Dating a Sex Offender
Increasing anonymity is one of the hallmarks of modern society – unlike in a close-knit community where young men and women grow up as neighbors, churchgoers or classmates, in today’s world how much really do you know of the man or woman you get chatting with at a coffee shop? So it is not an impossible scenario where you find that the charming young man you have been dating was actually legally charged or even convicted as a sex offender. If something like this has happened to you, here is what you can do.
Take stock of the situation
There are several ways you may have come across the fact that the guy you are dating is a sex offender. You may have heard it through the grapevine in your community or workplace; more likely you may have ‘googled’ the guy’s name out of idle curiosity and found out that he was listed as a sex offender or you may have run a background check on your date and come up with his name in a database of registered sex offenders. The rootlessness of denizens of modern society has been sharply accentuated by the anonymity of the internet with the result that though the dating pool may have expanded to include the planet, you can never be sure of the background of the person you are dating – in the real or virtual world. Indeed reputed online dating agency match.com recently announced in April 2011 that it will start doing sex offender background checks for people who use its services. This came after a woman filed a lawsuit against the online dating agency claiming that she was attacked by a man she met at Match.com1. So the onus of gathering the facts lies on you. If you indeed suspect your date of being a sex offender, look up the internet or law enforcement databases for confirmation of your doubts. You need to remember that there are various levels of sex offenders, depending on the severity of their crime. If you have doubts about where to look for confirmation and how to sift the facts from a lot of legalese, you could take the help of a lawyer or a registered private investigator. Once you have the facts in place, you will be better prepared to take a decision.
Confront your partner
The most important step of course is to ask your partner what this is all about. Let him give you his side of the story and listen patiently as he speaks. If you have already dated several times, he should have come clean from the very start and you are perfectly within your rights to know why he didn’t. You may also wish to speak to his counselor if he has been asked by law to go for sessions or his parole officer if he was convicted any time in the past. You can even ask for access to police files or his written confession to the police to get a clearer view of the picture. And once you heard from the important professionals involved in the case, it may be time for you to take a call.
A second chance
Whether or not you are willing to put your date’s past as a convicted sex offender will depend a great deal on what he has made of his life right now. If he has served his sentence and is willing to move on, then perhaps he should have a chance at love. But before you feel this way for your date, ensure that he is sincere about leading a reformed life. You can deduce this by the kind of company he is keeping and his seriousness in getting a job. If your partner is seeing a therapist, has enrolled for a college program or has already found work, it means that he is sincere about joining mainstream society. If your partner keeps away from behaviors and people who can draw him back into a life of crime, it could mean that he is doing his best to move on. At the same time though you need to be careful about your own wellbeing and that of your children, if you have any. Don’t rush into any kind of relationship with this person; even if you are completely satisfied that your partner has reformed, don’t allow him access to your home and family any time soon. Spend a lot of time, say more than a year, getting to know him and when you truly believe that there is nothing to fear, you may think of getting serious about this guy.
Tread very carefully
Unfortunately a sexual offender is not the same as a shoplifter or even a petty conman. Those who sexually abuse women, children and others in a weaker position have deep-seated psychological issues and are completely lacking in morality, not to mention having a complete disregard for the law. It is extremely unusual for such people to change their nature; so even if your date has served time behind bars and appears to lead a reformed life now, it is best to keep your guard on. If you have just started dating and barely know this person, it would be best to move on. And even if you have spent some time with him, you should always consider whether any date is risking your own well-being and that of your family.