LESSONS IN LOVE

‘My fiancé secretly gambled all of our money away till we lost £26,000’

One woman tells Olivia Petter how the love of her life took a risk that meant she lost her entire life’s savings

Friday 26 March 2021 13:52
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hen he told me, my entire body felt hot. Then, I couldn’t catch my breath, and collapsed to the floor. My fiancé had just told me we’d lost £16,000. “There’s a bit more,” he sighed, putting his hand on my shoulder. “I took out a loan from the bank for £10,000 and invested that too; so we’re in debt.” That’s when I started screaming. 

I met Mark in October 2018. We were on an organised group tour around Thailand with a few others. On our first night, we all went out for drinks. Mark sat next to me, and we talked non stop for the next five hours. I’d never met anyone like him before. He seemed so spontaneous and worldly, having travelled to almost every country. It took a few days for things to become flirtatious. One evening, everyone on the tour was talking about sliding into people’s DMs, a phrase I’d never heard until then. I glibly announced that no one had ever slid into my DMs, which probably meant I was too old and unattractive. Mark sent me a DM that night: “I’d quite like to kiss you”.

We were pretty inseparable after that trip. Mark lived with friends in Brighton while I had my own house in Manchester. The distance made things difficult, but he’d come to mine most weekends. We went on lots of holidays together in the first few weeks, I loved how adventurous he was. We went surfing in Portugal, scuba diving in Croatia, and hiking in Slovenia. I paid for everything, which strangely never felt odd at the time. I make good money in my career in recruitment, while Mark made it quite clear early on that, as a musician, he didn’t have a huge amount of disposable income. It just made sense for me to pay. After six months of dating, he was living with me.

It was November 2019 when Mark first mentioned  foreign exchange trading (also known as Forex). We had been engaged for three months by this point. He explained that we could trade currencies against one another, making lots of money as a result, via an online trading platform. I was hesitant; the idea of investing in this way felt like a major gamble to me. But he was pretty insistent. Sensing that he felt a little bereft about not being the breadwinner in our relationship, I resolved that we could give it a try. 

Within two weeks, Mark had made £800. I kept urging him to be cautious, but as the money continued to roll in, he invested more of our savings into it. Eventually, he suggested we invest our wedding fund and the rest of our life savings. It sounds ludicrous looking back. But at the time, he was so convincing and said we could double the money and use it to go travelling around New Zealand, something we’d always dreamed of doing together.

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So I acquiesced, and gave him £10,000 of my savings to invest. He put in £5,000. With our wedding fund, the total came to around £16,000. After we’d invested the money, Mark became obsessed with checking the market. He wouldn’t even leave the house because he was so insistent on constantly seeing what was happening. For a while, it looked like we really were going to make some money. We’d celebrate with a glass of champagne in the evenings whenever the numbers went up. Then coronavirus happened, and almost overnight, the financial markets crashed, taking his foreign exchange investments with it; our money was gone.

I was already in a state when Mark delivered the additional bad news: that not only had we lost our life savings and our wedding fund, but that we now owed the bank £10,000, too.

After that, things between us spiralled pretty quickly. Mark became very aggressive and fell into a deep depression. Living with him in lockdown was hard. He was constantly angry with me, and berated me for leaving the house whenever I tried to get some space. I would try to lighten the mood, either by suggesting we cook together or watch a film, but he’d just shout or say something cruel and go to sleep on the sofa.

Coronavirus happened, and almost overnight, the financial markets crashed, taking his foreign exchange investments with it; our money was gone

I really wanted to be supportive and told him that the money didn’t matter and we’d find a way to work our way back up and build up our savings again. But Mark would barely even look at me let alone engage in a conversation. He just wanted to play video games all day. I resented this at the time, particularly given he was a 36-year-old man, but in hindsight, I don’t blame him. The virtual world was certainly more appealing than our real one.

When we split, I formed a support bubble with my mum. Strangely, despite what Mark had done, she wasn’t angry at him and encouraged me not to be, either. She spoke about how much he had sacrificed to be with me and how much he had lost, both financially and in terms of his sense of self. I feel sorry for him now, I really do. We don’t speak. The last I heard was that Mark had moved back down south and was trying to set up virtual gigs from his friend’s basement flat.

I’m dating someone new. We met on a climbing trip and things seem to be going well. But it’s going to take me a while before I open my heart up to another person again. If anything, this experience has taught me how I’ve been too trusting in the past. The truth is that even though both of my exes behaved terribly, they were ultimately damaged; my mistake was thinking I could fix them.

*some details have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

If you have a story to share for our fortnightly Lessons in Love series, you can do so anonymously by emailing olivia.petter@independent.co.uk

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