I Dated A Gambling Addict & It Was Soul-Destroying

I thought I’d finally found a great guy, but one glaring problem began to emerge the more we got to know each other: his gambling addiction. I thought I could handle his issue or even help him learn to control his impulses better, but I was wrong and eventually I had to throw in the towel.

  1. It didn’t seem like such a big deal at first. It wasn’t like I ever had anything against gambling. After all, I went to college in New Jersey and would occasionally escape to Atlantic City on the weekends. Las Vegas was also not exactly a foreign place to me, so when the guy I’d recently started dating told me that he liked to frequent a small casino town nearby, I mistakenly assumed that it was no more harmful than any of my own gambling adventures. I even excitedly said I’d have to go with him sometime. Little did I realize how bad the situation was—and when I say “bad,” I really mean that the guy had zero self-control and was regularly losing tons of money.
  2. His gambling issues brought out other aspects about him I didn’t like. When people with a gambling addiction lose money, they get angry. And when they get angry, they often take it out on those around them. We hadn’t even been dating that long before I saw how poorly my new boyfriend acted when lost money to gambling. His anger was explosive, but it also grossly resembled a child throwing a fit. As I later found, he had a really addictive personality in general that was only worsened when he visited a casino or spent hours online playing poker. One time he was awake for three days straight doing cocaine and “just trying to break even” on a gambling website. Yeah.
  3. He asked to borrow money from me. He was all about paying during our initial dates, but it turned out that this was because he was on a winning streak at the time. The first time he asked to borrow money, I reluctantly complied because I believed he would eventually pay me back. The second time, I honestly just felt bad for him. The third time he asked me, I admit that I lied and told him I couldn’t afford to. He pushed but I still said no. Needless to say, it was pretty uncomfortable, and he never did repay me for the money I did lend him.
  4. He started to blame me for his losses. Eventually, it somehow became my fault that my boyfriend was losing money. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this, but it seems that he felt he could have bet higher amounts—and therefore had the opportunity to win more money—had I let him borrow funds whenever he asked for it. I also apparently wasn’t supportive enough, which put his mind “in a bad place that made it really hard to win.” He tried to spin it so it seemed he just needed my love and affection to do positive things in life, but like gambling, he just wasn’t as good at lying as he thought he was.
  5. He refused any kind of help. I never outright accused him of being a gambling addict, but I did try to explain multiple times how I felt about his situation. I also suggested that his money woes (seriously, the guy complained so much about being broke) might end if he cut down on gambling. One time I even left out a pamphlet for a local mental health center that had a gambling addiction help group. Needless to say, he threw it in the trash, and he either ignored or outright refused all of my other attempts to help him.
  6. He never once acknowledged that he had a problem. Going along with the fact that he never accepted any help, I suppose it should also go without saying that the guy never even came close to admitting he had a gambling addiction in the first place. After all, people can’t really get over addictions if they never acknowledge them. By the way, his friends agreed that he had a problem, but they didn’t see a point in trying to help him because, as they said, “Been there, done that. The guy’s never gonna change.”
  7. Our last ‘date’ was to a casino, and I left him there. Believe it or not, the last time we did anything together involved a trip to a casino. I agreed to go because I’d refused the last several times and I hoped that maybe I could show him what a little self-control actually looked like when it came to gambling. But yeah, I should have known better. It was a truly disastrous date and it concluded with him yelling at me alongside a roulette table (once again, it was somehow my fault that he lost). At that moment I realized I no longer wanted any part of his self-destructive life. I turned and walked away… for good.
  8. I recently learned that he hasn’t changed his habits at all. I guess it wasn’t a wake up call for him at all. I ran into a friend of his recently and naturally asked how my ex was doing. The friend just shrugged and said that the two of them were no longer as close, and this was because my ex still apparently spends most of his spare time gambling or doing drugs (often both at once). Apparently he’s moved back in with his overly-doting parents because he can no longer afford to live on his own. Yikes. I do feel bad for the guy, but at the same time, I know he’s responsible for his own actions.
  9. It actually hasn’t changed how I view gambling. Again, I’ve never personally held anything against gambling. Done in moderation, it can be tons of fun. I still go myself occasionally, though it’s mostly with friends, and I’ve never bet an amount that I’m not comfortable with losing. I do think that certain people (like those with addictive personalities) should stay far away from it, though. I hope that one day my ex does seek out help.
Brianna Gunter is an NYC-born Jersey girl now living in the Rocky Mountains. A graduate of The College of New Jersey's journalism program, her work has appeared in a multitude of publications both online and in print. When not writing about life as a millennial, she can be found hiking, hunting for pizza or making new dog friends.