ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

HIV DATING

Cath on HIV Dating

“there’s something you need to know about me” 
 

How successful are HIV+ people at maintaining long term sexual relationships?  How contented are those that are successful in their longevity?  How honest are we about the impact HIV has upon our intimate relationships?  For me these questions have become ever more relevant.  As a long term survivor with HIV, Hepatitis C and a severe bleeding disorder I grow more curious about the part they play in my intimate life. 

I first found out I was HIV+ when just 20 years of age.  I had contracted it when seventeen.  I’m 43 now and have been single again for the past 3 years.  Except for a couple of flirtations with relationships since my last big one I’ve started to wonder about the part HIV plays in the difficulties I have always had finding lasting love.  That’s having had HIV- partners of both sexes.  And it’s always a threesome with HIV.  It won’t sit downstairs while you get on with getting to know someone.  It lies in bed between you demanding a part in the proceedings.  You can’t ignore me, it cries.  I’ll make you talk about me.       

Apart from one major exception a much younger me tried to behave like any other person out there looking for happiness.  I believed that if I was honest about it from the start then there was less potential for disaster. HIV always became the first topic of conversation.  And that was by design.  In fact, I had the patter down to a ‘T’. 

I would say to the interesting stranger, “Before this goes any further there’s something you need to know about me.”  And that was always in the pub or club.  Or wherever they and I had chanced to meet and begun to develop an interest in each other.  

And then I would declare my status and more often than not would receive thanks in return for my honesty.  And seldom would the interesting stranger walk away.  In spite of the fact that I was always clear that if they did just that I would not be offended at all.  Or that friendship would not feel like second best. 

I can be a very sociable person and have always had a seemingly endless fascination with other people and their own particular takes on the world.  The world inside another’s head is as interesting as the physical element for me.  Maybe it’s had to be.  But even as a small child I could talk to anyone and hold in depth conversations with people of all ages.  Differing opinions and perspectives on the same thing fascinated me the most as a child.  Not, funnily enough, my own.  But as the world has continued to turn and HIV has become something I now live with, as opposed to something I am dying from, I have begun to turn that interest in others upon myself instead.  I have no choice.  Just as millions of others, I’ve had several short and medium term relationships. I’m a serial monogamer.  And I wonder if the ills of society, as so graphically depicted on The Jeremy Kyle Show and others like it, are the influences that have also affected my own ability to maintain longevity in relationship with another.  Or is it that HIV plays a leading part in my apparent failure in relationships? Fear of passing on the virus looms larger the more I fall in love.  My need to protect my partner and my need to be loved by them are in conflict.   

I believe strongly that being honest about ones’ HIV is imperative before you end up in the bedroom. But the fear of HIV cannot be assuaged so quickly or so easily.  And once the two of you have reached the point where sex is on the agenda it seems to me that only when the ‘honeymoon period’ is passing the partner’s true reaction begins to become apparent.  I have observed the processes in the ‘other’ person and they always seem to follow a pattern.  I have witnessed the partner’s journey and what they experience.  I’ve observed it on far too many occasions for my liking.  But I have struggled to recognise my own part in it and what that means in the great scheme of things.   

What it means is this: I have always been fearful.  

Over the years my partners’ and many members of my very large family alongside close friends have witnessed the tumultuous health crises that I’ve had to endure. My bleeding disorder involves me giving myself IV injections of clotting factors 3 times a week. I also have to do this when I bleed.  And I have several other long term illnesses such as cirrhosis of the liver and oesophageal varices related to the Hepatitis C, chronic sinusitis and recurring ear infections related to the hundreds of nose bleeds over the years, as well as depression and pneumonia which seem to pass my way each year. 

Witnessing loved ones’ feeling pain for you is really difficult to bear.  But to witness and then try to relate to a partner’s sadness when they feel pain for you is crippling.  And somehow it changes everything with the love thing.  Love is meant to bring light and happiness.  Instead HIV changes it into layers of complex emotions.  And heaviness.  My life path causes others’ to be in pain.  Why would I inflict my pain on another?  Therefore, at some point, the relationship turns and leaves and I’m left alone again knowing that the fear of inflicting more pain and sadness has isolated me once again. 

Twenty three years ago the Mother in me chose that I wouldn’t have a child so as not to inflict my painful and difficult path upon another. That was in light of the 12-18 months prognosis I was given.  And all these years later I stand by that decision.  And so it is that as time passes the lover in me more often than not chooses the single path in an effort to protect both my potential partner and myself. But does it really have to be this way?  I will continue to hope not.  I am not a celibate by nature.  But my fears have oftentimes left me little choice.  This has occurred even whilst in longer term relationships. 

I recently signed up on a dating website primarily for people with STI’s in order to break out of the relationship patterns I’ve had.  And as a kind of social experiment.  Datepositive.net is one of a new brand of specialist dating website sets up to address the needs of people with incurable sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and help them find lasting love; or sex; or friendship.  Recognising that people who live with STI’s have a host of fears when entering a relationship, the website was launched in 2006 for people wishing to meet others with health issues and with similar concerns.  It’s an appealing prospect.  And despite the problems that can be encountered when both people in a relationship have HIV and maybe other health concerns, I shall hope that meeting a likeminded HIV+ person will break the pattern. I wish to change my past patterns.  Simply not having to say “there’s something you need to know about me” will be refreshing for a start.  If the journey into internet dating for the hopeful delivers nothing else; it’ll deliver that. And we can be fearless (or more probably fearful) together. So, to ensure the heavily trodden paths of the past remain just that, I try to walk rather than blunder forwards into a future I can now trust to be there.  How that future will look and whether I will continue on my path alone is as yet unknown.  The paths of the past must continue to inform my present in the ways not to date.  And so that I can look into the future with renewed hope and clarity I will endeavour to ensure I am a desirable person worth dating.         

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4 Comments»

  Mark wrote @

Cath thankyou for your frank and honest view on being positive and dating.
I found it extremely empowering and found myself thinking I wish I were able to put it into words the way you have so eloquently.
I’m a project officer in Northern Australia where I work in a AIDs and Hepatitis organisation.
I support newly diagnosed HIV positive people and hold a social and support group on a regular basis.
Sex and relationships are one of the areas where I see people struggle and after reading your view on this it made me feel alot better about myself.
I haven’t had sex since my HIV diagnosis over three years ago but now I also will endeavour to ensure that I’m am a desirable person worth dating too.
Kinds regards Mark.

  hivine wrote @

HI Mark,

I am responding from HIVINE on the part of Cath who hates computers and is reluctant to check her emails but I have forwarded your lovely message to her and I am sure she will respond to you – soon?

I am really pleased that her article on dating gave you some encouragement and hope – that is what I want this website and blog to do.

I had a look at your website and it is great what you are doing out there. Let’s keep in touch – and maybe put our members in contact with each other – how about that a kind of buddy support pen pal kind of thing – joining hands accross the world – power in numbers etc. What do you think? Maybe I could start it on HIVINE as the original idea was a vine to join HIV positive and HEP C people together.

Shall I put a link to your site on HIVINE?

Take care,


Adrienne

  78122526 wrote @

hola soy edrin de la republica dominica

  Arturo Rice wrote @

There’s practically nothing I cherish more than coming to this blog every single night right after work. Hi and thanks for all of the marvelous articles!!


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