Valentine's Day for Women Living With HIV -- Finding Your Heart, Soul and Voice
February 11, 2014
The first time I had to disclose was really scary. There was this guy that really liked me, and I had just found out. Didn't really want to tell him the big news. It went really well, I was really lucky. I told him. His wife cheated on him, so he went to his doctor and got tested for everything. Talked to his doctor about me and what precautions he needed to take to keep both of us safe. He just told me that it didn't make him think any different of me, and he still wanted to pursue this relationship. He was the first guy that I told.
I really have had good experiences with dating. I had a guy that I really like when I first moved here to Washington. I met him on a dating site, and he thought, "Wow, that's really cool that you're so upfront about it, but I really need to think about this one." And I understand. It is a big deal. I didn't talk to him for a few weeks, and then he called me up and invited me over to watch a movie with him and his kids, and I had a big pimple on my face, so I didn't want to go. But I thought, "Hey, that was nice, he thought I was cool enough to give it a shot." But, I never went out on a date with him again.
But, now that I'm single again, I'll tell you that it is a barrier. It's not like a broken toe. It is a big deal. I'm pretty confident with myself, and I'm pretty educated around HIV, so I feel that I can educate someone. And if they're not going to accept me for who I am, then I probably don't want to be with them anyway. So, I'm not in a rush to get into a relationship right now, just coming out of one.
Does it frustrate you that you have to be in the position of educating them so that they understand enough to accept you. In other words, that must be an odd position to be in. You're trying to date someone, and they may not be too cool with it, and you can't really educate somebody so that they'll date you, you know? You're facing that societal ignorance on a personal scale.
Yeah, it's frustrating. Because, it's hard enough to be rejected in any circumstance and this is really hard. It's such a chore to have to explain. I've done it enough, but it still doesn't make it easy. It's still hard every single time I do it.
Do you have a way that you usually say it to people?
No, not usually. There's not a format I follow, but I don't wait too long, because if you let your heart get into it too far, then you're gonna end up hurt if they decide "No way," or they're gonna get upset with you, like, "Why didn't you tell me before?" But you also don't want to be like, "Hello, I'm Nicole, I'm HIV positive" right away either, you want them to know you as a person first.
I will usually, maybe after a few dates, tell somebody that there's something I'd like to tell them about. Sometimes people need a little time to think. Some people will already know, or they have a family member, or a friend, or a friend of a friend, who has HIV. I can share some information or someone else to talk to if they'd like to talk to someone about HIV or transmission. They can come to an appointment with me or an educational function to learn more about it.
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