I am truly in need of advices as my life just took an unexpected turn, which is tearing me apart from the inside.
Very recently, my boyfriend revealed to me that he is HIV positive. As I am writing this, I hardly believe this is real, that this is my story. You are the first I am opening up to.
We have been together for over a year, in a long distance relationship. Something very serious. We have never had sex. We met in a coffee shop in Brooklyn, NY April 2013 and ever since, my love for him hasn’t stopped growing.
We were dating for a little over 2 months until I had to move back to my city at some point and that’s when we started this long distance relationship. Even though we didn’t get to see each other as much as we wanted to, we kept in great communication (Thank God for Skype and cell phones). Of course, we would visit each other and each weekend was the confirmation that he is the person I want to be with. Our relationship was blossoming in a really nice way.
But, there was one thing I was having a hard time with. He was clearly always avoiding sex every time we were to spend our weekends together, which was really surprising to me as I know he has a pretty wild sexual past compared to me. Something I was always a little intimidated by. I started to question him as of why we had not had sex yet, him being always very playful and sensual and stuff. I would never get an answer, or a clear one, although I would ask often. I started doubting about myself, thinking I was the problem because nothing was making sense to me.
The fact that we would not see each other often was allowing him to avoid sex the first, second and third time. But, it got to that point where I couldn’t let him go without an explanation. This past weekend, after we finished eating and watching a movie, clearly looking nervous, he said that he wanted to tell me why we never had sex. That’s when he revealed he was HIV positive as he found out in 2010.
I was in complete shock. I remember I was shaking, but still trying to control it. I didn’t want to appear too dramatic as the news was dramatic enough. After a few questions, I ran to him, hugged him and told him his status doesn’t make any difference to me. I love him, deeply and genuinely. He has my heart.
You may wonder why I never asked him before or why I never thought of this possibility after a year of being together. Well, I did. I did wonder at some point, but I would never see him taking any kind of medication or pills. He would rarely go see his doctor. The theory wasn’t making sense to me because when we met I was working at an HIV/AIDS organization and we would talk about it all the time!
I was passionate about my job and we would talk freely about it. He would talk about his friend passing away to AIDS. I would talk about what I was learning. He had thousands of opportunities to open up. He is a very opinionated person, always has something to share or say. He has a very healthy lifestyle. He often seems stress-free (Kinda young and wild), and mostly bothered with less important stuff. Implicitly, it was clear to him and I that we were STD free.
As of today, what I am going through is a pure nightmare. The person I love is hurting everyday because of his status. It confirmed to me that he is a sad person inside and that drives me insane. He refuses to talk about it at all now that we had that one time discussion. I am so saddened by the fact that he is going through this. When I look at his past and what he had already gone through. To me, this guy is a force of nature. I respect him. He inspires me. I want to love him more. Not a second I see him as a poor victim, but still I am torn apart to know what he is going through.
I am thankful for his honesty and the way he protected me. But, I don’t think it’s fair for him to refuse talking about it. I am still in shock. I have never been in that position. I have hundreds of questions popping up. I am scared for him. I don’t know I just need to talk about it. I want to cry everyday because of this. I feel so dismissed by him, but still how can I complain when he is the one with the disease? He dropped the bomb and now he says I have to deal with it on my own, seeking outside help, and he won’t have that discussion with me because it’s unbearable to him.
He also seems to blame me for the fact that I was not angry or frustrated with him because of him being HIV positive. That’s the part I don’t get either. My reaction was so natural. I don’t see myself treating him differently or loving him less because of his status. But, yet, he doesn’t seem to take it nor understand it. I am afraid he thinks I am faking it. I don’t know how to interpret that.
I am afraid that we will lose our communication, which is key to a relationship. I am afraid this will be the elephant in the room or a taboo topic we can never discuss. That is the kind of things that kills relationships! I am afraid this will break us up. We are both mature about our relationship and we usually know what we want and understand each other, but this time we are so far apart. He already seems to be more guarded (God knows I worked hard for him to fully open his heart, even though he is the one who chased me like crazy and asked me out many times). Even though I tried to reinsure him about the way I feel. I am not even sure if he needs reinsurance at this point.
I feel like this has become my problem too, but he just won’t deal with it nor assist me. It’s like I am going crazy in my little corner. I also know he is quite nervous about the idea of having sex with me. He doesn’t want to hurt me or anything.
I am completely lost. I don’t know where to start, what to do or how to act. I’m very protective of him also and as much as I would want to talk to my friends about it I want to respect his privacy first. Man, I am in another world right now. Please help me, frankly and honestly as you always do. Thank you! – In Love With An HIV Positive Man
Dear Ms. In Love With An HIV Positive Man,
Girl, your emotions in this letter is all over the damn place! Jeez!!
One minute you are the loving and supportive girlfriend who wants to be there for her man. The next, you are the frightened, scared, and insecure girlfriend not sure of what to do, and how to move forward. You want to cry every day and it’s a pure nightmare. Then, the next, you are resolute on being okay with him and his status.
Here’s the thing, you really need to take a break from him, sort out your emotions and feelings, and really and strongly consider the position you are putting yourself in by saying that you want to be in a relationship with a man who is HIV positive. Yes, it courageous of him that he revealed to you his status, and he didn’t take advantage of you and the situation and have sex with you, especially without a condom. There are many people who will not say anything, and put you at risk. So, yes, be grateful that he told you.
You have to take into consideration the health and risk factors for yourself. Yes, you can have a healthy and loving relationship with a man who is HIV positive, however, you must seek professional care, and therapy to know the dangers and precautions of how to take care of both of yourselves. You must know the sex risks, and how to properly protect yourself.
And, honestly, he is more susceptible to contracting other STDs than you are. You are more of a danger to him because his immune system is sensitive. So, hopefully he is educated about how the virus works in his body. Therefore, I am urging to please educate yourself, and consider the risks and dangers you are putting yourself in. Research, read, and talk with an HIV counselor. Hell, you worked at an HIV/AIDS organization, therefore, contact them and talk with someone about this.
This is truly a serious matter, and you need to know all the facts before you pursue a long-term serious relationship with him. Yes, you are emotional, and you have a lot of questions, and you rightly should have questions for him. It is unfair of him to drop this on you, and then he no longer wants to discuss it, and tells you that you have to work it out and deal with it on your own. Huh? The hell!?!?!?! That is selfish and inconsiderate. He pursued you looking for a relationship. So, did he not think he that after revealing his status to you that you would just say, “Oh, okay,” and not want to ask questions? That’s not very smart.
But, before you start jumping up and down screaming your love for him, and that you want to be with him, just know that he kept this from you for over a year. He could have revealed this much sooner to you, but he didn’t. He led you to believe that you were in a long distance relationship, and he was your man. He led you into developing feelings for him, and I am sure things were said, and you discussed a future together. Ma’am, sweetie, he deceived you. And, he lied to you. Though, one may argue that he didn’t lie, he just didn’t tell you. However, knowing that he didn’t tell you about his HIV status, and, that he led you to believe something about a possible future with him, and what your relationship was about all while he withheld some very important information from you. Uhm, no ma’am. If he withheld this, then I am sure there are other things he is withholding. So, pump your brakes, and slow your roll.
Then, he is angry because you didn’t have the response he anticipated? Chile! He is still dealing with his own issues, and he needs to be in therapy to reconcile his mental and emotional well-being. If he doesn’t want to talk about it, and he finds it unbearable to discuss or face, then he is not ready for a relationship. I really think he misses companionship and being in a relationship, as well as, intimacy. He wants to be with someone, but he knows and probably feels that no one will want to be with him because of his status, so, he sabotages himself and his relationships.
He is shutting down, and distancing himself from you. He feels guilty. He’s hurting, and he’s angry at himself. And, you can’t fix him, or convince him of your feelings. He’s probably been hurt before by some other woman who rejected him after he revealed his status. So, he doesn’t trust anyone, and he doesn’t feel loved or feel he is capable of being loved. You can’t fix that, or make him believe that.
And, no, this is not your problem. Stop internalizing his issues and making them yours. They are not! Girl, you are feeling guilty and hurting because of his own issues and unwillingness to come to terms with his HIV status. Honey, I’m going to need for you to emotionally grow up, and stop being desperate. This is not your problem. It is something he has to work on, in therapy, to overcome and come to terms with.
Look, at the end of the day, the emotional and mental state you need to be in to deal with this requires more than just a quick knee-jerk response of, “I love him. And, I want to be with him regardless of his status.” Yes, I understand that you’ve gotten to know him over a year, and you’ve developed feelings for him. However, what he has revealed to you requires lots of open conversations, his willingness to be open and free with you, and a mature emotional and mental capacity to deal with navigating your lives together for your own health and sex reasons. He is not there. He is not ready. You are not there. You are not ready. He deceived you. He was not forthcoming about his status, and it took an entire year for him to tell you this. He has shut down and doesn’t want to communicate. He doesn’t want to discuss his status, and told you that you have to deal with it. Take a break. Really deal with this as it is an emotional and mental bombshell. Process it. Talk with someone. But, in the meantime, take the necessary break to work and deal with this on your own terms. – Terrance Dean
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