Male Perspectives on Relationships after Prison

I was having a conversation with a gentleman who served 25 years in prison. He has been home for six years. I asked him to tell me about his reentry process and he wanted to talk about relationships.

He said he has mixed feelings about relationships. He jumped, head first, into a relationship when he was released. Things didn’t work out because he wasn’t ready. The woman he was with had never been incarcerated, and when he got involved with her they were not on the same page.

He had thought he was ready to settle down but later found out he was not ready. Interestingly, his woman was more than ready to settle down. It seems she had a range of experiences in the world and was done with all of her trials and errors.

Because he was confined with men for so long, he found that his fascination with women and life prevented him from truly settling down with one woman. “I love women,” he stated. I asked whether he feels a need for variety and he said he feels a need to splurge and experience.

This gentleman is not completely closed to a relationship, but he still enjoys being free and hanging out and enjoying life. He’s 52 years old. I asked when he thinks he will be ready to settle down. “When the right one catches me,” he answered.

He believes that being incarcerated at a young age and being away for so long led him to long for a range of experiences and shy away from getting tied down. “When people come home from prison they have to find themselves,” he stated.

Related: Dating quandary – How do you know if they’re really single?

My own sense is that experiences in relationships allow an individual to grow and evolve into the person he or she wants to be. When someone is incarcerated they miss out on all of those interpersonal experiences that are normal for others. They often find themselves in heartbreak after heartbreak, one failed relationship after another.

Admittedly, as a woman this conversation with the first gentleman rubbed me the wrong way, so I decided to have a conversation with a second gentleman, a man who served 18 years in prison. He has been home for 18 months.

Check out: Dating a Man Who Just Got Out of Prison

I told him about my previous conversation and asked him about his own perspective. He said, “I love women too, but when I came home I knew I had to have a woman to go home to.” He stated that he can be content with one woman even though he finds other women attractive.

Like the first gentleman, he enjoys the mere sight of women, talking to women, and being in their presence. Nevertheless, he does not feel compelled to have a range of experiences with women.

According to this 42-year old man, being incarcerated did not impact his personal view of relationships. “I spent my darkest hours in prison. I was able to get to know myself, and I know what I want. I studied myself and envisioned coming home and rebuilding my life and relationships were not on the forefront. Then, I found myself committed and I’m in it for the long haul. That’s just who I am. I didn’t wait until I came home to find myself,” he said.

I argued women are emotional creatures and they have feelings. Men have them, but they don’t show them as easily. Machismo can be in front of a man’s true emotions.

Video: After 17 years in prison, a second chance



About Lashonia Etheridge-Bey

Lashonia Etheridge-Bey is a Public Speaker who can candidly and articulately speak to the consequences of youth violence, the effects of incarceration and the challenges of reentry into society. Read Lashonia's Full BIO Here 

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