Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family HELP I feel guilty for wanting to leave

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    Hi Everyone,

    I’m 22 years old I 9 months ago I moved across country with my 27 year old fiancé. I had high hopes, I just graduated an he had just finished Law School. I left all my family behind and moved with him and our two German shepherds!

    A few months into the move his attitude changed he had lost 7k and we had both not found steady work in our new city. When he would win he would be himself happy and loving BUT I could tell when he’d lose because he’d basically collapse inward. That would lead to me sobbing because I’m young and don’t make the kind of money that can help him out of the situation.

    I begged for him to stop and sometimes he would say he stopped which gave me false hope until he started to steal money from my debit cards.. He never really looked for a job.

    I sent out his resume and got him a job at a bank he started last week but he refused to get out I bed this morning. He lay asleep while I write this. His dad told him he is going to have to cut him off if he doesn’t go to work and that the dogs will end up in a shelter but he won’t budge.

    Last night he told me he lost 25k and then opened his drawer and started pulling out credit cards from his pocket. Cards I didn’t even know he opened.

    when he started this job Ilast week I had hope that things would get better but now he’s throwing it away . I am scared that I will spend years of my life trying to help him when he doesn’t want to be helped . I feel guilty because my mom wants to fly up here and help me pack and leave. She tells me “she didn’t raise me to be strong to take mental abuse” and I know it breaks her heart to know I’m here basically alone.

    Please help me . Am I a terrible person if I leave ?




    Thanks for starting a thread in the Gambling Therapy friends and family forum. This forum will provide you with warmth and understanding from your peers.

    Feel free to use the friends and family group, you’ll find the times for these if you click on the “Group times” box on our Home page. Now that you have introduced yourself you’ll find that many of the people you meet here have already read your initial introduction and they’ll welcome you in like an old friend 🙂

    If you’re the friend or family member of someone who is either in, or has been through, the GMA residential programme please take extra care to make sure that nothing you say in groups, or on our forums, inadvertently identifies that person. Even if your loved one isn’t connected with GMA, please don’t identify them either directly or indirectly just in case they decide to use the site themselves.

    You’ll find a lot of advice on this site, some of which you’ll follow, some you won’t…but that’s ok because only you fully understand your

    situation and what’s best for you and the people you love. So, take the support you need and leave the advice you don’t because it all comes from a caring, nurturing place 🙂

    We look forward to hearing all about you!

    Take care

    The Gambling Therapy Team

    PS: Let me just remind you to take a look at our

    privacy policy and terms and conditions so you know how it all works!


    Welcome to this site, which is a place where you can find advice, encouragement and companionship along life’s path. I am a volunteer member of the Gambling Therapy Team and a therapist, but I also used this site originally to help me cope with my son’s gambling. Like your fiance, he got into a lot of debt.

    People here understand what it is like to love someone, but to feel overwhelmed by their gambling at the same time and to wonder whether or not they should stay with the compulsive gambler (cg).

    No one else would presume to tell you what exactly to do, but the support and information you gain can help YOU to decide what is best for YOU. Sometimes that means waiting, thinking and not acting in any dramatic way. Sometimes it means making quite big changes. You may go forward in one way for a while and then realize you need to change things again.

    But whatever you do, I am sure you are NOT a ‘terrible person’. Your post shows a young woman setting out with hope and love, but then facing what must feel like betrayal and huge disappointment. Your post shows your love and concern, but also your very understandable fear and bewilderment. It pains you to think of leaving, but a part of you may feel it would be the wisest thing.

    On the practical side, try to protect your own finances and take good care of yourself. You cannot ‘save’ your fiance, nor can parents. You can give him information and encourage him to seek help to live without gambling. (But he may not listen or follow wise advice.) But you CAN protect and look after yourself. Ultimately, this is the hopeful way – there is point in you being dragged down with debt etc.

    It can be helpful to exchange ideas in ‘real’ time – so there is the Helpline and the Support Groups. You will need to find when there is a group that meets at a time you can make in your country, in a different time zone.

    This is probably long enough for now. I hope you will make new friends here, who can support you and help you find your way forward.

    Best wishes,



    Hi Nichantel
    I wrote my reply earlier and now I see that Monique has replied. I will probably repeat a lot of what she said but I hope that helps to confirm our support.
    The short answer to you is a definite ‘No’ – you are not a terrible person if you leave, however, I would never suggest you either leave or stay – that decision ultimately has to be yours.
    I am going to bring up a thread I wrote some time ago ‘The F&F Cycle’ which I hope will help you understand the confusing life you have been living since you moved.
    Your fiancé did not ask for or want his addiction any more than you but you cannot make him stop gambling – only he can do that.
    Whatever you decide to do I think it would be good if you could print off the gamblers anonymous-20 questions which you can find in our ‘Resources’ at the top of this page. Click on the first paragraph – ‘a comprehensive online support service’ and then type 20 questions in the ‘search by keyboard’ box. Click on Gamblers Anonymous – 20 questions World and then follow the link. If you tick the boxes that you would say he should say ‘yes’ to then you will know that you are living with an addiction that will get worse without acceptance and treatment, if you give your fiancé a copy then perhaps he will begin to see that he has a recognised problem but that he can change his life.. Perhaps you could find a group of GA (gamblers anonymous) for him to attend but never feel that you have to hang on or save him – his addiction sadly will use you even though he is not deliberately hurting you.
    It is great that your mum is there for you but sometimes those who care for those who love CGs (compulsive gamblers) do not understand.. The addiction to gamble divides families feeding on lies and secrecy and unfortunately unless people have lived with the addiction, their opinions can be very narrow and not supportive so personally I think it is best to say things as a statement rather than asking for opinions. You can gather information here so that you can make your own informed decisions with that knowledge but it is better to share – especially as your fiancé’s addiction is endangering your future.
    I think that is enough for me to start with but please write again. The support and understanding is here for you and there will never be any judgement regardless of what you finally decide.
    It would be great to meet you in a group where we could communicate in real time.
    Speak soon


    Thank you for your comments. They were warm and informative.
    I’ve been writing down the pros and cons but its not getting easier to decide what is right and what I will regret later on.

    I’m not looking for anyone to tell me what to do but I want to be sure that leaving someone with compulsive gambling isn’t the same as leaving a partner diagnosed with cancer. That’s what I feel like I’m doing when I consider packing up my things. I feel guilty, like I’m quitting on someone that needs help. That I can help fix if I stay…

    When I start to make an actual plan to leave I get flushed with tears and anxiety. I care for him so much. I didn’t want to have to consider leaving but I can’t ignore the feeling that staying with him will bring out the worst in me.
    (My father is bi-polar alcoholic and I am irregularly taking anxiety medication, I feel as though its harder and harder to control my own happiness with all of this going on)

    What I want is for him to have not gambled and to not do it again. It’s not what I imagined for us. At the same time, I know that unless he truly wants help Ill be stuck in this cycle.

    Another reason why I consider staying is because he’s always paid me back and made sure I was made whole. Although , after emptying out his bank accounts and maxing out his credit cards he made it impossible to pay his half of things moving forward. Maybe this isn’t such a valid point.

    His dad stepped in and said ” I wont let you end up on the streets. But you have to keep going to your job, see a psychiatrist and go to therapy” . My Fiance only agreed to two of the requirements . He refuses to go to GamANON or Group Therapy. Even though all the psychiatrist I spoke to recommend BOTH for prevention. One psychiatrist told me over the phone that IF he doesn’t want to go to group therapy he is 100% likely to relapse and gamble since its behavioral..

    I asked him if he really wanted help or was doing it so his dad would support him.. He answered “I dont know”. Then, after he saw a text from my mom wishing I’d come home threatened his Dad and I that he wouldn’t go to a psychiatrist any more.

    What if he hasn’t truly hit rock bottom, doesn’t want help BUT just wants to rely on his father for financial support until he can find a way to bet again…

    You are all lovely and kind and I’m grateful to have found a forum where I can communicate with other people that understand. I’m sorry if my writing comes out emotion-less or whiney. I am perplexed and numbed by the entire situation.


    The difference between a partner with a gambling addiction and cancer is very simple. A person with a gambling addiction has a choice to control their illness …….. a person with cancer does not have a choice to have or always control that illness. Both may have a choice to have treatment or not. The outcomes could be the same.

    Your partner has refused the option of treatment but still wants the enablement from all of you! he denys the fact that he is ill by refusing the treatment. He is playing you and taking you all to be fools. Rock bottom is an individual thing, it doesn’t mean being allowed to land on a big fluffy pillow of options – it is where there are no other options but to choose recovery or not.

    He doesn’t accept the fact that he has a problem yet.

    No one should tell you what to do. No one can tell you what to do.

    When I was your age, with my whole life ahead of me and faced with someone who behaved like that ………… I would have run like hell and never looked back.

    I wonder now why at the age of 48 I somehow became along the way so tolerant of the poor behavior of others.

    If I had my time again I would definately run !! now as it is I just settle for a slow walk in the right direction



    Hi Nychantal
    I wrote most of my reply earlier before I saw Jenny had replied. Sometimes it is good to hear different ways of saying the same thing so I haven’t changed my words.
    Your post is far from lacking emotion or whiney – it is mature and well thought out which is remarkable considering the confusion you are feeling.
    Leaving a person with the addiction to gamble is not the same as leaving someone with cancer because control does lie with the person who owns the addiction.
    “What I want is for him to have not gambled and to not do it again” is an ‘if only’ wish and ‘if onlys’ and ‘what if’s’ don’t help anybody. By standing still and seeking support and knowledge, you are doing the right thing for both of you.
    Many people live unwittingly in the shadow of the addiction to gamble and their ignorance leaves them open to manipulation but you are aware of your loved one’s addiction and you are gaining a knowledge that most people do not have. You will have the knowledge to do the right thing for the right reason.
    You won’t ‘fix’ your fiancé if you stay but you could support a change if he is really willing to try and has the courage and determination to do so. If it was me I would be looking for a positive step towards recovery – I don’t hear it in his words so far.
    You have recognized that staying may bring out things in you that you would rather not have to deal with and that is worth your full and very serious consideration. If his addiction brings you down then you will be another victim of his addiction and that, in my view, is completely unacceptable. .
    If you stay I would recommend that you never bail him out again. Giving money to a CG is the same as giving a drink to an alcoholic – it feeds the addiction and helps it grow.
    I am not judging when I say his father did well telling his son that he should go to therapy but it would probably have been better if he had not said that he would not see him on the streets as this suggests there will always be a cushion to fall back on – very often loving a CG means standing back and letting them fall all the way – not easy. Do you and his father have a good working relationship? The best thing for a CG is that everyone around them works as a team, sharing information and refusing enablement.
    It is not recognized professionally but the following is a coping method that many have used while learning how to live with someone with the addiction to gamble.
    Imagine your fiancé’s addiction as a slavering beast in the corner of the room. As long as you keep your cool and don’t threaten it that addiction will stay quiet but be aware that it never sleeps.
    Your fiancé is controlled by a terrible addiction but you are not. His addiction is the master of threats and manipulation which you are not and nor do you want to be. When you threaten his addiction it leaps between you and controls the conversation or argument. Once it is between you, you will only hear that addiction speak and because it only knows lies and deceit, it will seek to make you feel blame and demoralize you. When you speak the addiction distorts your words and your loved one will not comprehend your meaning.
    My CG explained it to me by saying that when I told him (for instance) that if he didn’t lie but lived honestly he would be happy, his addiction was distorting his mind convincing him that I was lying because he truly believed that he was unlovable, worthless and a failure – he was lost and fought back because he didn’t have any other coping mechanism. The addiction to gamble only offers failure to those who sadly own it.
    I believe F&F waste valuable time ‘wanting’ to believe that the CG they love is telling the truth and that ‘this’ time, maybe, he/she is different. I think it is good, although difficult, to not ‘try’ and believe the CG because in doing so you become receptive. If you can stand back a bit and listen to what your fiancé is saying, it becomes easier not get caught up in an argument that has no point apart from making you feel less in control. Once you begin to try and put your side the addiction has something to get its teeth into.
    This all sounds a little negative but the positive side is that it removes you from the centre of the addiction giving you time and energy to look after you time to think what you really want to do.
    I think it is right to say that a CG must seek treatment if they are to control their addiction and not relapse, this addiction does get worse without treatment. If your fiancé is not ready however nothing you do or say will make him change.
    By looking after you first you will safeguard your identity while you make the right decisions for your relationship.
    I am away for a long weekend but I will look for you when I return.
    Please keep posting – writing is therapeutic and helps put muddled minds into perspective.


    Hi Nychantal,
    It’s up to you to decide whether you want to live like this all your life. You neither know if he’s got other addictions. I think you could also be terrible if you decide to stay with him.

    I myself am 27 years old and I am struggling with gambling problems, but I am decided to stop. Although I did not get that much into the addiction.


    Hi Nychantal, keep using support for you.

    He knows where the support is, now it has to be up to him to choose whether to use it.

    If he doesn’t then you might have to make your own tough choices, using support here and elsewhere will help you be in a better position to do that.

    Whether or not he ever decides to go to GA you would be welcome at a Gam Anon meeting where you can get support for yourself.

    I am a compulsive gambler, I haven’t had a bet for a while now. I couldn’t do it on my own though. One thing I got good at when I was in action was manipulation and control. From what you have said he it sounds like he is only agreeing to the minimum and then exerting control by threatening to not even do that. I’m a little concerned by “……after he saw a text from my mom …….” does he check your texts?

    You can get stronger by using support, protect yourself financially and set boundaries, maybe the privacy of your own phone and conversations with your mum and other people who can support you need to be one of those boundaries.

    Keep posting and you can gain the strength to do what’s right for YOU.



    I was in your situation 10 years ago and understand the anger, disappointment, and hope that you are going through now. I was optimistic that I could change my wife. 10 years later, $300,000 lost and we have a 2-year old daughter and I am filing for legal separation but ultimately it will be a divorce. The pain, heartache, and anxiety during this 10 years is unbearable and no one should experience it. You are still young. I just want you to know that my wife on many ocassions genuinely wants to stop gambling but she always come back to it.

    My wife, intially borrowed my money to pay debts and she also usually paid them back too. But then the problem got worst and worst. She started to pawn her wedding ring and bracelet. Wrote bad checks and took money from an organization where she is a treasurer.

    I know you are feeling guilty for wanting to leave. I had and currently having the same feeling. I wanted to leave her so many times but she ran out of money and then begged me to come back because she has learned her lessons and she was determine to give it up this time. We would be happy for a while and then the problem comes back again. It is amazingly diffcult to deal with the betrayal, and disappointments. At the end, we have a daughter and I thought this will surely changes her. Oh boy, I was so wrong.

    Hope my story sheds some light for you.

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