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Obsessive love?
Feb 16, 2014

Dear Mr Fawcett, I have met HIV+ man. I like him very much and could imagine my relationship with him. But I'm scared he doesn't see me for real. Think he rushes into this because I accepted his HIV status and many other times he was rejected. After two weeks he said he loves me (is it love?) and he wants to spend his life with me inviting me to move from Europe to South Africa. That is a very big decision to make and he pushes me to tell him what I have decided as soon as possible. 3 days ago he sent me e-mail telling me he can't have me and I should have a better life with someone else. What should I do? Is he emotionally unstable because of HIV diagnoses or is it simply part of his personality?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. It is, of course, impossible to say with any certainty what is motivating your acquaintance to move so quickly. Many times people living with HIV have experienced stigma to such a degree that they are understandably quickly drawn to people who accept them. It is not typical (or healthy), however, to immediately test the perceived sincerity of the other person by demanding unreasonable commitment and then quickly rejecting them if there is hesitation. Your instinct was correct in raising red warning flags

The magnetic appeal of such impulsive relationships is often driven by unhealthy needs and, in my experience, do not usually end well. While the anxiety of living with HIV may aggravate the situation, I suspect such patterns are very old and deeply ingrained. In such cases it is often helpful to slow the entire process down and, with the help of a professional, examine what feelings are really driving the rush toward commitment.

If you decide to pursue any kind of relationship with this person I hope you will commit very gradually and insist that you both get some assistance in processing feelings before any major decisions are made.

Take care,

David



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