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Two Sick People in Bed: Relationship or Hospital?

By Reggie Smith

January 27, 2014

Whether you are HIV positive or not, our sexual relationships often say something about who we are as people. No matter what kind of sex you like, our emotional history plays a big part in how we are looking to satisfy our sexual desires. It often seems like hurt people, hurt people. If two people in a relationship harbor resentments, have fears of rejection or abandonment, or have unmet desires (spoken or unspoken), there is fertile ground for the relationship to get "infected" and get sick -- figuratively and literally.

Self-awareness is an essential part of any healthy relationship where people can work out their differences while remaining committed to a goal. In marriage, the goal is to stay together "until death do us part," right? But with sex, just like in the game, "truth, dare and consequences," the truth is if you dare to have sex with a person, you will have to deal with the consequences. It does not matter whether it is a marriage, a relationship, a one-night stand, fling, or sexual adventure, the outcome (a child, STD, feelings, etc.) may end up being for life. Either way, there are rules we agree to play by, and you are considered a cheater if you don't.

My friend A.B. Curl asks on the Facebook Fan Page, "are emotions like lust or jealousy keeping you from asking yourself and your partner important questions before you get your swerve on?” He goes on to ask "has your animal instinct or insecurity stopped you from asking about your partner's HIV status or from wearing a condom?" If your answer is yes, then why is immediate gratification more important than our wellness? His questions always make me think about how we end up in relationships, why we stay in them, and how to have a healthy relationship, one day at a time. The choices we make about how to satisfy our God-given desire to have sex, and/or procreate, are often at the core of how our lives got to be the way they are. Would you be in the marriage or relationship you are in now, or have been in the past, if you had not slept with, or had a child with the person in question?

Let's agree there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. It is what it is, and it ain't what it ain't. They were cute, you had to have it, and the passion (or the alcohol) made the sex and the things we did to get it great. At best, if you are honest with yourself and that other person, you can find a way to grow and build a healthy relationship together, or at least peacefully coexist. At worst, though, our lack of self-awareness, fear of being alone and unloved, or inability to escape self-delusion or satisfy unmet needs will cause us to react to situations in ways that cause unhealthy conflicts. We all bring "emotional baggage" to our relationships, but without tools for healing and dealing with issues as they arise, we are liable to let our emotions determine our words and actions. Understanding, unconditional love, empathy, and finding ways to please ourselves (masturbation) are important tools we can use to maintain healthy relationships while growing in emotional maturity. Being HIV positive is no excuse for harmful behavior.

At some point, we all will have to ask ourselves: What is a healthy way to deal with under-satisfied desires in a relationship? In other words, what do we do when we can't get what we want when we want it? Rage and irrationality are not the answer, and will cause even greater harm. Obviously, that is a lesson that some of the "Tea Party" representatives in Congress and America have yet to learn. I can't beat my wife because she doesn't want to do what I want her to. Parents that do not get along should not use their children as bargaining chips or ransom. Politicians should not lie and be able to withhold our money because they can't deal with their emotions or reality. Our individual and national maturity depends on our ability to communicate, adherence to a social contract of playing by the rules, and spiritual laws. Greed, like emotional immaturity, is cunning, baffling and insidious, just like any other addiction. The spiritual law that always applies is the "golden rule": Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The social contract that I try to remember before acting on my emotions is "how would I speak to Mike Tyson?" Usually those two things give me a chance to stop, think and act like I care.

None of us is perfect, but let's try to play by the rules, or we are going to have to change the game. I'm sure now is the time to RISE.

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