|HIV+ & HIV-
Sep 4, 2001
Early this year I met someone who I quickly grew to like, and I asked him to please be tested for HIV...thus, we both were tested and he was + I - This was very shocking for he and I, and now being some time later the emotional scars still are killing me, and who knows what he is feeling. Our relationship is absolutely wonderful and we have never stopped growing. We never fight, and to be honest we have never even had an argument. We both are well educated and financially very secure. We now spend nearly every day together in every way (aside from work), but we to-date have yet to talk about the HIV. I have tried and he gets angry and avoids it. Even when I ask when he is going to the doctor he avoids answering and gives a general response "next month". That is it, then we move on to a different topic. Although I have been able to grow out of the initial surprise and feel I am a very big piece of his support--if not all of it, he appears to be transitioning from anger to depression. How do I get him to talk? I am tired of seeing him cry from the pain and try to hide it, but still not talk. I have asked if he thought a support group would help he and I together as a couple and as individuals, but yet that has gone no where. I have recommended he get counseling alone or for the first few times we could go together--again no where. How could our relationship grow so strong and continue to do so, but HIV is hiding in the background just ready to destroy it? I keep saying this is just not fair, and then I start crying which I am sure doesn't help him when he sees it (mostly I leave the bed at night so I am alone, he is unaware of it). What can I do? My concern is him, not myself...Please help in direction with someone not willing to seek help. I am the only person period that knows he is + aside from his physicians, etc. I feel lost, but so much in love...I could not/will not risk losing him, but I need to talk about this with him.
| Response from Mr. Shernoff
You are in a very difficult position. I wonder what else he is not able to speak to you about since he obviously can not respond to your requests for him to talk to you or to get support. Any solid and healthy relationship gets stronger when the partners share and discuss very difficult realities and feelings.
Your partner is in alot of trouble. Unless he gets help both in a peer support group and perhaps professional counseling as well, and begins to open up to you he will only get more shut down and depressed.
It is unfair to him and his own quality of life for learning how to live adaptively with HIV as well as to you and to the relationship that absolutely no one else knows besides you and his doctor. This speaks of his having enormous shame about being infected. It also places an unreasonable burden upon you. From what you say you are getting increasingly stressed out from having to cope with his secret.
There is no way you can either make him talk to you or go for help. All you can do is tell him how his refusing to do these things makes you feel and that it is creating a very tense and difficult problem in the relationship that does not have to be there.
I do not doubt how much you love him and want to stay with him and help him. But you can not allow your own mental and emotional health to suffer from his own limitations. My own professional and personal experiences have repeatedly demonstrated that the situation you are currently in, unless it changes and he opens up to receive support, will only deteriorate and very likely create a serious rupture between you.
I hope that he hears how painful and selfish his way of attempting to deal with his HIV status is for you.
Best of luck in this very difficult and painfully frustrating situation. I really feel for you.
Michael Shernoff, MSW
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