How Does Gambling Affect Relationships?

Has your companion recently started gambling? Or has their existing participation in casino gaming and/or sports betting increased significantly over the last year or so? If so, you may be concerned and left wondering; how does gambling affect relationships? The fact that you’ve joined thousands of romantically involved Americans who ponder this same query every month infers that it has already had a notable impact.

To help you prepare for what may come, we have put together a list of ways a relationship can be affected when a partner has a problematic relationship with gambling. But before we get to that (below) it’s important to identify whether or not your companion is vulnerable to developing gambling disorder. People who tend to have a complicated relationship with gambling include the following:

  • People with pre-existing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • People with bipolar disorder
  • People with schizophrenia
  • People who use certain medications to manage psychological disorders
  • People with a family history of gambling disorder
  • Military veterans with PTSD and active military servicepersons (view more)
  • Elite athletes and other competitive risk-takers (view more)

There are also age and gender factors (males aged between 18-34) at play, which when combined with any of the above can further complicate one’s relationship with gambling. Simply put, if your habitually gambling partner identifies with any of the above vulnerabilities you most certainly need to read ahead.

7 Ways Romantic Relationships Can Be Ruined When a Partner Has a Gambling Problem

Loss of Shared Interests

One of the symptoms of problematic casino gaming and sports betting is a loss of interest in other activities that the compromised individual once enjoyed. When gambling consumes nearly every thought, there is no room left for interests and activities that were once enjoyed together as a couple. Even Sunday nights of cuddling-up to binge watch HBO gets replaced by building parlays based on the upcoming week of the sports betting calendar.

Loss of Trust

Another symptom of problem gambling is lying to loved ones, especially romantic companions who may question whether or not their partner was at the casino or blew through their paycheck on the week’s lineup of NFL games. Once lying becomes commonplace in a relationship, the ship begins to sink.

Loss of Intimacy

The aforementioned loss of interest in shared activities includes those that would normally occur in the bedroom. However, we’re not just talking about interest in sex here, but an actual inability to perform. Research has identified a number of physical consequences of gambling, which includes a loss of libido. This occurs in the following ways:

  • Problem gambling creates adrenaline and cortisol imbalances
  • Problem Gambling can result in sleep deprivation which can lead to reduced sexual desire and arousal
  • Concurrent (with gambling disorder) psychological factors disrupt sexual performance

Learn more about gambling and sex drive problems, and how gambling is related to erectile dysfunction.

Shared Debt

It should come as no surprise that 35% of Americans hold finances accountable for the stress they experience in their relationships. Given that debt is one of the primary consequences (if not an epidemic) of problem gambling, married, common law, or other partners with shared finances will feel the burden of problem gambling. There are numerous cases reported across America that provide examples of how a gambler’s debt, and even embezzlement/theft to cover debt, has directly affected a spouse or partner with respect to financial loss and liability.

Emotional Abuse

When a problem gambler suffers inevitable losses and/or they are asked by their partner to abstain from casino gaming or sports betting, the tend to get irritable and ill-tempered. This response often manifests in the form of verbal and emotional abuse of their romantic partner.

Physical Abuse

In more extreme cases, a cantankerous mood due to gambling losses or abstinence (at the request of a partner) can take a more dangerous turn and manifest as physical abuse of a partner. Keep in mind that men with gambling disorder are more likely than their peers to have endured childhood traumas like physical abuse or violence at home. Should this be the case, the risk of physical abuse increases even further.

Separation and Divorce

All of the ways problem gambling can affect relationships that we have detailed above can derail a romantic union forevermore. The statistics regarding gambling and divorce speak for themselves, with one study finding that 65% of marriages where one partner has a gambling problem end in divorce. Whether in a marriage, common law relationship, or other romantic union, problem gambling can lead to permanent ruin. If the relationship is worth saving, reach out via the contacts provided below to discuss couples counseling and problem gambling therapy.

Disclaimer: If you have experienced (or live under the threat of) physical violence due to a partner’s gambling habit, remove yourself from harm’s way immediately before making any attempt to “fix” the relationship. Alert the authorities as needed.

Is Gambling Putting Your Relationship at Risk?

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Gambling and Divorce