There are men and women locked up that want to walk the walk with you, people ready to commit and contribute to your life. Some want other things though, temporary situations with exclusive benefits to them. How to find the right one? While patience, perseverance, transparency and good communication are great, here are a dozen additional points to consider. Good luck and be careful! Why go this route? This is an important step: Are you having no luck in society?
Do you want a situation that more easily justifies your desire to go slowly? Are you working on your self-esteem and, for now, need the safety, additional confidence and security that dating a prisoner might offer?
Whatever your reasons — good or bad, sensible or borderline irrational — knowing and naming them is a huge point to consider for a successful relationship. Know what you bring to the table, what you are lacking and what you expect of the other. This is about knowing yourself and your motives honestly. Do you know others in this situation? Get to know people in a like situation for support. They can empathize with difficulties as they arise and can be leaned on for advice, especially regarding the lopsided, seemingly one-way aspects that come up.
Can you cope with limited contact and other difficulties? How might you manage if there is a change in their release date? The more you know up front, the better prepared you will be.
Ask them what they actually did. It tells you, in part, what to be mindful of. Know what they are doing to change, to better themselves.
Ask not only about their conviction but about the circumstances that led up to their choice. Do they have an out date? Some may find having a partner in such a limited capacity a plus.
Others may want someone weeks from returning to society. I personally would suggest meeting someone with a little bit of time left. Give yourself a minimum of three or more months to get to know this person. There is a reason for discounted prices.
Extra time gives you the best opportunity to get to know them and solidify whatever foundation you can. That may enable you to withstand the weight that goes with their return to society. How do you envision the relationship? Give it a try and see how it goes? Fix the wrongs in your life? Whatever your expectations, be realistic with them. Be mindful that a lot who are getting out have little to no money, and if they do, their immediate goal will most likely be to get situated and stabilize their self.
It is so important to have that talk as soon as possible and to continually update that. What do you expect, anticipate? The response from friends was funny when I showed them this. It depends on the situations. Mainly it is on you to know — how are they living? Remember, you may start your search for a loved one in here, but ideally you want them to come home and stay home.
If going to seg is never their fault, be careful. An inability to be accountable or responsible, combined with poor decision-making, should be further clues. In here, there is time, more time and then extra time to do most of what you want to do. If their time is spent watching all the TV series and talk shows, if they play cards all day, then what aspirations do they have?
If not in here, why out there? Phone conversations and erotic letter writing are ways to gauge if a spark exists. Do they have a preoccupation with sex? Every bit of information is a clue to better knowing your potential partner.
This is one of the safest and earliest ways to test compatibility while still locked up. Who comes to see them? Do they have multiple names there? If they are reluctant to show you their approved visiting list, is there a reason? Perhaps those names are your competition. The same way you are looking for love, others are as well. All prisoners have access to their list, so ask for a copy. Do they stay in contact with family? Are they estranged from them? What level of contact do they have?
Some families lacked closeness prior to the person coming to prison. In other situations, the separation was a direct correlation to their behaviors. Did they sell the family television? Did they steal silverware, jewelry, the family dog? If unable to mend family ties, if they lack the desire to do so, those could be indicators.
People who have more support and connections tend to do better upon release, giving you and your relationship one less struggle to manage. Is this person who they represent? What are the subtle and glaring misrepresentations? We all have them, even in the free world. Women have their hair extensions and whatever other enhanced aspects to them and men do as well.
It could be as simple as faking fashion sense and style. Do you really know about their hygiene habits? Are they who they say they are? In here there are many ways to make money, selling artwork and the such, but another one is letter writing. Do they have obligations when getting out?
Be sure your relationship is two-way. Hopefully, these tips help. Love can be found anywhere, and with work, it can flourish. Be mindful and be careful. Have realistic expectations and be wary. There are scammers and those with a limited capacity to truly know others on a deeper level. No matter how mindful you are, there will be challenges.
Matthew Walker is serving 15 years in Minnesota for criminal sexual misconduct. Matthew Givon Walker