Relationship Question sero-discordant couple


Hey Dr. Bob...welcome home! Hope you had an awesome time in Paris.

My question falls out of the normal stuff in this forum, but I'd consider you more of a valid resource since you have 1st hand experience in this area.

I tested poz back at the end of June. Its been a roller coaster ride to say the least these 1st few months. Things have slowly started to fall into place and I'm not so obsessed with my diagnosis. I had been seeing someone pretty seriously up until about 2 months before testing poz. He was one of the 1st people I contacted as we had a few higher risk sexual situations which were legitimately something to be concerned about for his sake. After being told that i was the lowest most vile person for putting him at risk for this he promptly dropped out of my life. Thats a whole side story in itself but i won't go into it.

I was left feeling very hurt/angry/guilty regardless of the fact that i knew we had both been consenting adults in the risky things we did. Flash forward to a couple weeks ago. Out of the blue i got a call from him, proclaiming that he has passed the period to consider his negative test conclusive. Major relief for me. But he also is now alluding to wanting to give this another go with me.

I was nuts about this guy. I had a connection with him that i hadn't felt with anyone in quite awhile and was really hurt when things started to get difficult prior to my diagnosis. We've been talking alot again since he gave me his good news and I sense that he is true in his feelings, but at the same time he makes alot of assumptions about how i am dealing with being a person living with HIV. And if i hear one more time that it's "a manageable disease like diabetes" i think i'm gonna scream. Yes its manageable but no its not like being a diabetic.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, I'm scared to death about getting involved with someone neg. I think most of my fear lies with concern of infecting him. But it also has to do with a neg. person never really understanding what goes on in the mind of a poz person. If i may be so bold to ask, were you ever in a position where you didn't want to deal with neg. guys because it was just easier to date other poz men? Did this issue ever present itself with you and Dr. Steve in the begining? And if it did how did you two work through this/continue to work through this? Life is complicated enough without me having to be a teacher to someone about what an HIV+ person lives with. To top that off i've already gone on a couple dates since being diagnosed where the other guy was neg. and he made me feel like HE was doing ME a favor by consenting to go out with someone "sick". (total bulls**t). I don't need that again.

Please give me some encouraging words and possibly some good resources to reference that might address magnetic relationships! I trust your opinion and insight as a gay man who has been living with this scenario. BTW, why don't they have you answering questions in the mixed status couple forum?

You're the best and i think you have the patience of a saint to answer all of the nervous nelly "i know what you say-but i KNOW i have it" questions. Makes for interesting reading for sure!

Keep up the good work, and if you are ever in Chicago the drinks are on me :)



Hello Dave,

Yes, the "it's a manageable disease like diabetes" mantra can get a bit annoying, but it's not really as bad as the "I could get hit by a bus walking across the street" line. I mean after all, someone dies of HIV every 10 seconds. How the hell many bad bus drivers do they think are out there anyway???

OK, on to your question. Is it easier for poz guys to date only other poz guys? I certainly have talked to a number of pozitoids who are indeed "viral-centric." They want someone who's already been there, done that, and who is more likely to do them! And certainly we all know neggies who in their online ads include "must be bug free" or some other equally insensitive comment. But really Dave, how many Mr. Rights are there really out there for each of us? In nature, isn't it opposites that attract? As for a neggie never really understanding what goes on in the mind of a poz, well yes, I understand your concern, but couldn't that apply to just about any two people? A radical fairy could date a Log Cabin Republican, and men date women. And I've heard they even come from different planets Venus and Mars! At least a serodiscordant gay couple has the same kibble and bits! If James Carville can marry Mary Matlin and make it work, I'd say HIV magnetic couples should not be afraid to take a chance on love. I'm sure glad Steve did!

How did we make it work? Two guiding principles:

  1. Communication is key.

  2. Remembering to remember principle #1.

In addition, it's important to accept each other as different. The virally enhanced partner can't help but be concerned that he is cohabitating with a contagious germ that wants to put him six feet under. And HIV can make even a sex god feel his touch is toxic, even though his need for touch, pleasure, intimacy, and hot sex certainly does not decline with his CD4 count (nor should it!!!). Meanwhile Mr. Neggie may have survivor guilt for having escaped the cruel viral lottery. He may worry that his HIV+ partner will one day get sick really, really sick. Recognizing and accepting each other (and each other's concerns) as different is essential.

From discussing the issue with other magnetic couples, I can tell you HIV+'s feel better when HIV-'s share the worry of possible infection. Planning for the future can also be a tricky endeavor. There can be some discrepancy on how each views their long-term future and long-term goals. Pozitoids are often content to live in the moment, considering each moment "borrowed time." Neggies may want to save for retirement and that RSVP gay world cruise scheduled for 2025. But in reality these issues are now significantly different than they were for magnetic couples in the bad old days of the epidemic. Again, the very best advice we can offer anyone in our situation is to talk to each other really, really talk to each other. The tendency is just the opposite. Couples feel like they want to protect their partners from worrying or letting them know they are worried. Sure, you might say, "Life is complicated enough without having to teach someone what an HIV+ person has to live with," but then again, might the HIV- person have something equally important to teach us?

As for dating neggies that make you feel bad about yourself or who reject you because of your status, I'd suggest the following philosophy: if anyone blows a load of rejection or negative vibes your way, I say, "Spit, don't swallow!"

Finally, as for why they don't have me answering questions in the mixed status couple forum, I have no idea. But since I'm single-handedly manning two very busy forums already, I kind of hope "they" don't ask me. Maybe they'll ask Steve (Dr. Steve in The Body's Tratamientos Forum), my neggie prince charming and happily-ever-after. I'll post your question in that forum as well in the hopes it might help others struggling with challenges of what to do when opposites attract.

Good luck, Dave.

Dr. Bob