My Boyfriend’s Gambling Addiction Destroyed Our Relationship

We all dream of getting rich, telling our boss to shove it, and buying our own private island one day, right? However, if the only way to pursue that dream is by lying to your girlfriend and gambling away your savings, maybe it’s time to reconsider your hobbies.

It started off small. When we first met, he was super into scratch-offs. We came up with a sweet tradition of buying tickets at every gas station and scratching them off together. We hardly ever won more than $20 here and there, but on a road trip to Arizona, we hit the jackpot: $500. That was when it all went downhill.

He always found an excuse to gamble. From fantasy football leagues and horse racing bets to Powerball tickets and poker nights, this guy woke up with gambling on the brain. When we planned vacations, he would frantically research local casinos. His world revolved around where he could place his next bet.

He started slacking at work and prioritizing the gambling. Just so we’re all clear, gambling is not a solid “work from home” opportunity. Gambling is literally a gamble. One of the many unfortunate parts of this entire debacle is that he was a very talented, hardworking salesman. His employers adored him and gave him a ton of opportunity for growth. As the gambling progressed, however, he started skipping work. The spark that used to appear in his eyes when he discussed his career had vanished and finally, he quit. He officially became a full-time gambler. Try explaining that one to your parents.

Recklessness is not an attractive quality. I really struggled with the fact that I could be so turned off by someone I loved. I would sometimes look at him with a half-smile plastered on my face while screaming, “How can you be so stupid?!” on the inside. He didn’t hesitate to sacrifice his life savings for his addiction. It was the most reckless behavior I had ever witnessed in a person.

The lying hurt the most. He told me on numerous occasions that it would end but it never did. He simply tried harder to cover up his tracks so that I wouldn’t catch him in the act. I was appalled that he could look me in the eyes and promise me that he would change, then continue to gamble behind my back. The lying crushed me. I stayed up at night with a pit in my stomach, knowing that I was being betrayed.

I couldn’t tell whether I pitied or hated him more for his addiction. “Pathetic” is one of the worst ways to describe someone and there I was, looking my boyfriend in the eyes and no other word could come to mind. When he asked me to cover his share of the rent one month, I pitied him and happily offered my help. When I found out that he actually could have afforded the rent but chose to gamble it away instead, I was enraged.

One day, he actually won a substantial amount of money. On a Vegas trip with his buddies, I got a call from him at about 3 a.m. This is not really unheard of for Vegas, I know. I answered, assuming it would be a completely incomprehensible drunk dial, but he was totally sober. He told me that he was part of a heated poker game and came out on top. He won $250,000.

A smart gambler would call it quits after winning, but he just couldn’t. My reaction to the news was odd. Most people would scream with excitement, but I somberly congratulated him. In his elated state, he hardly noticed my lack of enthusiasm and quickly jumped off the phone to celebrate. He actually did it. He made back the money he invested in his addiction. So why couldn’t I be happy for him?

I tried to be supportive. Anyone could have guessed that the money he won went right back into gambling. It wasn’t invested. He didn’t repay me for the rent I covered. He didn’t even buy me a bouquet of flowers or a freaking card. It’s as if the money never ever entered his wallet. As with any form of addiction, the addict needs someone to fight with them by their side. I loved him and deeply cared for his well-being, but as his addiction strengthened, I had to care for my own.

In the end, I couldn’t stay with him. When I thought about our future, I felt nauseous. I imagined a husband who would use his wife’s salary to feed his addiction and a father who couldn’t make his own children a priority. Maybe I could’ve fought harder for him, but I wasn’t strong enough. Honestly, I’m not sorry.

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