Author Topic: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"  (Read 16496 times)

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britannialamode

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"Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« on: October 24, 2011, 11:14:10 PM »
My boyfriend prefers me to be honest about his past, and when he was 18 years old he was convicted of multiple accounts of car burglary and spent 6 years in prison. I won't go into a long explanation about it, but suffice it to say that he is a changed man - he now respects and obeys the law, and has settled his inner problems that brought him to a place where he was stealing cars for a living. He's now a respectful and respectable person, but so many people judge him right away as soon as it comes out in conversation that instead of spending his early 20's going to college, he was locked up.

Now, I am a young Marketing major who dresses "preppily" and I think that I come across as very well-mannered and friendly... and I have found that people become very judgmental and a bit confrontational when they find out that a "nice girl" like me is involved with a man with a penal history. Sometimes, especially with family, it is hard to convince them that he and my relationship with him deserve respect. It's very frustrating and I become flustered when basically defending my decisions when I've never given indication that I might not have a handle on things.

Has anyone else experienced something like this? How can I better handle the interrogations, disbelief, and prejudice?

britannialamode

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2011, 11:18:25 PM »
btw, I posted this in this thread section because so far, a complete change of subject has really been the only thing that gets the conversation back in a more pleasant direction. Sorry I didn't include that in my first post.

Silversurfer

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2011, 11:28:27 PM »
I see hos that could be tricky!
I think you could either avoid mentioning it and make it clear it is not up for discussion if it does come up.

You could say something like "He made his choices and served his sentence. He does not deserve to have it hanging over his head for the rest of his life."
or "It would be unfair to judge him today on what he did in his youth - surely we have all done our share of mistakes."
or "I am not debating this with you"

britannialamode

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2011, 11:30:56 PM »
You could say something like "He made his choices and served his sentence. He does not deserve to have it hanging over his head for the rest of his life."

That sounds like a very, very good one, thank you! I'll definitely try that one out.

trailgrrl

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2011, 11:38:07 PM »
My best friend is married to a man who gave the wrong 'friend' a ride when he was 18 and is still paying for it into his 40s.  He is a good father to her kids and his own (they have one together).  Jobs are difficult.  When you are a convicted felon, even if you walk the straight and narrow the rest of your life, there are now jobs that are forever out of your reach.

My Friend is the primary provider for the family, her husband while an honest and hard worker is laid off from his construction industry job.  Retail is impossible because of his crime of conviction....over 20 years ago. Regardless of the fact he has never again broken a law.  They live a solid middle class lifestyle, take care of their kids and her aging parents, pay taxes and attend church.

You are with him because not because you are trying to 'fix' him, but because he has already 'fixed' himself and is worthy of your caring.  Once a criminal does not always mean always a criminal. 

My friend had a hard road rel@tionship wise and her husband even with his past warts, has been the best thing that has ever happened to her.


I would raise an eyebrow to anyone who questions your rel@tionshipand ask "why would you ask me something like that?"  unless there is evidence of abuse, no one should have the temerity to question your rel@tionship.

greencat

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2011, 12:13:42 AM »
I'd stick with "He grew up."  It's short and simple and allows for a nice segue into a bean dip about how most of us did at least something extremely stupid (though not necessarily illegal) in our early adulthood.

Diane AKA Traska

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2011, 12:32:35 AM »
"Like the justice and penal system, I believe in second chances once someone has paid their debt to society."
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Miss Understood

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2011, 01:32:44 AM »
I am going to be the voice of dissent here.  Your boyfriend spent the first 6 years of his adult life in prison. That most likely could not be because he "borrowed" a car or something like that; for an 18-year-old to receive that kind of sentence, he must have been convicted of something serious.  Plus, the experience of being in prison for 6 years would in and of itself (even if I thought the inmate were innocent) make me reticent about a romantic relationship.  I'm glad he has cleaned up his act, but I understand why your family thinks you deserve better.

There is a reason why parents constantly caution their children about making bad choices early in life:  those choices can stay with you forever.  Yes, we all do stupid things when we are young and testing our new independence.  Most of us, however, don't end up in prison.  You have to really screw up for that to happen.  This guy will never be able to obtain a college scholarship, any kind of government job, or any job with a company that doesn't hire felons. 

I am sorry to be so negative - I know you like him and want to give him a chance, but please, for your sake, make sure he is worth the effort.  It sounds like you have everything going for you and I would hate to see you squander your potential for a user.

Diane AKA Traska

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2011, 02:12:52 AM »
I am going to be the voice of dissent here.  Your boyfriend spent the first 6 years of his adult life in prison. That most likely could not be because he "borrowed" a car or something like that; for an 18-year-old to receive that kind of sentence, he must have been convicted of something serious.  Plus, the experience of being in prison for 6 years would in and of itself (even if I thought the inmate were innocent) make me reticent about a romantic relationship.  I'm glad he has cleaned up his act, but I understand why your family thinks you deserve better.

There is a reason why parents constantly caution their children about making bad choices early in life:  those choices can stay with you forever.  Yes, we all do stupid things when we are young and testing our new independence.  Most of us, however, don't end up in prison.  You have to really screw up for that to happen.  This guy will never be able to obtain a college scholarship, any kind of government job, or any job with a company that doesn't hire felons. 

I am sorry to be so negative - I know you like him and want to give him a chance, but please, for your sake, make sure he is worth the effort.  It sounds like you have everything going for you and I would hate to see you squander your potential for a user.

Keep in mind this guy is exceedingly honest about the time he spent away.  An unrepentant criminal wouldn't be.
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Phoebelion

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2011, 07:10:39 AM »
I also have to check in on the negative side from personal experience.

My exdh was a convicted criminal and spent 6 years in prison and probation for three.  Also very honest, and told me why he had been put away.

When I filed for divorce, I found out he had been in prison for an entirely different reason than he had told me.  A reason that if I had known the truth, he wouldn't had gotten within a hundred miles of me.

Please be very careful.  Because of the above, I am also very skeptcal that your friend spent that long in prison for car theft.  There had to be other circumstances involved.  Criminals are aslo know to be very chrismatic. 

I'm all for giving people a second chance, but would check under the FOI act to confirm he's telling you the truth of why he was in prison.

I'm not naive anymore.

rashea

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2011, 09:42:23 AM »
I am going to be the voice of dissent here.  Your boyfriend spent the first 6 years of his adult life in prison. That most likely could not be because he "borrowed" a car or something like that; for an 18-year-old to receive that kind of sentence, he must have been convicted of something serious.  Plus, the experience of being in prison for 6 years would in and of itself (even if I thought the inmate were innocent) make me reticent about a romantic relationship.  I'm glad he has cleaned up his act, but I understand why your family thinks you deserve better.


You might be surprised at what could get someone a 6 year sentence.

I firmly believe that the justice system can and often does work. I also firmly believe that it fails regularly for many reasons. The most important is that the system simply cannot try everyone, there isn't the time and funding for it, so many people are pushed into pleading out. I have known people who got off on technicalities, and people who plead out even though I knew they were innocent (one had a whole fire station as witnesses and was still told it would be better to plead out because of the judge he got).

/end tangent

OP, you are choosing to explore a path right now. And I think it's wonderful that you can see that some people do stupid things well beyond the normal stupid things most people do in their late teens/twenties. On the other hand, it pays to watch out for yourself and not start down this path with out a bit of research.

I encourage you to ask him for a copy of his record, and then I encourage you to double check it (run a background check, not just a google check). Think about what it will mean for both of you. For him, it will be harder to find work, or even impossible in this economy. Will you be willing to support him? How will you feel about that, how will he? Are there other consequences?

How was he effected by time in prison? It can be a rough place, it can be an eye-opener, and it can be a place to turn one's life around all at the same time. If he had a rough time, are there long term issues with that?

Are you comfortable with his openness about it? There is a very strong stigma associated with jail time, especially for "blue collar" crimes. How will you handle your family? What will you tell your kids? How will you handle it when your daughter's best friend is no longer allowed to come over because the other parents don't trust your husband?

This is a major obstacle in his life. While it sounds like you are just dating now, this is a good time to think about whether these things will bother you down the road. It may be easier to go back to being friends now if you decide you can't handle or agree on how to approach the issues that will come up.

I don't want to discourage you. (I don't necessarily want to encourage you either) I think you need to think long and hard though. It's not an easy road to walk.
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Vermont

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2011, 09:46:28 AM »
Does the US have a pardon system?  I know Canada does, although I have no idea what kinds of things are permitted to be pardoned.

Might be worth looking into...

As for responses, 'He was young and stupid.  He grew up.'

I've read studies that indicate that full impulse control doesn't completely develop until as late as 25.  Young and stupid is the truth.
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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2011, 10:04:58 AM »
"He doesn't engage in criminal behavior anymore."
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LadyL

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2011, 10:16:45 AM »
My boyfriend prefers me to be honest about his past, and when he was 18 years old he was convicted of multiple accounts of car burglary and spent 6 years in prison.

Now, I am a young Marketing major....

So, your boyfriend is at least 24 (if he is fresh out of prison) or older if he's not. You are a student and describe yourself as young, so you could be anywhere from 18-24. Either way it seems like he is older than you and may have spent more of his adult life inside prison than outside it. I think I may understand people's concern - I know when I was in college I wasn't looking for a lifelong partner, so I had different standards. However, it wasn't a conscious decision, and I didn't really think through the implications - i.e. that if I fell for someone, I was old enough to consider marriage, and therefore probably shouldn't seriously date anyone I wouldn't marry. I got lucky and accidentally fell for LordL, who when we met was not someone I would marry because of his financial outlook on life, but thankfully was willing to get help with it and change so that we could be compatible (and now engaged). A felon cannot change his status. I would think long and hard about where your relationship is going and what you are getting yourself into.

In the mean time, others have good advice about how to beandip your way out of awkward conversations.

Seraphia

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2011, 10:34:45 AM »
I think "He grew up," is an excellent short phrase to end that kind of uncomfortable inquiry, at least from acquaintances.

With family, I think as much as anything, he's going to have to prove himself to them. There's not going to be a lot that you can say that can erase your family's feelings of concern for you, and dating someone with a criminal record is going to raise that concern. Time will prove a lot more than words will as far as his changed behavior goes.
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