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Author Topic: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"  (Read 18039 times)

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WillyNilly

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2011, 11:01:53 AM »
I'm not going to touch the idea of whether  you should or should not be dating this guy - I think PP brought up some legitimate thinking points for you.

But onto your issue, I think with family and close friends you should sit down a talk about it.  Don't just give a one-off answer or bean dip.  Avoiding the conversation with the people who are close to you will make you appear naive and uninformed and as though you aren't taking his past seriously.  They have legitimate concerns - grand theft auto is a big deal, and his past will haunt him forever.

If it were me I would begin with a discussion about what punishment means and when it ends.  Your BF broke the law, and paid for his crime in the way our society has deemed appropriate - jail time and record.  When does his sentence end?  Why are your friends and family not satisfied with the sentence he served?  When you were a kid and you got in trouble and were grounded, was the grounding over when it was over, or were you expected to continue to be punished indefinitely?  Why should this be different?  And if it should be different are these people (your friends and family) out there voting to increase prison terms?  Or do they think a crime can be paid for in time and then, forgiven, if not forgotten?

I would go into this conversation calmly, and well informed with information, both general (standard sentencing, etc) and specific to your BF (did he use his time in prison to get an education or learn a trade?  Does he now do outreach to troubled youths to keep them from the same path?)  Listen to their concerns and questions and answer honestly and calmly. 

You don't have to come around to their thinking, nor they to yours, but part of having productive relationships with friends & family is listening to their concerns and trying your best to understand even if you don't agree.

I think if you truly address their issues and allow them the opportunity to ask questions and get answers without you bean dipping, they will be a lot more receptive to the idea of you dating a former felon.  They may never love the idea, but they might understand your side a bit better.

HeebyJeebyLeebee

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2011, 11:24:05 AM »
My ExH has a very serious conviction on his record.  He told me of it when we were getting serious, and I went into that relationship with completely open eyes.  To his credit, he turned himself in and was a model inmate.  He was on probation when we were dating, and his probation officer praised him highly.  I had become close with his family and friends, and they all encouraged our relationship and he has a great support network.  I was honest with my parents about the situation, and the 4 of us (me, ExH, Mom and Dad) all decided to put ExH's past firmly in the past and not share that information with my family.

However, this is something that continues to affect ExH in many ways.  It will always be hard for him to get a job, certain career opportunities are gone, and he can even be denied a house or apartment lease because of his past.  He will always struggle. 

Though his past is not the official reason we divorced, I believe it was a contributing factor for him.  He always felt guilty that he would never be able to provide the life he thought I wanted. 

My ExH is a good man, and we are still good friends. 

My 2nd (current) DH's cousin was married to a man who had a grand theft auto conviction.  He used the conviction as an excuse to fail.  He blamed all the bad things in his life on his conviction.  He couldn't get a job because of the conviction.  He couldn't get a loan because of the conviction.  He couldn't be a good husband because of the conviction.  He couldn't be a good father because of the conviction.  He gave up on life because of the conviction.  Eventually, DH's cousin left him.  She was tired of the excuses.  Tired of always shouldering his burden.  Tired of being the strong one.  Tired of having all the responsibility for their family on her.  She's now in a good relationship with a very nice man.  Her kids like her new BF, and so does the family. 

OP, my advice is to take a long had look at your BF and look at the sort of man he is.  How does he handle responsibility?  How does he handle consequences?  If you decide that he's the kind of man you want to be with, then be with him.  But don't share is past with everyone - that only opens you up to questions and concerns.  It's better to just avoid that conversation in the first place if it's one you don't want to have.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2011, 12:35:00 PM by HeebyJeebyLeebee »
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O'Dell

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2011, 11:50:54 AM »
   I'm going to be the other voice of dissent .....stop talking about it so much, there is a difference between honest and being  frankly confrontational.  Telling everyone you met something many reasonable people can be very judgemental about is confrontational. ...." hi nice to met you .  I should tell you at 18 I shoplifted , I was arrested an on probation for 2 years. I like to be upfront and honest about it" should not come up(expect with SO and potential employers) I understand that 6 years recently in prison is harder to converse around then probation.

Ditto.
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DavidH

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2011, 01:28:23 PM »
I think the best option is not to bring it up.  If someone asks straight out, there is no reason not to be honest, but try to avoid the topic otherwise.  For example, where did you go to college can be answered with I didn't right after HS, but I'm doing XYZ now.  Or, did you start working right after school, can be answered with I had a rough time for a while and now I'm doing XYZ.
If they ask what you did, saying you fell in with the wrong crowd but are back on track now is certainly true without providing needless details.  If they press, for more, you can always discuss it. 

I would encourage you to carefully weigh the pros and cons of the relationship.

For ways to handle your family, one thing I would suggest is that you think calmly about why this is the right relationship and how you can explain that to them clearly.  Getting flustered suggests to them that you haven't thought it through and will just encourage them to question you more.  Justifying that he's worthy because you wouldn't be with someone who wasn't is probably going to make them worry more since it doesn't suggest that you've thought it through at all.

Questions you might consider include, what is he doing now that suggest he has reformed and is worthy of your time?  How has he settled his inner problems that brought him to the place to steal cars for a living?

I can see how it concerns people to find out that he wasn't in prison for a single poorly thought out incident, e.g. going joyriding, but rather for an ongoing pattern of behavior. 


LadyL

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2011, 01:39:16 PM »
It speaks volumes about a person that they are so quick to deem a felon "unworthy" of a "normal" girl.

I think if this is the tack you are taking with people whose feedback includes anything besides glowing sunshine about your relationship, you are going to continue to encounter resistance. You're essentially saying "he's worth my time because I said so." On the list of relationship red flags I would have to put felon right up there with a recovering addict, in that no it doesn't make you a bad person, but it does mean "proceed with extreme caution" when considering the person as a relationship partner. I would expect that person to be vetted with more scrutiny than someone with no such "baggage" and if a friend or relative didn't seem like they'd done so, you bet your behind I'd question their choice - purely out of love for them, not because I have some morally superior attitude about people dating felons, addicts, etc.

WillyNilly

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2011, 01:55:59 PM »
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 requested to see his arrest record and the court documents, which he immediately provided for my review. Multiple accounts of vehicle theft and burglary, never any violence, drugs, or other law violations.

I think you need to be prepared as well, as hard and perhaps hurtful as it may be, that even if your friends and family do come around to accepting and even liking him, many will have trust issues with him being in their homes, and if you should ever marry him, legally attached to family money.

They might be ok with seeing you two on neutral or your turf, but be uncomfortable with him in their homes.  Anyone who has ever been burglarized (home or vehicle) can surely attest to the deep sense of violation that felt as a result.  Even more then loosing the stuff, its the sense of having one's space violated and disrespected, and the huge hassle they then have to go through.  Its not like you just call and have a quick chat with a super friendly cops, its a long annoying frustrating process with overworked and often none to cheerful cops, paperwork, insurance hoops to jump through, delays, misinformation, etc. (One thing many people misunderstand about car theft is, often if the car is recovered, there is no insurance - even if the car has been damaged, is abandoned far away, etc - nothing.  The car was found - the owners have to arrange to get to it even if its 100 miles away, they are responsible for repairs, etc.  Sometimes a car is found significantly later - and the owner has to then repay the insurance company, etc.  In many car theft situations the worst thing that can happen is if the car is found.)

No matter how much of a turn around your BF might have made, just knowing he probably put someone through all that, many people might not ever truly trust him.  If you marry him, your parents might insist on a pre-nump and separate bank accounts or else not ever help you financially or be as generous as they might have otherwise been.  People might be uncomfortable having him over for parties where he could wander off unnoticed into another room.

I'm not bringing this up to discourage you.  In fact I personally do believe once a sentence is paid, its paid and the person's debt to society has been fulfilled.  But these are simply points for you to bear in mind, so when you are dealing with negativity towards him, you can understand better.  Because the better you understand their stances, the better you are to deal with them politely and effectively. 

In fact as a marketing student, this whole situation is great personal project - how can you "market" your relationship as a positive thing?  Its excellent practice for future products you might have to up-sell despite having a few not so great qualities to them. ;D
« Last Edit: October 25, 2011, 02:00:10 PM by WillyNilly »

shhh its me

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #21 on: October 25, 2011, 02:50:44 PM »
I understand that 6 years recently in prison is harder to converse around then probation.

Yeah, that's what brings it up. When people meet him, they almost immediately ask about college education, etc. I told him I thought that working around such questions would be for the best, but he really doesn't like the idea of hiding who he is. I try to do it as much as possible (working around the questions), but whenever he meets someone, he's upfront about it when the conversation leads to it. It's not like he says, "Oh hi, I'm _____ and I'm a convicted felon."

Admittedly I over simplified that exchange but this is a choice. My point is very simpler almost every person has something they don't disclose upon first metting someone. It's none of their business,once you/he make it their business ...well you see what's happening.  Forget about prison for a second , how long after meeting someone do you wait to talk about the worst thing you have ever done?   I feel I didn't clarify , what I meant by conformational .....by saying soon after metting someone " I was in prison" it is almost a challenge " WELL are you going to judge me huh? are you ?" . I don't know that is completely reasonable to not finish the conversation....I regret it , I learned from it , this is how I have changed and most importantly here is the proof I have changed. I also don't know that it's reasonable to not to expect to have to prove it with more then words.   Etiquette does allows for "shunning" a person biased on their proven actions. " I chose to be a car thief"(I'm stating the conclusion here not his actual phrasing) is something you have to work to overcome. It's not just about prison from big to small things....." I cheated on my spouse, I used do drugs, I used extremely promiscuous, I used to lie all the time, I used to be chronically late ,  I double dip my chips ;). All o these are pubic declaration " this is who I was" everyone will the this is who part not everyone will believe the was , strictly based on your word and the first time "I used to be chronically late is " is 3 minutes late people will be more concerned then " I am very consensus about time".  Once you(general you) say who you are people are allowed to react to your own declarations ....Maybe someone else can say it better.  I don't think harassing you about it is appropriate according to etiquette, but I think it is predictable.

OP I think the only that will stop comments and suspicion is time , that or cutting everyone off.  Most adults I know would find it unreasonable to hold against a 40  years old a conviction (for a nonviolent offence) when they were 18, this is assuming nothing has happened since then. A year , even two after a six year prison stint many many people will still be very leery.  Your family and friends also have a valid point everything will be harder for him possible forever.  Landlords don't have to rent to him , he can't vote , he can not be employed in certain fields (not employees refusing to hire him but not legally allowed to work in fields) and of course there are all the people who will chose not to hires based on this conviction. Back ground checks are much easier to run now then they were 5, 10 or 20 year as ago. Some people will come around in time some people never will.

May I ask how long has it been?

Gabrielle

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2011, 05:36:21 PM »
I understand that 6 years recently in prison is harder to converse around then probation.

Yeah, that's what brings it up. When people meet him, they almost immediately ask about college education, etc. I told him I thought that working around such questions would be for the best, but he really doesn't like the idea of hiding who he is. I try to do it as much as possible (working around the questions), but whenever he meets someone, he's upfront about it when the conversation leads to it. It's not like he says, "Oh hi, I'm _____ and I'm a convicted felon."

Admittedly I over simplified that exchange but this is a choice. My point is very simpler almost every person has something they don't disclose upon first metting someone. It's none of their business,once you/he make it their business ...well you see what's happening.  Forget about prison for a second , how long after meeting someone do you wait to talk about the worst thing you have ever done?   I feel I didn't clarify , what I meant by conformational .....by saying soon after metting someone " I was in prison" it is almost a challenge " WELL are you going to judge me huh? are you ?" . I don't know that is completely reasonable to not finish the conversation....I regret it , I learned from it , this is how I have changed and most importantly here is the proof I have changed. I also don't know that it's reasonable to not to expect to have to prove it with more then words.   Etiquette does allows for "shunning" a person biased on their proven actions. " I chose to be a car thief"(I'm stating the conclusion here not his actual phrasing) is something you have to work to overcome. It's not just about prison from big to small things....." I cheated on my spouse, I used do drugs, I used extremely promiscuous, I used to lie all the time, I used to be chronically late ,  I double dip my chips ;). All o these are pubic declaration " this is who I was" everyone will the this is who part not everyone will believe the was , strictly based on your word and the first time "I used to be chronically late is " is 3 minutes late people will be more concerned then " I am very consensus about time".  Once you(general you) say who you are people are allowed to react to your own declarations ....Maybe someone else can say it better.  I don't think harassing you about it is appropriate according to etiquette, but I think it is predictable.

OP I think the only that will stop comments and suspicion is time , that or cutting everyone off.  Most adults I know would find it unreasonable to hold against a 40  years old a conviction (for a nonviolent offence) when they were 18, this is assuming nothing has happened since then. A year , even two after a six year prison stint many many people will still be very leery.  Your family and friends also have a valid point everything will be harder for him possible forever.  Landlords don't have to rent to him , he can't vote , he can not be employed in certain fields (not employees refusing to hire him but not legally allowed to work in fields) and of course there are all the people who will chose not to hires based on this conviction. Back ground checks are much easier to run now then they were 5, 10 or 20 year as ago. Some people will come around in time some people never will.

May I ask how long has it been?

I believe the OP mentioned it has been 2 years now, which would make the BF 26. If I have read this wrong then my apologies.
However if a friend or relative of mine started dating someone who had spent almost a quarter of their life in jail, then you can bet I would be extremely concerned.
I think everyone understands that a felon can change. I think though that most people find it hard to believe that a convicted felon would do a complete 180 shift within 2 years of jail. It must be so frustrating to endure but I don't know if you can expect people to not be (at first) extremely concerned.

If all else fails OP, in 10 years you can be the one saying "I told you so" to those who thought it wouldn't work out.

lollylegs

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2011, 03:52:28 AM »
I'm not going to touch the idea of whether  you should or should not be dating this guy - I think PP brought up some legitimate thinking points for you.

But onto your issue, I think with family and close friends you should sit down a talk about it.  Don't just give a one-off answer or bean dip.  Avoiding the conversation with the people who are close to you will make you appear naive and uninformed and as though you aren't taking his past seriously.  They have legitimate concerns - grand theft auto is a big deal, and his past will haunt him forever.

(Bolding mine) Have you done this OP? I can understand why your loved ones might be concerned if you've sort of dropped the information on them without providing any extra information. My own brother is a reformed criminal so I know how people can change, but if one of my friends was like, "New Boyfriend spent six years in jail and here, have some bean dip," I would be worried; but if that friend said, "I just thought I'd let you know that New Boyfriend spent six years in jail. He was completely honest about it and showed me his record," I wouldn't be so worried.

Whevever possible, I would highly recommend sitting people down individually and having a one on one discussion, allow them to ask questions and address their concerns. If they still make snide remarks, well, PPs have provided some good responses.

TurtleDove

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2011, 10:40:16 AM »
OP, I think you have gotten some good advice on this thread.  I fully believe that you are happy in your relationship now, but I do think your friends and family have some valid concerns if this is more than a fling, which is sounds like it is.  Your BF will be restricted in what he is able to do FOR LIFE, and this may restrict what YOU are able to do FOR LIFE if you marry or have children with him. 

I agree, though, that if you are not willing to hear what your friends and family's concerns are, you should keep the information about him being a felon to yourself. 

rashea

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Re: "Your boyfriend is a felon? Why are you with him?"
« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2011, 11:01:45 AM »
OP, it sounds like you're good in your relationship for now, but may need to do some further thinking about what it could mean if this becomes serious down the road. That's fine for a college relationship, but, it's much harder to break things off after a few years if you realize that his background is too big a hurdle to get over than it would be now. I suspect that's where your family is coming from.

It seems clear to me that you've done some hard thinking about this, but have you communicated that to your family? Maybe ask them to list out their concerns and try to respond to them the way you did to my questions. It might help them see that you're not just being a "head in the sky college girl falling for the bad boy".

I'll add one more thought for you to ponder (you certainly don't have to respond). If you're considering a career in the public eye (and marketing types sometimes do) what will his record mean? If you wanted to go into politics at all, his past would be a pretty big hurdle. If there's a career path you're considering that includes needing security clearance, then you should know that you'll be limited by your connection to him. It may not be fair, but that's the current reality.
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