How to Maintain a Relationship with a Loved One in Prison

Quick Summary, please note these are just suggestions that we have heard over the years (we are not relationship experts):

  • Communicate as much as possible (FedPhoneLine can help with that!)
  • Stay positive and surround yourself with positive people
  • Visit whenever possible

NOTE:  Any views or opinions represented in this blog belong solely to the FedPhoneLine staff.  WE ARE NOT Psychologists or Therapy Professionals, all data and information on these blogs is for informational purposes ONLY. In the comments section we are hoping that people can outline their experiences and foster communication that will assist others going through similar events.

Long distance relationships are hard enough to maintain let alone long distance relationships with a loved one! I’m single so I have no experience with this!  I decided to reach out to people who are actually going through the difficult task of maintaining a relationship with an incarcerated individual, then I took all the information and summarized it.  Here’s what I came up with, i’m sure there are plenty more helpful hints, please leave them below in the comments:

Communicate as much and as frequently as possible:

Phones and letters, that’s basically all you have, so make it count.  Try not to fight on the phone and if you do fight try not to  hang up angry (easier said than done sometimes).  Be aware that he/she may not have a lot of time to use the phone, so when he/she says they are going to call you at a specific time and they don’t try not to get upset or question it too much.  Phone calls cost a lot, a good way to make your phone calls last longer is to use a service (like FedPhoneLine), the worst thing that happens is when the institution forgets to put money on your loved one’s phone card and through no fault of his/her own he/she cannot use the phone for the entire month!  We recommend that you purchase one of our Collect Call numbers to use for emergencies click here for more details.

Also write as much as you can, most incarcerated people LOVE to receive mail, remember all significant holidays , make reading fun,  add photos or fun games to keep them engaged and happy! (We will do a blog on fun letters you can write and games you can play in the near future.)

Visit as often as possible:

Now this is subjective, some do not like visits but for the ones that do a visit is a HUGE stress relief.  Again, try not to fight you only have a limited time together, but make it count and be sure to talk about important issues that need to be taken care of (bill payments, release plan etc., as well as fun things happening in your life).  Visits are tough, jail/prison is a negative environment so he/she may be in that ‘mind state’ for a while…which leads to the next point.

young woman reading valentines card

Keep the memories alive:

I can’t say I understand this, but it seems very prevalent in my discussions and research so here goes (how many of you can relate?) Wear his clothes or cook yourself a meal that she enjoyed to keep the memories and love fresh in your mind.   View pictures and albums of the two of your together.  Just don’t let it consume all of your time, everything in moderation, which brings up the next point.

Keep yourself busy:

This goes for both yourself and your incarcerated loved one.  Work on making yourselves better people, the incarcerated individual may get educated, treatment or become healthier by eating right and working out.  The person outside (and I thought this was a great idea by one individual) can take an online cooking class to cook better meals or work on eating healthier (things that can be done and not take too much time away from a busy schedule.)


Patience was a term everybody interviewed stated as a ‘must have’.  Jail/Prison is a foreign place, if you haven’t been there, it is tough to comprehend.   Sometimes he/she will need to stop talking to you on the phone and speak to somebody beside them (this could happen for a number of reasons) as annoying as it is sometimes just be patient.  He/She may not be able to see your point of view or vice versa; since you are in two different environments it’s very difficult to see eye-to-eye on some issues but patience keeps a tense situation from boiling over and wasting precious time arguing.

Stay Positive:

We come to the most important point.  STAY POSITIVE.  Easier said than done!  Many will try to bring you down whether it be family and friends, crushing loneliness, stress of life, etc.  Just keep going and doing what makes you happy, if this person makes you happy then it is worth fighting for, it’s worth the pain and it’s worth the struggle.

For all the people that are successfully maintaining long distance relationships please leave your tips in the comment section below.