Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Should I Wait for My Jailbird Boyfriend?”

I’m 28 and my boyfriend is 30 and about a month ago, he was suddenly and shockingly arrested. The details of his charge are extremely complicated, so I won’t try to explain everything, but he was caught in a sting operation. Since his arrest, he’s been held in jail. His lawyers advised him to not talk about his crime with anyone, which means he’s been unable to offer me any explanation for what happened. Even though my boyfriend has a clean record, his lawyers say the best plea deal they could get him would likely be 4-5 years in jail. Needless to say, this has been devastating and shocking news.

I love my boyfriend very much. He and I have been together for two and half years, and have been living together for part of that time. We were talking seriously about getting married, and I know he was even working on getting a ring. He has always been kind, caring, loving, and supportive; it’s beyond shocking to everyone who knows him that he could have broken the law. It’s obvious his arrest caused major issues in our relationship (like trust), but I thought with counseling and time we could possibly overcome that. But now that I know that he could be in jail for four years or more, I’m not sure what to do. How could I wait that long for someone? How could we overcome the other major issues to our relationship with him in jail for several years? Would he even be close to the same person after that much time in jail? I want to do what’s best for me and him, but I’m not sure what that is. It seems like no matter what I decide, it’s going to be horrible and hurtful for everyone involved. — Arrested Love


It’s got to be incredibly shocking and painful to invest over two years in a relationship only to discover the person you thought you were with isn’t who you thought he was. I feel for you. But I also have to be a voice of reason. What will be even more painful that what you’re going through now is waiting on the sidelines for years for the chance of getting back the relationship you’ve now lost. The truth is that relationship no longer exists. It never did exist. It was essentially a figment of your imagination — helped in creation by your boyfriend who seemed to go to great lengths to keep the image alive.

But now you know the truth. No, you may not know all the details of your boyfriend’s crime. You may not know who he really is, but you know he is NOT who you thought he was. And why — why, why, why — would you give up years of your life during your prime waiting around for someone you don’t even know? Because it would be too painful to break up?

People break up for painful reasons all the time. In fact, aren’t all breakups made for painful reasons? You aren’t right for each other, or your families disapprove of the relationship, or the timing just isn’t right, or distance comes between you, or someone cheated, or, or, … or one of you is guilty of a crime and goes to jail for years. It may be painful, but it doesn’t make it a bad reason to breakup. It actually sounds like a pretty sensible and logical reason to dump someone and MOA, particularly if you aren’t married, don’t have kids, have only been together a couple of years, are 28, and had no idea the person you were with was even involved in criminal activities.

I know it’s hard to let go of that image you had. But it’s already gone. That relationship you believed in never existed. Even the fantasy of it disappeared the minute you found out the truth about your boyfriend. Rather than try to build something new with him, you’d be better off building something new with someone else eventually — someone with whom you don’t have so much baggage to work through first, someone who isn’t in jail, someone you can let yourself trust.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

79 comments… add one
  • avatar

    TheOtherMe May 10, 2011, 7:37 am

    Wendy is right, you don’t know this person, you only know a false version of him that he has presented to you. Why wait 4 years for something that just doesn’t exist ?

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    honeybeenicki May 10, 2011, 7:45 am

    LW –
    I’ll tell you something about myself. I have been married for just over 2 years and have been with my husband for 6 years. When we got together, I knew he had a drug problem in the past (prescription drug abuse) and he had managed to get clean on his own. Fast forward 4 years: he loses his job, has trouble with his ex-wife as far as seeing his kids goes, and we get married 2 days after he loses his job.

    Despite the fact that I was pushing him to get into counseling because I knew he still struggled every day with his addiction (he was clean thankfully, but that doesn’t make it less of a struggle), he made a very, very, very bad decision. He obtained a way to get some of the prescription drugs he was craving illegally and got caught (I won’t go into the sordid details).

    I felt like you – the trust crumbled. So, its a little different with me because I KNEW this could be something that would happen because I knew he was an addict. You didn’t know anything of what was going on. I agree with Wendy, you probably don’t know who he really is. I had the benefit of knowing it could happen. Well, now my husband has been incarcerated for 16 months. Doesn’t seem like a long time, huh? Well, it is. A very long time to sleep by yourself. A very long time to explain to people why your husband isn’t with you. A very long time to take care of everything around the house while trying to worry about whether or not you’ll have gas money to go visit.

    To be completely honest with you, LW, if we weren’t married when this happened, I wouldn’t still be with him. The vows I took are the reason I am willing to push through (that and I love his kids like my own). 4-5 years is a long, long time. And it hurts to hear it, but the likelihood of an unmarried man remaining with the person who sticks with him after he gets out of prison is pretty slim. Believe me, you DO NOT want to put yourself through what I’m going through. You don’t. It will hurt to leave him but for your own sanity and happiness, it may be the best option. If I could give you a list of all the ways this has hurt me (including personally, emotionally, professionally – I have a degree in criminal justice and being married to someone convicted of a felon hurts my job opportunities), it would take up this whole page.

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    • avatar

      ReginaRey May 10, 2011, 8:42 am

      Wow, I feel for you. You’ve taken on more than your share of grief and burdened yourself with a lot of responsibility. I hope things get better for you!

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    • avatar

      Desiree May 10, 2011, 8:52 am

      Wow. So many commenters here have such intense personal stories. I am deeply sorry for you having to face such a challenge, but I am glad you shared it. The LW could definitely use your perspective.

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    • avatar

      demoiselle May 10, 2011, 9:08 am

      I’m so sorry to read about your situation. You’re very brave, and I hope that there are better times for you both ahead. Have you been left with the care of his kids while he’s in jail, too? 🙁

      I’m going to ask a bunch of questions that come to mind–but I *don’t* expect you to answer (they are probably too personal). They are really more for the LW than they are for you (your post just made them come to mind):

      – Will this affect your decision about having children yourself? How does/will his record/time in jail affect the existing and/or future kids?
      – Do you have to change professional fields completely now? How much will a new degree or training cost?
      – Will your family and friends ever accept him fully?
      – Will you have to move to a new place to get a “new start” once he gets out?
      – Do you have to give up opportunities (for jobs or education) because you can’t move far away from the jail he’s incarcerated in?
      – What is your deal-breaker? Do you stick with him if he gets out and uses drugs again? Or will it be hard to break up after you’ve waited so long for him (My aunt stuck with a lapsed, abusive alcoholic for many years, because she refused to admit that she “wasted” years on him, but they’re miserable)?

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        honeybeenicki May 10, 2011, 9:35 am

        I’m going to answer some of your questions, mostly for the LW’s sake. I think its important that she’s aware of some of what she could be getting into.
        First of all, I don’t have his kids. Believe me, I wish I did. They live with their mother and thankfully she has been able to accept me more and allow me to see them. I don’t know what I would have done losing both him and the kids.

        -It has somewhat affected my decision to have kids. For awhile, I didn’t think I wanted to have kids and was pretty positive that I didn’t want to actually get pregnant and have any – I wanted to adopt. His felony will definitely interfere with that. I’ve spoken to a few lawyers and it is going to be nearly impossible to adopt, so we are now looking into artificial insemination instead (he had a vasectomy during his first marriage).

        – I lost the one job I ever truly loved because of his crime. I worked at a halfway house for sex offenders for 4 years. When he plead guitly, I turned in a fraternization form (they have a fraternization policy stating that employees have to have permission to be involved with anyone under the supervision of the Department of Corrections). My request was denied and I was forced to resign. I have a few options still available, but some of the things I really wanted to do are not possible until he is off probation completely (that will be 2029 or possibly sooner if he gets his probation reduced). I can’t imagine what a new degree would cost. I know I’m in huge debt from my Master’s as it is, but I am currently working in a completely different field.

        – I had to give up my dream of attending Harvard law school because I can’t move very far away and I live in WI. Actually, because of having to take up the financial slack, I can’t attend any law school. I don’t have the time or the money. I additionally have always planned on moving to Arizona, which without his probation agent’s consent will never happen either – at least not in the near future.

        – My deal breaker is pretty simple – I won’t go through this again. He knows it also, since I have made it very clear. This is his one second chance and he will not get another. If he uses again, that’s the end of it. If he gets arrested for a new crime, that’s the end of it. I truly believe in my vows and don’t like divorce, but I can’t keep putting myself through horrible situations just to honor those. By giving him one chance, I feel like I am honoring my vows. I’m sure it would be hard to leave him because I do love him very much (wouldn’t have married him otherwise), but I also recognize how important my own happiness is.

        And just on another note, LW – if you decide to stick it out, don’t sugar coat things. If you’re angry, tell him. If you’re so sad and sick that you can barely get out of bed, tell him. He needs to know how this has affected you. A few months after my husband was incarcerated, I wrote him a letter. Well, a list really. It detailed all of the ways his actions hurt me and the rest of our family. It was a really long letter and he said it opened his eyes to how his actions truly affect others around him. His sentence is 5 years; however, with all of the extra programs he qualified, he will likely be out by the end of next year (less than 3 years).

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      • avatar

        demoiselle May 10, 2011, 9:40 am

        Your response is really eye-opening. Thank you.

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      • avatar

        TJ May 10, 2011, 10:20 am

        *hug*

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        Kali May 10, 2011, 12:43 pm

        Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story with all of us. I hope the LW absorbs all this and can MOA.

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      • avatar

        honeybeenicki May 10, 2011, 12:48 pm

        I figure if one person can benefit from what I’m going through, its worth it. I don’t know if the LW realizes just how hard it will be (I certainly didn’t).

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    • fast eddie

      fast eddie May 10, 2011, 9:18 am

      Wow honeybeenicki, that’s huge load for you or anyone to bear. (hug)

      Back in the 90s my cousin was convicted on a drug charge and his girlfriend waited for him during his 2 year sentence at a minimum security incarceration. After his release he established a very profitable nursery business, took her to Paris and proposed under the Eiffel Tower with BIG diamond ring. Whatever else he is, cheap he ain’t.

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    • avatar

      Elle May 10, 2011, 4:55 pm

      wow, honeybeenicki. I remember reading your comments over time, and I had the impression that you are happily married – you always said such nice things about your husband and your love for one another. And I admire you for keeping your sanity and your head up high through all this. Even though it must have been so hard, and it still is. You have my admiration and sympathy (if it counts for anything).

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        honeybeenicki May 11, 2011, 9:26 am

        I think our love for each other is what really keeps us going. It helps A LOT that we had a very strong base before all of this happened. We had been together for more than 4 years and were truly happy. I certainly wouldn’t call my current situation “happily married”, but I don’t regret getting married and (most days) I don’t regret sticking by him. Some days I do regret it and some days are more of a challenge than others, but I am so fortunate to have a loving family and great friends. Another thing LW should consider is what her living situation would be like. Thankfully, I rent a house with my mom (she has the upstairs apartment, we have the downstairs main portion of the house), so I’m not alone.

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      • avatar

        EB May 12, 2011, 7:07 am

        My first thought after reading the LW’s letter was the Modern Love piece “I Fell for a Man Who Wore an Electronic Ankle Bracelet”.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/14/fashion/14love.html

        They ran it over four years ago but i remember it clearly mainly because I was so horrified by it. i am still appalled by it but after reading your story honeybeenicki, i realized it’s not the relationship or even the crime(although personally it would be a dealbreaker for me) that’s the root of my dismay. Rather it is the girlfriend/ author’s unwavering conviction(aka DENIAL) that her boyfriend, now a registered sex offender, is the true victim.

        I commend you honeybeenicki for accepting that your husband is in prison because he broke the law, not to mention your trust. I can see the temptation to block out reality and convince yourself that he was wrongly convicted or that “he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time”. It certainly seems like the easier option. I think it takes tremendous courage to accept your husband is not the man you thought he was and even more courage to forgive and love this different, more flawed version of him. Good people do bad things and i can’t imagine the burden that come with being identified by the worst thing i had ever done in the eyes of the world.

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    sweetleaf May 10, 2011, 7:51 am

    Oh my, Honeybee! You seem to be getting along well, you’re a very strong woman. I’m sending love your way!

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      honeybeenicki May 10, 2011, 8:36 am

      Thanks sweetleaf. It sure isn’t easy and I really wanted the LW to know that. I never in my wildest imagination could have forseen how hard it really would be.

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  • avatar

    BoomChakaLaka May 10, 2011, 8:36 am

    From what you’ve told us, it seems as though your boyfriend wasn’t wrongfully arrested or even innocent. I’m not sure what type of crime he did that earned him 4 years with a guilty plea, but it must be something serious. The question you need to ask yourself is: Does this change who he is?

    Another question you need to ask yourself is how much do you love him? You can live with anyone, you can talk about marriage with some people, but you can really envision your life with only a few (or maybe just one). Is he someone you can’t live without?

    Just by you writing to Wendy, I have an inkling that you do feel that he’s changed and that he is someone that is disposable. Nothing wrong with that.

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      honeybeenicki May 10, 2011, 8:42 am

      I was also wondering what he did to get 4-5 years with a guilty plea with no past record.

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        PFG-SCR May 10, 2011, 9:02 am

        I worked with someone in a professional services firm who was later sentenced to that length of time for a white collar crime (intentional financial misstatement). He had never been in trouble with the law before in any criminal manner before.

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        BoomChakaLaka May 10, 2011, 11:48 am

        I never considered the white collar possibility, but definitely plausible with what she says. If that were the case, I’d still tell her to ask herself those questions. To some, being with a tax evader/Ponzi mastermind is as bad as being with a murderer.

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      • Roxy_84

        Roxy84 May 10, 2011, 4:45 pm

        I’d put money on white collar crime since she said lawyers – plural. I could be making the wrong assumption, but that it’s plural and that they are so strict on what he can say makes me think it’s a company’s legal team.

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      • avatar

        sarita_f May 11, 2011, 1:37 pm

        Agree with @Roxy84

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  • avatar

    ReginaRey May 10, 2011, 8:37 am

    Honestly, LW, if I were in your position I would be pretty worried and constantly thinking…”If he can keep something of THIS magnitude from me, what ELSE has he been hiding??” If someone can hide a serious crime (worthy of being caught in a sting operation, no less!!) from his live-in girlfriend, what COULDN’T he hide?? Lying? Cheating? Bodies in the backyard?!

    …Listen, I’m not saying your boyfriend is unhinged, but it takes cunning to pull off a lie of that magnitude. And if I were you, I’d be hightailing it so fast the other way, there wouldn’t even be time to consider staying with him. Love be damned…this guy is not the person you loved, anyway.

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    • caitie_didnt

      caitie_didn't May 10, 2011, 11:46 am

      SERIOUSLY!!!!

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    PFG-SCR May 10, 2011, 8:51 am

    “That relationship you believed in never existed.”

    I don’t think this is necessarily fair to say. We don’t know what his crime was, but it doesn’t mean that whatever led to that wasn’t at least partially separate from his relationship with the letter writer. While I’m not naive enough to think people can’t pretend to be someone that they’re not, they’ve been together for several years (including living together). I realize that it was likely that there was some deception because of the criminal activities, but that doesn’t mean there was nothing “real” about their relationship.

    However, she needs to look forward – 4-5 years is a long time to wait for someone who is undoubtedly going to return as a very different person than she knows now. Life will be tough for him when he gets out, and this will have an affect on her and their relationship if they remain together. Not only that, but they will need to rebuild their relationship, including the reestablishment of trust in spite of all of these hardships he will be enduring. There are a lot of unknowns, and unfortunately, they’re mainly all negatives.

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      Desiree May 10, 2011, 8:56 am

      You’re very right about saying he may return a different person. I mean, as far as we can tell, he isn’t even really sorry that he was involved in criminal activity. Jail time may, for him, just be an opportunity to make some new criminal contacts; nevermind the normal psychology of incarceration.

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      • avatar

        demoiselle May 10, 2011, 9:15 am

        He could return a very different person and WORSE, too…

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      _jsw_ May 10, 2011, 9:09 am

      I agree with PFG-SCR. The fact that the boyfriend engaged in some criminal activity doesn’t mean in any way that the relationship was a fake. We have no idea whatsoever what he was caught doing, but 4-5 years could be for almost anything.

      I also agree that it’d be better to live your life, LW, and see how things feel when he gets out (if you’re still available), and I think it’s a bad idea to just sit around and wait for him, but I do not think that what he did means that your relationship was a sham.

      Obviously, depending on the type of crime, it might say things about him that would mean it should end, but I wouldn’t say that just because he was caught doing something with a 4-5 year sentence, he was not the man you thought you knew.

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      spaceboy761 May 10, 2011, 9:20 am

      I think that we’re jumping overboard with the assumptions of what this criminal activity was and the whole “HE’S LIVING A LIE!!!” vibe. For all we know, this boyfriend could have been an operations clerk in a securities firm that did follow regulations. Hell, I laundered a ton of money early in my Wall Street without even knowing it because I would have needed a CPA to even understand the financial laws I violated. If my firm got caught for that, I would have probably gone away for a few years. None of that made me a dishonest scumbag who was bound to cheat on his girlfriend… I was just a 22-year old clerk doing what I saw everybody else doing and what my boss told me. Having that said, this guy also could have been selling underage girls or something. I’ll admit that the ‘caught in a sting’ part of the letter doesn’t sound too promising, but that could just be the LW plugging in a figure of speech.

      Five years is a LOOOONG time. If she’s 28 now, the LW could very conceivably ditch this guy, date around, fall in love, get married, and have a kid or two before he’s out of jail. That’s a hell of a bet to lay down on a guy she may or may not trust.

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    demoiselle May 10, 2011, 8:52 am

    Some years ago, the husband of a woman I know was caught up in a “bust” of a doctor who was suspected of proscribing painkillers inappropriately. They shared an office space, and my friend was completely innocent. He didn’t even know a thing about any inappropriate proscriptions. But he and several others were implicated by association (“they must have KNOWN!”). The prosecutors had some kind of grandiose vision that they were going after Al Capone, not a small time pain doctor who might have over-proscribed. My friend’s husband was never even arrested, but the case dragged out for a decade. His name and reputation were seriously damaged, and he’s never worked again–not in his field or any other.

    This couple stayed together, but they’d been together over 20 years and had children. It damaged their lives considerably. And he wasn’t even arrested or put in jail–he was just IMPLICATED for sharing the same office with someone who was eventually found NOT GUILTY of any crime.

    LW, I don’t know what your BF was charged with, but it sounds like it’s serious stuff. What are “sting” operations run for? Drugs? Counterfeiting? Smuggling? Prostitution rings? Illegal firearms? Other human trafficking? Gang activity? Plotting to assassinate a politician or blow up a synagogue (extreme, I know)? All serious stuff. And it sounds like there is so much evidence against him that his lawyers think there’s no point in trial–that a plea of 4-5 years is getting off easy.

    Do you want your life to be dominated by this surprise arrest and his crime for the next decade? You haven’t had a lifetime with this man, you don’t have any children with him, you’re (thankfully) not implicated in his illegal activities or drawn deeply into his family. Think about whether a “hope and a dream” are worth spending ten years in hell like my friend and her husband did–worth having a spouse with a criminal record that will prevent him from finding good work in the future–worth the (albeit remote) possibility of having to register as an offender wherever you move (in case of a sex related crime)–all with the knowledge that HE REALLY DID IT and there could be more down the line…

    You don’t owe him anything for his screwing up, especially when his actions could cause you serious harm, emotionally, physically, or just in terms of your overall life quality in the future. He already could have put you at risk of harm, depending on the nature of his crime. Take care of yourself.

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      Desiree May 10, 2011, 8:58 am

      You make an excellent point. She is incredibly lucky to NOT be implicated in this whole mess, particularly since she lived with him. Who knows…maybe he really loves her and wanted to keep her “clean,” so he kept it all hidden. That doesn’t mean at all that she should stay with him; just speculating.

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        demoiselle May 10, 2011, 9:11 am

        Someone who is very, very bad for you could love you deeply and passionately and earnestly. But-practically speaking-that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to stick with them, or that you owe them anything in return for their love.

        I agree she’s lucky. Maybe he did try to keep her free from any taint. But what if he’d made a mistake? What if next time he doesn’t manage to do so? The longer they are together, the less likely it is that he’d be able to keep her clear.

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        jena May 10, 2011, 11:37 am

        If you really love someone, you don’t keep THEM clean, you keep yourself clean so as to avoid being thrown in jail…

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        jena May 11, 2011, 9:59 am

        -4 from the people whose boyfriends lied to them about being criminals?

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      WatersEdge May 10, 2011, 9:03 am

      There are a lot of good points in here, especially about his future employability. And I agree that accepting a plea deal means they had some pretty solid evidence against him. At best, this boyfriend has terrible judgment (which is not to be underestimated… terrible judgment should be a deal-breaker) and she should not marry him. At worst, he is a two-faced criminal… and she should not marry him

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      demoiselle May 10, 2011, 9:17 am

      Adding a PS: I suppose there are white-collar crimes (less horrible sounding than drugs or prostitution rings) which could be subject to “sting” operations, too … so I should acknowledge that possibility. I’m not sure this changes the substance of my post, though.

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        mf May 10, 2011, 11:11 am

        Agreed. Even though white collar crimes are not as violent or “dirty,” they still involve theft and deceit. Money laundering doesn’t sound as bad as drug trafficking, but it still requires a weak moral compass to commit such a crime. And do you really want to marry/date someone like that? I know I don’t.

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    WatersEdge May 10, 2011, 8:59 am

    I know it’s hard to think of it this way, but your boyfriend proved himself to be completely unlike the person you probably thought he was. He’s shown that he’s capable of lying and deceit, he’s capable of being two-faced and having a secret life, and he’s capable of breaking the law, meaning he deals drugs, he stole from someone, he hurt another human being, etc. This is absolutely not the kind of person you want to build a life with and parent children with. And from personal experience, the guy who’s willing to break the law is the same guy who’s willing to cheat on you, lie to you, steal from you, etc. People like this lack a basic moral code that is fundamental for trust and you’re right not to trust him anymore. Whatever his illegal activity was, he chose it over a life with you. He 100% deserves to get dumped.

    I don’t even want to touch the stuff about waiting for him. It’s besides the point. Even if he got out tomorrow, you should not be with this man. But as a military spouse who finds it extremely difficult to wait for her husband when he’s deployed, which is a noble reason to be away, I will agree with Honeybeenicki that you don’t want this life.

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      Desiree May 10, 2011, 9:05 am

      I do think it is somewhat bad for us to theorize as to his crime. There are many non-violent crimes that carry significant weight. He could be a murderer, or he could just handle paperwork/money for some very bad guys. None of it makes him particularly nice, but I don’t want to assume what he has or hasn’t done.

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        PFG-SCR May 10, 2011, 9:11 am

        I agree about the speculation – we don’t know what he did wrong, which is what I find unfair with people claiming she doesn’t know him, and their relationship wasn’t real in any way. It could have been a white collar crime that he committed in the course of his regular (legal) job.

        We just don’t know.

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        WatersEdge May 10, 2011, 10:28 am

        Ok, maybe my personal experiences were clouding my judgment a bit. But if he’s accepting a plea deal instead of pleading innocent, I have to assume that he knew what he was doing was wrong. If I had no idea I was committing a white collar crime, I’d want my day in court. Wouldn’t you?

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        _jsw_ May 10, 2011, 10:35 am

        It would depend a lot on what my chances of being found innocent would be. There are a number of people who are innocent – or at least who did not knowingly commit what they knew to be a crime – but take plea bargains simply because they fear being found guilty and getting a much larger sentence.

        We’d like to think that only the truly guilty are sentenced and only the innocent go free, but of course that’s not always the case. A defense lawyer’s job is to minimize the probable impact on his or her client, not to defend the truth, and the lawyer’s recommendations might well be based on things well beyond the actions and intent of the boyfriend.

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        Sarah May 10, 2011, 10:49 am

        You might think you’d want your day in court, but your lawyer would quickly disabuse you of that notion. White-collar crimes are some of the easiest for prosecutors to prove, because everything’s on paper. Many, many crimes do not require that you intended to break the law, only that you intended to do what you did (i.e., it wasn’t a literal accident, like you accidentally drew an x on a form and that’s now being taken as a signature), and that that action was illegal. So at that point, you’d basically be depending on a jury to be like, Aw, this person didn’t mean any harm!, despite the law, the judge, and the prosecutor telling them conviction is appropriate. That’s very unlikely to happen. However, if you plead out, you are going to get a much, much, much lower sentence than what you will get if you went to trial.

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        WatersEdge May 10, 2011, 11:50 am

        Ok sure. Maybe he committed a white-collar crime with or without knowledge of what he was doing. And maybe a white-collar crime is not as bad as a violent crime (I disagree but that seems to be the point you’re making…) I am not naive enough to believe that only the guilty get sentenced. So are you saying that given the letter above we should act as if he did nothing wrong? Encourage her to stay, just in case it’s all a big misunderstanding? I might say that she could give him the benefit of the doubt and see what his charges are before she makes any decisions. But I wouldn’t wait for 5 years even if it was a misunderstanding, unless he was my husband. That may make me a bad person but I don’t think she should throw her life away because he got himself into a huge mess.

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        _jsw_ May 10, 2011, 11:59 am

        I’m not at all saying she should stay with him. I’m saying that all that we know is that he’s in jail and facing a probable 4-5 year sentence. Given the wide variety of types of judges in this country (and their sentencing track records), and given the wide variety of crimes that could end up pleading out to a 4-5 year sentence, we have absolutely no idea whatsoever what he did, and yet people are claiming terrible things about him. Maybe they’re justified, but quite possibly they aren’t.

        There are some very bad people who never do anything illegal, and there are some very good people who screw up once, get caught, and get the book thrown at them. It is simply not right to make a moral judgement call about the core nature of this man based solely on what we know. I’m not saying he’s a good guy (or that he’s not). I’m saying we know nothing at all about the case or situation.

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        Sarah May 10, 2011, 3:13 pm

        Not at all. Just saying that taking a plea, rather than insisting on going to trial doesn’t necessarily imply: A. that you did something “bad” or B. that you’re a bad person. If I were LW, I’d probably want to get a little bit more info before taking any serious steps, but would probably end up moving on.

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        WatersEdge May 10, 2011, 4:48 pm

        Do you really think that taking a plea bargain does not imply that you did something “bad” <— with bad in quotes? Just so you're aware, taking a plea bargain is absolutely an implication that you did something bad <— no quotes needed. The whole point of a plea bargain is to say "maybe I did, maybe I didn't, but that's besides the point. let's just make this go away".

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        _jsw_ May 10, 2011, 4:52 pm

        No, taking a plea bargain means you think you’d otherwise get a lengthier sentence. It doesn’t mean you think you’re guilty or that you did something bad. It means you think it’s likely the court will determine that you’re guilty, which is not always the same thing as being guilty.

        If I knew I could bargain for 4 years or have a 50/50 shot at being given 20, I’d take the 4, regardless of guilt.

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      Quakergirl May 10, 2011, 1:11 pm

      While I think it’s unlikely that he’s being charged with this type of crime, there are many instances in financial and securities firms where a person is technically quite guilty of a crime but had zero responsibility for its commission. In securities firms, managers are responsible for the actions of all their brokers– even things they couldn’t possibly ever have known about. If the broker commits a crime, the manager is going down with him. They lose their license and will probably serve jail time, not to mention the fact that they’ll never work or get a loan or other credit advance again. Likewise, if the information wall between research and i-banking gets breached, everyone above the person who did it is in serious trouble. The situation doesn’t reflect on the moral compass of the supervisors, but it’s the way SEC regulations work. They’ve technically committed a crime just for going to work. It’s a questionable system, but there it is. With this LW, I’m assuming that’s not the situation or she probably would have explained that the crime doesn’t really reflect on his trustworthiness/scruples. But just for the record, it isn’t always true that being in trouble with the letter of the law makes you a bad person.

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    MissDre May 10, 2011, 9:08 am

    Another question to ask yourself is, do you want children with this man? You’re 28 years old now, he still has to go through his trial and sentencing, and then has to serve 4-5 years. So you’re looking at being 33 or 34 when he gets out. And then there is the time it takes to rebuild your relationship and get to know each other all over again. Then you’re looking at being 35 or 36 before you started trying to have kids.

    There is nothing wrong with people who decide to have children later in life, but is that what you want? If it is, you should know that it’s harder to get pregnant the older you get, and the farther past 30 you go, the chances of complications during pregnancy increase.

    If you are ok with waiting that long, or if you don’t want children, that’s perfectly fine. But, it’s something to think about when deciding whether or not you’re willing to wait for this guy.

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    • caitie_didnt

      caitie_didn't May 10, 2011, 11:52 am

      Not to mention the fact that his future employability is going to almost nil…..it’s hard to think about building a family with someone who can’t work (I mean, excluding medical circumstances, but that’s not the case here).

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie May 10, 2011, 8:58 am

    She doesn’t have all the information at this time that she needs to make a decision. The qualities that have endeared him are still there but a HUGE part of the total package is missing. I think they should have a chat with that lawyer about his gag order. The charge(s) are a public record. Start with that and get his side of it before bolting. I hope she lets us know what the outcome is but if he doesn’t come clean with her the relationship dead and buried.

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      Desiree May 10, 2011, 9:02 am

      As much as I agree with Wendy, I could see the point of at least getting more information first. It’s technically possible that the boyfriend has guilt by association, though I’d be surprised if that were true considering the lawyers perspective on his plea deal. Although, the fact that he hasn’t pled innocent to her (or apologized, for that matter-at least the LW doesn’t mention it) probably isn’t good. I think I’d agree with your view more if they had a relationship of longer duration, perhaps.

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      mf May 10, 2011, 11:13 am

      I wonder if he hasn’t told her any of the details because she could be called as a witness if the case goes to trial.

      Perhaps the lawyer could fill her in. That way he hasn’t actually told her anything about the charges.

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        honeybeenicki May 10, 2011, 11:30 am

        It’s standard procedure for lawyers to tell their clients not to discuss their case with anyone. It goes along with not answering any questions without a lawyer present while you are being interrogated – the lawyer’s don’t want anyone to say anything condemning to anyone who can repeat it.

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    TJ May 10, 2011, 10:08 am

    Kicking this post awesome-

    “I shamed my family, shamed my home/(tell my sister, Jane)/Suppertime…/(tell my sister, Jane)/Old Saint John on Death Row/he’s just waiting for a pardon”

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    Eden May 10, 2011, 10:12 am

    LW, the issue is your belief that he is the guy you’re going to marry. But you don’t have to be afraid of losing your “one”. There are men out there who will love you as much, if not more than your current boyfriend and that’s okay. It’s not okay for him to hide another part of his life, essentially hiding a part of himself. This is what you don’t like, I am guessing. You don’t know what else he has left to hide, you don’t know about the case, and you don’t know about your obligation as a partner in this relationship. But as rational readers who try to make logical conclusions, we know some things too.

    We know that what he’s hidden isn’t worth 5 years to find out. We know that this can be a coin toss against your reputation, social circle, and life opportunities if you risk attending a trial for a crime you probably don’t support. We especially know that as a partner in this relationship it is okay to be scared, and it is okay to want to leave because you don’t know and are not sure if some one is worth 1825 days of your young life. You literally have one life to live. All of us do. And if you are comfortable spending 5 years in an emotional limbo wondering, waiting, then so be it. But don’t be that person who waits, expecting the same grandiose relationship you may have started out with— expecting to continue where you left off. Because frankly your relationship will never be the same once he gets out. His life will change drastically in terms of career, friends, and life opportunities, but so will yours. Your own future and future dreams will be in jeopardy.
    Are you willing to live with that?

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    LolaBeans May 10, 2011, 10:56 am

    I think if ANYTHING.. you are lucky you haven’t married him. you avoided a HUGE disaster.
    I’m sorry, but I think you should move on. I can’t imagine your 2.5 year relationship withstanding this.. and I don’t see why you’d want it to.

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    TECH May 10, 2011, 11:18 am

    First of all, you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. And for all we know, he could be innocent. It’s unlikely, but possible. If he is innocent, the LW would probably feel guilty for abandoning him, and this is a possibility she must weigh.
    However, if he truly is guilty, he lost the right to be in a relationship with you. He screwed up. He must admit this. A good man would let you go free and not make you feel guilty about it.

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      jena May 10, 2011, 11:35 am

      If he’s taking a plea deal of “guilty,” chances are he knows he’s not innocent and the court will too…

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      callmehobo May 10, 2011, 11:40 am

      Well, technically, he is taking a plea bargain to avoid going to the court of law.
      By bypassing that he will go directly to jail, so either there was no possible way for him to prove his innocence, or he has decided to go ahead and take the plea bargain for less years on a sentence or lesser security prison.

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        spaceboy761 May 10, 2011, 11:46 am

        He hasn’t taken the plea bargain yet, but his lawyers think it’s headed that way.

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      HmC May 10, 2011, 11:44 am

      I briefly considered this as well. But in addition to what the above commenters said about the plea deal, it’s very suspicious that he offers her no explanation whatsoever. If he were truly an innocent man, I would see him taking a risk and trying to communicate *some* kind of explanation to the LW, even if his lawyer didn’t want him to get into details. Or at the very least, urge that he is innocent! As it is, it sounds to me more like he’s using his lawyer’s warning as a shield to not have to face the reality of what he’s done to the LW.

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        Sarah May 10, 2011, 3:16 pm

        Disagree. I look at this guy’s silence and I see a very smart guy and a very good client for an attorney to have. Now, not saying the LW can’t be pissed for him completely clamming up, but I am always hesistant to ascribe bad motives to people who take seriously the need to shut up about possible criminal liability. Since she’s not his wife, the LW could easily be hauled into court and forced to testify about any statements he made to her. Good on the bf for knowing that and acting accordingly.

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    jena May 10, 2011, 11:33 am

    You’re dating a very dishonest man. To you, to the law, etc. Why would you wait 4 to 5 years for someone who disrespected you to that level and put you in DANGER of being classified (possibly) as an accessory to whatever crime he’s committed, or “harboring a fugitive,” etc.?
    You deserve better than that.

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    HmC May 10, 2011, 11:41 am

    LW, you don’t get into the nature of your bf’s crime. But if it was so bad that the cops performed a sting operation to catch him, and he’s facing *years* in prison, he must have been up to some pretty crazy shit. And hiding it from you. His arrest and jail time aside, would you want to be with someone that committed terrible crimes and basically led a second life while in a relationship with you? Wendy is right- the person you thought you loved never really existed.

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    Sarah May 10, 2011, 12:32 pm

    It seems as though there is a push to know whether or not your boyfriend is guilty, and that it will be a factor as to whether you may stay with him or not. This is exactly how I would feel as well. It he is innocent, it means he didn’t create this situation fully knowing how much it could hurt you, if he isn’t well, he is not worth your time.

    Here’s the thing. If he takes a plea deal, that means he’s telling the court, and you, that he’s guilty, whether he really is or not. Instead of trusting his innocence to get him a fair trial, he is putting your life together on hold for years because he is afraid of the outcome. I can’t even begin to know what I would do in his place, but I think that if I were really innocent, no way would I go to jail for years instead of seeing my trial through.

    Don’t wait for him to tell you what happened, because he will most likely just tell you what will convince you to stay with him anyway. Instead, trust his actions. If he pleads guilty, he is and does not deserve your devotion for damaging your lives together so irresponsibly.

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      Sarah May 10, 2011, 3:18 pm

      You can be really innocent in your own head, see your trial through, and still end up losing a jury trial and going to jail for years (and then some, since you didn’t take the deal). Sometimes taking the plea is simply the rational call. Many people have trusted their innocence to get them a fair trial and ended up with outcomes far worse than jail time.

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    Quakergirl May 10, 2011, 1:30 pm

    LW, if you decide to stay, I think the easiest part of this situation may be waiting for him to return (and as honeybeenicki was brave enough to share, it’s not easy at all). During that time, you’ll hope and dream that your boyfriend will return as good as new and be ready to start a life with you. But when he does get out, he won’t be the same. I’m assuming he’s going to prison, which even at a minimum security institution is a rough place to be. He very well may be psychologically harmed–even irreparably damaged– by the experience. If you want, I can tell you all the horrible details of the cases I worked on at a major legal nonprofit advocating for prison inmates. It’s no picnic. Not to mention, your life will have gone on for four or five years, but he’ll have been in suspended animation. You’ll have grown and matured, made new friends, learned new things, had new experiences, and he’ll have been sitting behind bars in the same concrete room. You very well may not be able to relate to each other at all anymore. Imagine how much more painful that will be than if you cut your losses now and rebuild your life.

    And even if you can restart a relationship, it will be so burdened by the separation, the lack of trust, and the innumerable obstacles facing a convicted felon (given the length of his sentence from a plea deal, I’m assuming he committed a felony). As readers have mentioned before, he will have added difficulties at *every* stage of his life, from finding a job to getting an apartment and beyond. And if you marry him, you’ll have those difficulties, too. His crime may as well have been yours, because you’ll be supporting the two of you and any children you end up having, you’ll have to apply for the apartments if you can even find one that will allow him to live there, you’ll have to vouch for him to family and friends. Honestly, you’re very lucky that you haven’t been implicated thus far. But if you keep hanging around him, eventually, his problems will become yours one way or another– whether you end up draining your savings to compensate for his inability to work, or you end up in prison, too. If I were you, as hard as it is, I’d pick my feet up, move out, move on, and ask the lawyers to bar him from contacting you. Good luck, and keep us posted!

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    SpyGlassez May 10, 2011, 2:20 pm

    LW – I work at a community college in a fairly urban area. I teach business writing and I also serve as a tutor. I have worked with many students, in the capacity of teacher AND tutor, who have been incarcerated for varying periods of time. One student in a business class talked in a reflection paragraph about having to explain at interviews about the incarceration, and how it had made him virtually employable. Other students have written about how different they were when they came out, how they have a “jail mentality.” In some cases they served longer than your BF is looking at potentially serving, but in many cases they served 2-4 year sentences. I can’t speak for your boyfriend with certainty, but I can speak from my own experience that jail does change people. Even if they don’t come out more hardened, they still come out with a different mindset. They’ve been in a place where their every action is monitored for years. They will experience depression, frustration, anger when they are released and can’t find work. They find themselves shunned by family and former friends. They become isolated. I’m not going to tell you that you have to MOA, but I am going to tell you that the man who comes out of jail will NOT be the man who went in, and that only you can decide if waiting to figure out whether you can love that man is worth it.

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    Black Iris May 10, 2011, 3:01 pm

    Keep in mind that you don’t have to decide immediately.

    I think it come down to was he innocent or was his offense forgivable? You can’t know that until he’s able to talk about it, after the trial.

    If you love him and you can forgive him, stick with him. If you learn that he did something terrible, maybe he’s not the guy you were in love with.

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet May 10, 2011, 5:17 pm

    If he can’t tell you the details of his situation, then you have to move on. I couldn’t imagine going through this without knowing exactly what he did. I wonder, though, how long ago this crime took place. If it happened when he was in his early twenties and he’s just now getting caught, it’s a much different story.

    Read “Orange is the New Black” by Piper Kerman. At least read the beginning. It’s about a woman who committed a crime when she was in her early twenties and wasn’t caught until a decade later. Her fiance had absolutely no idea she ever had a shady past. She was only in jail for a year, but he stayed with her. Of course, she also told him all the details about what she did… so…

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    • avatar

      Jess May 10, 2011, 6:07 pm

      he was just doing the crime. he got caught in a sting, so red-handed basically.

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        WatersEdge May 11, 2011, 10:03 am

        THANK YOU! Commentors on my post above keep saying he’s probably innocent, and he’s just taking a plea deal to make it go away. That we have no way of knowing whether he’s guilty or innocent. They don’t just rush into your house, swoop you up, and take you away, then make you plea out 4 years, for nothing.

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    Elle May 10, 2011, 5:38 pm

    I don’t have any advice for the LW. And even though the whole world is against him, I have some sympathy for the boyfriend (I know, I know, he’s a bad guy, in jail, all that stuff – but he committed a crime, got caught and will pay for it for the rest of his life. that should be punishment* enough, in my opinion). The guy lost everything, and his life is on hold for the next 4-5 years.

    He knows he did something that impacted her life, and if he does love her, he knows he has no right to ask her to put her life on hold for him.

    I think that the LW has the right mindset. And I hope she follows all the advice here. My only suggestion is to be there for him emotionally, at least now, in the beginning of his sentence. You may be his only lifeline.

    So LW, take it slow. Like Black Iris said above, you don’t have to break up with him right away. You’re probably still in shock, and it’s completely understandable. One month is not nearly enough to process what happened and understand future implications.

    However, I hope you can find it in your heart to provide him with some emotional support for a little while (1-2 months), but at the same time, have one foot out the door. If you can’t be there for him though, no one will blame you.

    *I take all that back if he was trafficking minors.

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    Rachelgrace53 May 11, 2011, 12:30 am

    Some of the other commenters seem very eager for you to leave him behind, but honestly if it were me, I’d wait until everything is legally settled. I’m assuming if there’s a plea, the legal proceedings will be over in the near future. Then you’ll be able to give him a chance to explain and also know how just long you’ll be waiting. And depending on the situation of the crime, he may be able to explain to her satisfaction.
    I’m not saying you should stay with him by any means, but I am a big believer in waiting until things cool down and all the facts are known to make decisions.

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    sarita_f May 11, 2011, 1:27 pm

    I’ve been away and just now catching up, and apologies if someone else brought this up already. Did anyone else flash back to that letter from a couple of months ago where the BF would disappear and his family members were arrested and sorts of shit was going down. I couldn’t help but think immediately that this was an update of that!

    At any rate, I think you’ve gotten some good responses here, being taken much more seriously than that other letter I referred to.

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    AKchic May 12, 2011, 1:57 am

    Sting operation, 4 years with a plea bargain and he isn’t even telling you what he was charged with. Does your state have an online court database? If so, do a data search! I wouldn’t doubt that there may be more to this than he’s admitting, what little he’s admitting to.

    I will tell you this, most “sting” operations deal with drugs, child pornography, and the sex trade. You don’t get 4 years in a plea deal for distributing a few bootleg dvds or knock-off purses. He has probably been charged with a few felonies.

    He can’t tell you anything because he and you aren’t protected by any SPOUSAL clause. In most states, spouses are immune from testifying against their other half because in a “normal” relationship, the spouse normally tells the other person ALL details in order to help run the home. In older times, it was a part of the wedding vows that the husband vowed to give access to the home money (“strongbox” in some cases), a set of keys for the home (in some manors, there were many keys and only the “lady” of the house, the head maid and head manservant had a complete set), and she promised to do all possible to help the home and business of her husband flourish as she presided over domestic duties and bore and raised his children. Not married – cannot tell you or you can be compelled by the judge to testify against him or be brought up on charges of your own. This guy could have been peddling child porn for all you know!

    Move on. You wasted two years. If you are single when he gets out, then MAYBE, if he is 100% honest with what the hell happened, consider it. But I wouldn’t. Find someone else who doesn’t put himself into the position to get busted in sting operations.

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  • avatar

    LJ April 8, 2012, 10:48 pm

    I had been with my boyfriend for three years when he got sent to jail for one year. It was so hard to be myself for a whole year, driving six hours every weekend to see him, only getting to speak to him for five minutes a day. Anyway after a year he got out and decided that he did not want to be with me anymore. Please don’t waste your time like I did, if your meant to be together in the end then maybe you will but don’t waste your life being lonely and waiting for him. Men who go to jail and expect their loved ones to be there for them are very selfish people.

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