Dear Ms. Behavior,
I wrote to you last year and your advice was very helpful.
For the past few months, I’ve pursued a woman I’m attracted to and like very much. After we hooked up a few times, an unanticipated problem arose. Previously, I was with someone for five years, who was HIV-positive. We broke up about two years ago (for reasons unrelated to her HIV status). Since I’ve always tested negative, I haven’t given it much thought. But when I mentioned this to the new woman I’m dating, she automatically judged me.
I hadn’t felt it was relevant to tell her about my past because I’ve repeatedly tested negative for HIV (and all STDs). I’m aware that AIDS is a sensitive issue and have a lot of knowledge pertaining to the disease. I don’t believe she does, because of how she reacted.
Should I be judged because I was in a relationship with a woman who was HIV- positive? Can someone say “No” to me regarding sex because of that? Even if I have proof that shows that I’m negative for HIV and STDs? What if this woman could be my soul mate?
–Disappointed and Hurt, Yet Trying to
Dear Disappointed etc.
No, you shouldn’t be judged because you were with a woman who was HIV-positive. But yes, someone can reject you for that or any other reason, and it doesn’t have to be correct or rational; that’s just how it is with sex and love.
Some people who are phobic about HIV can be educated. But when you’re romantically interested in someone, the role of educator is not a fun one. You can state the facts about transmission, but you wouldn’t want to feel like you were persuading her to have sex with you.
Remember that an aversion can be very powerful. Some lesbians would not have sex with you because you ate meat back in 1989, had sex with a man some time in your past, or once used a public restroom. Others might feel safe only if you allowed them to boil you first.
When you meet a woman who feels that way, do not try to change her mind. Let the differences between you stand as a symbol for all the ways you’re not compatible. Then say goodbye.
As for the soul mate issue, you don’t have to worry. (Your soul mate would understand your past relationship.)