First off, I have the utmost respect for you because you have integrity. You want to tell the person you care about that you are HIV positive. Personally, you should have told him when you were intimate the first time. Perhaps you had your reasons....and that's fine!
Truthfully speaking, are you hesitant to tell him because your afraid he would leave? Have you conquered living with HIV or has it conquered you? Have no fear or shame!! If he continues to care about you then it would not matter. Yes he will be shaken up (or maybe not) but you have to free yourself by opening up to him. The setting, mood, or 'right timing' does not exist. However, ask him what does know about HIV/AIDS? Does he know anyone infected? Slowly wheel him in and tell him!
I was touring a bunch of interdisciplinary students around our Day Health program this morning and they asked me how I handle this one. I have a technique I teach clients for when they want to get a sense of how a potential partner might react without having to risk making themselves vulnerable by disclosing their poz status. I suggest they bring up HIV and dating someone positive as a conversation topic and assess how the other person responds. If they come up immediately against a wall of prejudice or recoil they can safely withdraw without having put themselves on the line.
Of course there's no clear 'how to' on this one. Do you disclose early on and risk losing them before any relationship can even be established - or do you wait until there is an intimate connection and risk them getting upset that you 'withheld' it from them? Is it just much easier to only date other Poz people? What about the people who have already lost a loved one to AIDS would they be reluctant to risk going through that again? This is such an agonizing dilemma for so many of my clients that many (an astonishing number, in fact) just choose to never even contemplate having intimate relationships.
Tony - Vancouver, BC. Canada.
"I have the body of an 18 year old. I keep it in the fridge" - Spike Milligan.
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How should I tell my partner that I am positive? Should I sit him down and come out and say it, should I take him out for a nice dinner then tell him after he's finished his steak? We are a gay couple and we've been intimate and I see our relationship really going somewhere. I just don't know how to tell him or what way to tell him or in what atmosphere?
Response from Dr. Fawcett
Disclosure is a difficult issue and best handled, for obvious reasons, early in any relationship. I believe it's important to have this discussion in a private space where both individuals are safe to express their feelings. Such conversations elicit a tremendous variety and confusing mix of responses from fear to sadness to anger. It takes time to move from initial shock through all those emotions, and the unique way an individual processes these strong feelings needs to be honored. I would suggest planning a time where you each have the full attention of the other with no distractions. It is also helpful to use more "I" statements than "you " statements and allow the other person to identify and express their feelings. Some people find it helpful to have this conversation with the support of a professional who can help guide the discussion and process feelings. This is tough terrain - bringing love and compassion for each other into the process can only help.
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