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Dating someone whos been to jail Should I Date An Ex Criminal? | MadameNoire

September 23, 2014 ‐ By Abiola Abrams

Love Lesson: Should you date somebody who was in prison?

So you meet someone interesting, start dating and then he confesses to you that he has a prison record. Is this someone you can trust? Should you continue to date him?

A few years ago, one of my reality TV guilty pleasures was the VH1 show “Mob Wives.” The hot buttered mess of a show follows a group of Staten Island women whose fathers, husbands and boyfriends are all currently or formerly incarcerated. One plot-line has the women trying to figure out whether they should continue to date shady convicts and ex-cons.

Here’s an advice question I recently received:

Dear Abiola, I have been dating this guy for a few months. I really like him and I have already introduced him to my kids. I’ve met his kids and everybody seems to be getting along. I recently met someone who knew him “back in the day” and she reveled to me that my boyfriend has a criminal past. Not only was he a known criminal in his old neighborhood, but he even served time in prison. I never saw myself as dating someone who has been in jail at this point in my life. What should I do?

I told a friend that I was answering this question here today and she asked, is this really what we have come to as women?

A few people said the same thing last month when we posted an . We are a judgment-free zone. If this is something our readers need to know, we are here to help. My job is to give you the advice and information you need to know to live your best life; so here’s the answer.

No one looks down at their smiling baby girl and hopes that one day she will grow up and date a felon. Unfortunately, according to the advocacy group , “The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails — a 500% increase over the past thirty years.” Five hundred percent more people are incarcerated now than around the time most of us were kids or just being born. That’s insane. Add in the fact that we live in the era of the prison industrial complex amd the startling and upsetting fact that according to the , “If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime.”

With these factors, if you count African American men as your dating pool then there are strong odds that your great man could be on the unfortunate side of these troubling statistics. However, the majority of black men are not criminals. It seems ridiculous to have to state this but I wanted to be clear.

As we , these numbers can be attributed to any number of soci-economic factors including the fact that African Americans are treated differently by the legal system for the same crimes and behaviors. Nonetheless, your dating life is not a political cause, you are presumably just seeking a wonderful person who will love, honor, and cherish your gorgeousness for the sacred bombshell you are! So what’s the deal?

Here are 7 factors to consider about whether to date someone with a criminal record. The most important thing to know is that empowered women know that they are worthy of being loved by honest and positive men. You deserve to have someone in your life who makes your life better, not worse.

Ask yourself these questions if you are wondering whether to date a man who has been in jail. (Please note, I say “he” here, but your beloved ex-con can be of any gender or orientation.)

1. What was the crime committed?

Did your potential boyfriend jaywalk and then talk back to a police officer, earning him a night in the jail? Or did he go to prison after starting an arson fire in a rage? These are two drastically different situations, each revealing different character traits. Find out exactly what the crime was before rushing to judgment. Someone who littered and a person who commits murderer are two different people.

However, if this person is a “bad boy” who is bent on causing trouble and living beyond the law, you have to ask yourself what you can live with. Why would you subject yourself or your family to this kind of stress? Anyone who regularly causes trouble or acts out can put you in harm’s way. Remember, rule number one is always that you deserve to be happy and in a healthy relationship.

2. When was the crime committed?

If your boyfriend is now 40 years old and he was a juvenile offender at age 15, you don’t want to necessarily hold this against him. Everyone has character blemishes. Keep your wits about you, get the facts, and be open to hearing the whole story. Is the crime indicative of who they are now or who they were? I certainly don’t want to be judged for who I was 20 years ago. Do you?

3. How much time was served in prison?

Prison rarely rehabilitates anyone. Most people in jail only learn how to become better criminals. Again, there is a big difference between someone spending the night in prison and a hardened criminal who just came home from a fifteen-year stint in the slammer. If it is the latter, I would probably advise you to run.

4. What does he feel about this crime now?

Is this person remorseful? Does he regret what happened or does he feel bad that he got caught? If he is still feel like things are everyone else’s fault, that is a bad sign. Evolved adults take responsibility for their lives and their actions. Does this person have a victim mentality or own up to the fact that he committed a crime?

5. Has he undergone therapy?

Has this person worked on removing the belief system that made them commit the crime to begin with? For example, anyone with a history of violence against women will continue with these issues in different forms unless receiving some sort of treatment. Again, prison alone should not be considered as a source of rehabilitation. American prisons are largely about punishment, not redemption. It doesn’t matter what this person’s history is. No one should ever humiliate or belittle you. We all have the ability to rise and shine but the best predictor of past behavior is often future behavior UNLESS a person takes action to interrupt patterns of behavior.

6. What is the current legal fallout from the situation? 

So, where is he now regarding the case? Is he out on bail? Does he need to check in with a parole officer? Is he on probation with a curfew?

There are some cases where you should just run. While we want to believe in the best for everyone, not every person is able to be rehabilitated. If you have even the slightest bit of doubt, then it is time bid your prison lover a fond adieu, especially if you have children.

7. Is this person open and honest about what happened?

In the case of the woman who sent me the advice letter, her partner was not open or honest. She learned about his criminal past from an acquaintance. This is another red flag. While, none of us should be judged by our pasts, you should always be open about your life to a potential life partner. This doesn’t hinder your fresh start, but lets you both start off strong, knowing that you’re truly in it together. A man who is not honest about his past will probably be dishonest about other things as well.

The real deal.

You can love somebody but you must always love yourself more.

Don’t ever introduce anyone to your children until you know who they really are. Always run a full criminal background check no matter what they say. While our objective is not to judge, we want you to have a sense of security. You deserve to feel good in love and be safe in all ways — mentally, spiritually and physically. I see you shining and in a hot, happy, healthy relationship.

Good luck!

 

Catch up on Abiola’s Love Class

Passionate Living Coach Abiola Abrams is the author of “,” nominated for an African American Literary Award in self-help. She gives extraordinary women inspiring advice on healthy relationships, self-esteem and getting the love we deserve. You’ve seen her love interventions in magazines from Essence to Ebony and on shows from MTV’s “Made” to the CW Network’s “Bill Cunningham Show.” Abiola is also the creator of the African Goddess Affirmation Cards. Tweet @abiolaTV.

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