My boyfriend / my girlfriend is in prison: how to hold on?

Dating a prisoner isn’t easy every day. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is incarcerated, the force of things wants you to have a long-distance relationship from now on. But what exactly does this represent? In most cases: Weeks punctuated by the expectation of being able to meet again in the visiting room, and a mind invaded by fears. Judgments from others too. What to do then, and how to maintain distance in this particular case of a long-distance relationship? Here are 7 tips for women and men of prisoners.

Long-distance romantic relationship with an inmate: what to do?

Incarcerated Partner: It’s Not Your Fault

Being the wife or husband of a prisoner often leads to guilt. ‘ I wouldn’t have believed him capable of this, maybe I didn’t know him ‘, ‘ I could have avoided his actions, if I had been more careful ‘, ‘ I should have seen that something was wrong ‘ ‘wasn’t going to ‘… these thoughts may haunt you, but are not justified .

None of this is your fault: everyone can only be responsible for their own actions …even if it is a hard truth to accept. It may take some time for you to realize this. So I repeat: you have no responsibility for what happened. It’s not your fault . When you are ready to accept this idea, things will only be easier to live with…

There is no point in rewriting history in your head dozens and dozens of times: the only solution is to move on .

“My boyfriend / my girlfriend is in prison”: Should we break up?

Moving forward, yes, but which path to take? This question is difficult, and has as many answers as there are situations. The most important thing is to be clear with yourself so that you have no regrets . Take the time to discuss with your partner, to share your fears and your questions without reserve. You will then have all the cards in your hands to make your choice for yourself. Sometimes a breakup is the best option.

Because yes, it is possible to have a long-distance relationship with an inmate , but to do so you have to know your limits. Take the time to reflect, and ask yourself the right questions:

  • How long will my partner stay in jail? Am I able to last as long as a couple at a distance?
  • Why is my boyfriend/girlfriend being detained ? Am I able to continue dating him/her knowing this in my soul and conscience?
  • Is his detention a major obstacle to my ambitions? Or am I able to combine the two? 
  • Would I receive enough support, from my partner and those around me? Otherwise, it can be a heavy burden to bear…
  • Do I still see myself in this relationship? Am I convinced that even without this incarceration, we wouldn’t have gone very far together? That we don’t/no longer correspond?
  • How am I going to experience the sexual lack caused by prison? In the event of a long prison sentence, would my spouse agree to let me have affairs? Would I just want it?
  • Am I sure that once released from prison, my partner will remain attached to our relationship? How long were we together? Unfortunately there are betrayals

Think about your well-being above all else

If this situation weighs you down too much, it is important that it does not lead to your downfall. Don’t become a prisoner of your life and situation yourself, as many prisoners’ wives are. Many people who live with an inmate as a boyfriend/girlfriend end up closing in on themselves, out of shame to talk about it around them, or because the loneliness becomes too much to bear. This can lead to cases of depression.

Also pay attention to your instincts and your feelings : if your gut tells you that something is wrong with this situation, that the relationship will not last or will make you unhappy, take stock with yourself and talk to your partner. 

Many testimonies from prisoners’ wives explain that after a while, their whole life revolved around the prison, patiently waiting for the weekend to find their partner in the visiting room… Try to be careful to “have a life outside prison”. Do activities, spend time with your friends, and don’t sacrifice all your desires or all your most cherished ambitions for your relationship. Here are some tips for overcoming loneliness .

Stay surrounded without fearing the gaze of others

Being in a relationship with an inmate is not inevitable. However, the gaze of others can be difficult to manage… What to say to family, friends, other mothers who are waiting for their children in front of school? These questions can become overwhelming. Therefore, one can feel really alone in a difficult situation.

Do not neglect the possibility of consulting a psychologist : there is nothing wrong with that, and it is essential to be well surrounded in difficult times. As it is difficult to talk openly about your romantic relationship with an inmate with family or friends, consulting a neutral person such as a psychologist is essential.

There are also free telephone numbers (as in France SOS Amitié, Fil Santé Jeunes)… which you can contact when things go wrong. And why not contact other prisoners’ wives/husbands to help you, or join an association ?

Communicate with your partner in prison

To make your relationship last, it is crucial to keep a connection , prison or not. Try to see each other in the visiting room when possible, to exchange letters , love letters … also little words or drawings. Even if you can’t see each other every day, the love can continue to exist, and even increase. But this will not happen without communication!

Discussion is the basis of any couple. Talk about your daily moments, what you did without each other, but also about your problems and your fears (otherwise you will end up imploding!). It’s all about being honest with your spouse.

If there are times when you really want to say something to your partner but they aren’t around, you can write down everything that pops into your head . This will free you up in the moment, and then bring it to your next visit.

Love met in prison: a special case

Sometimes love stories are born in prison. This may be because you were previously incarcerated in the same place, or because you had the opportunity to work there. Sometimes also because we already knew the person before and the feelings were born while she was in prison, over the discussions in the visiting room and the letters exchanged. Sometimes also, we met this person on social networks (mobile phones can circulate in the prison environment)…

This very special situation to live in has almost the same set of constraints , with one difference: you know the rules of the game in advance. If you are in love with someone in prison, you already know exactly what awaits you. The situation will therefore surely seem more bearable to you! In which case the foundations of this nascent long-distance relationship will be more stable and healthier.

Prison: There is an “after”

Regardless of why your boyfriend or girlfriend ends up in jail today, it’s important to remember that this situation is only temporary . Of course, that won’t erase the reasons why your significant other had to go in the first place, provided they will have served their sentence. 

Once the time of the sentence has elapsed, no one has the right to call into question his release from prison: an inmate who has served his time has earned his release fairly. He deserves to be treated as a whole person, and to be reintegrated into society. Although this is easier said than done and judgmental looks will linger, you can proudly stand by her side. Tell you that yes, he/she may have done something stupid in the past, but that it’s time to wipe the slate clean. To get there, it is important not to fall into these dreadful mistakes often made in long-distance relationships , which are the cause of many evils.

And you, are you in a relationship with an incarcerated person? What advice would you give to better cope with this particular situation on a daily basis?

Author: Erika

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *