There are plenty of good reasons to utter the words “let’s just be friends” after a first date. Perhaps there was no chemistry or a lack of shared interests, or maybe he or she was just a total turnoff. Regardless of your reasoning to either call or not call your date again, their HIV status shouldn’t be a factor.
HIV isn’t one of the variables that determine whether you and your partner are an emotional and physical match. It is merely a measure of logistics and science. If all the other elements of a relationship seem to be in place – sexual attraction, similar tastes and a mutual like for each other’s weirdness — both of you would be a fool to let mismatched statuses get in the way.
But there are a few things you should know when starting a relationship with a person with HIV. Pay attention, and you two will live happily ever after — or at least not break up over an HIV status.
If you have any questions, ask them!
You may be worried that a question or concern you have may hurt his or her feelings. Don’t be. Most people living with HIV understand that you may have fears or trepidations, especially if this is your first time dating an HIV-positive person (that you know about). So, when in doubt, ask as many questions as you’d like. Your date will be happy that you feel comfortable talking about it with him or her and, more than likely, will be able to allay any worries you may have.
What will hurt someone’s feelings is if you make assumptions and don’t give your potential partner the benefit of the doubt. Speak up.
His or her HIV status is not yours to tell.
If your date respected you enough to tell you about their HIV status right away, respect them enough to keep their status to yourself. Talk to your friends about how your new love interest made you laugh or how amazing your chemistry is. But unless you have talked to him or her about it first, leave HIV out of the coffee talk conversation. You won’t have to keep a secret from the people of whom you are the closest forever, but ask yourself if you would want someone else to share something so personal with their friends when the two of you are still getting to know each other.
Being a little scared is ok. You aren’t alone.
Just because he or she was upfront and honest with you about their HIV status, doesn’t mean that the person across the dinner table is a pro at dating while HIV-positive. Your HIV-positive love interest may have just as many fears or concerns as you do. Don’t assume that if you are comfortable with something, whether it’s a sexual or social situation, or somewhere in between, he or she is, too.
Rumors and whispers don’t transmit HIV
The good news is that rumors have a zero percent chance of transmitting the virus. Don’t worry about whether or not people will assume you are HIV-positive. Instead, worry about whether or not your romantic interest makes you laugh, likes the things you like, and is good in bed. There will always be people who talk negatively about you, no matter what you are doing or whom you are dating. So make them jealous by making yourself happy and not giving a damn about what others think.
Go on a double date with a medical professional.
Regardless of your previous sexual history, you are probably going to be due for an HIV test soon. So why not make it a chance to get to know each other on a different level and get your tests done together? A person with HIV has to get labs done every four to six months anyway, so take the opportunity to chat with your doctor or HIV-specialized pharmacist and ask any burning questions even your partner doesn’t know. Not only will you get your test out of the way, but a discussion with a medical professional might just give you the added confidence you need to turn up the heat in the bedroom.
If you like him, give it your all.
As long as you and your partner are honest with your feelings, neither of you are going to break nor will anyone be transmitting HIV. With the tremendous advancements in HIV treatment and prevention, there is absolutely no reason you should ever let your HIV status or someone else’s inhibit your chances at a true love connection. Finding a quality person is hard enough without eliminating an entire population whose status has absolutely nothing to do with their personality, and more importantly, your chemistry together. Have fun, date with abandon and don’t limit yourself from the potential of a great relationship, HIV be damned.
Tyler Curry is the editor at large for Plus Magazine and the Virology Account Manager for Walgreens in Central Texas.