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You Asked: My Boyfriend Is a Gambling Addict

Dear Sugar —

I'm at a complete loss as to what to do. My long term boyfriend has recently confessed to being a gambling addict. I had my suspicions and he's had problems in the past that I confronted him about, but this time seems much more serious. I've been working two jobs while putting myself through graduate school so I leave him alone a lot, and while I'm away at night, he gambles. He loses weeks worth of his salary in one night and he's even stolen my bank card to withdraw cash without telling me. He's been lying to me and his family for a few months now to cover himself, but broke down and told me everything last night. I'm sure that this all stems from underlying depression and I've have asked him to go to therapy. I want to support him and he's willing to get help and wants me to be involved, but how do I know things will change? I love him and I want to believe him, but how can he mend the broken trust? — Kept in the Dark Kimberly

To see Dear Sugar's answer

Dear Kept in the Dark Kimberly —

Having an addiction to gambling can be just as serious as having any other addiction and it shouldn't be treated lightly. Owning up to your mistakes and asking for help is the first step to recovery so from what you're telling me, it sounds as though your boyfriend really wants to change. You mentioned that while you're working at night, he gambles and I just want to make sure you're not feeling at fault that he's partaking in this behavior because he's lonely without you — that's simply not an excuse.

Now, with that said, the decision is completely up to you whether you want to stand by your man while he gets the help he needs. Yes, he broke your trust, and he even went as far as stealing from you, but if you love him and you believe that he's willing to change, I'd give him a change. In life, there are no guarantees, hence no way of knowing if he'll be able to change, so since you probably know him better than anyone else, I'd listen to your gut and follow your heart. If it doesn't work out in the long run, at least you'll know you tried. Good luck to you both.


mscrash mscrash 8 years
I've been in this situation too and it's terrible! My ex always told me over and over that he wouldn't gamble but he kept doing it. It got to a point where it wasn't even a relationship anymore. I felt like a parent. I tried so hard to help him. I even got him to go to GA once but a person needs to help themselves. You can't do it for him. He hated the way gambling made him feel but I couldn't get him to stop or take some serious steps to curb the addiction. I still love him and it's a shame I had to put an end to it but he was taking advantage of my help, support, and generosity. I have my own life to live and I couldn't keep putting up with that.
febe febe 9 years
Asia84, i totally agree with you! the person you love and care for, does these things to you, needs to be kicked out! he ain't worth it!
Asia84 Asia84 9 years
You need to put him out. DUMP HIM!!!!!! there is no way in hog-head-hell, that i'm gonna go to grad school ( i feel you pain right now on that one), and hold 2 jobs, and he's GAMBLING?!?!? taking money out of your account?!??!?!?!?! I'LL BE DAMNED!!!!! annnnndddd he's just your boyfriend (hubby's get about 2% more sympathy from me). girl, get out NOW. before you wake up one morning and you car is gone . . . I don't deal too well with crazies, addicts, and baby poppers (a la Kfed). you're in grad school, which means you have a bright future ahead of ya. if you stay with him, you can look forward to the knots you feel in your stomach every night when you come home from work and the sigh of relief when you see that you refrigerator or TV is still there.
He needs to enter a rehab facility for gambling addicts, and you and his fam ily need to take the steps to be able to support him by attending AA meetings yourself. I know, why should ya'll go, when it's his addiction? Going to AA meetings will prepare you for the process of rehabilitation when he returns. You should watch him very closely and see if you notice any danger. One of the top side effects of gambling addiction to suicide.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
Break up with him, stealing from someone is wrong. There isn't a thing you could do, he needs to do this for himself.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
I've seen amazing people do terrible things in the name of addiction. This is no different than a coke addict - he needs rehab. I am ALL about trust and communication in a relationship, but I view people with addiction as people who are sick. You wouldn't leave him if he had polio, would you? He needs to work hard at getting himself better and you need to decide if that's what you want taking a big chunk of your life now because it is definitely a commitment.
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
Give him one chance and it better be a serious thing, like therapy and then meetings after and from now on. If he seems he can make a change that's great and I wish both of you all the luck. BUT I wouldn't trust him for a long time. Don't give him access to any of your account information or any checks/cards...Also I wouldn't make any huge life changing decisions that would allow you to have to rely on him financially until he's been in recovery long enough for you to feel comfortable. Like I said before good luck to the both of you I hope everything works out for the best!
onesong onesong 9 years
I agree with TheMissus as well. One shot and if he screws you again, he's done. DEFINITELY take Silent Vamp's advice, as well. Also, make him pay you back immediately, change your PIN number on your card, as well as all your online password to everything, and don't keep any cash in the house. I'd also install a NetNanny on the computer in an open way, like, hey, sorry, I don't trust you right now and this will give me peace of mind. He also needs to enroll in a program (GA comes to mind) and understand that you are going to need time to recover from this--not to mention, that this is all HIS fault (lonely my hind foot!) not yours AT ALL. I feel for you honey, but good luck and be strong--sometimes forgiveness is the best thing you can do for yourself and someone.
Knight-Who-Says-Ni Knight-Who-Says-Ni 9 years
Check your credit to make sure he hasn't done more than just withdraw your money at an ATM. He could have used your personal information to open up a credit card or something. Would you both be open to you taking over the finances so he doesn't have money to spend? He could give you his cards and paychecks to deposit in exchange for some cash for spending money. He can only go so far with cash, and you could monitor cash flow. Tough situation. Good luck.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
First off he needs to get to gamblers annonmyous and you both need to go to therapy to learn how to deal with this. You need advice as well snooping through his things is not the answer people that know how to deal with this addiction can give you advice. I think he does deserve a chance to change, however be aware that therapy takes time and he WILL relapse gambling is just like alcohol or drugs and it is a one day at a time thing so you need to be prepared to be there for the long haul. If you can't do it then you need to get out now.
DCRoamer DCRoamer 9 years
I agree with the one-chance theory too, but I believe that you are within your rights to be hyper-vigilant to make sure he doesn't do it again. (BTW, if you haven't already done so, change your ATM password ASAP and make sure that he has no access to your own money). Some posters may disagree with me here, but if it were me, I would support him, but I would also snoop around and check his bank statements and credit card statements to ensure that he is not doing it again and lying to you.
KrissyThePirate KrissyThePirate 9 years
I've been here, sadly. You will try to believe that they can change--and then when you're at work--he'll go to an ATM and go to the poker hall and blow it. I mean, there were a few nights where he would blow our rent. Like a grand in an hour--I'm not even thisclose to kidding. And it was always when I wasn't there--it was like babysitting, but so so much worse. He would break down, and say he wanted to change, but in the end it was the same story over and over and he would blow our money until the bank account was depleted. That's how bad it can get. You can't live like this--to worry if he'll steal or lie to you again about it. I'm not saying that all guy aren't different, and perhaps he does want to change--but, my dear, old habits die hard--and love sometimes simply isn't enough. And after so many lies and runarounds, the love faded away--you don't desearve it.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
I think the one chance thing sounds great in theory. From my experience, I've given an infinite amount of just "one more chance" to a guy. If you decide to stay with him, stick to your guns! And realize that because he has an addiction, and because he's stolen from you to feed that addiction, he has at least at times given his problem priority over you (and probably everyone else in his life).
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I agree with TheMissus. I'm a once chance kind of gal. I believe people really can just screw up big time once and change. It's scary thinking that if you marry this guy you might be dealing with this for the rest of your life. But I think he'll be able to earn your trust back by taking treatment seriously and kicking this addiction. Don't marry him until you feel completely safe and he's regained your trust, even if that means you date a couple more years.
blingbling blingbling 9 years
Don't accept anything less than him going to therapy - groups, rehab- whatever is available. This is serious and it could ruin both your lives if you stick with him - if he isn't 100% committed to beating this then you need to walk away.
TheMissus TheMissus 9 years
You give him one chance. One chance. He confessed to you and wants your help... So I say, help support him throug his recovery. However, if he breaks your trust again and does not seem sincere about his treatment, kick his bum to the curb.
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