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Ask Dr. Sherry: 'Help! I Think I'm Falling For An Incarcerated Man'

You’ve seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel Alone in Their Marriages keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show, Braxton Family Values. Now it’s your turn to sit in her chair…

Greetings Dr. Sherry,

I am a 26-year-old nurse and am deeply rooted in my Christian beliefs as a Seventh Day Adventist. A few weeks ago, a co-worker introduced me to a friend of hers who is incarcerated. He and I talked for hours a day and the conversations made me feel alive and kept a smile on my face. Although I told him since day one that I would not be in a relationship with him, he has even gone as far as confessing his love for me. I feel vulnerable and ashamed at times of the friendship he and I are building because of his incarceration and because of my faith.

Should I give this guy a chance although neither of us even know his release date? How could I let him
off without breaking his heart?

Hey sis,

Vulnerable? Yes! Ashamed? No. There is no reason to feel ashamed because your emotions are your emotions regardless if the other person is incarcerated. You have indeed been quite vulnerable. Your occupation as a young nurse makes you a caregiver who wants to meet other’s needs. In prison, this man has a lot of needs! Given your job and ability to listen to him, you are being primed to meet many of his needs. It is really easy for a man incarcerated to tell you how much he loves you, how beautiful and great you are, and all of the other wonderful things you want or need to hear. He is likely to also play on the fact that you are deeply rooted in your Christian beliefs. Given that you are a Christian, he is counting on your willingness to forgive him and look the other way about whatever landed him in prison and any other problems he may have. Remember, it has only been a few weeks since you were first introduced to him and he already “ loves” you. Really? Most people are not sure if they are in heavy “like” at this point. He doesn’t know you and has not even had enough time to really like you. Just because someone one says they like you, you do not have to respond. Ask yourself, what do you really have in common with this man? It is not as if you are going to have a chance to get to know him outside of prison anytime soon. He doesn’t even know when he is going to be released. Being vulnerable and emotionally needy can be dangerous. I recommend that you seek some individual therapy to examine your vulnerability and how you are viewing yourself. Some people will see your vulnerability and use you to their advantage. This often leaves the person extremely hurt and more emotionally wounded than they have ever been. If you truly want to be in a relationship, why would you entertain a person that is incarcerated and physically unavailable? Those are the only things that you definitely know about him. When you want more out of life, you can’t afford to settle for less. Understand your meeting him for what it is and move on. — Dr. Sherry

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