My boyfriend of 3 years has recently gambled again and I have asked for us to take time out of the relationship.
So here's our background, he gambled before we got together (for 10 odd years and was in 20k of debt). In the 2nd year of our relationship we were having relationship problems and he gambled in secret most of that year, losing roughly £4000. It all came out just before Christmas and I ended up forgiving him but telling him I wouldn't stay if it happened again.
This week he relapsed and lost £1500 in one session. At this point our relationship was better than ever and we were in a good place. I've told him I want space and to take a break from the relationship but don't know if I should move on or give him another chance.
We have no assets together and live separately but had the plan to live together after I had finished at uni and basically spend the rest of our lives together.
This is such a hard decision to make and I dont know if I'm being too hard on him.
My friends can't stand his behavior and feel he is very childish.
He's very apologetic and knows he has completely messed things up but also tells me he can't understand how I can leave him knowing it is a mental illness he has.
Please give me your honest opinions.
I should also add that me and his mum now have sole access to his debit cards and PayPal. He cannot access money unless we transfer it from his main account to the card he will be using for day to day life. I don't want to do this because I know it just means he doesn't have to take responsibility for his money.
Is it possible to have a successful life together where I have absolute control over both our finances and don't share a mortgage with him?
First of all, it’s a positive sign that he has passed over his finances to you so that sounds right now there is a willingness to change(for now)
Don’t even dare feel like you are being too hard on him because your not. It’s incredibly different being a gamblers partner, because their is constant lies worrying etc etc
Ultimately you have to do what’s best for yourself, can you see yourself having a life of what your currently going through., it’s quite worrying he has the ability to lose that type of money in such a short space of time. If you are going to give him another chance , I would recommend you forcing him to put all the blocks in place, banning him from high street bookmakers and also online UK bookmakers ( this really really helps)
Touching on the part about he can’t believe you could leave him with his mental illness, in my opinion this is emotional blackmail and it’s completely unacceptable him using this to try and guilt trip you into staying with him. ( I am a gambler well former gambler on day 48 of my recovery so this is why I feel extremely strongly about the mental illness emotional blackmail)
It is possible to have a successful life together with a gambler, but you have to have 100% control and watch him like a hawk. I don’t know your situation but solely taking on a mortgage yourself rather than a couple, you’d only get a fraction of what you could get together.
He does want to change, he doesn't want to keep hurting himself and others because of his problem.
He always refers to it as an illness and that I'll never understand it. I try my hardest to understand but I work in healthcare so see all kinds of illness. I just can'comprehend his thinking when he says another person takes over and takes control of him until it's too late then he becomes himself again, his mum was in the house so he could have gone straight to her but instead kept adding more funds after every loss to get back what he had lost - I think I could have forgiven thats as it would have shown some restraint and control from him.
He's beginning counciling tomorrow and I've told him he needs to go to GA although he feels the latter won't help him.
I'm just tired of having to rebuild my trust in him whilst I'm still young and should be having a wonderful relatives without these kinds of issues to deal with but at the same time feel guilty that I'm not giving him another chance to change.
When I said emotional blackmail, I meant he shouldn’t be using it to make you stay with him.
I am not qualified so I can’t say whether it is a mental illness or not, a lot of people say it is and a lot of people also say it’s just weak minded.
In terms of his comment ‘another person takes over and takes control of him until it's too late then he becomes himself again’ he is completely correct, I know first hand once your gambling , money has no value and something happens to you were your not thinking logically, constantly chasing your losses then when all the money is gone you realise oh d**n I’ve really messed up again etc etc
Positive news that he starts counciling tomorrow, and in terms of GA Classes everybody is different. I haven’t ever been to one and I never would, purely through embarrassment, I don’t need to hear stories in person of people being losers because I know when am gambling I am loser, instead i find a lot of comfort from this website, reading people’s stories getting inspiration from people who have successfully given up where nobody can see you etc.
Only you deep down can decide if you are willing to give him another chance, the fact he’s trying is a good sign, but as I say you can’t get complacent with him, this isn’t just going to be fixed over a month or two, the process can be long but if he knows he can talk to you about it, tell you when he’s getting urges etc it may help his recover
I would recommend GA personally, its not about losers sharing their stories its about people trying to honestly look at their behaviour honestly and try to bring about change. Debt and gambling are just the side shows when you honestly dig down during the 12 steps of recovery, the real issue is our behaviour.
A lot of people dont like GA as it means opening up to strangers who know all the pitfalls and triggers and are their to support us if we really want it. That is one of the key words in all of this 'Support'. You also need support as addiction makes us hide the truth away which only makes matters worse. GamAnon is a good place to start for you, they have virtual meetings where you will get support from others going through the same process as you of living with a compulsive gambler.
Your partner sounds like he wants to change, but he has to be open minded about it all, at the end of the day its down to him if he changes or not.
My advice would be, leave him. Run as far as you can. You have no ties and still being at uni means you have your whole life ahead of you.
You need to think about you and not him. I am ashamed of what I have put my wife and kids through and I am now over 3 months gamble free. We are further on in our life cycle and work at it every day.
You have to ask yourself, are you prepared to never be able to buy a house? Watch your future kids go without at Xmas etc? Be without gas/food/electricity at times? If it gets worse you could even end up watching him or you be arrested for fraud etc?
These are all very real possibilities when living with a compulsive gambler.
It sounds like he has the support of his mum, so you don't have to feel guilty and in no way should you feel guilty.
I do believe it is an illness, but not one you can fix with a course of antibiotics. Its a life long illness and one you would need to live with forever.
At your stage in life, there will be loads of young guys out there, who are not ill and can offer you a potential much better life.
Should you leave him? I think you know that only yourself can answer this. I asked the same question when my partner confessed to me 3 mos before we were due to get married. I was highly emotional and cried for days. But what helped me make the decision is seeing that my partner did show he wanted to get better. When he talked to me, he showed me the gambling blocks he has in place and his plan of action to combat the illness. Yes, we consider it as an illness. As someone mentioned above, once the urge is there to gamble, the compulsive gambler will try to gamble. It's not because he doesn't care about the people he loves, something really strong takes over him. That's the reason why gambling blocks and transparency on finances should be in place for life so that it's not possible for him (or at least make it very difficult) to gamble. Also, I know him and how broken his family is so I know that he truly did not choose this path. I also told myself if he is willing to do everything to abstain/recover then he has my full support. Lastly, I saw him beyond the addiction. Why did I love him in the first place? The addiction shouldn't define him as a person. I decided that if he is willing to take the path towards recovery, I'll stick by him. He may even relapse then we need to make some changes in our strategies because something didn't work. But as long as his desire to get well is followed by action, I will stay by him. However, if I only see excuses and I don't see any action to demonstrate his will to get better, I leave.
This is what we did:
-Gambling blocks (gamstop, Sense for land based casinos, self exclusion from betting shops)
-He closed all his credit cards and bank accounts. His dad paid off the debts, he pays the dad back monthly.
-He switched to Monzo bank with the gambling block on (I have the app on my 2nd phone to check his spendings etc)
-I access his credit report everyday to check for any soft/hard searches which could indicate if he is applying for a loan. This will also show if he has any other bank account.
-GA meetings. This was a life changer for him. I disagree with the comment above that this is about losers sharing their loser life stories. My partner was super reluctant to attend but he said he will try and see how it goes. He attended his first meeting 7 months ago (while I was waiting in a cafe nearby!) and the human connections he made with the fellows there is truly remarkable. Ever since, he has been attending 2x a week (now via Zoom). There are fellows who attend who are gamble free for 30 years and they continue to attend and inspire the newcomers with their success.
-We both continue to research to see if we can add anything more to these strategies.
He is 7 months gamble free now and I truly feel that we have a stronger relationship now. We are happier than ever. We both know this is a lifelong commitment and we can never be complacent. When I learned about his gambling addiction, I read so much about it and have been to several forums. I understand the fury of the partners and loved ones who have been lied to and deceived and it did make me feel worse. I had gamcare counseling and the woman who I was talking to advised me that each situation is different. If it didn’t work for others, it doesn’t mean we would have the same fate. Also she very well pointed out that my partner was willing to get better and happy to try all suggestions to get better. But at the same time, I was reminded not to be blinded by love. I should keep my eyes open and not to take just his word for it. My mantra now is ‘trust but verify.’
Regarding mortgage, we are actually buying a house together at the moment. His dad gifted us a deposit (to my account of course) and since my partner stopped gambling he also built a bit of savings himself. I monitor these savings like a hawk and thanks to Monzo he’s not able to do anything with the money even if he likes to until the following day so I would see if he has taken anything from his savings pot.
Sorry for the long post!!! I just want to say again that each situation is different. You can support your partner and protect yourself at the same time. But again, it will only work if both of you are determined and committed to this. I really wish you the best of luck.
Also I agree with the post above that you should not be pressured by your partner to stay because he has a mental illness. I personally think that's selfish and agree it's like a guilt trip. Reflect on this and you should decide what you want to do without any pressure.
I'm a gambler. I'm desperately trying (again) to give it up. I've signed up to every blocker and self-exclusion there is. I started driving miles to bookies who don't know me so I have now self-excluded up to around 15 miles away. Its ridiculous but necessary. I haven't had a bet for 4 days and feel really wonderful. Over the years I have lost enough to buy each of my three kids a house each - and I don't earn a fortune either. You have to put all of that behind you or you chase lost money and lose more. I've had a lifetime of gambling and its a curse. If your partner doesn't stop you should leave him to it or you will ruin your life as he is ruining his own. He will lie and cheat and sneak behind your back and blame you when its all his own doing. If he wants to quit then he probably deserves a chance but don't go wasting your life feeling responsible for him.....go and live and enjoy yourself.
Pep1952, I am glad to hear that you are supporting your husband. My advice was more down to the fact that they didn't live together and had no ties and seem fairly young.
Offcourse you can choose to support him, but never underestimate the potential life you have waiting for you.
I wish you all the very best.
I have read your initial post but not the replies thereafter so please forgive me if you've addressed this point.
I was in a very similar position to yourself this time last year. Everything in your post is true of what I experienced too.
Specifically about the handing over control to his mother. My partner did this with me and I took control of all of his banking and initially it worked well. However as he felt he wanted more independence, the pressure increased on me to hand his bank details back to him. The burden of that responsibility was huge. He was desperate for his bank details back and asked me numerous times and I said no because he wasn't going to the GA meetings and I didn't see any change. Superficially he said he was ready, but he didn't make any changes.
Eventually he bypassed me and reset the passwords himself because he thought he was cured. He gambled again.
I guess the point I'm trying to get across is that for peace of mind, you (or his mother) perhaps would need to maintain control of his accounts forever more.
Take from that what you will and I wish you luck!
Thank you all so much for replying to me and sharing your thoughts, stories and words of wisdom.
I took a good few weeks away from him and even went on a short break to visit family and think things through.
I made the decision earlier this week to end our relationship. He had sought help and was working on things but while he was beginning to learn and grow my mental health had taken a beating and was going down hill so I decided to choose myself. Its been hard to adjust and things are all still very fresh and sometimes hard but I know in the long run I've made the right decision.
I've learnt that I'm stronger than I thought I was and I know be will okay.
Thank you all so much for the support and I wish you all the very best in this life.