I thought my love life died the day I was diagnosed, but I was wrong. Dating as a positive person is difficult, to say the least. But I met a great guy through online dating and we are still together years later. As I am glad to help out fellow romantics, I will share with you some things I learned along my travels of the online dating world.
Getting ready to go out with someone new, my friends were preparing for their dates by buying new outfits and getting dressed up, but I was home taking meds, feeling crappy and stressing over how to disclose.
It is lonely, scary and stressful trying to date as a positive woman. You might be asking yourself why disclose if it is so stressful? Well the answer is simple: if you ever plan to have an honest relationship with another person, you have to disclose. This is something that affects them too. Lives are at risk if you are not honest about your health status. If you don’t disclose, you could be legally charged with an offence. Sad but true. Check out information on the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network site for more about how and why.
You need to practice safer sex and talk about what is safe for both of you. You can still have a happy, healthy love life but you need to talk about what you are both comfortable with, and what is safe for both of you as a couple. When the heat of the moment takes over people rarely think of these things until it is too late.
I tried to date HIV-negative men but found that eventually HIV always became an issue, so I chose to try something new: on-line dating. This is not for everyone, and certainly not fool proof. I met some wonderful people and got a lot of support from HIV positive chat rooms, but I also met a lot of idiots who were just looking for sex or someone to belittle. They had the foolish impression that they were better than I was because they were not HIV-positive.
I did meet some lovely friends and finally met a great guy that I ended up falling in love with.
The dating sites I used were:
Your best defense is a good offense so here are some tips to help make the experience good. Have fun but be careful!
Don’t put anything too detailed in your personal ad: it’s best to use an alias and never give your address until you are sure the person you are connecting with is ok. Be very vague about your living arrangements, just give a city, area of the city or nearby town, but nothing else. Don’t mention you live alone or are away at work during the day until you know it’s a safe person and they really are who they say they are.
Give your phone number as a last resort. Cell phones are better because it is harder to track you that way (if they are a creep). If you call from home dial *67 as this will block the number from call display (double check with your phone company to make sure this will work in your area).
If you decide to meet someone in person, choose a well populated area, and tell a friend where you are going. These warnings are more for women than men because of safety issues but everyone needs to be careful. There are some wonderful people who are looking for a partner, but there are also those others, and no one wants to waste their time with them. Best of luck to you all and stay happy alone or in love!
A longer version of this story originally appeared in The Positive Side, our quarterly newsletter.