Dating is hard for anyone, but dating with HIV can seem like attempting advanced mathematics with just a foggy understanding of arithmetic. All of a sudden, you’re expected to discern the correct formulas and grasp the complex equations that come along with mixed-status — also known as serodiscordant — dating and relationships. When is the right time to disclose? How does one discuss sex and safety with one’s partner? And so on and so forth.
And you’re just like, “sero-what?”
HIV certainly doesn’t make finding the right person any easier. But with these five tips, you can at least get through the dating and disclosure process relatively unscathed, regardless of his status.
1. If you make HIV a big deal, so will he.
If you are not comfortable with HIV, he probably won’t be either. Conversely, if you are matter-of-fact about your status and what it means to be safe, chances are he will be more at ease with it as well. Don’t think you always need to have a face-to-face discussion or plead eith him to date you despite your status. Don’t make it a big deal, and don’t apologize as if you had done something wrong. A well-written text message to let him know will often suffice.
2. The earlier the better.
You don’t want to become invested until you know he’s worth investing in. So don’t waste your time getting to know someone who could potentially be the kind of jerk who would reject you over your status. You are worth more than that. And if he rejects you, he isn’t worth your time. If you tell him before you ever sit down for dinner and he decides against a relationship, you haven’t lost a thing. And you still have time to make new plans.
3. It takes a village.
If you have yet to find the courage to disclose to your family and friends, you can forget about starting a good relationship with someone new. A healthy support system is essential to any successful romantic configuration, regardless of status. You need to be able to talk to your friends about your dating hang-ups and hesitations. And the fear of disclosure is no exception. Get comfortable with the people who are already in your life before trying to add someone to the mix.
4. Go in without any expectations.
Always remember, you are better off alone than with someone who would judge you for your status. If you have a hard time remembering that, tattoo it on your arm. No matter how lonely you think you may be, a relationship with the wrong person, especially a judgmental person, is always worse. If he has a negative reaction to your positive status and acts like a total jerk, consider yourself lucky to have dodged a bullet. It would have only gotten worse.
5. HIV stigma has nothing to do with you.
If someone is the type of guy who would reject you over your HIV status, no amount of good looks, charm, or personality will convince him otherwise. His reasons for running away have nothing to do with you and everything to do with his fears of HIV. If there is a time to educate, it is in the beginning of a relationship. Waiting until the third or fourth date to disclose could make him feel as if you are trying to trick him into being with you. If he is still terrified, let him run and be thankful that you don’t have to live in a world where the boogeyman still exists.