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Is it Selfish to talk to Poz friend about MY feelings?
Jul 29, 2003

Last year I accidently found out that my best friend is HIV positive. I am well educated about the condition and am always learning. Lately he has been saying and doing hurtful things, being very selfish and pushing me away as much as he can. I need to talk to him and let him know that I am here for him in every way but that I can't take anymore abuse from him. I've never been in a situation before where I could justify someone treating me badly but I can see that maybe this is his way of coping. I need to talk to him and let him know where I stand, how I feel and what I need but I don't want to look selfish in the process. I think he's neglecting the fact that as his best friend this has hit me perhaps as hard as it hit him. Soon he will have no family left in the city, he has no partner or even any prospects so far. He has few close friends and no support system other than me. I want him to know that I'm going through this with him emotionally. I am going through the stages just like he is. I just need to know how to talk about it without looking like I'm making this about me.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

To begin with this particular issue is all about you, and ow you are hurt, angry and concerned about how your friend is treating you. But that is ok. Your friend being positive does not give him license to mistreat you (or anyone else for that matter.) I do not subscribe to the notion that simply becasue a person is diagnosed with a life threatening illness this gives them permission to behave badly.

As a long time friend you have every reason to tell him how his behaviors are making you feel. If he has not chosen to share his HIV status with you then that does not need to be part of the conversation. Just share your feelings with him and depending upon whether or not he is empathic to your feelings and willing to engage with you will determine how and whether the conversation and friendship evolves.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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