What To Do When Your Boyfriend Gets Out Of Jail

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

  • Incarceration fundamentally alters the dynamics of any relationship and you will need to brace yourself for a different relationship after incarceration. It is however doable.
  • To be able to successfully navigate your relationship after prison, you need to be aware that your boyfriend’s persona is not the same one you knew before he got incarcerated, and he will struggle to get his life back on track the first few months or years after release.
  • Being aware of these facts will help prepare you and also help you make the needed preparations in readiness for his return.
  • The things to do when he gets out of jail are to do life with him and activities that would help me get a new lease on life.

Incarceration always changes the dynamics of any relationship. It will take patience, love, and a strong willingness to work things out for a relationship to survive post-incarceration. If your boyfriend is coming out of jail and you are looking for insights on what to do when he gets out of jail, this article provides some useful insights.

First Things First – Are You Ready? What Jail/prison Does to a Man and Life After Prison for a Former Inmate.

Your boyfriend is coming out of jail and if you’re asking the question of what to do when he gets out of jail, this means that you have weighed up all things and decided to continue the relationship with him. And now, you want to know how to navigate the relationship post-incarceration.

Before we tell you that though, it is important you have all the facts so that you are adequately equipped and ready to navigate the tortuous terrain of life and a continued relationship with your boyfriend post-incarceration. You need to be ready for what is coming because life and relationships after incarceration are never the same as they were before incarceration.

Incarceration Changes Their Person.

Incarceration and the entire criminal justice system is set up in such a way that it dehumanizes the inmates, whether intentionally or by design. It just so happens that the system has a way of stripping inmates of their humanity, dignity, and worth. Inmates are treated with a heavy hand and are subjected to very harsh treatments. They are no longer addressed by their names but with numbers.

All of these, in turn, affect them and in a way rewires them. To adapt to the harsh environment they find themselves in, they have had to adopt survival techniques. Some of these techniques could involve lying and manipulation of sorts to be able to get by. They may have had to take on a different persona. They will constantly be on edge because the prison environment always kept them on edge.

These changes in their character, temperament, and personality are things that you need to be prepared and ready for. You will have to be understanding and gently and lovingly call them out on these when they ultimately exhibit these traits when they are with you because they will. And they are not exhibiting it because they don’t love or respect you. It has become almost second nature to them given their time in incarceration. And the longer they spent in jail, the tougher the new persona and habit become to break. With your love and patience, they will ultimately break out of it but you need to be prepared to be patient with them through that process.

Incarceration affects their chance at a decent life and getting a job.

Given the fact that they have been in prison and have a criminal record, it is almost difficult for inmates to find gainful employment once they step out of prison. It is also difficult for most inmates to find suitable housing or shelter without a place willing and ready to receive them when they get out. The stats on these two aspects; homelessness and unemployment; are very disheartening and one you should be aware of. Take a look:

Homelessness Rate Among Formerly Incarcerated People In the U.S (2008). Source: Prison Policy.

Homelessness Rate Among Formerly Incarcerated People In the U.S (2008)

Unemployment Rate for Formerly Incarcerated People In The U.S. (2008). Source: Prison Policy.

Unemployment Rate for Formerly Incarcerated People In The U.S. (2008)

It’s great that you are considering giving you and your boyfriend a shot once he gets out. That in itself would give him hope and something to look forward to. You will need to ask yourself what the living arrangement will be like when he gets out. Looking at the stats on homelessness of formerly incarcerated persons, you will need to decide whether you are comfortable with him living with you or whether you will assist him with getting a new place until he finds his feet, especially if he has no other family member who is available to assist him. Remember that he has been in jail and has no money or source of income. And as the second stats show, the first two years after release are usually the hardest to find gainful employment. And this would mean that he may not have money or a source of income for at least 6 months after coming out, and may be hoping that you could assist him in whatever way you can.

These are facts you need to be aware of so that you are aware of the difficulties you will have to contend with on his coming out. It will not be rosy but if you are well prepared, it is doable and you will both come out stronger and more in love. 

Relationships After Incarceration – How to Deal With an Incarcerated Loved One.

Now that you know what you have to contend with, how do you deal with an incarcerated loved one and navigate your relationship after incarceration? Here are some helpful ways you can help them:

1. Start preparing for their return while they are still on the inside.

How can you do this?

Make every prison visit count.

As soon as you’ve decided to continue the relationship with him once he comes out, make every visit count. Always be filled with excitement and joy when you visit him even if it is difficult. Remember that he is the one on the inside and already feeling terrible that he’s had to subject you to a changed life. If you appear gloomy and sad when you visit him, it will contribute to making him more miserable.

Start the conversation about life together on release.

In the months leading up to his release, gently start the conversation of what and how they feel about coming out and importantly about both of you. This will assist in also helping you manage both of your expectations and know if there is still something to look forward to.

Make them feel and look forward to coming back and importantly coming back to you.

You do this by being excited and enthusiastic in the way you sound. Your high spirits will infect them too. Remember that you have both been through the worst and the end of the tunnel is in sight.

Get them to talk about the dreams they have.

Do this all the time when you visit them. Ask them what kind of life they look forward to when they come out and the things they would love to do first. Take note of all the nice fancy meals they want to have the first time they come out. That beautiful sunset they want to see or just being able to sleep in their bed without lights on or whatever else it is. All this information will come in handy when you prepare for when they finally come out.

By having them talk about all these early on, you start infusing them with strength and flicker of hope to look forward to coming back. And just knowing that you will be by their side through all of it, will make it even more impactful.

Encourage them in advance to start preparing for life outside by enrolling in the rehabilitative programs offered inside the prison.

A 2014 study showed that only 21% of men enrolled in formal education in prison while only 48% enrolled in other vocational courses.

Education in Prison in the U.S. (2014). Source: Gender Policy

Education in Prison in the U.S. (2014)

Encourage him to join in that 21% or 48%. It will help him start early to get a new lease on life. Try to encourage them as early as possible to get started on this. It will be a good routine for him to get started on while inside the prison. It will also help in keeping them gainfully occupied and this will in turn help them deal with the monotone that is prison life.

Encourage him to take up hobbies and interests and to write more often and read more often.

Gently encourage him towards that direction by telling him that these are things that life on the outside is about and by getting started early inside, he is preparing for when he comes out.

2. Get things ready for the day of their return but keep it low key.

From your earlier conversations with him while he was inside on what he would look forward to the first day he comes out, you can plan a welcome back that is a reflection of his desires. It would mean a lot to him to come back to a reality he had always imagined or dreamed of. If for instance, a hot bath is the first thing he wants when he returns, have the hot bath ready for him on that day he returns. But be careful not to overdo it or go overboard because he is still getting used to life outside prison. Go at his pace.

3. Consider staying apart for some months before moving in together if you were considering moving in together.

This is important for both of your sakes and here’s why. Due to being incarcerated and living arrangements in prison, it may have affected his preferences and disposition when it comes to having his personal space and having someone else in that space. Given that he never had any privacy for a long time, he may want to have his space to himself for at least the first few months. He may not be used to having to wake up to someone else just yet. You on the other hand may want him to be sensitive and very cozy and he may not be there just yet.

It is best to give him time and hold off on moving in together. Consider helping him find a place if he doesn’t have family or encouraging or helping him find a shelter that provides accommodation for recently released inmates.

4. Don’t pressure them and avoid trigger points.

Former inmates tend to be afraid of crowded places the first time they come out. Being in a mall for instance could be overwhelming for them. They may still feel like people will judge them with their steers and as a result, would prefer to stay indoors more often than not. If this is the case, take it slow and easy with them and avoid pressuring them. If you wanted to go to the cinema, reconsider instead and watch a movie indoors because dark places have also been proven to keep a recently released inmate on high alert. All their flight or fight senses are on high alert and a dark room like a cinema will only heighten their senses and keep them on edge and you don’t want that.

Understand that this is a man who has gone through the most. He is no longer the same man you used to know. He needs you to be understanding and accommodating of this.

5. Mentally prepare yourself that you will have to put up with a lot of things.

From everything said earlier, it is clear that you will have to put up with and contend with a lot of things. You need to mentally prepare yourself for this because trust us, it will get hard. There’s no point in kidding yourself and selling yourself the lies and dream that it will be rosy. It will be challenging and being mentally prepared about it in advance is what will help get you through the challenging times when they arise.

6. Go for counseling/therapy.

This is important. You can start the therapy/counseling while he is still inside if this is possible. If it isn’t, consider going with him to counseling /therapy a month or two after he comes out. Seeing someone and talking about his time inside and how he’s coping outside would help him navigate the multitude of emotions he’s having to deal with and process on coming out of prison. It would also help strengthen your relationship because it would help you know how to help him better on the journey of recovery.

7. Help him become a better person.

This you do by lovingly and gently calling him out when he falls into destructive patterns. Remember that he’s had to pick up certain behavioral patterns as a way of surviving while inside and some of them will not always be positive or beneficial. He will need your help unlearning and dropping these bad, negative, and destructive habits. And the only way that will be possible is if you lovingly bring them to his attention and make it clear that they are not acceptable or right.

Things to Do When Your Boyfriend Gets Out of Jail.

Once you’ve taken all of the above steps to help him, these are some things you can do with him to help him get back his lost lease on life. Remember that he is relearning doing life and needs as much support and loving attention to get back on track. These things, even if they seem small, will go a long way in showing him how much you love him and are committed to helping him get back to a normal life.

1. Spend time indoors with him when you hang out.

For the first few months after his release, try to avoid crowded places because these places tend heightening the anxiety and nervousness of a newly released person. It tends to set them on edge. Consider ordering in and watching movies indoors first before going out to places like the cinema or restaurants. You will need to slowly ease him into being comfortable with going to restaurants and malls by starting small. Small baby steps like taking a walk instead and having brunch at a small coffee shop.

2. Keep intimacy to the barest minimum and move at his pace.

The truth is that your boyfriend hasn’t been with a woman for a long time and it may be the last thing on his mind immediately he gets out. He would want to take things slowly. Some things may be trigger points for him. Be patient with him and give him time to get around being close and intimate at a level he’s comfortable with.

3. Surprise him with a gift for no reason.

To make it more fun, you can find creative ways to give him the gift like having it on his bedside and let it be the first thing he wakes up to or bringing it as a breakfast in bed only for him to find a gift with his breakfast. Our articles on Priceless gifts for boyfriend and Cute sentimental gift ideas for boyfriend have cool gift ideas that you can surprise him with and blow him away. These little gestures will warm his heart and make him feel very special.

4. Help him de-stress.

If you feel he’s getting worked up or anxious, don’t stoke it but gently help him de-stress by asking if there’s anything you can do to help. You can also get him gifts for when he’s stressed out to help him de-stress, especially in the first few months after he comes home.

5. Celebrate special occasions with him.

If for instance, it is his birthday, make him feel special by taking him out. Check out our article on How to make my boyfriend feel special on his birthday for very helpful tips on how to make him feel special on his birthday.

Since he will have little to no cash on him, you want to make him feel special without feeling like he is a burden. Our article on Birthday ideas for boyfriend with no money helps give you additional ideas to help in making him feel special. (Also see the article on Expensive gifts for boyfriend’s birthday if you’re thinking of spoiling him with expensive birthday gifts on his birthday.)

If it’s the anniversary of your relationship, celebrate it in a special way with him. These things will go a long way in restoring the normalcy he knew before incarceration.

6. Always tell him you love him.

This may sound cliche but for a man who has been on the inside and wondering why on earth you’re still with him, affirming your love for him as much as possible makes him feel more alive and hopeful. It would tell him that if you can still love him despite all that has happened, then he needs to love himself, forgive himself if he hasn’t done so, and pick up the pieces of his life for the both of you.


1. Does jail change a man and what happens when a man comes home from jail?

Jail or prison does the unthinkable to a man. As we said earlier, it rewires them because of how dehumanizing the system is. They change, and usually, it is not for the better. Jail life comes with a harshness that one can never understand unless they’ve been on the inside.

And this is why, when a man comes home from jail, he needs to start his life from scratch. He will also have to relearn how to live a normal life and make decisions because in jail they are not allowed to make decisions or have a voice or life of their own. Added to that, life inside prison is slow and monotonous and not as fast-paced as it is in the outside world. When he comes home from jail he needs to again rewire himself and readjust to the normal life as we know it.

2. Is having a relationship with an inmate/prisoner advisable?

It is not advisable to begin a relationship with an inmate who is in prison. It is a different story if you were already dating them before they got incarcerated.

If however, you want to start a relationship with someone already incarcerated, you need to tread with caution for the following reason. There is ample evidence that most inmates will use you, your time and resources to get by, with no real affection or interest in you.

Additionally being on the inside is dark and gloomy and they could be stringing you along as the ray of hope they have until they get out.

Be absolutely certain and sure of the risks involved and that you are not setting yourself up for heartbreak before you decide to embark on a relationship with an inmate.

3. Is dating someone who just got out of jail advisable?

Again, it is not advisable to date someone who just got out of jail so soon after they’ve come out. You don’t want to be a crutch they use to get by but rather a valued and loved partner in the relationship. It is advisable to allow some time for him to settle down into a normal life first, or at least getting a hang of it, before getting into the relationship.

A man who just got out of jail is more interested and focused on getting his life back on track and getting back to having a normal life. In the months when he is trying to do that, he may not exactly be in the frame of mind to navigate a relationship with the passion and intensity you’ll expect or think is normal.

Remember that he is rewired and will need to unlearn and unbecome the person he may have had to be in prison to survive. You will need to ask yourself if you are ready to deal with the two main facts we pointed out earlier on, in this new relationship. If you are, then well and good. Otherwise, it is advisable to give him some time before entering the relationship.

4. My boyfriend just got out of jail, how do you deal with a lover who has been incarcerated?

You love them unconditionally. Since you have decided to continue with the relationship, love him unconditionally. Help him in his journey on getting back his life and having it return to normalcy as much as possible. He will have very few friends. He will be vulnerable at times and anxious. He needs your love, patience, and understanding to get through those hard and difficult months after being released from prison. Follow through the steps in this article and together you will come out of it being stronger and more in love.

5. What do prisoners get upon release and do prisoners get money when released?

It varies from State to State. They get a discharge certificate and in some States are given some amount of money. It is best to ask at the relevant offices to get the correct and precise information.

6. What do I expect when an inmate comes home and how do I help an inmate when he is released?

When an inmate comes home, life will not exactly be the same as you are used to. They are a different person from before they got incarcerated and you will need to be prepared to deal with the change in personality.

You can help them by lovingly and patiently helping them navigate getting adjusted to life outside prison.

If you can, give them a place to stay or at least help them find one either with a shelter or an affordable place.

If you can provide some form of financial assistance to help them get back on their feet, consider helping them in this way because formerly incarcerated persons have it harder reintegrating into society and the odds seem ever stacked against them especially in the first two years after their release.


Incarceration always affects relationships. Once you decide to continue the relationship with your boyfriend who is in jail, you will need to lovingly and patiently help them navigate the journey of returning to a normal life.

Given their life on the inside, they will face some challenges in getting adjusted back to life on the outside and especially with getting a decent job and a place to stay. Being aware of these facts will help you in knowing exactly what preparations to make in anticipation of his return.

By doing life after prison with them through the things listed in this article, you will help your boyfriend regain his confidence and work towards regaining normalcy to life that he had forgotten about. And importantly, it will strengthen the bond of love between both of you. It will not be easy, but it is not impossible.





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