Celebrated an achievement this week (if you can call it that) I never anticipated being able to accomplish during those first few weeks dwelling over my positive diagnosis. Monday was mine and my boyfriend’s anniversary, three whole years together. Proof that a person with HIV can have a successful long-term relationship; some people say I am lucky but I don’t think luck has much to do with it. I’ve worked hard and there have been times when we have argued but we have helped each other with our own issues and that’s not luck, its love and commitment.
It is easy to look back at the past and evaluate it and give an honest critique of your own actions but useful nonetheless. I think guys like myself, growing up ‘in the closet’ until I was 18 mean that you can miss out on those ‘practice’ relationships that teenagers have, so this means you kind of deal with those early train wrecks later on in life instead, and I had my fair share. From leaving school and then into my early twenties I had a series of ‘boyfriends’, I would see guys for weeks or a month or so at a time and then it would end abruptly, usually because it was never going to work in the first place. I would be sad, I’d cry, I would think ‘I’m going to be single forever’. Then I’d be fine and within a couple of months probably found the next disaster. This isn’t to say some of these guys were horrible, ugly or nasty people. I am friends with a minority of them, they’re great people but we just weren’t suited for an adult relationship together.
The start of my current relationship was definitely a learning curve for me. I was so used to rushing into something, going with it defining it as something within days and then either scaring the guy off or scaring myself that I could have moved so quickly into something with someone I was SO unsuited to. I think a lot of people out there are exactly the same, and as I mentioned previously, sometimes it takes time to pass to realise exact how you behave.
It has taken me a long time to admit that I used to be quite clingy, wanting something to work within the first few dates but my boyfriend really forced me to wait. I don’t think he referred to me as his boyfriend until we had been dating about six months! I realised that it didn’t matter our relationship didn’t have a name; I was too busy enjoying the time we were spending together. By moving slowly I also avoided the fear that I was only with someone because they felt sorry for me, I realised he actually liked me.
I’m probably going to get an ear bashing for saying it, but I think a lot of HIV positive men out there think they’re single because of the virus, when they’re probably just single for a big bunch of other normal everyday reasons. Plenty of people are scared of the virus and scared of what it might bring to their life, but there are others out there who don’t give a shit. Before blaming being HIV positive straight away maybe sit back and look at your previous relationships, what worked and what didn’t. I also think far too many people have a belief that couples have to share everything in common with each other, have to go everywhere together and have to become some sort of weird merged being, my boyfriend is not my other half, he is a whole person all on his own, we share some likes, vegetarian food, bad (but so good) 90s music and Daniel Craig (yum) but we also like a lot of different things as well. I am extrovert, I love being around people and going out and socialising, he loves to spend time on his own and prefers a quiet night in.
I’ll end of a bit of a cliché: I’m not pretending to be know all the answers or be the next cupid but I know that I have been very happy the past three years with someone very special and I know that everyone positive man and woman deserves someone just as special too, and I believe you are all capable of finding them, they’ll probably appear in your life when you least expect it.