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Weighing up the risk - When your loved ones stop supporting you

By: Samantha Hayes (clinical psychology registrar) and Dr Anastasia Hronis (clinical psychologist)

Are your loved one’s starting to comment on your gambling behaviours? Your partner isn’t supportive of your gambling? Feeling judged by your family?

This can feel extremely confronting and can often leave you feeling isolated and wanting to hide your habits. Often it can be hard to hear your partner or family express their concerns about your gambling. It is normal if your first instinct is to be defensive and dismiss them. When our loved one’s comment on our actions, it can often feel personal and can be really uncomfortable. It can bring up feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, anger, remorse, and even desperation. To manage these difficult emotions, it is often easier to push our loved ones away, hide these habits, and/or deny everything, however this often just creates greater strain on our relationships.

It is important to consider if your partner or family are coming from a place of concern and care. Gambling can place a lot of pressure on relationships; time spent away from each other, sensitivity discussing finances, etc. It is essential to consider how your gambling could be affecting your partner or family as ignoring these consequences can lead to greater problems within your relationships. If your partner or family raises their concerns with you:

  • Take a moment to breathe, especially if you are feeling defensive. Your brain will automatically start trying to protect you by going into a defensive mode (e.g., either shutting off or becoming angry and aggressive) as it will feel threatened that someone is trying to take gambling away from you. Taking some deep breaths allows the body to calm down and regulate so you can actually hear and process what your loved one is saying.
  • Allow your loved ones to speak openly and honestly. Allow them to express themselves so you can understand their concerns and then consider whether gambling has become detrimental.
  • Take some time to consider what they have said. Considering someone else’s perspective can be confronting but it allows you to see how it impacts others and the impact on your relationship. Discussing it with other people you trust may also be beneficial to gain other perspectives. Talking to others can also help to develop strategies to reduce or quit gambling and expand your support network.
  • Have an honest discussion with your loved ones, explaining your perspective. Allowing them to understand what you experience, can help them to support you longer term.

Creating a support system around you can be beneficial. Spending more time around people that understand your experiences and support you to reduce or stop gambling can be helpful.

For more support on this topic or any gambling issue you might want to talk about, call Gambler’s Help 1800 858 858.

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