Prison Dating. From what I’ve learned and conceptualized through desire, I’d say the main way to know is by whether he communicates his responsibility for you, and not just his responsibility to you. This is true whether your man is incarcerated or not. To fall in love with a person is to give him half of your heart to handle and sometimes even control as he sees fit, to hurt if he is uncaring or reckless. You are trusting him with your deepest vulnerabilities.

So if he don’t always accept and assume responsibility for the way he makes you feel, this communicates an inability to truly love, or a need for practice if the desire is really there. You’ll know he truly loves you when he recognizes that he has the power to hurt you and never uses it, although you’ve given him half of your heart to break.

This is a gray area because some people don’t know how to love. They don’t know what true love is but rather confuse it with fiery, sweet orgasms and heated passion, confuse the feeling with the bond. The bond is unbreakable. The feeling comes and subsides. True love is what keeps you two together after the heated passion has run out. Those who come to you as heated passion tend to run out with it.

Some people don’t know how to love even themselves, and such people are rarely fit to love anyone else. I recently relearned this feeling by falling out with an old friend. His girlfriend of twenty three years caught him cheating with another woman on Facebook. He lied to her and denied having the affair, in spite of being caught red-handed. I advised him against both, the affair and the lying, but he obviously knew the mother of his kids better than I. He ran his game and she eventually accepted his collect calls again.

However, a few weeks later, when he betrayed me then tried to lie to my face about it, I cut him off—but only after realizing that I did it to myself. He showed me fake love in his character the whole time. If he would lie to the mother of his kids, and she was his best friend, what chance did I ever stand to retain his loyalty as a comrade?

I watch him lie to himself all the time, about accepting discipline, turning a new leaf, changing his diet, watching his weight, even other people, to other people, broken promises… Some prisoners are adept at telling people what they want to hear in order to finesse out of them whatever they want. Anyone who goes near him can expect to be hurt. In such cases all you can do is watch and wait for their inconsistencies to expose enough of their intentions for you to recognize them for what they are, and distance yourself.

This was also the case with me prior to coming to prison. I didn’t love myself and it seriously impaired my ability to love anyone else. I had a girl whom I was absolutely crazy about and wanted nothing more but to do right by her, but I just didn’t have the tools. I hadn’t developed the capacity and that inexperience cost me any potential that her and I had for real love. She didn’t love me because she didn’t stick around. Although I took care of her like she was my child, for two years when I was still a teen myself, she split no sooner than the bad weather came.

But this is about my share: I lied, I cheated, I even mistreated her in times of anger and resentment. Those things are not love. If your prisoner does any of them, they are red flags. If a man sacrifices even part of his ego for you, on the other hand, it is a promising sign.

You’ll know he loves you because he will exercise a healthy love for himself and emanate it equally out toward you. He won’t knowingly put you in any dangerous or compromising situation, nor would he ever ask you to do anything for him that will damage you. Such requests are more signs of exploitation than anything else. Exploitation rarely manifests as love.

You’ll know because his actions will show that he wants you for you and not just for what you can do or provide for them. This is more gray area because, like my dishonest ex-friend, some prisoners are users and they only see the world in terms of what they can get. This tendency characterizes all of their relationships, not just the one he shares with you. But life is also hard in prison and most prisoners need financial support. If they ask for money or some other form of aid, it don’t necessarily mean that they’re trying to take advantage of you.

I once chased a woman away with a request and learned that it’s the quickest way. Women naturally want a man with financial stability and some are turned off by the idea of one asking them for anything. I never knew whether this was her reason or not because she never wrote again with any explanations, but I couldn’t understand it. Not only did she know that I was locked up and therefore couldn’t expect me to have much money, but it was the very first time I had ever asked her for anything, we had communicated for quite a while by then, and I thought we were closer than her response demonstrated.

I only asked because she made me comfortable enough to, which could be another sign. If a man asks you for help, he trusts you enough with the idea that he needs it to show you that vulnerability. Very few men do that with women they feel nothing for. Most men are too proud or stubborn, too preoccupied with wanting you to look up to them to come off as a beggar.

But how do you know when a prisoner is being genuine? Because users play the role all the time. One good way to differentiate is by how much they pay attention to detail. Some prisoners can and often do send their women flowers and other gifts on special days with their own money, but most can’t afford to do this. Besides sending you something purchased with the money you sent them, close attention to detail is the best gift they can offer you. And while it’s not much on the surface, it’s one of the main ingredients for successful relationships with men anywhere.

Don’t Miss Deyon’s Other Story:  I’ll Never Forget Going To Prison

One of the main complaints of women dating free men is that their prince in shining armor is not thoughtful or attentive enough. Being deprived of intimacy in prison gives many incarcerated men this edge because the conditions force us to grow this muscle. Because we have been missing so much of the experience, we are compelled to think more of it, to put more thought into it, and naturally carry that thought process into our next encounters.

We practice loving in our head for years, whereas the average guy in the world, who’s been distracted the whole time, may not be as tuned into your emotional side. He would likely need to wrangle with you a bit and take in much of what you say in order to hear what a prisoner may already see, and that’s if he listens.

Light travels much faster than sound so intuition speeds up the communication. A prisoner has to make up for his inability to touch you with his body. He’s forced to give in ways that will touch you with his mind. If a prisoner truly loves you, he’ll aim for ways that will make a deeper, lasting impression every time. The gratitude that he expresses will be more than occasional thanks for specific things you may have done. It will be a gentle look, word, gesture, or caress (if you two are on a visit) that generally make feel appreciated for what you have been. If you are truly God’s gift to him, he will let you know every opportunity he gets.

I asked another friend what the secret was to he and his wife’s marriage, and he said, “Just listen. I listen to her and she listens to me. We get along quite fine.” He’s been married to her twenty-three years and she’s been in his corner throughout his whole eighteen-year bit. When disagreements arise, it’s probably not that simple for most, but perhaps that’s precisely when it should be. He and his wife’s formula is full of practical lover wisdom: If you and your prisoner listen to each other throughout the complicated disagreements, it will demonstrate a love and willingness that allows nothing to keep you apart.

If a prisoner loves you, he will try to be there for you any way that he can. This goes hand in hand with showing through action that he wants you for you and not for what you can do for him. I don’t have a romantic relationship at present, but I make sure that when I communicate with my sisters that it’s not all business or about what I need in here. I want to know what’s going on with “them,” and I express that concern at least halfway through the call, no matter what we were discussing for the previous seven minutes. Even if it’s the only fifteen-minute call that we have for the next couple weeks, and the matter is urgent, I switch the subject onto them.

Yes, I of all people want to know how it’s going with retaining me a lawyer but love is about giving. I don’t want to hog the moment for myself, that’s taking. And it’s not always about me. Attention is the best thing that I can give them right now—a kind ear, dependable advice, a warm word of encouragement—but how will I know the best way to measure out those things in a way that meets their needs if I don’t listen to them enough to find out what their needs are? As a brother, I’m concerned, sometimes even worried, about their well-being. I want to know everything about what they are dealing with ou there, if not for anything else, to help them navigate it and protect them from the worst that life has to offer. It’s a need for me, and that need to be supportive expresses the very thing that you are looking for in a prisoner.

Love is familial, no matter what form it comes in—lover, spouse, sibling, camrade, neighbor, parent, leader, or colleague. You will know that feeling, that bond, even if it comes from a prisoner. Anyone who truly loves you will always treat you like family. This is perhaps why couples have children. They don’t necessarily start families by getting pregnant, for they already are family prior to the child’s conceptions. Rather, they simply extend the family that they have created among each other and the original love that began with them trickles down to the newborn member. My ex-girlfriend and I once lost a baby. I treated her like family during our relationship out there, could have been there for her even more during this incarceration, and that’s the irony of our loss. I have finally grown into the man she always wanted me to be and now it’ll likely benefit someone else.

To sum it all up, love is to be pleasing. The literal root of the word “love” is “lief” from the latin “libere”, which means “to be dear, be pleasing”. An inmate who truly loves you will always think about what pleases you first and work toward that end.Conversely, he will strive hard to refrain from doing what displeases you because his number one priority in the relationship is to make you happy. His pleasure will derive from seeing you pleased, sharing your smile, and making you feel good. He will always make time for you and you will always lose track of time while you’re around him. His consistency will win your trust, as will his trust for you. Since your gut knows there is no love without trust, after you follow these guidelines, your best bet would probably be to rely on it.

Deyon Neal #360091
Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility

13924 Wadaga Road
Baraga, MI 49908-9204