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Liar gave me HIV, but I love him

Jul 30, 1997

My lover told me he was HIV negative, lied about his former lover dying of HIV, lied about his finances, lied about two separate secret vacation rendevous with two separate people. We moved in together and I was so happy and forgiving. Then he told me he's had HIV for 12 years. We had been having so-called "negotiated safe-sex". I immediately tested - positive. I continue to find he lies, but as I have grown aware of this, and as I catch him more often, our love has grown. We are in counseling now, both individual and couple's. Specifically what gets in the way now is my anger about his lying and jeopardizing my life with the HIV virus. It didn't have to happen, and I still would have been there for him. I take some blame.... I feel I was stupid. I want to be close, and we are, but my anger gets in the way. Will I ever get past that? I want to get to a "se la vie" zen perspective on it. We do talk about it. Meanwhile his lying keeps me feeling insecure... what's real? what's not? Sometimes this makes me feel depressed and scared. I have other family responsibilities I take seriously, but now feel compromised in my long term ability to live up to them. His finances are a mess, and that complicates our dealings. He is trying to work on getting a better job, but I think he has been depressed, and that this also gets in the way of his being aggressive in that area. I can help him, but I'm concerned... I don't want to do it for him... I don't think that would be good in the long run. Otherwise, we have fun. I believe he has a good heart. I love him and he not only says he loves me, but seems to show me in many ways short of curtailing all his lying. We are now both on triple cocktail treatment - it's working - which give us both a good dose of hope. Still, I feel exhausted. How can I best preserve what we have and work on the areas that still cause me grief? Thank you.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

It sounds like you have gone through a lot with this person. Luckily, you are in therapy and have someone with whom you can examine your motivations for wishing to remain with someone who has mistreated you so much. By your writing here it is clear that you have some degree of ambivalence and concern about the situation. I would urge you to explore these feelings further with your therapist, both in couple and in individual sessions. Chronic lying is one of the most destructive things a partner can do both to his own self-esteem and to the foundations of trust in a relationship. It's not easy to understand how you can have trust left for a man who has lied so consistently to you and continues to do so. I agree that you have some responsibility for having naively trusted him and exposing yourself to HIV. But for an individual to knowingly place someone he professes to love at risk for becoming infected with a life threatening illness is incorrigible.

You write that he tells you that he loves you, but if you think about it, it's hard to see that his behaviors demonstrate that he knows how to love unselfishly and in healthy ways. Your friend sounds dangerous both in his pathological lying and in his willingness to expose you to a serious illness. I am concerned that you are willing to stay with a man who has repeatedly treated you dishonestly. Trust is not an instantaneous entity. It has to be earned over time, and reearned. Why do you feel you would like to preserve what you have with this man when he has hurt you so much? Perhaps you can explore this with your therapist. You deserve to be treated better!

Best of luck!

-- Michael Shernoff

Is not knowing of mom's AIDS stopping son's healing process?
My Friends Treat Me As I Am More Irresponsible.

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