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Finding one of my pen pals a little overwhelming?

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Cleo95
Cleo95's picture
Finding one of my pen pals a little overwhelming?

Hello all! 

So I have another pen pal that I email through JPay and he emails back. I’m enjoying it so far, but I’m finding it a little overwhelming because 1) he emails back pretty quickly (usually within a day) and then expects me to do so as well. If I don’t, and usually it takes me about 5-7 days to reply, he’ll send another email to ask if everything is okay whether I’m still interested in being his friend. I understand that it’s lonely in there anf all that, I just need time to be able to sit down and write properly and I’m always busy as well. I know he does have family and a son as well as other supportive people that he emails regularly, though.

The other thing is he is so overly complimentary towards me that it makes me uncomfortable. He’s always complimenting me on my looks and personality and he tells me I’m his favourite thing in the whole world and I just feel like how? We’ve only been taking for a month! I know we’re both looking for friendship, but I just think he doesn’t have to say all that to keep me as a pen pal. He’s cool and nice enough and I do enjoy talking to him on the whole! 

Any help on this would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance! 

 

FrankieBones
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The way to deal with this is to provide the reassurance that you're not going anywhere. There was a discussion on this topic recently so you may be able to find it. But sometimes its about the point of saying "I'm not going anywhere" until they get the point. A lot of these people have been abandoned by society and may only have a handful of people they can contact and sometimes its less than that.

As to the second point, being young, and anything qualifying as moderately attractive or better may become the bane of your existence. There is a kind of desperation to grab hold of anything moderately attractive that still has a pulse due to the circumstances of their situation where they are not only consider "outcasts" of society but also where the only women they may ever see in their lives in the facility their in are prison staff, nurses, nurse technicians, doctors, and psyches. There is a temptation to grab hold of anything of the opposite sex as a prisoner and you're not the first person to raise the issue if that helps.

The way I see it in this situation is that you have to learn to be direct with your intentions. Text is a medium that has nuances and can be read in various ways... If your clear intention is that "I am not looking for any sort of relationship except a platonic one, and I will only ever be your friend." You need to say that, and if after a number of attempts it starts to make you feel uncomfortable then explain why this is so and why you won’t be writing to him anymore.
 There are plenty of other people to write to.

As to the institutional email… It’s easy to get excited about it when they can write a little something quickly. It becomes a bit like “texting.” If you don’t want to do that then that’s also your choice. You might just want to explain, “you don’t have the time/can’t afford to respond every few hours.” And “Given that I live in Australia and our dollar is only worth 60cents I can’t really do that for you because its costing me the money I would otherwise use to [insert THING/S here].”

davey1800
davey1800's picture

That’s the bane of JPay emailing if they can JPay back.... it’s very quick,  very direct and offers the opportunity for daily correspondence. But if you only wanted to converse once a week.... well.... that can cause confusion for the inmate.

JPay has been the bane of my pen pal adventures so far, as those with the ability to write back have overdone it and it got boring for us very quickly. I now only have one pen pal in Texas who I send daily JPays to (jokes, short stories etc..) but the proper conversation takes place in our weekly snail mail exchange. This gives us time to respond to each other’s questions and points without running out of things to talk about. She’s in a cell with a bunkie right now 24/7 but may be about to go back to a dorm setting, so she may not need those daily JPays in a week or so due to having more people to connect with daily.

 

 

Northernyank
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I think he's just very excited to have you as a pen-pal and he's caught up in the newness of it. I use to call my husband my steady drip of "dopamine" because I felt a rush of excitement with every jpay and letter I received from him. I actually still do, which is why I had to marry this man. 

loe31
loe31's picture

Hi Cleo! I use Jpay with all of my pen pals right now so I definitely understand what you're experiencing. I have 3 at the moment that I write with daily. I actually LOVE having messages every day but I am also super busy so at times it can get overwhelming when I can't respond right away. I have had them express concern one or two times that they're worried about where I am or why I haven't replied back the same day.  Like the previous posters mentioned, I think the problem is both fear of abandonment and ease of access. Even if they're busy with work or school they still often have more time to respond immediately and I think it's hard for them to wrap their minds around all the barriers to that out here. Some of my pals seem to see it as "just like texting" but I don't want another person to "just text", I have enough of that out here! So I've had to explain, in order to write a thoughtful response and build a friendship, which is the point of writing for me, I have to have time and clarity to sit down and respond as if it were a letter. 

I also agree 100% with the reassurance piece. You might have to say it every message for a while. "Hey! Just so you know [XYZ] are the reasons I wouldn't be able to reply right away but I commit to not ghosting you!" Or however you want to word it. I've even sent a quick message before saying "Got your message, having a busy day but I'll get back to you asap!" I've literally spelled out the things that would prevent me from being in contact so if I'm delayed in responding they know exactly what's up. And over time (it's been about two months for my longest correspondence) they stopped seeming so worried. 

With the intensity of the compliments etc. I've experienced that as well. I chalk it up to social awkwardness due to circumstances but also I think a month is plenty of time to decide that someone is awesome and be really excited about it! I'm pretty close with one of my pals and I compliment the heck out him right back (in a platonic way!). I'm not suggesting you do that but you can always reply back and match his enthusiasm with something nice but more subdued, "I think you're great too!" or whatever. He'll get the hint and if he doesn't yeah, spell it out for him for sure. WE. ARE. FRIENDS. haha.  

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

Hi Cleo,

I think most of what I could say has been said already, in part by Frankie, in part by Northern. The situation you describe is exactly the reason why I'm not a fan of writing emails too soon. I'm doing it with my 1st pp, but we were months into writing when we started. Snailmail is helping to build a fundament & to make things grow slowly, but surely. Not rushing in & then there's an "Oops" effect. Besides this, in my opinion, every relation or contact has to find its own tone & rhythm first which can take a while sometimes. 

One of my pp recently asked me about the laws here about possible relocating. (No,, not the one being on parole this summer, he's far more realistic). And in my answering letter I was like: "Hey, buddy, where are you, what are you dreaming about?" But we can become very important to them, they can become very attached to us. But then it's the not so nice job to tell them gently, but firmly, what is or isn't going on. I like him a lot (particularly that one, we DO have a connection, yes), but that does NOT mean leaving my partner or anything. And that's sth. that has to be made clear. sometimes it's about boundaries, plain and simple. And you can be firrm and gentle at the same time.

I wish you luck and sensitivity on that one,

Kirsten

Cleo95
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@Frankie Yeah, I know what you’re saying is true. I think I was just kind of viewing him and our interaction in the same light as I would view a dude out here, but I understand that things are completely different in there and that he may not mean to come across the way that he is! I’ll definitely try to be more reassuring towards him when I write next time! I do plan on being his friend for however long he wants! I will say though, that I don’t think he has romantic intentions? I told him I was only looking for friendship right from the start and he said if that’s what I want, that’s what he’ll be. I think the compliments and all that are probably because he’s afraid I’ll leave or something? But yes, I’ll definitely try to be more supportive and lenient and more reassuring! Thanks Frankie! 

 

@Davey Yeah, I’m starting to feel that too! I’m scared I’m going to run out of things to say and ask soon lol! I think the JPay with the snail mail is kind of a happy medium, so I might ask him if he wants to switch over to snail mail as well! Thanks for your input! 

 

@NorthernYank Yes, I think you’re right and maybe I may have been too quick to judge. I really did forget that things are different in there and that he might not have as many people in his life than I do out here. Hopefully we can find a good balance though! It’s all fairly new so maybe this is just growing pains haha. I do get excited to receive his responses though!! Thanks Northern! 

 

@loe31 Hey girl! I totally get what you’re saying about the texting thing! Even though it’s email, I sort of treat it like writing a letter and so I want to be able to take my time and really write what I think and feel and be as in-depth as possible - and for that I need time! I do think that he’s a super great guy and I try and compliment him when I can, it’s just that I’m worried that he might think I’m leading him on or something, if that makes sense? I’m pretty sure we both want a friendship though. And he’s much older than me so I feel like if he was seeking a relationship, wouldn’t he want someone older? I didn’t consider the abandonment issue, so I think I definitely have to be more empathetic when it comes to that! I’ll definitely try to be more reassuring from now on and when I can, I’ll be more transparent! Thank you for your response!! 

 

@Kirsten I actually added my pen pal on JPay thinking I’d send him an email first and then he’d reply via snail mail, but he reached out to me before I could do any of that. I am thinking of asking him if we could do actual letters though, hopefully he’ll be up for it! Yeah the pace of our emails are kind of all over the place. I do like writing him and he seems great, but I do feel like he asks all these questions and I’ll give well thought out answers, but he doesn’t acknowledge my answers or we don’t discuss things further? Like he’ll ask questions, wait for my answer and then ask completely different questions! I’m going to chalk it up to new excitement and as @loe said, social awkwardness! It’s amazing the connections we build though! And I am looking forward to interacting more and developing these friendships! Did your pen pal want to move to Germany or did he want you to move the US? Thank you for your wishes and I will definitely try to be more empathetic towards him, I think. May I won’t hold him to the standards of people out here! 

 
FrankieBones
FrankieBones's picture

Let me just say I understand you with the way a lot of dudes are in Australia, its toxic, but I can reassure you one of the many reasons why I'm here like you are is because I'm not one of those dudes. It took me months of saying "honestly, I'm not going anywhere." And then there is those dudes here and elsewhere that simply need constant reassurance and kill whatever kind of relationship that it is.

On the other hand, a lot of them don't do it deliberately, they do it because they've been abandoned by everyone they care about and they're just scared you will be another one of those people that talks to them for a while... or worse yet... among some of these people that write to prisoners... Write to them for a while out of the novelty of "writing a prisoner" and then they abandon them after the novelty wears off leaving all the trust to be broken, and the hurt to be continued which fosters even more distrust of people.

I do think you need to be clear with him, so he doesn't think "maybe I have a chance..." and this is especially a problem for women who are young, and anything resembling "atractive" in any sense, which you are (without hiting on you at all). Because guys, especially without the sense of confidence, will have a tendency to get carried away with their emotions and therfore their emotional responses to you, which is what you're noticing.

anderson
anderson's picture

I believe "insecure" describes him better than "overwhelming"...

Cleo95
Cleo95's picture

@Frankie I definitely intend to be in this for the long haul! I don’t want to cause any issues with anyone that may lead to them feeling abandoned!  But yes, you’re definitely right that I should be more clear and concrete in stating my intentions! Will definitely do that next time I write! Thank you!

@Anderson Yeah, you could be right in that he is insecure, but that way that manifests itself in his behaviour is definitely overwhelming to me 

FrankieBones
FrankieBones's picture

I don't want to patronise you at all, you're your own person but given my past relationship experiences and understanding of the nature of "things" I could understand why...and without "mansplaining" it. "Sometimes when you do these things of needing too much of my time, or you dote on me like this when we're not a "thing" it makes me feel uncomfortable/"creeped out..." Because... [insert many reasons here] of the types of problems I've had to deal with "low confidence" stalker dudes who I'm not sure are carrying a hatchet..."
 

Kirsten
Kirsten's picture

Hi Cleo,

to answer the question you asked me: He was talking about coming to Germany. But I just take it for what it probably is: A lonely guy's dream to make life in a hard environment just a tad easier. He has still a while to go, both with or without parole. Who knows what's going to happen during these years... who knows whether we'll be in contact til the end of his sentence at all. (I don't plan to stop writing, but my physical health condition isn't the best, so I won't go making plans for a time so far ahead). 

But since he never asked for $$ or anything (and we started writing short stories together from letter # 1 on, we do have a connection), I don't think there's anything like scamming I'd have to worry about.

Happy writing,

Kirsten
 

anderson
anderson's picture

"I’m enjoying it so far, but I’m finding it a little overwhelming because 1) he emails back pretty quickly (usually within a day) and then expects me to do so as well. If I don’t, and usually it takes me about 5-7 days to reply, he’ll send another email to ask if everything is okay whether I’m still interested in being his friend."

That's part of the reason of why I'm sticking to snail mail. I don't have time to reply people instantly. Even with my best friend, with whom I exchange e-mails, I take 1 week or 1 month to reply. I also like to think about what I'm writing, before sending. I don't want empty chatter! I pointed that here: https://writeaprisoner.com/prison-forum/general-prison-talk/overseas-sna... .

Cleo95
Cleo95's picture

@Frankie I don’t think you’re being patronising at all! I know your advice comes from a good place! I will definitely say what you’ve said though, maybe not in those exactly words lol, but definitely I’ll be more clear! Thanks!! 

@Anderson yeah I know that now. Not saying that I regret using JPay, but I definitely prefer writing letters! 

@Kirsten Ah okay, I guess a guy can dream. Gosh your post made me realise I take so many things for granted! I mean if I want to, I could fly to Germany or wherever else on a whim. Having a criminal record definitely impacts your freedom even after you’ve served your time, I guess. 

algorithm
algorithm's picture

Oh my god, thanks for the message Cleo95. I had no clue that such problems can exist. Definitely, I am sticking with regular mail. 

Cleo95
Cleo95's picture

@Algorithm Hi! I would say that I definitely prefer snail mail, but JPay is not bad at all and I am for the most part really enjoying writing to my pen pal! He’s a great guy and I’ve been enjoying getting to know him! Just may have bitten off more than I can chew! But things have settle into its own pace since I’ve been more concrete about my intentions and about how often I can write. He’s not open to writing letters, but that’s okay! Hope you’re enjoying writing too!