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Rebuilding trust after gambling

By: Dr Anastasia Hronis (Clinical Psychologist)

Trust is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship, be it with a partner, family member, or friend. However, when gambling becomes an issue, it can severely strain and even break the bonds of trust that hold these relationships together. In this article, we will explore how to navigate the impact of harmful gambling on relationships, and how to rebuild through open communication, honesty and consistent behaviour.

Having a difficult relationship with gambling is not just a personal struggle. It can affect many other people in a gambler’s life. Close loved ones can feel anger, disappointment, fear and betrayal. When gambling becomes particularly harmful, it can result in people hiding and even lying about their gambling and spending. Loved ones can sometimes feel powerless, frustrated, resentful, and unsure of how to help.

Rebuilding trust after gambling can require some time, effort and commitment from both parties. It’s a gradual process and should be treated with sensitivity and respect. Consider the following steps to rebuild the trust and relationship.

1. Acknowledge the harm.

The first step to rebuilding trust involves acknowledging the impact that gambling has had both on the individual and on the relationship. A gambler must take responsibility for their actions and recognise the harm they may have caused to others, even if that harm has been unintentional.

2. Open communication.

Honest and open communication is essential for rebuilding trust. It will foster a healthy relationship moving forward. Both people need to feel safe to express their feelings and concerns, without judgement or criticism. If this feels overwhelming, a couple’s therapist can also help.

3. Share a recovery plan.

It is important to have a plan as to how someone may change their relationship with gambling, and whether the goal is to stop gambling or reduce gambling. Sharing this plan with a loved one can help rebuild trust and repair the relationship. It can also be important to communicate around the progress with this plan, and discuss if there are any times that this might feel harder to stick to.

4. Patience and forgiveness.

Rebuilding trust takes time and setbacks are common. Both people should practice patience and forgiveness along the way. Healing from the wounds caused by gambling requires compassion and understanding, to both ourselves and others.

Rebuilding trust after issues with gambling can be challenging, but it is certainly achievable. It requires commitment to open communication, honesty and consistent behaviour. If you are struggling with your gambling or would like support to help rebuild trust in your relationships with loved ones, the Gambler’s Help line can assist on 1800 858 858 or visit our Find Support page for more options.


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