As a single man I dread those four little words. They seem to be the standard prefix to the word “but” followed by a reason they can’t/don’t want to date you. I can’t even begin to remember all the various versions I’ve heard. Here are just a few:
- You’re a lovely guy BUT you’re not my type
- You’re a lovely guy BUT we’re in different places
- You’re a lovely guy BUT you live too far away
- You’re a lovely guy BUT I already have a boyfriend
- You’re a lovely guy BUT I’m not looking for anything right now
…and of course…
- You’re a lovely guy BUT you’re HIV+
After a while you start to wonder whether people even mean it when they say “You’re a lovely guy”, or is it just a conversational reflex? A way of trying to cushion the rapidly approaching bad news or perhaps make themselves feel better about the information they’re about to impart? I even found myself about to say it last night – I caught myself just in time but hated myself a little for almost saying it.
It never ceases to amaze me the number of rude/obnoxious/unpleasant guys who’re in relationships (or at the very least getting laid) whilst the more genuine and personable amongst us are left on the scrapheap. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong? Perhaps I should be less “lovely”? Truth be told I’m not sure I can change this far on in life – I’m stuck in lovely mode. Lovely but lonely.
I’ve made no secret of the fact I suffer from depression. In fact I’ve been diagnosed with ‘Severe Clinical Depression’ on 3 separate occasions now, for which I was medicated. This tends to happen sporadically, in between I’m mostly sound as a pound – but now and then I get little dips.
The last week or so has been one of these dips. To start with I tried to chalk it up as January Blues but after a few days I realised it was more than that.
I can identify the signs right from the beginning:
- Lack of energy
- Inability to get out of bed in the morning
- No desire to go and do things
- Becoming withdrawn and quiet
- Feeling lonely
A few years ago I’d knuckle down, get stuck into some big project at work and then come home and cuddle up with the husband to worm my way out of the depression. I don’t really have that option any more. My job is neither interesting nor involved enough to bury myself in, and my luck in love has been beyond awful for the last few years.
I actually started writing this article 30 minutes ago, with the idea of writing how I’ve been working hard not to show my depression to the guy I’ve been dating, as he’s been so sweet and understanding with regards to the whole HIV issue. But only 10 minutes ago I got a text message saying he was breaking up with me because he couldn’t handle the strain on him of dating someone who was HIV+. So I’m kind of lost now.
I just want someone to cuddle up with on the cold nights, chat to about my worries and how I’m feeling. It’s not easy being HIV+, it’s doubly not easy being HIV+ and suffering from depression. I can’t see this cloud clearing in the next week now. Sigh.
Sorry for the miserable blog but sometimes I just need to vent, and seeing as it’s just me here you lot get the raw end of the deal.
An appropriate clip from Sex & The City…
Just a quick heads up to let you know that the February issue of Attitude Magazine is now out, both in luscious iPad Edition and good old fashioned print format!
This month’s cover story is West Ham FC’s Matt Jarvis talking about footballs “last taboo” and saying why it’s time that gay players were finally accepted in our national game.
Nigella serves up some tasty treats whilst Louis Smith serves up some moves and works off those calories. How about some gadgets to help you entertain yourself through those January blues? We’ve got those too!
My column this month focuses on whether Valentines day is harder harder for people living with HIV and my experiences with online dating since diagnosis.
So go download your copy from iTunes or dash out and pick up a copy in store!
Have a spiffing Tuesday!
Good day to you fine men and women of the internets,
If you follow my blogs and tweets you may recall that last week I ran a interactive poll on my website asking whether you could date someone with a HIV status that was different to yours (i.e. if you’re HIV- could you date someone who was HIV+ and vice versa). Over 600 of you (628 to be precise) took part in the poll and here are the results and my musings there on.
Out of the 429 HIV negative people who voted 51% (232 votes) said that they could not date someone who was HIV positive, as opposed to 49% (227 votes) who said that they could. From the 169 HIV positive people who voted 26% (44 votes) opted to say that they could not date someone who was HIV negative, and 74% (125 votes) said that they could.
Let’s look at the HIV negative voters first. That’s quite an astonishing split, pretty much down the line 50/50. I don’t know about you but I find that more than a little disheartening. What that means to me personally is, if I approach someone I like I’ve got a 50% chance of being rejected based purely on something in my blood. That hardly seems fair. This I assume is based on people’s fear of contracting HIV from their prospective partners, but if said partner is on treatment and condoms are used the risk of infection is infinitesimal. To those people I’d recommend they do some reading (sites such as HIVaware.org.uk are very useful) and gain a decent understanding of the risks.
The majority of the HIV positive voters on the other hand, three quarters essentially, stated that they could date someone who was HIV negative, but a quarter said that they could not. Again, I guess this is people who are worried that they would pass on HIV to their HIV negative partner. As above, with treatment and precautions this risk can effectively be negated. It’s hard enough to find a decent partner in this life without limiting yourself to a pool of approx 100,000 people in the UK (0.16%) out of a population of 62,000,000.
I won’t deny that I’ve often thought it’d be easier to date someone HIV+, but with such a small selection of guys to choose from – especially in rural areas like mine, it seems somewhat self defeating. With treatments for HIV rapidly evolving a person diagnosed HIV+ today can expect a normal life expectancy and who knows what new medical breakthroughs are around the corner? So I ask you this, no matter what your HIV status, base your decision on whether to date someone or not on them as a person, not on what’s in their blood.
Have a wonderful Wednesday,
This is just a quick poll, in two parts, to help me with a new post I’m writing.
If you could please fill in the appropriate poll honestly I would really appreciate it. All responses are anonymous.
Thank you in advance,
If you're HIV NEGATIVE, would you have a problem dating someone who was HIV positive?
- Yes, I couldn't date someone who was HIV positive (51%, 232 Votes)
- No, their HIV status doesn't matter to me. (49%, 227 Votes)
Total Voters: 459
If you're HIV POSITIVE, would you have a problem dating someone who was HIV negative?
- No, their HIV status doesn't matter to me. (74%, 125 Votes)
- Yes, I couldn't date someone who was HIV negative. (26%, 44 Votes)
Total Voters: 169
Good Rainy Friday to you all,
Before I start this post, I should say that this one isn’t teribbly HIV related, but more of a general life diary entry… now let’s begin.
I’ve been on online ‘dating’ sites for a very long time now, probably longer than I should have really, I joined a certain one when I was 13 and caused all sorts of havoc for the owners/admins – and since then the number of websites I’ve used has grown and grown until I couldn’t keep track of them.
I’d get home of an evening and check my twitter and Facebook, then I’d head onto gaydar, dudesnude, fitlads, manhunt, gayromeo, recon, and a few others which I can’t even remember. I’ve been doing this for nearly 3 years now and where has it got me? Nowhere really. I’ve dated three guys, one of which was an ass and two of which were bat crap crazy.
So last week I took the decision to leave all these sites behind, it was both therapeutic and a little scary logging onto each site one by one and deleting my profiles – some I’ve even been paying for. Shortly after I’d done away with my last profile I began to worry about what I’d just done, had I put myself at a disadvantage for finding someone special? But then I recalled the general quality of messages of I got on these sites – usually photos of people’s crotches but no faces, or elderly gentlemen offering to be “generous” to me. That’s not really the kind of attention I’m after.
During Birmingham Pride (at the weekend) I met an awesome guy, and we hit it off pretty spectacularly. This without the use of the internet, or being asked “what you upto?”, or ”what you into?” or even the less common but still awful “ASL?”. Now before you get ahead of yourself, I don’t know if anything is going to happen with this guy I met over Pride, but I’m secretly hoping it does – he’s very hot and very very lovely.
I feel for honestly and completeness I should say that I’ve retained my Grindr profile, purely because it’s a great way to chat to my mates for free, and it’s a laugh at train stations when you’re bored.
I’m not entirely sure what to use my computer for now I don’t log on to all those sites, I’m sure I’ll find a purpose though – it makes a rather handy mirror with the webcam…
Two blog posts in one week? I know, I’m spoiling you, but read on…
Possibly the single biggest issue for me about being HIV+ isn’t my health, the medication etc, it’s actually the rejection that you can face when you tell someone your status.
One of the first people I ever disclosed my status to was a holiday romance. We’d been hanging out for a couple of days, drinking, swimming, holding hands etc, all very romantic. One afternoon I got a text asking me to spend the night with him at his hotel, I thought it only fair that I tell him my (fairly recently found) HIV status. That was one of the most difficult texts I ever had to send not just from my nervous clammy hands or the heart beating in my mouth.
He replied shortly saying that he was “OK with it”, but at the same time said that we’d have to postpone the night at the hotel because of plans with his friends. That was the last time we ever had a proper conversation. I tried chatting to him a couple of times after that, mostly he just ignored my calls/texts – the final time he answered but pretended to be someone else. I’d been well and truly rejected. Gutted.
Since that day I’ve had a policy of telling people I plan to sleep with/date as soon as possible. If someone messages me on Gaydar/Grindr asking for a fuck I have no problem saying right up front “By the way, I’m HIV+. I hope that’s not an issue?”. But as I found out last night it’s still pretty nerve-wracking telling someone you have feelings for.
Last night I agreed to go on a date with someone I’ve been talking to for a while. He’s very handsome, totally buff and a bit shorter than me. Amazing. Then it dawned on me that I was going to have to tell him. I decided to do it then and there, seeing as we were already chatting.
I said “In the spirit of openness and honesty I need to share something with you. Plus it saves us both heartache if it’s something you feel you can’t handle. Please be honest with me either way. I’m HIV positive”. Cue a ridiculously long wait. Why wasn’t he replying? Was it too much? Fuck, fuckity fuck.
He *eventually* replied “Hey, don’t stress about it. My ex had it, and we were together five years”. Overjoyed. He was absolutely fine with it and thanked me for being so honest. We’ve even planned our date for this Monday night coming.
Disclosing your status isn’t an easy thing to do, no matter how readily we might do it. All that we ask is that the people we tell are honest with us. If you’re uncomfortable being with someone that’s HIV+ then tell us (nicely!), we’d much rather that than being lied to – then ignored.
In my previous post I talked about my use of technology to aid my quest for love. Dating technology has evolved over time; from dating agencies and singles ads in newspapers, onto phone chat lines, texting services and onto dating/hook-up websites (such as gaydar, fitlads, manhunt etc). The latest technology to be adopted for this purpose is the smartphone – there are countless apps promising to help you find love, make friends or just get a little action.
The most popular one of these (amongst the gay community at least) is Grindr. For those of you who are unfamilar with Grindr – you create a profile with your stats, add a photograph and a short welcome message and in return Grindr shows you other guys logged in near your location by use of GPS. You can message the guys, swap pictures etc. All very cool. I’ve been on Grindr since it was launched. I’ve always been at the cutting edge, trying new apps and gadgets as soon as they come out. My profile has remained largely the same, my age has changed with the years and my photograph has been updated a few times.
I started wondering last weekend (25th Feb 2012) what kind of responses someone would get if their profile said that they were HIV+. So I created myself a second profile on Grindr, almost identical to mine in (but different enough to look like a different person), still looking for “Friends, fun and dates” – but this time I mentioned my HIV status in the profile text.
Over the course of the week (25 Feb – 03 Mar) my existing profile received messages from 74 users. On the other hand my (almost identical) profile that mentions my HIV status had 11 people message it. Four of those eleven messaged purely to ask me questions about HIV and one felt it necessary to send me foul mouthed abuse for seemingly no reason. Which leaves me with six people actually showing an interest in me.
Let’s look at that for a second shall we? That’s a 92% reduction in interest purely by mentioning my HIV status. It was this realisation that led to a few miserable tweets on Saturday night, sorry if you had to put up with those. I thought we were really making progress. The more things change eh?
Like a lot of single people of my generation, especially gay men, I use the Internet to meet other single people for dates. It fits in well with my busy life. A message here, a chat there, and once in a while it’ll turn into a drink or a meal.
There’s a dizzying array of jargon out there in the online dating world: GWM, GAM, GSOH, WLTM, LTR and VWE to name just a few. A couple that have recently entered my consciousness are DDF and “clean”.
DDF stands for ‘Drug and Disease Free’ – I resent that just because I have HIV that I should be lumped in with recreational drug takers. Drug taking is illegal and a choice, I did not choose to be HIV positive nor is it illegal.
Clean. I’ve been asked a few times lately “Are you clean?” and I’m never sure quite how to answer “Well, I had a shower this morning.” would seem a sensible reply. But apparently this is a cloaked way of asking my HIV status. So by being HIV positive this seems to infer that I’m the opposite of clean, which would be dirty.
I find both these terms inaccurate (I’m a very clean person, almost obsessively so) and offensive. I’m not stumbling through the streets with Smallpox here, killing your grandparents, nor am I lurking in some alleyway shooting drugs into my arms. I have a virus which is well managed with medication and prevented with condoms.
How about, instead of pussyfooting around the subject and ending up offending me by likening me to a plague victim or a crack-addict, you just ask me what my HIV status is? Be straight with me and I’ll be straight with you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for shower…
Love and respect,