Thursday 23 May 2019

Dear Mary: My prisoner boyfriend is playing hard to get

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Mary O’Conor

I met a guy years ago who is in prison and will be for a long time yet. I met him through another person. At the beginning it was friends and he would ring and I started to visit him. He now rings every day.

In the beginning neither of us wanted a relationship - him because of his situation and me as I was just out of a bad relationship.

As time went on I found myself getting closer and closer to this guy. I have a great friendship with him and have formed a great relationship with his family.

We buy each other presents for birthdays and Christmas and even on Valentine's Day.

And other times when he needs anything I would pick it up for him, and this has been going on since we met.

I'm a single working mother of two teenagers and he asks about the kids on a daily basis even though he's never met them.

He bought me quite an expensive gift for Christmas which he put a lot of thought into. And yet he still treats the relationship as a friendship.

He knows I'm extremely fond of him and want to be with him when he gets out, but he's still saying he wants no relationship right now but when he does get out he wants to be with me.

I'm really confused as to what is going on with him when he says we are friends but all things point to us currently being in a relationship.

Am I wrong? Are we just friends? Or am I just been kept on the long finger until something better comes along?

Should I go now and save myself the heartache or stay and see how it goes?

I have told him I'm willing to wait, and think I have proved myself enough in the last few years that I'm not going anywhere.

Obviously I can't force him to say he has feelings for me if he doesn't, and I don't know how to ask if he does.

I do a lot for this man and how can I find out if he really wants a relationship at the end of his time or is he just wasting my time?

I have also asked him was there any future for us. But the answer was the same - when he is released. But not once has he said he loves me or cares about me.

Please help.

A I feel you are being a little unrealistic about all of this in wanting to have the relationship clearly defined.

Your friend on the other hand is being totally realistic by telling you that he cannot commit to anything until he is released.

You say that he still has a lot of his sentence to serve and so it may be many years, even with good behaviour, before he is out.

You are visiting him and having telephone conversations every day and you have also become friendly with his family.

But you are having none of the normal things that happen in a relationship - no walks together, no meals, no time spent with friends, no cinema visits or having a drink in the pub and no sex.

So over the last number of years you have got to know each other pretty well but it is all in a prison setting and so the relationship has not had a chance to grow.

You have been very loyal, and followed your heart, by continuing to see him exclusively and not look around for somebody else.

You were out of a bad relationship when you met him and were obviously hurt and right now there is no danger of you being hurt because he cannot be proactive in the relationship. So in some ways this situation suits you even though I'm sure you wish it were otherwise.

I don't think it is a case of him waiting for something better to come along. On the contrary, he may be very afraid that you may meet somebody before he gets out and because of that he is unwilling to let you know his feelings. No doubt you have reflected on his past crimes and the risk of re-offending and you are fairly sure that all will be well in the future.

My advice to you is to stop looking for reassurance from him about his feelings, be realistic about the situation you find yourself in and live in the moment rather than always worrying about what is ahead.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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