DEAR HARRIETTE: I just learned that my boyfriend has a gambling addiction. I had been trying to figure out what was going on. He would get paid and then disappear for days at a time and then always be broke. He is good at making up excuses, like he had to give money to his mother for the doctor or he had to get his car repaired. He has come up with what sound like legitimate reasons to be broke. In fact, they have been so good that I often have given him extra money to help out.
Well, I just saw some of his bills, and he hasn't paid a lot of them for months. Plus, I saw receipts from a casino on several occasions. When I asked him about it, he admitted that he likes to gamble. When I pressed him, he said that he is in debt because of it. What should I do? I thought we were going to be a serious couple and get married, but now I don't know. I can't marry an active gambler. What can I do? -- Dating a Gambler, Jersey City, New Jersey
DEAR DATING A GAMBLER: It's great that your boyfriend told you the truth, at least part of it, about his gambling tendencies. Now it's your turn to put your foot down. Tell him how much you care about him and want him to have a healthy life, and more, that you want to share your life with him. But make it clear that you are unwilling to be committed to him if he doesn't clean up his act. Suggest that he go to Gamblers Anonymous or to some other type of counseling.
You may have to step away from him until he takes action. It often takes an extreme situation for an addict to make a change. You also need to be prepared to walk if he cannot or will not make the effort to transform his life.