Gambling difficulties cause harm to relationships with partners or spouses, parents, other family, and friends. Such relationships can help keep you emotionally well. They also help with practical matters and sharing resources, like money or housing. So, when relationships are damaged, this adds to the mental health and financial harm from gambling. The damage is not just to the person who gambled. It is also to families and friends.
Relationship harm comes from the financial strain caused by gambling. It is also because gambling takes time and attention from your relationships. People can end up lying or behaving badly to those close to them. There is a loss of trust, tension, and arguments.
These fractured relationships can take a long time to rebuild. People can experience enduring guilt, loss and loneliness because of the way gambling led them to behave towards those close to them. Relationships may not recover. There may be divorce, separation, estrangement from children, family, or friends. This has long-lasting and serious consequences for people’s material and emotional wellbeing. These can be passed between generations, onto children or parents.
People have said damage to relationships is often connected to financial harm. The pressure of debt or loss of savings due to gambling causes a financial strain and this puts stress on relationships.
Relationships problems can then add to the financial harm people are experiencing from gambling. When relationships break down, people stop sharing resources and helping each other with practical matters. They may have to leave a shared home. This can result in homelessness or needing social housing.
People have said relationships are damaged by the time and attention gambling takes away from them. This is because they withdraw and spend less time with people close to them. They may miss out on social events because they are gambling. Even when they do spend time with a loved one, they feel distracted by gambling. While they are physically there, they are not emotionally present.
You’re so consumed by all the betting and what you’re doing, you’re not making time for the person you should be making time for… Even sometimes you’re saying like, “Where’s it going? Is there any affection or there doesn’t seem to be that connection that there was years ago.” Then you think, yes, it probably is mainly down to myself when I look back now, because I am not probably giving her the time she wants and saying nice things to her or being a family person because it’s so – At the time, if we’d been out as a family and both my wife and son have said to me, “What are you doing on your phone again? You’re always on your phone.”
People describe how gambling changes their behaviour towards people they care about. They may lie about gambling or finances. This leads to a loss of trust that is very damaging to relationships. People have described the frustration that their family members experience during their gambling difficulties, knowing that they are being lied to.
I have lied to her, and I’ve done a whole manner of horrible things, not directly to her, but things like lying and not being truthful in that sense. Now, not gambling, and previous years, you would never have thought I’d be like that, and I would never have thought I’d be like that. Never in a million years would I have dreamt of doing the things or saying the things that I’ve done to my wife that I have done. I’d never in a million years. I take all the blame and responsibility for my actions that I’ve done with gambling, but I would– sat back, looking back at it now, I would think, “Wow, was that you? Was that the same person? It can’t be. It can’t be the same person.”
And I also borrowed money off my dad, which was all written down properly and correctly, and only one of the siblings knew that that existed. Because I was already beginning to feel quite ashamed by the fact that I’d let this debt build up, not, you know, the gambling didn’t seem to be, I didn’t admit what it was. And I actually did make up a fib to my brother, who was the sibling involved. And I said I’d got involved with a man who had basically stolen from me. Because I was too ashamed to say that I was gambling.
Some people describe harming their relationship by creating arguments with their partner or spouse intentionally, so they can use that as a reason to go and gamble.
I always feel as if I was escaping from something that was in me that was… gambling was giving me escapism from reality to try and deal with everyday life type of thing. And yeah, arguments with my wife type of thing. That was my excuse to go and gamble again, have a blazing argument, storm out the house, go gamble. I would find an excuse to… or we’d try and plan something or she’d want to do something, and I’d get into an argument with her just so I can go and have my gambling time
Relationship harm can come about through the person being rejected because of their gambling difficulties. This could be because other people do not understand or may hold stereotypes.
Well, we run the business together because it’s a family business. I still had to work for them and like things will work they got a bit arsey about and it was like, Oh, everything that’s gone wrong was because of your gambling because your mind’s not been on it and you’ve been distracted and this and that. It got to the point where I thought, “Do you know what? I don’t care. Whatever you want to say, I’m not listening anymore. You can use that as an excuse for everything it’s not my problem.”
The damage to relationships often remains after the gambling has stopped. The destruction of relationships has significant consequences that continue to cause ongoing harm. Relationship conflicts or breakdown undermine the emotional and material welfare of the person and those close to them.
The loss of trust is often hard to overcome.
My wife, I mean, she’s been incredible, incredibly supportive. But that thought in the back of my mind of every time I go to a different room or if I’m upstairs and she’s not with me and every time I go out. Is he having a bet? Is he? Is he gambling again? Trying to pick up on those signs. I just feel like I constantly have to reassure her that I’m not and constantly have to do things to kind of reinforce that I’m not. So, yeah, I think that side of it is, is the sort of aftermath of it all. Although you can look back and you kind of have this story, it’s kinda the aftermath of picking up the pieces around it is the sort of difficult part.
Relationship harms have often been described in terms of the lost time with loved ones. People can never get this back. People describe ongoing feelings of guilt, loss and loneliness because of the way they have behaved towards people their cared.
Some of it you’ll never get over, if I’m honest, you know. It’s not so much the money, it’s some of the things you did to get money. That’s the difficult thing to live with. And, of course, the time. You know, I would do anything to get out of things so that I could just sit and gamble. I remember when I told my daughters and my oldest daughter just said “Dad, thank God there’s a reason for the way you’ve been like you are because we thought that you just didn’t like us anymore”. So that’s hard to take, knowing that nobody really mattered because all that mattered was gambling.
For many, their gambling results in their partner, spouse or parent having to take on the burden of managing the finances. They may also have to try and sort out debt or housing. This additional pressure is exhausting for the other person and contributes to relationship tension. The gambling can also cause conflicts between other people. There can be disagreements over what should be done about the person’s gambling. Only selected family or friends tend to be told about the person’s gambling difficulties and they have to keep this secret.
My dad’s already made it clear and said, “You know this is the last time. You know we can’t help you out again.” Again, I’ve got to keep that in my head as though I know, I can’t. I don’t want my marriage to end because of what I’ve done. This is where it’s sad and upsetting because you think, “Through no fault of my wife’s, I’ve put her in this position.” She’s the innocent one in this. My son’s innocent, my family are all innocent, and yet I’m the one who’s putting the worry and stress and strain on them from no fault of their own.
Gambling can result in arguments and disagreements. Relationships may end or became estranged. Some people separate or divorce. Some no longer have a relationship with their parents and are cut out of their parent’s will.
But it was like, “We’re moving here we don’t want to be around you; you need to sort out yourself.” I was like, “Fair enough.” Then they were like, “Oh, and we’ve changed the will because if anything happens to us, you won’t be able to manage.” I was like, “That was really unnecessary. Even if you had done that, keep it to yourself. I don’t need to know.” It was just, “How many times can you kick me when I’m down?”
Relationship harms can have impacts that are passed from one generation to another. Some people described the long-term impact that gambling had on their relationship with their children or their parents.