer gambled. I argued there was no such thing as a professional gambler but nevertheless that’s how he viewed it at that time.
Knowing nothing about gambling I was really naive to it all and believed him when he said it was no longer an issue.
Since then he gambled two more times (one of which I leant him the money to pay off - he paid it all back though I now know from reading about it that i prob didn’t really help by doing this). He agreed he had an issue and told me that it was FOBT in bookies though would normally start with fruit machines in pubs. He had previously self excluded etc and said he would do everything to not gamble again. I even met some of the people who had leant him money - who were also gamblers, and told them never to lend him money.
So fast forward to Autumn last year and all his debts are paid back and we finally have a balanced relationship with him paying his share of meals/trips etc.
The plan was for him to move in to my house in the spring this year. It got delayed and delayed though he was more or less staying at mine anyway when not at his mum’s. He began helping with buying food and paid his half for a couple of holidays so I relaxed and just considered us to be in a ‘normal’ relationship. He moved in properly in August and was meant to contribute towards the bills but only made one payment in Sept.
I kept chasing him as I needed the money myself but he kept fobbing me off. Three days ago he text me at work to tell me had gambled at the start of the year and was too scared to tell me as knew I’d end the relationship so he compounded the problem by borrowing more and more and now owes £14000.
He’s on minimum wage so this is a lot of money.
I left work early, packed his stuff and told him it was over - which looking back now is exactly what he feared (so I appreciate I didn’t handle it very well).
i believe he has only told me because he couldn’t get hold of any money and had run out of excuses. He has allowed me to plan, book and pay for a trip to New York in four weeks time for my birthday knowing it was a dream of mine to go for the romantic Xmas build up and only a week ago we were planning what we would do each day.
i feel so angry and hurt and of course betrayed but since kicking him out I can’t help but think I’ve made a mistake. He looked genuinely broken when I told him it was over and has told me he really does believe this needs to be the end of it and is willing to do whatever it takes. I love him and we were amazing together- apart from the fact that I now know he was lying to me for most of the year!
I have told him that I want to support him as a friend as he doesn’t really have anyone else and of course I still care about him which is why I’ve joined this site and been reading up on it all.
I am completely at a loss as to what to do about NY as I know it wouldnt be the same going with someone else and would spend the whole time crying if I go on my own.
I am looking at whether I am prepared or strong enough to live a life with him and take him back and what I’d need to do to help/support him. I’m now not naive enough to think he’ll never gamble again but know serious changes would need to be made to at the very least limit the damage if he did.
I have read lots about putting barriers in place and restricting access to money but he has always borrowed off people he knows. I have checked his credit score last night and he has no overdraft or loans or cards so preventing his access wouldn’t necessary solve the problem as he could borrow it off people without me knowing. Short of tracking his movements is there any other way to do this?
I am very savvy where money is concerned and we are in no way financially linked and he’s not Registered as living at my address so the longer term impact is more the dealing with future lapses and going back to having to subsidise him just so I can do nice things whilst he pays off his debts.
Sorry this is so long. This is the first time I’ve gone into detail about it and I do feel out of my depth.
Hi frustrated again,
I'm sorry to hear that you are currently facing this difficult dilemma.
I was an addict for many years and currently work in mental health.
It's great that you are able to express your feelings and emotions on here because what you are experiencing is a traumatic and shocking situation that causes fear, anxiety, sadness, anger etc. From your post I feel that you are educated well on the implications of a relationship with an active addict. It's crucial that you protect yourself from being a money pot and an emotional doormat. It's very common to be guilt tripped and manipulated into making unhealthy damaging decisions and then blamed for something that's not your fault. My wife stayed with me because of her own insecurities and payed a massive financial cost for me showing her some love in return for money. You are not responsible for fixing his addiction and you deserve to be treated with honesty, love and respect. It's very common that partners of addicts have low self worth/poor sense of self which keeps them entangled in the destructive relationship. I'm not saying this is true for yourself but if you think this rings true then there is help that can help you form a better loving relationship with yourself which will protect you from being harmed.
Your partners journey going forward is in his hands.
Hi frustrated again! Why again? Are you repeating behaviour or is he? You have made a definite line in the sand, a boundary. 'You lie and gamble, it's over!' Don't go back on this. If you do, it will give him the green light to continue because you'll always question yourself. You've done what is best for you, don't be swayed by his 'poor me' act. He's lied for a long time to gain your trust. Have faith in yourself and your decisions. Trust me you do not want to lose sight of that. As you say you are out of your depth.
New York? Find a friend you'll have a blast.
Ive been married to a compulsive gambler for 20 years, I've doubted my sanity, been fooled, and made excuses for bad behaviour. It has done me no good and has probably enabled him.
Don't look back, keep moving forward.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post and reply. Fortunately, I am a very strong and confident person so I know he won’t manipulate me.
I was just very naive to how much of a grip it had on him. He does appear to really be trying to make the necessary changes but I think a lot of the issues now are with how I feel about him. I really want to be supportive but am unsure if I would be more effective doing this as a friend rather than partner due to all my issues with not trusting him etc.
I believe a major part of the problem was that he doesn’t talk to anyone about how he’s feeling (he felt he couldn’t relate to anyone in the various support groups he has attended etc) and he has told me that he doesn’t understand how he feels himself so couldn’t put it into words anyway.
It’s all such a mess right now as I desperately want to believe that he is determined and would continue to engage with any safeguarding measures that were put in place but if he can’t talk to me about it or how he’s feeling then surely he will resort to lying to me again?
you make reference to me not being responsible for fixing his addiction. This is probably the hardest part for me as I have a responsible job whereby I solve others problems generally with ease and it’s so hard to have to step back and accept it is his issue to address.
Hello merry go round.
I’m frustrated as this is the third time since we’ve been together that he’s gambled and this is by far the worst in terms of money lost and how long it’s gone on before he’s told me.
I really thought we had made some progress with him moving in with me and therefore spending less time in the area where the main temptation lies and the people who lent him money live.
I can barely think about New York now as however it comes about it has been tainted by his actions. I don’t have any friends who could go with me due to child care or work commitments so realistically I’d have to go on my own.
despite everything that’s happened I still think I’d have a better time going with him as a friend though I am well aware that the xmas spirit and romance of the occasion could gloss over recent events.
if you don’t mind me asking, why did you stay with your husband for all that time? Did you just reach a point where you tolerated his behaviour or did you live forever in hope that it would get better or dare I say it, stop!
I appreciate your comments and I know deep down that you are right. I think I just don’t want to accept that It’s over and there is no hope.
Hi Frustrated Again
I think you need to take the NY trip out of the equation when you are deciding what to do. It is a lovely holiday but when all is said it is just that, a holiday, not a factor in deciding whether you are going to try and continue any sort of relationship with him. It is never going to be the same romantic pre-Xmas break it was supposed to be with him with all the hurt and anger you are understandably feeling at the moment. How is taking him on a free NY holiday showing there are consequences to his appalling behaviour? As Merry go round says, take a good friend, drink some cocktails and have a completely different holiday. NY is not the sort of place where you have too much time to sit around thinking as there is too much to do so I would not worry about being being sad that he is not there, just enjoy it.
Difficult for me, as a CG, to comment on your decision whether to try and maintain any sort of a relationship with him but what I will say is never, ever underestimate the levels of potential deceit and lying a CG will stoop to. I thought of myself as a generally honest and decent person until I started having a problem with gambling but I very quickly became adept at lying and hiding things. Doubt your boyfriend is much different.
This is a difficult subject to give advice on. Before I start let me say that I am sorry for you that you find yourself in this position. I am sure it is heartbreaking for you.
The logical and easiest thing to do is to leave him and find the happy life that you most probably deserve. However, perhaps you love this person very much and have had a happy two years in a loving relationship and think that your future involves marrying this guy who you think could make you happy if he could only stop gambling.
First off, the 14k debt is his and not yours. By the sound of things your house is yours and not his. If you were to stay together I would ensure that the above stays intact.
If your boyfriend truly loves you and wants his future to be with you then perhaps you could ask him to prove it by making the proper effort:
- Go to regular G.A. Meetings
- Be relentless in getting a better paid job to enable him to pay down £14k debt while paying his way in your relationship.
If for whatever reason he is not willing to make the correct effort then he will not change and will only provide a life of misery.
This forum is full of gambling addicts who are making daily efforts to not gamble, to recover from addiction, to build better relationships and to be a better person. The problem for people like yourself reading a forum like this is you’ll read a lot of stories of woe. There is a lot of success stories from people who no longer post regularly because they no longer need to. There successful abstinence means they rarely think about gambling therefore dont come on here anymore. I hope to be one of them.
The truth is you know your boyfriend better than anyone. Do you think he’ll change? Do you think he’d put in the effort. Easier said than done but decide with your head and not your heart.
P.S. I went New York on Christmas Eve with my now wife and it is utterly fabulous. The lights, the Xmas trees, the snow and all that NY has to offer is truly fantastic at this time of year. Look forward to it and enjoy every moment.
Thank you for your honest comments. I know when all’s said and done it is just a holiday and would not be the same now regardless. I certainly wouldn’t be paying for him now - I guess he’d have to pay me back and I’d join the list of creditors. The only saving grace in all of this is I know he always pays his debts so one way or another he will pay it back.
I don’t think I wanted to accept that he could lie so blatantly to my face but I understand what you are saying about your own experience. Thank you for telling me about it and showing me that he may go to to lengths that he would not have considered before because of this.
he told me that he is thoroughly ashamed of his actions and is determined to sort himself out. I have given him no false hope of us getting back together though I know it could be argued that he is just saying this to try and get me on side again from a different angle. This is the first time he’s not begged me to stay or promised everything on the earth to change etc. But I know this could just be a new technique.
I stayed because I'm a codependent. I could give you a list of reasons but that's the bottom line. Waiting for someone to get better doesn't work. We have to live our own lives and not be dependent on others for our self worth. This never goes away, it gets worse if they continue secretly or otherwise.
Hi Roulette Regret,
I completely agree it is a head over heart matter as every element of logic says I should walk away but as i'm sure most people on here know, it's never that simple.
Fortunately, I had seen a solicitor about getting a cohabitation agreement prior to this in order to ensure my hard earned house, pension etc would not be effected by him moving in. To be honest, I would have done this regardless as having been previously divorced I was determined I would never be at risk of losing my home or anything else i had worked for for any man.
I am absolute that I will not be helping him financially with this - the time I did it before was with the best of intentions and I now know that he has to face the consequences of his own actions and if that means extra interest on payments etc then so be it.
I completely agree regarding the meetings/support and the new job. I did put a certain amount of pressure on him in recent months to get a new job and he had been applying for a number during this time. However, this was more to get him away from the town he grew up in and works in and to break the cycle of his old habits and haunts being so easily available to him - also to earn even just a little more money.
Unfortunately, due to his gambling he has few qualifications or transferable skills so has not had even an interview for a new job, however now I wonder how much effort he made and if it was just to keep me off his back.
He says he wants a new job and wants to get out of there - i guess the proof is in the pudding where that's concerned.
He certainly seems different to before and has not grovelled or begged me to take him back which he did before. He has thrown himself into making changes though i am well aware this could be short lived and lose momentum as the initial pain of what he has done begins to fade.
I am trying to be objective about it all but deep down I do really love him and want desperately to believe he is going to make the necessary changes and keep to them - I realistically don't expect him to never gamble again but even if he could be honest with me and we could manage the damage then it would be a huge step forward for now.
I am glad you were able to have such a magical time in New York with your wife and really hope you get your chance to be one of the ones who gets to move on and not have to think about it again.
Thanks for taking the time to message me.
Hi Merry go round, thank you for explaining it to me. I am certainly not dependent on him and to be honest am completely self sufficient for money etc. It sounds awful but I told him at the start that I 'choose' to be with him and don't 'need' to be with him - certainly where money, housing etc are concerned.
I know that sounds like a contradiction as i am sure many people would just say 'why the hell are you still considering staying with him then?' I guess it's just not as straight forward as that.
I feel I can suitably safeguard my finances reasonably easily and I am not the sort of person to be manipulated where money is concerned (particularly now I understand this a bit better). I risk having my heart broken further if he continued in the manner he has but also could possibly have a good (though not 'normal') relationship with the man I love if he makes the necessary changes and sticks to them.
That's the bitter irony of all this - it is me who has to take the gamble as to whether to stay and get my relationship back.
I'm sorry your circumstances are that you are codependent on your husband as that must make it substantially worse than my situation and I half expect that many people would be shouting at their screens reading this and saying that I could walk away and not have to deal with the issues, heartbreak and other worries that come with being with a CG. I just can't seem to sever that tie with him - maybe not as independent as I think?
Hi Frustrated Again,
I am currently living with a compulsive gambler. We have been together for nearly 17 years now. Last year we separated for what I thought was the last time, I had left him before but not for a long time and I don't think I really wanted to. He started to attend GA meetings and I went to GamAnon meetings and all was well so we moved back in together. Unfortunately he returned to gambling but at this time with the support of the people at my GamAnon meetings I am staying with him for the time being and I am not being emotionally or financially affected by his gambling.
The money is not the main issue for me. It's the lies and deceit that is the worst. Living with a compulsive gambler can destroy you emotionally and your life can become consumed by it. It is for this reason I say think carefully before getting back into a relationship with him.
You have to be fully prepared to take a back seat in doing the things that need to be done such as self excluding from betting shops and telling others not to lend money. This is not to say you can not be supportive, it just means that the gambler needs to be the one that wants to make the change and if they don't it will not matter what barriers you put in place they will find a way to gamble.
Next, it is really important that you put rules down such as bills come first. It doesn't matter how much debt he has, he still has to put money in for rent, food, fuel, travel etc. He may say he wants the debt cleared quick but this does not show maturity in understanding that he has to take responsibility for his own actions and not depend on you to bail him out. Also, by paying the debt off quicker he is building a great credit rating which means that he is then able to borrow larger amounts.
Lastly I would say you need to talk to someone about how you feel. You said previously that you felt that that as you did not trust him this could have contributed to the issue. I can say categorically that nothing you have done has contributed to his gambling but I too had these feelings at times. If you stand back and look at it you have every reason not to trust him and I would tell him as much. It is important that you do not trust him in relation to money and gambling if only to protect yourself. Trust is not a right, it is earned and so far it doesn't sound like it has been earned.
I would highly recommend attending a GamAnon meeting but appreciate that due to work, travel and personality it is not everyone's cup of tea. I have read that you can speak to someone from this site about it in confidence. Try not to speak to friends and family unless they have been affected by gambling themselves as otherwise they will not completely understand and will give unhelpful suggestions such as "just leave" which I know from what you have written you understand the solution is not as easy as just leaving.
All the best and look after yourself as you are important.
Hello Monica. I’m sorry to hear you’re situation over 17yrs but I really appreciate the advice.
it is hard taking a back seat but I now know that is what would be required. I had already spoken to a few people I work with about what happened and I have to say I was genuinely surprised at how understanding they were. I def expected them to judge both me and him and as you say, tell me to just leave, but they didn’t. However I do agree it’s better to use forums like this and get advice and support from people are are or have lived the reality of it.
Hes deleted Facebook now (which prevents easy contact with those who lend money) and spent last two days self excluding from bookies. I know that if he wanted to he could go to one further away but I am starting to accept that he has to want to quit and that nothing realistically will stop him if he’s that determined.
im meeting him either later today or tomorrow to talk about things and advise him in moving his account so someone else controls it. I’m not sure right now if it will be me or a family member as I’m still unsure if I want to support him as a friend or a girlfriend. Either way he is making all the right noises but these need to turn into actions and continue for his lifetime. I’ve told him all this and he agrees.
guess we’ll see what happens. Thank you for al the advise and support. I really feel better informed now to make a decision.
Hi Frustrated Again
I have read all the post and so can I ask, do you know when he started gambling and why? For me interestingly you stated that you were to move in together in the spring but this did not happen? (Why?) Did this in any way contribute to his compulsion to gamble (as the message reads that he gambled again at the start of the year). (BTW - Not in any way am I inferring that you are in anyway responsible. In this regard it is all his own doing). However there may causes in play that make it inevitable that he will gamble beyond yours and his current capabilities and desire not to! Do you know if he ever experienced a trauma at any point in life or was part of an unhappy childhood? (this is my story!)
Practical solutions to control the urge are very necessary, but perhaps more importantly it's essential to understand more about when this addiction started and why it's still a destructive part of his life.
To share some insight I am a gambling addict for 30 years. It's caused pain and heartache to many people who have been integral in my life. My parents, my ex, my children and my current wife! Only now have I begun to understand that for me the urge to inflict destruction in my life comes from the adolescent within! For 90% of the time I am for the want of better analogies like a parent trying to control, mostly successfully, an otherwise badly behaved adolescent, (functioning like you'd hope of a significant other) who from time to time is fully committed to being reckless and negligent, with a 'to hell with it attitude'!
Along with a deep desire to do better is my willingness to explore therapy and all the positives it has to offer. I've learnt a tremendous amount about who and why and now I am better able to a***s when I feel most vulnerable to start gambling again.
I truly hope that both you and he can find long lasting happiness together or apart. It's up to him to stop and up to you if you want to be a part of that journey?
You say you are not dependent on him, but many codependents do not even realise what they are until it is too late.
This is my 25th year with a CG. I have listened to all the promises, believed he wanted to change, hoped we had a future but that's all it was.....hope!! He has gambled for 45 years and NEVER BEEN ABLE TO STOP!!! He has ruined his life, mine, my son's life and my daughter's life. We have been living apart since July. He is gambling again, only this time I can't even be bothered to tell him I know. I have no energy for this! I am 53. He has taken the best years of my life and crushed them. Life is not happy or normal. He is so brainwashed by gambling that he has even stopped seeing the only two people in his life who he needs, his children.
You say you can have a relationship but you know it won't be normal. No, it won't be normal. Last week my son shouted downstairs "Mum, hide your handbag, don't forget dad is coming round. Now that is normal, very normal in fact. Is that the life you want?
You will go to New York, take him back, forgive him because I can already read it in your posts. Just remember this is a lifelong problem.