This year I am determined to figure out the answers to some important questions. Namely: who? what? when? where? and why? As in, who am I going to tell about my HIV status? What exactly am I going to divulge? When, where and why is this information being shared?
Though I often tell myself that I really don't need another person in my life, the truth is I have been wanting to get married since I was 25. I have had two boyfriends, but this was before I was HIV+. Since becoming poz, not a single guy has been brave enough (or honest enough) to take me on as I am. In the five years I've been in NYC, I have found myself usually telling someone I like about my status on the second date. I can honestly say I have never had a third date with a guy in over five years. This year, I am determined to get to a third date. So perhaps the most important question, the one I omitted above, is HOW?
I have been given a dazzling array of advice over the years, everything from "Tell him right away" to "tell him after sex the first time" to "tell him only after you are officially dating". Most people say the timing should be somewhere between "right away" and "before sex". But frankly, it's terrible advice. I can't remember the last guy I told about my status who wanted to have sex with me, and I intend to have sex again before I die. I am leaning toward "after sex the first time" (but taking care to have safe sex). Of course, I'm not sure if that's quite honorable either.
Of the guys I have told about my status before there was any sex, they all invariably exude gratitude. Which is nothing more than a cheap mask of relief. Whew. Glad I avoided this guy with HIV. For once, it would be nice if a guy could just take my hand and tell me that it's OK. That everything will be all right. That did happen once. Over five years ago. But he lived in Hawaii, and amazingly, we still communicate from time to time and I even went to visit him there once for 10 days during which time I thought that was the happiest I would ever be in my life. I would like to feel that happiness again. The question is how. And who? And what, and when, and where? What I don't want to ask is "why" anymore.