“This town (town) is coming like a ghost town….”
The more I reveal my HIV status to people who I’m interested in dating the more isolated I feel.
I’ve talked often in other posts that I haven’t faced any stigma once I’ve revealed my HIV status to someone but the longer I’m single, the more I face. When I look at it realistically I wasn’t open about it at all when I started dating again. I can only talk about online dating as it’s the only kind I do, I never really meet new single people to ask out in any other circumstances. Let me paint you a picture of how it usually goes. We have a few flirty introductions followed by some typical getting to know each other questions. This is when the conversation takes one of three paths 1) it fizzles into nothing as there was not actually any real connection there. 2) They ask me if I want to fuck. 3) We get on and continue to chat and flirt and exchange numbers.
To be honest its right at the start of a spark with someone I start to think about when I might bring up my HIV. I wholeheartedly wish it didn’t play on my mind like that, because I believe that it shouldn’t matter. I believe that it shouldn’t matter when I tell someone about it, I should do it when I’m damn well fucking ready to. But my experience tells me otherwise. Anyway I digress…
Scenario number two I’d have to say is the most common occurrence, followed by number 1 and very rarely number 3. I’ve been trying something new recently, once numbers have been exchanged and we have arranged a date I’ve been steering the conversation towards my status. It’s not that difficult, I usually bring up work or ask what they like to do in their spare time. In both circumstances so far they’ve always then asked me back and I bring up my HIV work or my volunteering. That’s when I usually tell them. In the one message I say my status, that I’m on medication and undetectable and that being undetectable means I cannot pass it on. I say that I’m telling them because I want them to know about my life and not because I feel under any obligation to. I send a link to an article I did which tells my story and that if they have any questions to please ask me.
So far I’ve always been met with silence. We’d have been having a flowing conversation with almost instant replies then nothing. I leave it for a while then later on or the next day I ask them about it. I still haven’t had anyone be openly rude, I’ve had a few passive-aggressive comments such as “well I’ve always been really really careful” but nothing worse. A few have asked questions, a few just avoid the subject all together, but they all have something in common. They all seem to become incredibly busy after finding out my status. No longer do I get instant replies, I get the double blue tick but no response that or a cursory “yeah” or “lol”.
I have been careful to tell this information after we’ve established we’re looking for more than a hook up and have arranged a date, so I know that they’re actually interested. The date never happens. Like I said, they get really busy. I’ve never actually met up with anyone I’ve told about my HIV when it has been in a dating situation. I usually ask if they still want to meet up and they say yes, but they can’t do the original date we planned, and they’ll let me know when they’re free again. I attempt conversation again over the next week or so but it never goes anywhere. A couple have arranged a date then ghosted me on the evening it it was supposed to take place. Like the title of this post suggests, ghosting is what I receive after I tell someone about my status.
I’m well aware that people get ghosted all the time, I’m not the only one it happens to nor do I think my HIV status should offer me some kind of special treatment. But I suppose my little experiment was testing the waters to see what kind of reaction I’d get. I know I don’t have to tell people about my status but I want to, I want to normalise it, I want to have those conversations with people, to quell some fears maybe lessen some stigma. It’s not in me to hide that part of me to a potential partner. But telling people is so isolating a part of me just wants to keep it quiet for longer so at least I’d get to enjoy a date or two before they ghost me. To be honest I don’t know which is worse, all I know that its pretty shit the way I’ve been doing it currently.
Friends and acquaintances like to offer their opinions of “better off without them” when I talk about this. I know deep down that it is a good filter, to find out who’s decent. But so far no one is, no one I’ve spoken to is willing to see past it. People who once said things like “you’re lovely”, “I can’t wait to meet” and “We’re going to have a lot of fun”. People who have read the articles and researched what U=U is. People who are smart and educated, people who describe themselves as “open-minded” and “liberal” won’t see past my status.
And I still get so angry. Angry because its not ignorance, its a choice. I’m angry because people are choosing to hold onto their stigmas. Choosing to not accept facts. Choosing to not meet me after revealing my status because they believe that by having HIV somehow makes me not worthy of their time anymore and I’m sick of it. Just sick of explaining myself over and over to only to be rejected as a result of being open.
There’s no nice conclusion here. I’ll let you know when I come to one.