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My boyfriend is compulsive gambler

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My boyfriend is compulsive gambler

Postby happyfeet » Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:18 pm

My now ex-boyfriend has been a compulsive gambler for 4 years (he is 22, so since he turned 18). I had only been with him for a year (‘m 21), however he only decided to tell me about his illness about 8 months into the relationship, which was when everything started to spiral.

Just to give some background he had never gotten any help specifically for his gambling, he has been seeing a psychologist on and off for 2 years to address some other mental health issues, however he told me this never really helped his gambling situation. He said that even some days, he would even go to the pokies straight after talking with his psychologist. He has always been really up and down in emotion, and I always stuck up for myself when I said I felt like his emotional punching bag, however I never knew the reason he was like this was due to this illness that had been lurking by his shoulder for so many years. After telling me about his problem for the first time and then promising he would get help and never gamble again, a month later he had told me he lost all his money he had earned from his new job and had borrowed money off his friends and family once again to gamble. It was at this point that his mum, grandma and I had finally managed to persuade him to take time off work and do a 21-day inpatient rehabilitation program for his addiction. He made me promise that if he went to this program, I would be there when he came out, because at this point I was wanting to walk away. He went in and only lasted in the program for 5 days, as he told me he wasn’t doing this for himself and only because I wanted him to. At that point I was so upset and hurt that he had not given it his best shot and I thought to myself that he will not get better if he was only doing it for me to stay with him, so I blocked him (Facebook, Instagram, phone number) and told him I couldn’t do it anymore. 2 weeks later after all my emotions settled, I found out that he had finally told his friends about his illness after all these years (they had no idea and had been lending him money), and that he has been attending GA meetings for the past 2 weeks. It was a huge step. He reached out to me, telling me losing me had made him hit rock bottom, so I said I’d offer him my support as a friend, however I told him that I couldn’t be in a relationship right now as I’d been hurt by all his lies and broken promises and emotional manipulation and I needed to look after myself first. I told him that his recovery would take time and I said i would be happy to accompany him to his GA meetings (as support and to also get my own insight on the addiction and the support that GA offers) and that I was proud of him and to keep going. But then he lashed out at me - said that he rejected my offers for support, called me selfish for leaving him to suffer, said that me being proud of him was bullshit, and a proud friend wouldn’t be treating him the way I was after he had been gamble-free for a month. He said that reading about it and watching videos is nowhere the same as sharing the experience and that I don’t understand.

I’m not sure if there was anything else I could have done. I love and care for him so much, however I was just so scarred from being in such a toxic environment and I did’t know how much more I could handle the lies if he ever did lie to me about his gambling again. I kept telling him his recovery will take time, and he just keeps getting more upset that I’m not there to support him as a girlfriend and saying that I don’t care about him and never will. I know myself that that isn’t true, however I just need advice on how I can overcome this guilt, is there anything I could do to help me better understand his illness and why he says some of the stuff he says?

I am going to a gam-anon meeting this week, however I am also thinking of going to a GA meeting, because I want to just hear stories from other people themselves that experience this illness. Is that okay to do if I am a non-gambler? If anyone has any stories re - being in a relationship with a gambler or being in a relationship as a gambler that they would like to share, please share. I’ve already thought that I can move on and live my life without the thought that I’m being lied to about gambling, but there’s something inside me that keeps stopping me and maybe I just need to know more.
happyfeet
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Re: My boyfriend is compulsive gambler

Postby Keeton » Sun Jun 17, 2018 6:34 pm

Welcome Happyfeet,

First off I must say that you should be proud of the fact that you are there for him. I am a problem gambler and I can tell you that it is comforting to see that you are trying to help him. Not many people would have stayed and I commend you for at least being a good friend to him and as you say going to ga meetings etc

Can I ask? Has he himself acknowledged that he has a problem with gambling. I find that for me when I admitted to myself that I have a problem and needed help (and needed to take action), I actually was more likely to take control myself rather than rely on other people to make me stop.

Keep in Touch and All the best,

Keeton
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Re: My boyfriend is compulsive gambler

Postby Mona58 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:23 pm

Hi Happy feet,

Thanks for posting.

Hope you benefit from Gam-anon meeting. You will learn more about yourself and the reasons you try so hard to help your friend,

All the best on your journey!

Take care
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.~Confucius
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Re: My boyfriend is compulsive gambler

Postby JinxyWolf » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:16 pm

Hi HappyFeet and Welcome,

Being a former gambler myself (I've been clean for 16 months) I know what your friend is going through. The first month of being gamble free is tough. The fog is starting to life and you can begin to see just what gambling has cost you, you get angry, you feel guilty, you feel ashamed and unfortunately he is directing his anger at you. It's not your fault and you know that, you are doing all you can do and given time he will begin to see that.

You are right, you have to protect yourself and you have every right to keep your distance and set boundries for the relationship. He has broken your trust and that's something he will have to earn back. Give him time, things will settle and he will begin to see he can no longer blame others for his decisions and he will have to take responsibility for his own actions. He may stumble but hopefully he is fully committed to become gamble free.

It's hard for a non-gambler to understand gambling addiction, to understand why it is so hard to stay away. But those of us who are effected know all to well the hold it can have over you. If you want to know about gambling addiction than read some of the stories on this forum, these beautiful people on this forum are the human cost of gambling addiction. All we have lost but also what we have gained by coming together and supporting each other and giving each other a shoulder to lean on when it is needed the most.

I wish you all the best...Keep us posted...we are here to support you as well.

JinxyWolf
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Re: My boyfriend is compulsive gambler

Postby happyfeet » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:48 pm

Hi Keeton, thank you for that reassurance. Sometimes I am so unsure of myself if being supportive will even help, but it’s the most I can do right now even if my friend feels like it’s no help at all. He has admitted his addiction, however I don’t think he has been able to fathom taking full responsibility for it. I have often found him shifting the blame on factors of his life, for example, claiming that decisions his mother made during his upbringing and a pressure on him to be a “provider” for the family ultimately leading to his addiction. Or another example, he has said that I have held up his recovery due to me distancing myself and the fights that occurred because of the boundaries I put up. Sure, there may be factors that contribute, however I don’t believe this way of thinking is healthy for someone who is trying to fully face their addiction. I hope he steps up and owns this, rather than putting it on other people like you said.

Thank you Mona58, I am off to my first gam-anon meeting tonight so I will update you guys on how that goes for me. I look forward to having a support network that I can confide in specifically for this.

Hi JinxyWolf, congratulations on 16 months clean!!! What an achievement, hearing stories like yours gives me hope for my friend. I have read so many stories on here, and hearing it from the CG perspective I try my best to emphasise and can only imagine how difficult it would be to live with the addiction. I can only compare it to quitting sugar (as sugar is known to be as addictive as cocaine, and I tried quitting sugar and had some pretty heavy withdrawal symptoms for weeks), and even then this doesn’t have the implications so there’s really no way to compare. The one thing that I hold on to though, is that no one in this world would willingly hurt themselves or their loved ones as much as this illness does, be depressed or ashamed or angry due to the costs of it. No one would ever even wish that upon their worst enemy. So to have something that takes over your mind and logic and ruins your life time and time again due to a choice that you cannot control, it honestly breaks my heart. It’s not a choice, and I know my friend would had never willingly hurt me, but he still did and that really sucks.

I will keep you updated, but thank you for sharing. I appreciate all of your support so much.
happyfeet
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Re: My boyfriend is compulsive gambler

Postby happyfeet » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:47 pm

Hi guys,

Just an update, I went to my first gam-anon group last night which was really nice. The ladies there were all so friendly, and most of their experiences were with spouses/partners gambling so I was able to relate to them so much, and then some because they had so much experience and advice to give on this specific situation.

I have spoken to my ex about me going to gam-anon, and he was really happy to hear that I went and invited me to accompany him to a GA meeting tomorrow evening. I think it will be really interesting to see it from this side, I will probably be quite upset from the stories to be honest. But I am glad that my friend is finally accepting my support. We were also able to finally talk through a lot of things that happened in the weeks leading up to him finally getting help, a lot of which I was holding in or was left unresolved due to our fights or bickering. He is 33 days clean at the moment, and it sounds like his mind is a lot less clouded than it was a couple weeks ago. All in all, I am really happy that he has taken the huge steps to conquer this, and I’m glad he is accepting as much support as he can. One day at a time.

Will update again soon.
happyfeet
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Re: My boyfriend is compulsive gambler

Postby Calvin (facilitator) » Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:02 pm

Hi Happyfeet,

I'm Calvin one of the facilitators here on Gamblers Help Online.
Good on you for reaching out on the forums, I think you will find some valuable insights.

It sounds like you have been struggling with all that is going on. It is difficult for a loved one because we want to do all we can for our family/partners/friends. Its good that you have been such a support.

Many people use gambling as a way to cope with things in their life and this is when the toxic spiral can come into play. If you feel you and your partner/friend needs further support, I reccommend you call gamblers helpline on 1800 858 858 to speak with a gambling counsellor for immediate support and they can also provide you with a referral to see a face to face counsellor in your area for a one on one session with no costs involved.

All the best,

Calvin.
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