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Creating a New Kind of Relationship/Family
Jun 8, 1999

We are three men who are trying to work out the details of becoming a family of three, who love, support and have sex with each other, and eventually hope to all live together. Two of us have been together (and lived together) for 7 years. We are all HIV positive, and the 2 of us who were a couple have been HIV+ for 15+ years each, and both of us lost long-term lovers. Our health is excellent in all cases. The new addition has also had a long term relationship. We are thus 3 men who have taken risks and achieved happiness in previous relationships. We have different occupations, but share many interests, a primary one is our almost daily gym workouts (a compulsion that bears some realtionship to our status). We also share some traits that can be troublesome, vanity and competitiveness. Since this is a relationship in which we must create our own rules to a greater degree than in a one-on-one relationship, where do we look for advice. Do you know of any books that discuss this type of relationship or any counselors willing to work with 3 men in this situation (triple rather than couple counselling)? We are based in New York City. Are you a person willing to work with us from time to time? As always HIV is a spectre of sorts hovering about--it makes us wonder if somehow we are considering this relationship because there is safety in numbers. Please comment.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

First, let me begin by telling you how much I respect your honesty and the level of risks all three of you are willing to take. One of the beauties of queer culture is the ability for us to form what ever kinds of families work for us. There are no books I know of that describe the kinds of long term menages you are creating. I have written some about this within the context of the long term male couples I have worked with over the years.

It can certainly work, but requires alot of work and good communication in order to do so. I have worked with several long term menages as a family group. Any therapist who you consider consulting needs to communicate that he or she respects this family unit as it is and does not view it as pathological at all.

Go for it. Why not? Each of you are living well with HIV as long term survivors. Why not create a family where there is enough love and support for all three of you to be blessed by having each other? Michael Shernoff, MSW



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