Bad Bet

18 Aug

Letterbalm Gambling BoyfriendDear LetterBalm: My boyfriend and I are having serious problems about money. We’ve been seeing each other for almost two years and living together for the past nine months. I thought I knew him well, but now I’m not so sure. My boyfriend’s sister told me that he had really screwed up our finances and didn’t know how to tell me. I confronted him, and he said he had been gambling our combined rent and household money for months. I had to go into my savings to pay our back rent and utilities – we came close to being evicted. I’ve known he has an addiction, I just never thought he’d compromise our life together. My boyfriend has apologized. He says he loves me and swears it won’t happen again. He’s joined Gamblers Anonymous (which he’s done before), and he’s started paying me back from his salary. He’s urging me to put my name on the lease when the current one expires. I’m totally turned off by all this. I worry about our future together, but I feel guilty leaving him.

–Holding the IOUs

This is one time when you must put aside your guilt and do what is best for yourself. You already have seen what a gambling addiction can do – the lies, guilt, theft, financial upheaval – and how difficult it is to eradicate. Your boyfriend not only betrayed your trust by abusing your money, he showed he can’t be trusted as a life partner. Of course you know that under no circumstances should you enter into any financial agreements with him, certainly not a loan or an apartment lease. Ms. L.B. suggests you make plans to move out on your own as soon as you can afford to. When your plans are set, talk with your boyfriend. You want to tell him that you’re giving him time and space to get his house in order (including paying you what he owes you) and deal with his addiction:

Steve, I’m sure you’re not going to be surprised by what I’m going to say. I’ve made plans to move to my own place. With all that we’ve been through this year, you must know it is the right thing to do for both of us. We need time and space to put our lives in order. You need to concentrate on dealing with your addiction and paying your debts to me and others. You may also need private or group counseling. All this will take tremendous effort and willpower, and I don’t want you worrying about me. I’ll still be in your life, but you have different priorities now.

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