The Thin Line between Love and Hate

One night, Paul came to the counseling center with distress. His sharing was unforgettable.

22 years ago, Paul went to Macau casinos and met her. From group to individual activities, from ambiguous to crazily in love, they were clingy. Paul reported that he was willing to give her all of his off work time, energy and money. On many idle days, she dismissed his loneliness. When he was having luck, she gave him reassuring and admiring eye gaze. In the process, she gave him excitement, satisfaction and pleasure that he had never experienced before.

However, she became aloof to Paul as time went by. The more aloof she was, the more Paul want to chase after. At last, she sent him $500k debts. She stole his work capacity and trust from family. At night, he could barely sleep without her and even thought of ending his life sometimes. Paul asked himself in pain that why he was so obsessed with her. I then followed, “what satisfactions did she give you?” Paul was speechless. Since then, Paul determined to avoid her. To keep distance, he decided not to go to Macau again and cut contact with her friends. He even painfully surrendered his financial autonomy and dignity to his family. I asked Paul if he really want to leave her despite all the pain. He replied, “do I have alternatives?”

Paul regularly attended counseling sessions and discovered what her really is. She is gambling. Paul turned from confusion and guilt, to struggle and compliance. Each step was tough.

In the eye of family therapy, the relationship between gambling and gambler was like a couple in love. Gamblers could hardly resist the lover, who always reveals gamblers’ vulnerabilities. There was a thin line between love and hate. As a family or friend, how would you understand the complicated relationship between gambler and this lover? How would you assist gamblers to stay sober and make wise decisions?