The Dating Debacle for Registrants

Who do you tell, what do you say and when do you say it?

That’s just one of the many dilemmas facing single registrants trying to reintegrate back into the dating world.

Getting out there an socializing is risky business and it’s filled with many possible pitfalls.

But this is what you are supposed to do isn’t it?  Isn’t this what those prison lectures on “reintegration” were all about.  How you’re supposed to get out there and resume your life, build a support network of friends and acquaintances, build relationships.

What those reintegration lectures failed to address was the little issue of “socializing when you are wearing a scarlet letter.” How is that supposed to work?

In today’s techno-era, meeting people is most often accomplished by joining a dating website and swiping left or right. But that doesn’t work for  registrants who may not be allowed access to smartphones. And as for dating websites, a lot of those websites specifically exclude “sex-offenders” from joining.   

Nope, most registrants can’t get back into the dating scene this way.

So, how about meeting someone at work?  A lot of people start relationships with someone they meet at work.  Sure, it may get awkward if you start dating and then brake up, but people do it, it happens all the time. Lives go on, people keep working, they keep their jobs, usually not a big deal.

But for a registrant, hooking up with someone at your job is dicey.

For many registrants, their “status” is a pretty closely guarded secret at their job. Their offense information may have been shared with their employer when they were hired, but other than that, no one else usually knows.

So, if you do meet someone at work, how many dates do you go on “before” you bring up your registrant status?  Is it a first date issue?  A third date?  How much time do you give yourself and the other person to know and trust each other before you before you drop “Oh, by the way, I’m on the registry” in their lap?

Revealing your status to someone you are dating, especially someone you work with, is a roll of the dice.

Best case scenerio, they ask questions about your offense, the registry, what it all means and you provide answers and they’re OK with it. They may not be thrilled with the disclosure but they’re OK, willing to give you a chance and dating continues. And, they are willing to keep your status confidential.

Worse case scenerio, they drop you like a hot potato and run screaming to tell all their friends at work about your status.

No matter what you do you need to be prepared that sometimes it just may not end well. It’s a risk. And only you can decide whether to take that risk.

Let’s face it, there is no handbook for registrants dating. As a registrant there are a lot of places that normal people go on dates that you just can’t go like public parks, baseball games at public parks, certain public arenas, areas where kids congregate (although I will never understand that one since kids are everywhere) etc. Whoever you date is going to have to understand that there are limitations as to where you can go, what you can do. And if you start dating, keep in mind that the other person probably has family and friends so somewhere down the road there may be all sorts of explaining to do. Family, friends, that’s a whole different issue you’ll have to deal with.

But the registry folks, P.O.’s, Sex Offender Group Counselors, none of them have the answers regarding how you are supposed to navigate this dating quagmire. None of them will be able to tell you who, when, where, what or how to broach the subject of being on the registry with someone you are dating. (It makes me mad that they institute these rules without thinking of the whole domino effect that just telling just one person may have).

None of those folks are in your shoes, they’ve never had to deal with this and despite their best intentions, none of them can guarantee how things will work out if you divulge your status. They don’t risk losing friends or a job. The only advice they share is to say that at some point you have to reveal you are on the registry. And, oh, by the way, if you are on parole, you’ll need to inform the person you’re dating that their personal info, name, address, phone number etc, will need to be submitted to your P.O. (That alone has the potential to put a damper on dating, what date wants to be included in all that drama?)

And then, if you do reveal your status, despite assurances that they won’t tell anyone, what happens if others you work with find out?  The potential for problems is enormous.  You could be harassed, shunned or worse. Your “status” could become such a distraction at your job that it could cost you your job.

Is dating someone you work with worth that?

Suddenly finding love at work isn’t sounding like such a good idea either.

So what are the options for registrants?

Meeting people through family and friends is always a possibility.  You never know who knows someone that they think would “be perfect for you”. Of course your idea of who’s perfect for you and your great-aunt Tilly’s idea of someone who’s perfect for you might be worlds apart.  But hey, you never know.

Church groups, clubs, meeting someone in the produce isle at the grocery store, there’s a million possibilities out there. Not easy, but not impossible either.

Dating is a challenge for registrants.

It shouldn’t have to be this hard.  Parole rules and registry regulations shouldn’t make a natural human function so damn difficult for one specific group of people.  I dare say that it’s almost as if the rule makers truly believe that registrants dating will lead to further offenses so they purposely make things so burdensome and prohibitative that registrants won’t even attempt to date. They stay home, don’t attempt to socialize and miss out on living their lives. This isn’t right and it isn’t fair.

When do you say something?  What do you say?  How do you know if you can trust someone? There’s no easy answers.

Dating for registrants is like navigating a mind field. If you choose to take a chance you need to proceed carefully and cautiously knowing full well that things could blow up in your face at any moment or if you’re lucky, you just might make it through unscathed.

Each person must decide for themselves what’s right for them. Whether taking a chance is worth it. The risk for each of us is different.

For all who are out there trying to date, to regain their footing and build relationships, let’s hope you come through “unscathed”.  





6 thoughts on “The Dating Debacle for Registrants

  • March 7, 2019 at 8:14 am

    You could be harassed, shunned or worse. Your “status” could become such a distraction at your job that it could cost you your job.” – That’s what precisely happened to me, (and in that order). I worked at a job that employs inmates at the local prison. I got along well with everyone, even the inmates, i even received a promotion, pay raise, and a bonus. One day, a coworker looked up the registry and found me on it and told everyone there. Within a month’s time all those things occoured to me. A conviction of one count of child pornography that my employer knew of; blew into serial “child rapist” and i eventually got fired on my birthday.

  • December 13, 2018 at 6:51 am

    I was convicted in 2012 for child pornography (CP). 2 nights in jail and a 5 year probation sentence that was overturned. I appear on the registry as a tier 2 for distribution of CP due to using a file sharing program to download. The 6 deleted questionable photos that were forensically found were actually 6 deleted thumbnails. I took the plea agreement.

    I’ve attempted to date several times. I had a 2 year relationship that ended amicably. My rule of thumb is that I do NOT allow my registry status to define who I am. My registry status represents a low point event in my life years ago. It is not who I am. When starting to date someone I always wait 4 or 5 dates until whomever she is can get to know my heart and truly see who I am. I take a high moral position and do not start sexual relationships until I am completely convinced she understands. This takes time. My belief is that with the registry, we no longer can be cavalier about our sex lives. I have also found that not pursuing sex has allowed for a greater understanding of whomever I am interested in. Once a woman understands that sex is not an expectation they relax and open themselves up to me. A trust can be gained.

  • June 13, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    Your assumption that authorities “institute[d] these rules without thinking of the whole domino effect that just telling just one person may have” is mistaken. The entire purpose of the registry is to isolate sex offenders in every way possible to make them vulnerable to the local 12-pack powered vigilantes.

    • June 14, 2018 at 9:43 am

      Wm. G. Thomas-
      I agree, the registry has “set up” registrants for possible attacks by vigilantes, the powers that be know this and yet have chosen to do nothing about it. What authorities didn’t seem to think about was the fact that registrants have families and friends. If the idea was to alienate registrants, the laws succeeded in doing that, but it also alienated the children, wives, husbands, extended families and friends of registrants.
      Some states are just beginning to understand the “collateral damage” the registry has caused.

  • June 13, 2018 at 12:43 am

    I was arrested in the late 80s,convicted, and spent 20 years in prison, with a 4 month “parole vacation” after 11 years.
    I am very much against the registry, but, for our (those of us on the registry) purposes, it is just a sad fact of life.
    Dating is hard even without being a convicted sex offender. Its truly intimidating when the whole sex offender discussion takes place.
    I had one woman who reacted badly when I told her. I frequented the dog park, back then, and was actually quite well liked. This woman not only decided she did not want me around her…she told everyone at the park.
    For about a week, I was shunned. People would just turn and walk away if I approached. Another lady informed me of what was going on, the second day into this. I kept going back, anyway, and eventually some of the ladies started hanging out with me again.
    I ended up living with one of them for about a year.
    You just never know, but, don’t be shamed into being a hermit.
    I’ve been with my wife quite a while, now. Even after all of these years, my status is still stressful and painful for her.
    I had a bunch of dudes at a bar wanting to beat me up because a woman I wasn’t even dating, but we were friends and she knew my story, got mad and started trouble.
    If you don’t want to be alone, you have to take risks. You will probably be rejected and hurt many times…but that is normal, anyway.
    Just be careful about picking the person to take risks for, is all.

  • May 31, 2018 at 4:41 am

    I didn’t reveal my status to my last girlfriend until after 4 years. My name was withheld from being listed for many years. Then suddenly in 2010, I was added on the internet. With no advance notice that this was going to happen, coworkers confronted me about this. Everything changed that day and my world turned upside down. So, I then had to tell my girlfriend. She was good about it, but she only lasted another year. But the problem was, I didn’t know when to tell her or anyone else. Since there was nothing about me anywhere on the internet, I was hoping to live a normal life with no one knowing. It was killing me not to tell my girlfriend, but each date I delayed the harder it became to tell her. I was also afraid if I told her or anyone, then my secret might get out. I’m not ever dating again, I can’t handle the stress it causes for relationships.


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