As any “Love After Lockup” or “Mob Wives” viewer knows, dating an inmate is a long, hard road with limited calls, and almost no physical contact. Nonetheless, thousands of women seek relationships with prisoners. Why? How far would you go for love? Our Sacred Bombshell blogger Jessica Ruane investigates women who date criminals.

For an incredibly moving account of a brilliant woman from a good family falling in love with someone who society deems a “criminal” read poet Asha Bandele’s The Prisoner’s Wife: A Memoir.

We all know that the prison industrial complex is unjust, classist, racist and more punitive than rehabilitative. We also know that so-called justice is not distributed fairly and many innocent people sit in jail while actual criminals help run countries and corporations. So, these are important things to consider if you are trying to make a decision about dating someone in the penal system. 

Oh – and after the jump, find my video advice from years ago on whether your favorite Passionate Living Coach recommends dating a man who is in jail. If you’re looking for a quick answer, examine your situation and ask yourself what is the most self loving choice that you can make… -aa


Hey Sacred Bombshell,

Jessica here. OK, so I have this friend on Facebook. She is always posting pictures of her new boyfriend. The weird thing is that somehow her man is always in prison. The other weird thing is that she’s always dating a different man. I got to wondering, “How does she keep meeting all these guys that are locked up?”

This curiosity prompted me to Google “How do you write to someone in prison?” A HUGE list of websites came up whose sole purpose is to facilitate romantic relationships between prisoners, and people on the outside.

Let's talk about dating a man in prison...

Prison Pen Pals?

Some of the websites operate under the guise of facilitating pen pals, such as the website WriteAPrisoner while others are more overt like HotPrisonPals.

The websites put up profiles of inmates online, complete with a picture of the inmate. People looking to form a relationship with a prisoner can pursue profiles and contact anyone they’re interested in. It’s basically prison online dating.

Apparently my friend isn’t an anomaly.

There is obviously a sizable market for people who are looking to get involved with men behind bars. While most of the websites feature both male and female inmates, it seems that it is mostly geared towards women looking for male prisoners.

So really, what’s the deal with women who date prisoners?

Prison Wives Diary

::::Order: The Prison Wives Diary by Theresa Zollicoffer



Women Who Love Convicts? Why in the World?

The disadvantages of dating a someone in prison is obvious—for one thing, the person is in PRISON. Your love is an inmate. That means no conjugal visits aka sexy time, no sleeping in the same bed, no going on dates, no going over to each other’s houses, and in some cases, no touching. If you’re dating someone in prison, you can talk on the phone a couple times a day, but it’s expensive and the person on the outside is the one who has to pay for it.

You must go through a private company and pay about $3.00 per call, and you only get to talk for 15 minutes at a time while every 30 seconds a recording sounds off reminding you that you’re talking to an intimate and your call is being recorded. Sounds pretty romantic, huh? You can have visits, but they might not be “contact visits” which means you can only talk to each other through glass.

And yet thousands of women choose to date prisoners instead of “regular” guys.


Doing Time Together

::::Order: Doing Time Together by Megan Comfort



Here are 3 reasons women date men in prison:

1) The Relationship Fantasy.

prison love dating adviceImagination plays a huge part in why women enjoy relationships with inmates. The entire relationship takes place in letters and over the phone. From the women I’ve talked to, much of the conversation revolves around “If you were here, we would be doing [blank] right now.” It’s all speculation and wishing.

According to the Guardian UK, a clinical psychologist, Dr Stuart Fischoff says, the love object [a.k.a prisoner] is “almost irrelevant at this point. He’s a dream lover, a phantom limb”. In other words, in the face of physical absence, one has the space and freedom to “invent” their ideal mate.


2) The Relationship Control.

When a person dates someone in prison, she has the upper hand 100% of the time. Some women who pursue relationships with incarcerated men do so because they may be too controlling or insecure to maintain a healthy relationship with someone on the outside.

For women who date a man in prison, she knows exactly where he is at all times, she knows he won’t cheat because he doesn’t have access to any other women, and she knows that if the relationship were to be terminated, he has more to lose than she does. She goes back to her life on the outside, he returns to his cell having just lost a connection to the outside world.

For women who do not know how to function in a healthy relationship, they find satisfaction in the imbalanced power dynamics of dating an inmate.

Separated by Prison Journal

::::Order: Separated by Prison, A Journal by Prisoners Wives, Girlfriends, and Partners


3) The Relationship Mystery.

While most of us do a criminal history check on guys we want to go out with, some women are inexplicably drawn to men behind bars. Due to the limited amount of contact women can have with their partners, prison relationships can maintain the intoxicating honeymoon element present in the beginning stages of almost every relationship. Because the couple can’t spend enough time together to get bored, the relationship never moves past the courtship stages, and in most cases, the fact that they can’t be together only makes their desire to be with each other that much more intense.

It’s important to remember that every relationship is different, and there are no common factors which will be present in all women who seek out relationships with incarcerated men. Regardless of what leads them to do so, women falling for prisoners is nothing new, and is certainly a cultural phenomenon that deserves more attention and study.

Doing Time Together

Overview of The Prisoner’s Wife: A bright and talented young woman volunteered to read her poetry to a group of prisoners. It was there, in the prison, that she would meet Rashid, the man who was to become her friend, her confidant, her husband, her lover, her soul mate. At the time, Rashid was serving a sentence of twenty years to life for his part in a murder. The Prisoner’s Wife is a tribute to anyone who has ever chosen, against the odds, to love.

:::Order The Prisoner’s Wife by asha bandele



Dating and Relationships : How to Date a Prisoner

[YouTube Link]


Throwback Advice Video for Women Who Love Convicts

[YouTube Link]


Photo: Liz Nikols; Click to order the book.

Photo: Liz Nikols; Click to order the book.



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