Posted | West
I've you’ve been diagnosed with HIV, then you understand that it doesn't just feel like any virus. There is the stigma surrounding HIV, and myths, and in addition to managing your physical health and symptoms every day, it can all become overwhelming. At some point, though, you'll begin to adjust and accept that you too can lead a fulfilling life. This includes everything from your favorite hobbies and activities to forging new relationships- and yes, this includes romantic ones.
It's not that you don't want to venture into the dating world, but maybe you're feeling anxious about it all and how everything will go. You're probably wondering how you're going to tell the person you are on a date with that you are HIV-positive, imaging worst-case scenarios. You may be wondering how they might look at you as a person once they find out, and that's if you can work up the nerve to tell them. But there is no need to be afraid or hold yourself back from finding someone great for you. Being prepared for that unavoidable conversation is the best thing you can do to ease your anxiety and alter your thoughts to start thinking about best-case scenarios.
Here's some advice on how to tell the person you're on a date with that you are living with HIV:
This applies to everyone, but it is essential to have a pretty firm awareness of who you are before going into a first date or relationship. Remember that being HIV-positive does not define you, even if at times it has felt that way. Your status does not change who you are, nor the qualities and individuality you bring to the world. So, how would you describe yourself? What are you passionate about? What do you value? Be able to answer these questions for the person you are on a date with, but more importantly for yourself. Whether you're HIV-positive or not, you'll feel a lot more at ease and comfortable with dating if you are sure-footed first. If you are experiencing some hesitation about dating because of your status, it's important to remember that who you are beneath your circumstances is what matters, and knowing that will give you the confidence to move forward.
Don't let your status dictate everything. If you want to take your date out for a nice candlelit dinner, nobody is stopping you. The thing about HIV dating is it should be fun and enjoyable. So, this all circles back to the part about knowing who you are. How do you want this date to go? What is your ideal date?
You may want to think things through when picking out a place for your first date. While you may have a nice restaurant in mind, what happens when you get there and it’s not as busy are you predicted? Will you feel comfortable having the conversation when there isn't quite enough sound going on around you to limit the potential of someone else overhearing? If that's a factor you prefer to eliminate the chance of so you both can feel more comfortable, you may want to consider a less intimate setting for the first date. Of course, you can always wait until the end of the date and take the conversation someplace else. Having a plan or back-up location will put you more at ease and ensure that you don't get through the entire date without saying what you need to say.
While there are a couple of different approaches and timelines you can follow when deciding when to tell your date that you are HIV-positive, the sooner you tell them, the better. Letting that person know at the first opportunity possible is a good general guideline to follow. An exception to this might be if you meet someone online, and it is not apparent to them from the beginning that you live with HIV; this conversation might not be best to have in your first few messages between each other, or even via phone calls.
If telling someone right away that you have HIV is something you value, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with you doing so. Although, there is something to be said about meeting the old-fashioned way and allowing this person to see the sincerity and understanding in your eyes when you tell them what they need and want to know. It is easy for things to become lost in translation through phone calls and text messages, so allow them the chance to obtain all of the information they need before moving forward. You also deserve an opportunity to share your story and let this person meet the incredible person you are.
When it comes to exactly when to tell them, some say kiss and tell, and some say tell and kiss. This doesn’t literally mean you have to kiss, but it can simply mean waiting a few dates. Both have their respective benefits and can affect how everything goes moving forward. If you tell them right away, there may be less emotional reason or attachment for them to want to stick around, but that can also be a positive for you. If you wait a few dates later, while you might have forged a stronger relationship by then, you risk them having an adverse reaction and wondering why you didn't say something sooner. Consider which option sounds right for you, but don't overthink or get too hung up on the specifics. Besides, if you end up telling someone who doesn't accept you for having HIV, it won't matter when or how you tell them. The right person will come along eventually, and they will accept you.
Be straightforward. It may not end up being a big deal to them if you don't make it one yourself. And while a little sip of wine before sharing your news may be necessary to you, make sure you both are sober for this conversation, because alcohol may cause you to become nervous or talk endlessly, which might make your date anxious, too. Plus, you don't want your date to forget the conversation happened and have to go through it again. Be firm, honest, and confident. It can be something as simple as this:
"I’m a little nervous to tell you this because I’m not sure how you will take it, but there is something you need to know about me if we are going to move forward together. I am HIV-positive.”.
There you go. You did it. You’ve shared with your date that you are HIV-positive. It probably feels like a huge weight is lifted. But just because you’ve shared your story doesn’t mean it’s over. Your date might have a lot of questions you’ll want to be prepared to answer. Hopefully, though, they will want to know more about you, and not just about your physical health but your emotional well-being too.
Reassure your date that you are managing HIV daily with medication. Explain to them how it all works. Today at least 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States, so who knows, maybe the person sitting across from you is your one in a million?