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Relationships After Incarceration

Dating someone with post incarceration syndrome by Danielle Wright

On January 12, 2018, WeTV debuted their now-hit show, Love After Lockup. The reality series chronicles the lives of recently released felons and their significant others.

The show has since grown in popularity with many women now promoting their relationships via social media applications like TikTok with their incarcerated beau. But how did this happen?

According to statistics, men make up 93.2% of inmates in the United States, while women, 6.8%. Charges of homicide, aggravated assault, and kidnapping make up 65,515 of the offenses, making the likelihood of falling in love with one of the aforementioned criminals high. Both sex offenders and unlicensed use of a firearm are next on the list.

With celebrities such as Nicki Minaj marrying her now husband, Kenneth Petty, many of her fans and peers had questions and more importantly concerns. Her decision to marry a man who was once incarcerated for attempted rape in the first degree, assault in the second degree, unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, and criminal possession of a weapon did not sit right with many.

However, Minaj stands firm in her decision as she continues to sing his praises both online and in her music, “The way Ken be killin’ shit got me yellin’ out like the scream house…yellin’ out, we ain’t sellin’ out, we got money, but we ain’t lendin’ out. We got bars, but we ain’t bailin’ out…” And this is only one example as recent Love After Lockup stars Monique and Derek made headlines for their odd and tumultuous relationship.

Over 2.1 million people make up the inmates found in the United States jails and prisons. So, finding love on the inside is not impossible or surprising. Serial killers John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy both had committed relationships with women before they were put to death. Richard Ramirez, better known to the public as “Night Stalker”, while awaiting execution for a string of brutal murders in California married a pen pal in 96’.

Related articles: Celibacy vs. Abstinence


On the outside, these relationships can seem charming but there are a string of mental health issues that can present themselves: distressing dreams, sleep disturbances, emotional numbing, and struggles with sexual identity. Post-traumatic stress disorder that results from your partner’s long-term imprisonment will pose a strain on you.

In addition to this is the stigma that comes with your relationship; friends and family may judge or not approve of your relationship leaving you to feel isolated while your partner is away or spending time in therapy. It’s common for women who are in relationships with inmates to join Facebook groups to connect with other women who may share their experiences. This is a chance for you to speak freely about your concerns and gain valuable feedback.

Most women look forward to the day their partner is released from jail—thinking of it as a reward for their loyalty. Now that he is home he can help around the house, contribute financially, and more. But the reality is never this glamourous.

Men who return home from incarceration are likely to suffer from the aforementioned mental health issues, stress, and post-incarceration syndrome. P.I.S. can contribute to the loss of autonomy and feeling like you lack purpose. This is typically why some men or women return to jail. Fearing the outside and feeling safer, and more accepted when they are behind bars.

Your relationship with an inmate once they are home will heavily resemble that of Monique and Derek from Love After Lockup. Women often become career counselors, personal cheerleaders, therapists, piggybanks, chauffeurs, and IT experts. It’s never easy on women when their man returns home, in fact, things can become harder and you may experience more stress and unhappiness than ever before.


Unlike rapper Nicki Minaj who is a multi-millionaire and can afford to employ her husband or set him up with the right connections to aid him financially, the average woman does not have access to these recourses. In this case, if you’re expecting him to reward you for your loyalty while he’s now essentially a fish out of water, you will have a long way to go. If you can stick it out for the time being and have no problem being Barbara the Builder, then of course, I say go for it. Otherwise, if your self-esteem is in tact, please do not date a man who is currently behind bars.


Barbara the Builder is the name assigned to any woman who is in the occupation of lending/giving a man money and resources—who is not their husband—for their growth and development. Men who stumble upon women like this are less likely to marry her, love her, or even award her with their loyalty.

Men understand that if you have something they need, they have to play nice and present you with access to them to have access to your assets—whether that be your home, wallet, or pussy. If you have it and he needs it, he will stay.

The moment he no longer needs what you have, he will leave. I hope this article sheds some light on this matter for you and if you do decide to date an inmate or date a man who has been incarcerated, tell us about it in the comments below.


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