This weekend, I went away with a group of friends. It was a lovely, relaxing and much needed weekend. Sure, I was feeling a little under the weather (a little bit of a summer cold that manifested itself as dizziness on Thursday and then a mildly sore throat on Friday) but I definitely needed the time away.
I’ve said in the past that I haven’t really thought about dating much, and when I have that I’ve come to the conclusion that I think I’ll be more happier just doing my own thing. I’ve taken a bit of heat for feeling that way, and one of the things I wish people would respect is the place that I’m at right now. There’s still a lot of work to do on myself before I could consider another person in my life.
Despite knowing the low-risk of transmission and the myriad of prevention methods that would protect myself and a partner, I still cannot get over the mental block of having HIV preventing me from having any interest in love, sex and relationships. On top of all of that, given the layers of betrayal from Alex, it’s hard right now to see myself trusting another person.
While we were out on the boat this weekend, my best friend (who I think I gave the pseudonym of Michelle to) was talking with another one of our friends, to ask about his dating life, etc… Anyways, he complained about the calibre of men available and looked over at me, saying “I want to date someone like Josh, we could hold hands, watch The Simpsons and he would treat me like a princess.” I wasn’t sure if he was joking or not, but it sounded half-serious. As I heard all this I reacted, in typical me fashion, with a gagging face.
I felt bad for my reaction
It was not a nice reaction to have, especially when someone thinks you’re a kind, loving person. Joking or not, it wasn’t the best. However, it accurately summed up how I feel about the idea of dating.
Part of me gagged at the use of the word “princess.” I realized in reflecting on that, that I look at gender far too black and white; in my mind, in that moment, I saw the use of a female term to describe a man, and it bothered me. I don’t treat partners like princesses (or princes, for that matter). It also indicated some subservience, and that bothered me – I’m drawn to people with the same strength, passion and confidence as me. I like to be challenged, pushed and questioned. I’m not the pampering or affectionate kind of person (I’m doing a great job of selling myself for the future, aren’t I?).
The entire situation made me uncomfortable. Only two of my friends on the trip know of my HIV-status, and I don’t intend for the others to know because, well frankly, they don’t need to.
Will I ever be ready?
My whole reaction got me thinking about the future, about dating, about love and about relationships. One of the biggest fears I have about all this – my HIV, the bad relationship with Alex – is that it has so distorted my view of the world that I’m too far gone; that I won’t be able to open up to another person and build a relationship because I don’t feel worthy, or I feel tainted.
I hope I can get there. But this weekend was a big realization that there’s still lots of work to do.
This article originally appeared on Josh’s own blog The Plus Side of Life here.