Dating a level 3 sex offender

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: I have been dating this man for 8 months. It has been a perfect relationship in every way, but I struggle with the fact that he is a level 3 sex offender. These 2 incidences happened over 10 years ago. I want to believe and trust him. I tried to get more information on the offenses, but I keep drawing blanks. I keep spying on his email, computer, and web sites he visits. I don’t want to be a spy, but it seems like I am just waiting for something bad to happen. I love him dearly and would truly like to be able to trust his stories about what happened and to understand that what happens in the past, stays in the past. God knows we are all far from perfect. Please advise.

A: However “perfect” this relationship is, there are many things wrong with this picture. You apparently can’t get a straight answer from your guy about what he did. You’re resorting to snooping. Secrets and suspicion are not the basis of a good relationship.

In Massachusetts, a Level 3 designation by the Sex Offender Registry Board means that there has been a very, very serious offense. Information about who is in that category and what they were convicted of is freely available on the Internet. Find out what your boyfriend is hiding and then have a serious talk. If he is serious about making a relationship with you, he should be able to acknowledge exactly what he did and how it hurt his victims. He should be able to tell you how he made amends to his victims and what treatment he got to make it unlikely that he’ll offend again.

Yes, people can move on from very serious mistakes. But part of recovery in the area of sex offending is for the person to own what they did to the people who matter in his life. If he can’t do that and continues to insist on secrecy, you should probably rethink how “perfect” he really is.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 Oct 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Dating a level 3 sex offender. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/10/31/dating-a-level-3-sex-offender/