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Tell him over the phone or in person?
Apr 30, 2003

I have been cyber dating a wonderful guy for several months now and we are meeting in person for the first time over an upcoming weekend. We have much in common and seem to have some rare chemistry. I am HIV + and he is negative at this time, (just informed me he had unprotected anal intercourse, including interior ejaculation recently.) With all of our discussions and intimacy via technology, he has never asked me about my status, nor have I tried to hide it. Our discussions have been VERY CLEAR as to the safe sex rules. He understands that if we do have sex, it will be safe. My intention from the start was to tell him my status in person. My dilemma is that; do I tell him prior to the visit or flow with the chemistry and stick to my original plan? Am I on another planet, to think that if the chemistry continues to grow, and it is a true feeling my status will not matter? We are both mature and educated men and desire someone in our lives, and are putting ourselves out there. Additionally with my plan, I am prepared that he may feel differently. We have commited already-to remain friends no matter what transpires. Only I can make the decision, but wouldn't mind some feedback or an opinion.

Not Sure

Response from Mr. Kull

Dear Not Sure-

You are struggling with such a difficult and stressful issue that so many HIV infected people deal with, and there are no easy answers. Regardless, you are to be commended for your thoughtfulness, concern, and courage in dealing with this situation. I hope that your cybermate can acknowledge this as well, no matter what your approach is.

It seems like it would be tremendously difficult to keep this from him if you are moving forward in your relationship. However, there is no single "right" time to tell someone. It is always difficult to determine when and how to tell a partner about one's status. There are so many complexities that are difficult to address in this response; I always encourage people in your situation to find a person to talk with who understands the situation and can do some constructive problem-solving with you. This can be an important exercise in understanding your boundaries and limitations.

It is important to remember that there are no rules in situations like yours. I think you need to take into consideration not only how you feel about this situation, but your understanding of your partner and the nature of your relationship (your relationship has taken place primarily through "indirect" means; so the telephone wouldn't be so unusual). Ultimately, you must, must, must do what is most comfortable for you, no matter what other people think. The intentions, not the medium, are what really matter. Guilt and "shoulds" have no place here.

If you tell him in person, try to do it in a neutral space where there is privacy and minimal pressure to respond in a particular way (don't tell him while you're making out in bed!). Think about what you are going to say, how you might respond to certain questions, and be confident in yourself. Don't apologize! He will take cues from you, so it is important that you represent yourself in a way that you want him to see you. Sometimes practicing this with another person that you trust can be useful.

Give him time and space to respond. While it is appropriate to be caring and understanding, you do not need to take responsibility for his response. In the meantime, make sure that you have support. People often surprise us by not responding in the most negative ways that we imagine. But just in case, you want to have a person in your life who you can turn to while your new found romance mulls this over.

Best wishes-

RMK



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