Brrrrrr! Just the thought of dating again sends shivers up my spine! Eight years after being diagnosed with HIV, I still can't handle the stress.
You meet someone you like. He asks you on a date. Your mind starts ticking. How should I tell him? How will he take it? Will I have to deliver that big dissertation about transmission again? Will I have to endure that pitiful "I'm so sorry" look in his eyes? Maybe I'm better off not going out with him at all.
I have always chosen to reveal my HIV status, up front, on every first date. Many times, because of that, there was no second date. At least, I was spared of falling for somebody who could not handle being with a beautiful, sexy, HIV-positive woman. Their loss.
AdvertisementOther times, my date would be incredibly receptive, loving, understanding and caring. I would feel grateful for that understanding and would be willing to start a relationship.
I would be willing to try a relationship for the simple fact that a person accepts my HIV status. It's not important that he drinks two six packs a day, at least he accepts me as I am. His teeth are stained and he smells, but he likes me the way I am. He knows more four letter words than I ever thought existed, but he is not afraid of HIV. No defect could be big enough to counteract the single quality: "he is not afraid of HIV."
Many times compromising has led me into rotten relationships. I held on to them with claws and teeth, honestly believing that my chances for happiness had been taken away by HIV.
Many people have the fear of dying alone; the need to have someone hold me when I wake up in the middle of the night from dreams of death and sorrow; and the desire for sex, which stays alive, until the rise and fall of the last T-cell.
Recently, I broke up an abusive relationship that had lasted 3 years. It took a lot of courage for me to break free. My fear was primarily based in the fact that I thought I would find myself in the "dating dread," again. Bad with him, worse without him: that's what I was thinking.
Instead, what I found out, has changed my whole outlook on dating and HIV. I have not dated any HIV positive men before because there weren't any HIV positive men for me to date. Most of the positive men I've met are gay. The few who were not gay wouldn't give up the hard drugs. That life-style is just too depressing for me. I don't want to be a part of all that death and misery.
But now, the disease and the way we live with it has changed. There are many more heterosexual men and women with HIV than there used to be. People are living longer and healthier. Relationships are a major part in achieving a better quality of life for many people, including myself. I was not the only positive heterosexual looking for a partner anymore.
Looking for Love
I found free dating services over the Internet for HIV positive heterosexuals. The Internet gives you anonymity and confidence to reach out. And for people like myself, living in a small town, it may become a major bridge to the HIV community.
Some agencies, including Women Alive, have HIV heterosexual socials and support groups where you can meet all kinds of interesting people in safe and confidential settings.
And the best thing that I've found out is; HIV-positive men will treat you like a queen! They too have been through rejection. They too, have felt the fear of being alone. They too, have dreaded spreading HIV any further. So they can fully appreciate a relationship where both partners can share the ups and downs of living with HIV. Positive couples can be there for each other without having any fear of intimacy. Isn't that what we are all looking for?
This knowledge has changed me into a much stronger woman. A woman who knows how precious and desirable I am. A woman who will not settle for second best, (there are plenty of great positive guys out there). Negative men no longer frighten me.
A few weeks ago I went out with a negative man who had been hitting on me at the gym for over two months. The only reason I decided to go out with him was to tell him that I was HIV positive and that's the reason why I would not date him. He was surprised, confused, and moved. He asked me a few questions, thought for a while and decided: he still wanted me even though I had HIV. "You don't get it," I told him, "It is I who do not want you!" In that moment, I felt stronger than I've ever felt after my diagnosis. If felt totally in control again!
Now I have just started a new relationship with a sweet positive man. He is funny, loving and caring. Making love is fun again. We don't have to worry about infecting each other with a deadly virus. It is almost as if it was not there anymore, except for when we get together to take our pills. He treats me really well, and he had better! I will not take any crap from him or any other man. I know now I am a beautiful, strong and desirable HIV positive woman. I want to be loved, sexed and respected and I do not need to compromise to get what I want. It's just a matter of looking in the right places.
Sites to Check Out
The Life Boat @
Back to the Women Alive Winter 1998-99 Contents Page.